Day At The Track

Eight Grand Circuit stakes Saturday at Big M

02:56 AM 19 Nov 2020 NZDT
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Harness Racing This Week: Fall Four and TVG finals, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. and Progress Pace elimination, Dover Downs, Dover, Del.

Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit returns to Dover Downs this Wednesday (Nov. 18) for a $35,000 elimination in the Progress Pace for 3-year-old open pacers. A field off 11 will compete for eight spots in the final slated for Nov. 25.

On Saturday night (Nov. 21) Meadowlands Racetrack will host the Fall Four events for freshman pacers and trotters and the TVG series finals for open pacers and trotters. The Fall Four features the $398,650 Valley Victory for 2-year-old male trotters, the $451,800 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old filly trotters, the $371,900 Governor's Cup for 2-year-old male pacers and the $323,600 Three Diamonds for 2-year-old filly pacers. The TVG finals consist of the $340,000 Open Pace, the $320,000 Open Trot, $150,000 Mare Pace and the $140,000 Mare Trot.

Complete entries for the races are available at this link.

Last time: Dexter Dunn rewrote a sizeable chunk of the Dover Downs record book on Thursday night (Nov. 12), piloting both Amigo Volo ($3.20) and Party Girl Hill ($2.60) to track record performances in their respective Matron Stakes splits in the First State.

Amigo Volo's 1:50.2 effort in the $162,350 Matron for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings earned him a place in the track and world record books. Fotowon photo.

Amigo Volo's 1:50.2 effort in the $162,350 Matron for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings earned him a place in the track and world record books, knocking over a second off Pinkman's world record for sophomore trotting geldings taken in 2015 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

Richard "Nifty" Norman trains Amigo Volo, who now has earned just over $1.5 million lifetime, for Pinske Stables and David J. Miller. The two-time Breeders Crown winner completed a sweep of the Matron Stakes as well, having won as a 2-year-old in 2019 by the same 6-1/2-length margin.

Party Girl Hill may have missed Kiss Me Onthebeach's divisional world record by two-fifths of a second, but her 1:49 performance in the $154,450 Matron for 3-year-old pacing fillies landed her in the Dover record books.

Party Girl Hill, whose only defeat in 16 career starts to date came in the Breeders Crown, has amassed $880,345 in earnings - all this season. Chris Ryder trains the Tom Hill homebred.

An early break by Hambletonian winner and even money favorite Ramona Hill prevented her from finding redemption in the $163,050 Matron for sophomore trotting fillies, and it also paved the way for Hambletonian Oaks winner Sorella ($5.40) to score the 10th victory of her career. Nancy Takter trains Sorella, who has now earned $848,362 in her career. Breeder Elmer Fannin shares ownership of the Muscle Hill filly with Crawford Farms Racing and Brent Fannin.

The retirement of Tall Dark Stranger made the $179,600 Matron for sophomore male pacers far more wide open than most previous events within the division, and the late-blooming Cattlewash ($2.80) had to work for every penny of the winner's share of the purse.

While Cattlewash shrugged off Captain Barbossa's challenge on the final turn, another pair of challengers were waiting in the wings to take their shots in the final furlong: Tattoo Artist launched for the open stretch, and No Lou Zing vaulted off cover. Cattlewash was driven out to narrowly prevail in 1:48.3. No Lou Zing lunged late for second over Tattoo Artist, who was fully extended to stay on.

Ron Burke trains 10-time winner Cattlewash, who has now earned $799,777 for owner-breeder Bill Donovan.

Complete recaps of all the 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 - 1,251; 2. Dexter Dunn - 1,072; 3. David Miller - 785; 4. Tim Tetrick - 720.5; 5. Andrew McCarthy - 586.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 1,248; 2. Nancy Takter - 1,215.5; 3. Ake Svanstedt - 699; 4. Tony Alagna - 662; 5. Marcus Melander - 492.

Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 268.8; 2. Caviart Farms - 230.5; 3. Determination - 220; 4. Brad Grant - 214; 5. Weaver Bruscemi - 204.7.

Looking ahead: The 2020 Grand Circuit season comes to a close on Nov. 25. Dover Downs will host the final stake of the season in the $325,000 Progress Pace for 3-year-old male pacers.

by Paul Ramlow, for The Grand Circuit

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