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Zweig Memorial races open up busy Grand Circuit weekend
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - by Paul Ramlow, publicity director, the Grand Circuit

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This Week: Zweig Memorial and Zweig Memorial filly trot, Vernon Downs, Vernon, N.Y.; Gold Cup and Saucer final, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino, Charlottetown, PEI; Roll With Joe, Tompkins-Geers and Miss Versatility, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.; and Prix d’Ete, Hippodrome 3R, Trois Rivieres, Quebec.

Schedule of events: An extremely busy week of Grand Circuit action kicks off on Friday (Aug. 18) at Vernon Downs with the $320,000 Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old open trotters and the $135,000 Zweig Filly for 3-year-old filly trotters. There will also be a $70,000 consolation in the open division and a $28,220 consolation in the filly division.

Saturday’s (Aug. 19) Grand Circuit action will be hosted by Red Shores Racetrack & Casino, with the C$60,000 Gold Cup and Saucer final for older pacers.

On Sunday (Aug. 20), Grand Circuit racing will take place at Tioga Downs with the $175,000 (est.) Roll With Joe for older pacers, a $40,000 (est.) leg of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares, and the Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old pacing and trotting colts and fillies. Also on Sunday, Hippodrome 3R will contest the C$200,000 Prix d’Ete for 4-year-old pacers.

Complete entries for the races at the U.S. tracks are available at this link. Entries for the Canadian tracks are available at this link.

Last time: On an absolutely flawless Friday (Aug. 11) evening, Hoosier Park Racing & Casino possessed all the elements for a spectacular 24th edition of the $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes. The crowd was enthusiastic, the weather was sheer perfection and a quality field of 10, half of which were world champions, was certain to provide the fans with an exhilarating contest.

Dean Gillette photo
Check Six was a 1:48.1 winner in the Dan Patch Stakes at Hoosier Park.

Check Six was ultimately the horse to fulfill that goal with a quarter-length victory over stablemate All Bets Off in 1:48.1 and stake his claim as the divisional leader. Rock N’ Roll World closed with alacrity to reach the wire in third.

After celebrating his win, Yannick Gingras, who guided the son of Somebeachsomewhere around the seven-eighths-mile Anderson oval, acknowledged he was not exactly overjoyed when the 4-year-old stallion’s post position was selected earlier in the week.

“I was not thrilled when I saw the draw sheet and we were in post nine,” he said. “But you have to go out there, see how things work out on the track and then drive accordingly. He’s had some back luck, but he’s sharp right now so since the McKee ($224,400 Sam McKee Memorial on Aug. 5) maybe now his luck is changing.”

Gingras wasted no time putting Check Six into the race as he gunned him to the lead immediately after the wings folded on the gate. He was followed into the first turn by world champion Dr J Hanover (Doug McNair) and Rock N’ Roll World (John De Long), then tripped the timer for the first quarter-mile in a speedy :26.

Shortly after the time flashed upon the board, Matt Kakaley decided All Bets Off should control the tempo and that duo seized command by the :54.2 half-mile pole. At that juncture Aaron Merriman had his own ideas on how the race should be conducted and moved Dealt A Winner first-over to gain second place, with Gingras content to sit in third until after the 1:21.1 three-quarters.

As Dealt A Winner began to tire from his earlier efforts as the field entered the top of the stretch, All Bets Off began to place of bit of separation between himself and his rivals, with Rock N’ Roll World and McWicked (David Miller) winding up for their drives to the wire.

Just when it appeared All Bets Off was home free and would hold Check Six, Rock N’ Roll World and McWicked at bay, Gingras ducked into the passing lane, strode by All Bets Off along the rail and collected the win for conditioner Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, William Switala and James Martin.

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

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2017, 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 2017 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders through and including the races on Aug. 12.

Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras – 620; 2. David Miller – 489; 3. Tim Tetrick – 423; 4. Scott Zeron – 310; 5. Jason Bartlett – 238.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 560; 2. Jimmy Takter – 417; 3. Brian Brown – 245; 4. Ray Schnittker – 187; 5. Rene Allard – 161.

Owners: 1. Emerald Highlands Farm – 155; 2. Burke Racing Stable – 127; 3. Harry von Knoblauch Stable – 123.5; 4. Weaver Bruscemi – 105.4; 5. J&T Silva Stables – 88.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Yonkers Raceway, Mohawk Racetrack, and Tioga Downs. Yonkers will contest eliminations for the Messengers Stakes and Yonkers Trot, the second legs of the Pacing and Trotting Triple Crown, along with eliminations in the companion Lady Maud and Hudson Filly Trot. Mohawk Racetrack will contest the Nassagaweya and Eternal Camnation for 2-year-old pacers, along with eliminations in the Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers. Tioga Downs will offer the Crawford Farm Trot for older trotters, the Joie De Vie for older trotting mares, the Artiscape for older pacing mares and Reynolds Memorial divisions for 2-year-olds.

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