Day At The Track

Fireworks and Grand Circuit stakes

01:02 AM 04 Jul 2020 NZST
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Sister Sledge, harness racing
Sister Sledge winning last season at the Meadows
Chris Gooden photo

WASHINGTON, PA, July 3, 2020 -- Saturday's Independence Day celebration at The Meadows will be more festive and exciting than originally anticipated. Thanks to a reshuffling of harnss racing stakes due to the COVID-19 shutdown, the July 4 card features both the $102,245 Currier & Ives for 3-year-old trotters and the $64,594 Currier & Ives filly division.

The Currier & Ives goes as race 7 while the fillies will battle in races 9 and 10. The 15-race program also features an $8,080.56 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 PM.

In the Currier & Ives, Ron Burke will send out It's Academic (post 6, Yannick Gingras), the 9-5 morning-line favorite who's banked $160,002 and enters the Currier & Ives off two straight place finishes in Ohio Sires Stake legs. But they'll be coming at him in waves.

Trainer Ake Svansted has three in the race: Steel Schooner (post 3, Brady Brown); Coventry Hall (post 5, Chris Shaw); Easter King (post 10, Jim Pantaleano). On paper, at least, the trio looks unprepossessing; they're a combined 2-18 with nary a stakes win.

More threatening may be the duo representing trainer John Butenschoen. Kyrie Deo, who sprang a 21-1 upset in last year's $70,000 New Jersey Standardbred Development Fund championship, leaves from post 9 for owners Harmony Oaks Stable, David J. Miller and James Crawford. The Donato Hanover-Rare Book gelding will have the services of Dan Rawlings. Swipe Right (post 1, Mike Wilder) is an Explosive Matter-Online Exclusive gelding who races for VIP Internet Stable, Lawrence Vincent and Harmony Oaks.

Both Butenschoen charges were inexpensive yearling purchases, and the trainer is realistic about their chances.

"They're nice horses, but they're not 'A' Class, top-of-the-sires-stakes types," he says. "They're good, consistent colts; they'll show up, and hopefully they'll be good enough to get some money."

Butenschoen indicates he kept both horses in training -- within limits -- throughout the COVID-19 disruption.

"We didn't quite know what to do with them," he says. "We kept them in training to see what they could do, but we didn't want to train them up too hard, but we needed them to be ready to go."

Burke also figures to have both favorites here. His budding superstar Sister Sledge, last year's Pennsylvania champion and Dan Patch Award runner-up who rolled to victory a week ago at The Meadows in her season's debut, leaves from post 3 in race 10. The Currier & Ives could be a tougher test for her if only because of the presence of her stablemate, Sans Defaut (post 1, Wilder), who kicked off her sophomore campaign with a 1:53.2 win at Pocono.

In the other division, Burke sends out Crucial (post 1), a daughter of Father Patrick-Jolene Jolene who boasts a bankroll of $143,439 and a show finish in an International Stallion Series split. Gingras will steer Sister Sledge and Crucial.

By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association


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