Day At The Track

Grand Circuit focuses on Yonkers Raceway

01:34 AM 26 Mar 2021 NZDT
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Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata Pacing series third legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.

Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers features two $35,000 divisions on Friday (March 26) in the third round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Monday (March 29) card at Yonkers will see three $40,000 divisions in the third round of the MGM Borgata Pacing series for open pacers.

Each series offers five preliminary rounds leading to the finales, both set for Monday (April 19).

Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link.

Last Time: Leonidas A and Hesa Kingslayer N repeated in Monday night's (March 22) $40,000 divisions of the second leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway.

Leonidas A kicked into high gear, pacing a :55 back-half to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:52. Chris Brokate photo.

Driven by Austin Siegelman, Leonidas A landed in the pocket from post one early in the third of four sections, then moved around fellow round one winner San Domino A (Todd McCarthy) for command passing the :28 opening quarter. After that, Leonidas A got away with a soft :57 half, and it was pretty much over once that happened as Leonidas A kicked into high gear, pacing a :55 back-half to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:52. San Domino A held second over Chief Mate (Scott Zeron), who put in a good try from first-over given the early tempo.

Sheena McElhiney trains Leonidas A, a 6-year-old Mach Three gelding, for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A posted his 27th career win and he has earnings of $271,848.

This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) rolled to the lead in the last split and he would lead through fractions of :27.3, :56.2, and 1:24, with Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr.) going first-up from third prior to three-quarters. Hesa Kingslayer N advanced into second on the final turn, then sustained his bid through the stretch, wearing down This Is The Plan on his way to the victory by a half-length in 1:51.4. Stars Align A (Todd McCarthy) was the third-place finisher after a pocket trip. Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn) saw his seven-race undefeated streak in the U.S. end in this race as he couldn't get involved from post eight and had to settle for a dead-heat for sixth.

Trainer Michael Deters also co-owns Hesa Kingslayer N, an 8-year-old gelded son of Christian Cullen, with Joel Warner. Hesa Kingslayer N now has 19 career triumphs and he has put away $169,962.

Having gained enormous respect from her blowout victory in the opening leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, Alexa Skye had a much easier time putting away her rivals on Friday night (March 19), capturing the first of three $35,000 divisions at Yonkers Raceway in a 1:53.4 clocking.

Sent off as the prohibitive 1-10 betting favorite, Todd McCarthy wasted little time seizing command on the opening bend from an accommodating My Ruebe Star N and driver Jordan Stratton. McCarthy kept an easy clip, going to the quarter in :28.4 and reaching the half unchallenged in :58.1. From there, the field of six stayed very much in line as Alexa Skye picked up the pace on the backstretch, hitting three-quarters in 1:26 on her own power.

McCarthy hardly moved a muscle edging into the homestretch and the powerful 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere finished out her mile with a :27.4 final quarter as the rest of the field battled hard for the place spot. My Ruebe Star N held her ground and won the competition for the second position, while Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) closed along the pylons and finished in a dead-heat with Keep Rockin A (Tim Tetrick) for show.

Alexa Skye, who picked up her 14th victory overall and has now banked $192,390, is owned in partnership by Pollack Racing and trainer Jeff Cullipher.

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

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, 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 2021 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders (through the races on 3-22-21):

Drivers: 1. Andrew McCarthy - 42; 2. Todd McCarthy - 38; 3. Austin Siegelman - 32; 4. Tim Tetrick - 23; 5. George Brennan - 20.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 45; 2t. Jeff Cullipher - 20; 2t. Noel Daley - 20; 2t. Mike Deters - 20; 2t. Sheena McElhiney - 20.

Owners: 1. Jesmeral Stable - 20; 2t. Renee Bercury - 15; 2t. Brad Grant - 15; 4t. Burke Racing Stable - 12.7; 4t. Weaver Bruscemi - 12.7.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata over the next two weeks. The finals for both events will be held on April 19.

by Paul Ramlow, for The Grand Circuit


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