Day At The Track

Powerful Big M card leads Grand Circuit

12:31 AM 17 Jul 2020 NZST
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This Week: Meadowlands Pace, Hambletonian Maturity, W.R. Haughton Memorial, Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Delvin Miller Memorial, Dorothy Haughton Memorial, and Miss Versatility, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. and Arden Downs, The Meadows, Washington, Pa.

Schedule of events: The stakes heavy Saturday (July 18) Grand Circuit card at The Meadowlands features the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds, the $464,900 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters, the $391,300 W.R. Haughton Memorial (and $123,100 consolation) for free for all pacers, two divisions in the $284,500 Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, the $253,500 Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $194,400 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old filly pacers, the $172,850 Dorothy Haughton Memorial for older pacing mares, and a $40,000 division of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares.

Saturday Grand Circuit action also includes the $42,610 Arden Downs for 3-year-old male trotters at The Meadows.

Complete entries for the races are available at this link.

Last time: Hurrikane Emperor provided an upset in the $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old pacers while 1-5 favorite Gimpanzee took care of business in the $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old trotters Saturday night (July 11) at The Meadowlands.

Hurrikane Emperor provided an upset in the $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old pacers. Lisa photo.

Hurrikane Emperor (Mark MacDonald), sent off as the fifth choice at odds of 7-1, was second over in fourth at three-quarters before coming three-wide off the last turn and storming through the stretch to reign by 1-1/2 lengths over Workin Ona Mystery (Tim Tetrick) in 1:47, the fastest mile of the season. Dancin Lou (Brian Sears) finished third. Favorite Bettor's Wish (Dexter Dunn) was eighth.

MacDonald drove Hurrikane Emperor to victory for trainer John McDermott and owners Jonathan Klee Racing, Kuhen Racing, and William Garofalo.

"I really thought he was going to be awesome tonight and Mark gave him the most beautiful drive in the world," McDermott said. "It worked out beautifully."

Hurrikane Emperor, by Hurrikane Kingcole out of the mare Hurrikane Schmumma, has won 13 of 22 career races and $528,226.

In the Graduate Series final for 4-year-old trotters, Gimpanzee (Sears) saw Reign Of Honor (David Miller) lead the field around the first turn but moved to the front at the quarter on his way to a 1:50.4 triumph for trainer Marcus Melander. Reign Of Honor, also trained by Melander, was second and Chin Chin Hall (Dunn) finished third. The winning margin was one length.

Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven out of Steamy Windows, is 3-for-3 this year and has won 20 of 26 career races. A Dan Patch Award winner at age 2, the stallion has banked $1.88 million for owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable.

"Reign Of Honor finishing second from a bad post (10) was a little bit shocking that he was so fast behind the gate," Melander said. "Gimpanzee was supposed to win, but finishing first and second, I'm very pleased.

"(Gimpanzee) is doing what he's supposed to do. He's going to go back next week for the Hambletonian Maturity, so it was nice to get a nice race on the lead. I was very happy with what I saw. The horse is getting more in form. Even though he's been racing great, I can feel him getting sharper and sharper. It will be very exciting to continue racing with him."

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

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 2020 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders following this past weekend:

Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 155; 2. Brian Sears - 72; 3. Dexter Dunn - 67; 4. Tim Tetrick - 62; 5. Scott Zeron - 42.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 170; 2. Marcus Melander - 69; 3. Ake Svanstedt - 67; 4. Nancy Takter - 60; 5. John McDermott - 32.

Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 32.1; 2. Crawford Farms Racing - 28; 3. Weaver Bruscemi - 27.1; 4. S R F Stable - 25; 5. J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby - 23.8.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at Saratoga Casino Hotel, Harrah's Hoosier Park, The Meadows, The Meadowlands and Plainridge Racecourse. Saratoga will have the Joe Gerrity for older pacers; Hoosier will host the Nadia Lobell for 3-year-old filly pacers; The Meadows will have eliminations for the Adios for 3-year-old colt pacers; The Meadowlands will host the Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old colt and filly trotters; and Plainridge will feature the Spirit of Massachusetts for open trotters and the Clara Barton for pacing mares.

by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit

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