This Week: Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stake, Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; Canadian Pacing Derby, Metro and She’s A Great Lady eliminations, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; Cane Pace eliminations, Miss Versatility leg and Kindergarten leg, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.; and Zweig Memorial, Vernon Downs, Vernon, N.Y.
Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off on Wednesday (Aug. 21) at Hoosier Park with two $108,050 divisions of the Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stake for 2-year-old filly trotters.
Racing shifts north of the border on Saturday (Aug. 24) when Mohawk Racetrack hosts two C$40,000 eliminations in the Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers, three C$40,000 eliminations in the Metro for 2-year-old pacing colts and a pair of C$35,000 eliminations in the She’s A Great Lady for 2-year-old pacing fillies.
On Sunday (Aug. 25), Tioga Downs will host a trio of Grand Circuit events, led by the $100,000 eliminations for the Cane Pace, the first leg of the Pacing Triple Crown. Tioga will also feature a $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility for trotting mares and legs of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old colt and filly trotters.
Also on Sunday, Vernon Downs features the $400,000 (est.) Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old colt trotters and the $180,000 (est.) Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters. Each of the Zweig events will also offer a lucrative consolation.
Last time: The Grand Circuit spotlight was on Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs this past Saturday night. All three of the night’s major stakes -- the Battle of the Brandywine, Colonial and Valley Forge -- were won with world-record performances.
Sunshine Beach upset Captaintreacherous by a nose in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine in 1:47.4, equaling the fastest mile ever on a five-eighths oval; Spider Blue Chip won the $500,000 Colonial in 1:52.2 to set the record for 3-year-old gelding trotters on a five-eighths track; and standout 3-year-old filly I Luv The Nitelife won Saturday’s $350,000 Valley Forge with a 1:48.4 world-record performance.
|USTA/Ken Weingartner photo|
|Sunshine Beach was a narrow winner over Captaintreacherous in the Battle of the Brandywine.|
Sunshine Beach and driver Brian Sears handed Captaintreacherous his first setback of the year with a nose win in Saturday’s $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine for 3-year-old pacers. Sunshine Beach got the lead in an opening half-mile of :53.3 as Captaintreacherous launched a first-over attack. The two horses dueled down the backstretch and around the final turn before Sunshine Beach began to inch away. Captaintreacherous, though, made a final surge nearing the finish line and just missed keeping his win streak alive. Twilight Bonfire was third in the mile.
In the Colonial, Spider Blue Chip and driver Ron Pierce waited patiently as favorite Royalty For Life, coming off his win in the Hambletonian, and Smilin Eli battled for the lead throughout the mile. Spider Blue Chip won by a half-length in 1:52.2. Smilin Eli finished second and Corky was third.
I Luv The Nitelife has won nine of 10 races this year, including her last eight in a row. She won the Valley Forge by 2-1/4 lengths over Somwherovrarainbow, who led to the first quarter in :25.2 while battling Charisma Hanover for the top spot. Somwherovrarainbow gave way to I Luv The Nitelife in a :53.2 half and I Luv The Nitelife never looked back. Novascotia Hanover finished third.
A trio of the sport's top freshman pacers were showcased on Saturday evening at Mohawk with divisions of the Nassagaweya Stakes taking place. Play It Again Sam, Arthur Blue Chip and Somewhere In L A all found the wire first for their respective connections. Also at Mohawk, 20 top freshman pacing fillies were put on display in a pair of divisions of the Eternal Camnation Stakes. Precocious Beauty and driver Doug McNair led the way in the first division with a 1:50.2 stakes record. McNair also took the other division with heavily favored She’s Da Bomb in 1:52.
Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website.
Grand Circuit Standings: In 2013, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will 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). Hanover Shoe Farms is the sponsor for the 2013 Grand Circuit awards.
Here are the leaders following the past weekend:
Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras – 851; 2. Tim Tetrick – 742; 3. David Miller - 512; 4. Brian Sears – 408.5; and 5. Andy Miller – 398.
Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 924.5; 2. Jimmy Takter – 506.5; 3. Linda Toscano – 361.5; 4. Ray Schnittker – 224; and 5. Chris Ryder – 189.
Owners: 1. Burke Racing – 204.45; 2. Weaver Bruscemi – 189.25; 3. Frank Bellino – 128.5; 4. Brittany Farms – 115.35; and 5. Christina Takter – 102.43.
Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Mohawk Racetrack with the finals in the Canadian Pacing Derby, the Metro and the She’s A Great Lady, along with Champlain Stakes events for 2-year-old colt and filly trotters and Simcoe Stakes events for 3-year-old colt and filly trotters and 3-year-old filly pacers. Tioga Downs will contest the final of the Cane Pace for 3-year-olds, along with the Shady Daisy for sophomore filly pacers. Harrah’s Philadelphia will host Historic Series races for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers.