Day At The Track

Triple Crown at Yonkers lead Grand Circuit

02:06 AM 30 Aug 2018 NZST
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This Week: Yonkers Trot, Messenger Stakes, Hudson Filly Trot and Lady Maud, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; and Maple Leaf Trot, Canadian Pacing Derby, Simcoe Stakes, and Champlain Stakes, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Milton, Ontario.

Schedule of events: A busy holiday weekend of Grand Circuit action is led by a pair of Triple Crown events at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday (Sept. 1). The Hilltop oval will host the $500,000 Yonkers Trot for 3-year-old trotters and the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers. These races will be the second legs in the Triple Crown for their respective gaits. Also on the Saturday program will be the $129,014 Hudson Filly Trot for 3-year-olds and the $112,904 Lady Maud for 3-year-old filly pacers.

Grand Circuit action at Woodbine Mohawk commences on Thursday (Aug. 30) with three divisions in the C$202,476 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Friday (Aug. 31) program is highlighted by three divisions in the C$209,321 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old colt trotters and a single $153,996 division in the Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters. The Saturday (Sept. 1) program features the C$651,000 Maple Leaf Trot for older trotters and the C$600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers. Also on the program will be a single division in the C$169,183 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old colt trotters.

Complete entries for the races at Yonkers are available at this link. Entries for the Woodbine Mohawk races are available at this link.

Last time: Hambletonian Oaks champion Manchego delivered a stunning 1:51.4 stakes record performance to defeat Hambletonian champion Atlanta in Friday's (Aug. 24) $103,360 Casual Breeze at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The superstar fillies were squaring off for the first time in 2018 and went off as co-favorites at odds of 4-5 in a field of 10.

Manchego delivered a stunning 1:51.4 stakes record performance to defeat Atlanta in the Casual Breeze at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Manchego and driver Yannick Gingras left strong from post eight, while Atlanta and driver Scott Zeron showed their usual early speed from post three. Driver Trevor Henry decided to mix things up by firing longshot Smoke And Mirrors towards the lead and kept Manchego out going around the first turn, as Zeron took back to settle third.

The Jimmy Takter trained Manchego cleared to the top just strides after leading by three-quarters of a length at the opening quarter in :27.3. The Hambletonian Oaks champion continued to trot strong for the next eighth of a mile before Gingras tapped the breaks to grab a comfortable :28.4 second quarter.

Atlanta was angled from the three-hole heading into the far turn, while Gingras and Manchego began to ramp up the tempo. Smoke And Mirrors gapped in the two-hole, which allowed Zeron to drop in with Atlanta and power up for the stretch battle. Manchego reached three-quarters in 1:24.1 with a 1-1/2 length lead on Atlanta.

In the stretch, Manchego continued her powerful ways and didn't allow Atlanta to get any closer than her wheel. The Takter trainee trotted a :27.3 final quarter to defeat Atlanta by 1-3/4 lengths in a Canadian record equaling 1:51.4. Sorceress Seelster, who sat fourth most of the mile, finished 11 lengths back in third, while Blonde Magic was 12 lengths behind the winner in fourth.

Friday's matchup between Manchego and Atlanta was months in the making. Manchego entered the season as the top filly after an undefeated rookie campaign. Atlanta made an immediate impact to start her sophomore season and eventually successfully took on the boys in the Hambletonian, while Manchego beat the fillies in the Oaks.

"Everybody was talking about Atlanta and rightfully so, she's a great filly too, but I never lost confidence in mine and all along I thought I had the best filly," said Gingras following the victory. "It's just one matchup; they'll meet up again many times, but my filly was super strong tonight."

A daughter of Muscle Hill, Manchego improved to 18 wins and nearly $1.4 million earned in 21 career starts for owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding and Herb Liverman. She has now won six of nine this season and remains undefeated in three starts at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Rick Zeron trainee Atlanta suffered just her second loss in eight starts this season. The Chapter Seven filly's only prior defeat was a second in the first heat of the Hambletonian, which she followed up with an impressive victory in the final.

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

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2018, 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 eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2018 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders following the past weekend.

Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 748.5; 2. Yannick Gingras - 730.5; 3. David Miller - 429.5; 4. Scott Zeron - 315; 5. Jordan Stratton - 288.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 672.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 554; 3. Tony Alagna - 358; 4. Jim Campbell - 226; 5. Erv Miller - 220.

Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 148; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 143; 3. Fashion Farms - 139; 4. Brittany Farms - 122.4; 5. Robert Key - 120.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Scioto Downs, and Tioga Downs. Woodbine Mohawk will feature eliminations of the Canadian Trotting Classic, Elegantimage, Peaceful Way and William Wellwood Memorial, as well as Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old pacers and Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old pacers; Scioto will host the Jim Ewart Memorial for older pacers and the Jug Preview for 3-year-old pacers; and Tioga Downs will feature a leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older trotting mares.

by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit

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