Day At The Track

Grand Circuit returns to Dover Downs

02:48 AM 12 Nov 2020 NZDT
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Harness Racing This Week: Matron Stakes, Dover Downs, Dover, Del.

Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit returns to Dover Downs this Thursday (Nov. 12) for four Matron Stakes for 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. The 3-year-old colt pace carries a purse of $179,600, the 3-year-old filly trotters will race for $163,050, the purse for the 3-year-old colt trot is $162,350 and the 3-year-old filly pacers will race for $154,450.

Complete entries for the races are available at this link.

Last time: On Saturday (Nov. 7), a week after Summa Cum Laude and Perfect Sting recorded the first dead-heat Breeders Crown win, Yannick Gingras steered Sunma Cum Laude to a 1:50.2 win in the $204,050 Kindergarten Classic final for freshman pacing colts and geldings at The Meadowlands.

Summa Cum Laude soared home with Yannick Gingras at the reins to win the pacing Kindergarten Classic for colts and geldings at The Meadowlands. Lisa photo.

Soaring to first off the gate was Shakespeare, followed by Captain Sleaze, with the Ron Burke-trained Summa Cum Laude in fourth behind Ilderton AM after leaving from the 10 hole. Shakespeare cut the first quarter in :26.4.

Summa Cum Laude took to the outside and smoothly passed Shakespeare. With the lead, he was entirely in charge pacing to a 1:23.3 three-quarters. Simon Says Hanover came first over to make his bid but Shakespeare was still strong and still after the leader, while Always B Sweet came into the stretch picture.

Without urging, Gingras drove Summa Cum Laude across the wire to a lifetime-best-equaling score by 1-1/4 lengths. Shakespeare held on for second, Captain Sleaze got third and Always B Sweet closed late to get fourth.

"I just tried to get him in play," Gingras said after the race. "I wasn't going to take back to last, so I was able to get away fourth and from there I saw what the pace was going to be, though it didn't matter, because he can race any which what way. I had a ton of pace still when finishing."

Summa Cum Laude is by Somebeachsomewhere-Western Graduate. Burke Racing Stable, Phil Collura, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi own the colt who took his fifth win in 14 starts and has accrued $440,325 in earnings. As the favorite, Summa Cum Laude paid $4 to win.

Fresh from her Breeders Crown victory at Harrah's Hoosier Park, Fire Start Hanover and driver Dexter Dunn swarmed over her competition to win the $151,030 Kindergarten Classic final for freshman pacing fillies.

Fire Start Hanover, the 1-5 favorite, was in no rush leaving the gate, and settled into fourth as High Minded and Lindy At The Beach rushed from the outside and Three Way Split held onto her rail position.

As the first quarter was clocked in :26.3, High Minded gave up the lead to Classicist, who could not keep the top before the :55.2 half when Dunn guided Fire Start Hanover to the outside. With Off The Record at her back, Fire Start Hanover became the leader and never looked back.

The Nifty Norman-trained filly glided into the stretch in total command, with Off The Record in futile pursuit, crossing the wire 1-1/4 lengths in front in a 1:51.1 mile. Off The Record was second and Classicist shifted into third over High Minded.

Dunn said, "She bounced back okay. It's only a week since she raced in the Breeders Crown and though that was a tough mile she did it pretty easily."

In the Kindergarten, he said, "The way she was traveling to three-quarters I was not worried because she was full of pace. She finished the mile with the ear plugs still in. She's strong."

Fire Start Hanover is a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, out of Fit To Frame. Pinske Stables, David Hoese and Lawrence Means own the filly who collected her eighth win in a dozen starts and has earned $589,326. She paid $2.40 to win.

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 - 1,216; 2. Dexter Dunn - 1,012; 3. David Miller - 765; 4. Tim Tetrick - 715.5; 5. Andrew McCarthy - 581.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 1,228; 2. Nancy Takter - 1,175.5; 3. Ake Svanstedt - 684; 4. Tony Alagna - 662; 5. Marcus Melander - 492.

Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 268.8; 2. Caviart Farms - 227.2; 3. Determination - 220; 4. Brad Grant - 214; 5. Weaver Bruscemi - 204.7.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next week at The Meadowlands and Dover Downs. The Meadowlands will feature the four TVG finals for older pacers and trotters and the Fall Four stakes for 2-year-old pacers and trotters. Dover will host the Progress Pace eliminations for 3-year-old open pacers.

by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit

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