Day At The Track

Mohawk finals head Grand Circuit Week

01:20 AM 10 Sep 2020 NZST
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This Week in Harness Racing: Peaceful Way and William Wellwood Memorial finals, Somebeachsomewhere, Champlain Stakes and Simcoe Stakes, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Milton, Ont.

Schedule of events: Another busy weekend of Grand Circuit action at Woodbine Mohawk Park kicks off this Friday (Sept. 11) with two divisions in the C$177,789 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters (featuring Hambletonian champion Ramona Hill) and a single C$167,511 Simcoe Stakes division for 3-year-old male trotters.

The Saturday (Sept. 12) Mohawk Park card is led by the C$535,000 William Wellwood Memorial final for 2-year-old male trotters and the C$335,000 Peaceful Way final for 2-year-old filly trotters. Also on the card will be two divisions each in the C$187,518 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old male pacers, the C$177,789 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers, the C$173,328 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers and the C$155,000 Somebeachsomewhere for 3-year-old male pacers.

Complete entries for the Mohawk Park races are available at this link.

Last time: Atlanta bounced back from a miscue in her last start to win the C$560,000 Maple Leaf Trot in 1:50.4 on Saturday night (Sept. 5) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Atlanta bounced back from a miscue in her last start to win the C$560,000 Maple Leaf Trot in 1:50.4. New Image Media photo.

The 5-year-old mare shot off cover for driver Yannick Gingras at the head of the stretch and powered by rivals for a four length score. The Ron Burke trainee matched the stakes record held by Guardian Angel As (2019) and Mister Herbie (2012).

"All the credit goes to Ron Burke," said Gingras of Atlanta's bounce back performance off a break in the previous Saturday's Armbro Flight. "A guy like him with the brain he has, right away after the race last week he called me and said I know what the problem is.

"We changed the shoes four starts back and it went good the first start, the next start it was a little worse and then a little worse and then last week she made a break, but the memory the guy has is unreal and all the credit to him tonight because she definitely bounced back big."

Early action saw Crystal Fashion blast to the lead for a :26.3 opening quarter. Lindy The Great ignored a rail spot and kept marching on, clearing to command quickly in the second split. The new leader saw the front briefly, as Manchego and driver Louis Philippe Roy had their eyes on making the front despite a second-tier starting spot.

Manchego hit the half in :54.3 and Roy kept his foot on the gas pedal, trotting a :27.2 third quarter to reach that marker in 1:22.

Guardian Angel As, last year's champion, moved to the outside racing to the half to lead the outside charge, while Atlanta and driver Gingras moved out from fifth and received a second-over tow around the final turn.

In the stretch, Atlanta stormed by her rivals and was off to her third win of the season and 23rd lifetime. Lindy The Great dug in and grabbed second, while Gimpanzee, the even-money favorite, finished third after following Atlanta. Crystal Fashion was fourth, while Manchego dropped back to fifth.

Atlanta is owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor.

Driver James MacDonald engineered his second consecutive Canadian Pacing Derby stunner, guiding Dorsoduro Hanover to a 40-1 upset. New Image Media photo.

Driver James MacDonald engineered his second consecutive Canadian Pacing Derby stunner, guiding Dorsoduro Hanover to a 40-1 upset at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

The Ron Burke trained Dorsoduro Hanover and MacDonald sat fifth-over turning for home and swept by rivals promptly for a 1:48.4 victory in the C$540,000 event.

"I always thought the seven claimer was my race," joked MacDonald, who also drove Courtly Choice to a 34-1 upset in last year's event. "I'll take the Derby, it's a real honor just to be in it and to win it...I can't even put it in words."

A hot opening quarter of :25.1 was put up by American History after rocketing off the gate along with rail starter Bettor's Wish and Backstreet Shadow. Bettor's Wish quickly rushed from third to first and led by the half in :52.4. The third quarter saw Backstreet Shadow come first up at Bettor's Wish with the pacers dueling by three-quarters in 1:21.1.

The field fanned out wide with the front horses tiring at the head of the lane, setting up a wild finish that saw Dorsoduro Hanover sweep by after being ninth to win by 3-1/2 lengths. Dancin Lou came from third-over to finish second, while Century Farroh was third after sitting second-over turning for home. Sintra finished fourth.

A 5-year-old gelding, Dorsoduro Hanover is now one for nine on the season for owners Burke Racing Stable, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi and Wingfield Five.

Complete recaps of all 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 - 508; 2. Tim Tetrick - 284; 3. Andrew McCarthy - 257; 4t. Dexter Dunn - 239; 4t. Brian Sears - 239.

Trainers: 1. Nancy Takter - 390; 2. Ron Burke - 376; 3. Tony Alagna - 277; 4. Ake Svanstedt - 234; 5. Marcus Melander - 233.

Owners: 1. Determination - 125; 2. Brad Grant - 105.4; 3. S R F Stable - 92.5; 4. Crawford Farms Racing - 85.6; 5. Courant Inc. - 84.5.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit racing will be taking place next week at Woodbine Mohawk Park and The Meadowlands. Mohawk Park's week will feature the Canadian Trotting Classic and Elegantimage for sophomore trotters and eliminations in the Metro Pace and She's A Great Lady for freshman pacers and the Milton for older pacing mares. The Meadowlands will host the first leg of the Kindergarten Series for freshman pacers and trotters.

by Paul Ramlow, for the USTA


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