Day At The Track

Trio of tracks host Grand Circuit racing

02:02 AM 26 Sep 2019 NZST
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This Week: Bluegrass Stakes, Red Mile, Lexington, Ky.; Dayton Pacing Derby and Dayton Trotting Derby, Hollywood Dayton Raceway, Dayton, Ohio; and John Simpson Stakes, Harrah's Philadelphia, Chester, Pa.

Schedule of events: Harness racing Grand Circuit action kicks off on Thursday (Sept. 26) at Red Mile with three divisions in the $315,500 Bluegrass for 2-year-old colt trotters. The Friday (Sept. 27) card at the Lexington oval will feature four divisions in the $330,000 Bluegrass for 2-year-old filly trotters and two divisions in the $280,500 Bluegrass for 2-year-old filly pacers. On Saturday (Sept. 28), Red Mile will offer the $350,000 (est.) Bluegrass for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $200,000 (est.) Bluegrass for 3-year-old filly pacers. The first week of racing in Lexington will conclude on Sunday (Sept. 29) with $200,000 (est.) Bluegrass events for 3-year-old male and female trotters and male pacers.

Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Friday night will feature a pair of Grand Circuit stakes in the $171,250 Dayton Trotting Derby for older trotters and the $151,750 Dayton Pacing Derby for older pacers.

On Sunday (Sept. 29), Harrah's Philadelphia will contest $75,000 (est.) John Simpson Stakes for 3-year-old colt pacers and trotters.

Complete entries for the races are available at this link.

Last time: After using a sustained first-over drive to win his elimination earlier in the day, Southwind Ozzi and driver Brian Sears came back with nearly a carbon copy effort to capture the $384,000 Little Brown Jug final for 3-year-old male pacers Thursday (Sept. 19) at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.

Southwind Ozzi won the final by 1-3/4 lengths over Fast N First in 1:50.1. USTA/Mark Hall photo.

Southwind Ozzi won the final by 1-3/4 lengths over Fast N First in 1:50.1. American Mercury finished third.

The victory gave Sears his second Jug trophy. He won his first with Vegas Vacation in 2013. It was the first Jug victory for trainer Bill MacKenzie and owners Alma Iafelice, who is MacKenzie's grandmother, and Vincent Ali Jr.

"He's awesome; he's outstanding," Ali Jr. said about Southwind Ozzi, who won for the ninth time in 11 races this year and upped his season's earnings to $736,935. "Billy did a great job and Brian drives him unbelievable. They get all the credit."

Southwind Ozzi won his Jug elimination in 1:50.3, besting Air Force Hanover by 2-3/4 lengths. The colt got away third before methodically wearing down pacesetter Shake That House and cruising to victory.

In the final, Southwind Ozzi was fourth in the opening quarter-mile before beginning his first-over march at the three-eighths point. He was a nose from leader Stag Party when they reached three-quarters and pulled away from there to secure the victory in the third jewel of Pacing's Triple Crown.

"He's a good horse and he gives me a lot of confidence when I drive him," Sears said. "I know I've got a lot of options during the race. I don't have to be stuck with one plan. He proved it today. He got around the half-mile track great and roughed first over both trips and got it done convincingly."

Southwind Ozzi's triumphs this season include the Adios and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. Sears said he could not say where the colt ranked among the horses he's driven in his Hall of Fame career.

"But I can say, you win the Adios and the Little Brown Jug, those are two of the biggest accomplishments in racing, really sought-after races," Sears said. "He was able to get me those races and he's got a big spot in my heart."

Southwind Ozzi was the 2-5 favorite in the Little Brown Jug final.

Southwind Ozzi, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Southwind Solara, was purchased as a yearling for $85,000 at the 2017 Lexington Selected Sale. The Southwind Farms-bred colt was the only horse MacKenzie bought that year for his grandmother and Ali Jr.

He began this season with three wins and a second-place finish before being sidelined for nearly two months because of emergency hernia surgery. He returned in July and captured the Adios. His win in the Jug final was his fourth in a row.

"He's just been great," MacKenzie said. "He's just a great horse, and that's what they do."

Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website.

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in elimnations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2019 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders following this past weekend:

Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 1,010.5; 2. Yannick Gingras - 813; 3. David Miller - 642; 4. Dexter Dunn - 516; 5. Andrew McCarthy - 484.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 873; 2. Tony Alagna - 513; 3. Marcus Melander - 394; 4. Jim King Jr. - 346.5; 5. Ake Svanstedt - 337.

Owners: 1. Fashion Farms - 192; 2. Brad Grant - 182.6; 3. Courant Inc. - 172.5; 4. Burke Racing Stable - 170.2; 5. Weaver Bruscemi - 157.7.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Lexington's historic Red Mile and Harrah's Philadelphia. Featured at Red Mile will be the Kentucky Futurity, the third leg of Trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds, Also on tap will be the companion Kentucky Filly Futurity for the sophomore fillies, the Tattersalls Pace and the Glen Garnsey Memorial for 3-year-old pacers, four International Stallion Stakes races for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits, and four Allerage contests for open pacers and trotters. Harrah's Philadelphia will contest John Simpson Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers and trotters and 2-year-old colt pacers and trotters.

by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit


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