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Sun Stakes eliminations highlight Grand Circuit action at Pocono
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - by Paul Ramlow, publicity director, the Grand Circuit

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This Week: Ben Franklin Pace, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, Max C. Hempt Memorial and James M. Lynch Memorial eliminations, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Schedule of events: The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will host four sets of stakes eliminations on Saturday (June 23). There will be three $35,000 eliminations in the Ben Franklin for older pacers; a trio of $25,000 eliminations in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters and the Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers; and two $20,000 eliminations in the James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old filly pacers. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link.

Last time: Last weekend’s Grand Circuit action was highlighted by the $760,000 Pepsi North America Cup for 3-year-old pacers on Saturday (June 16) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

New Image Media photo
Lather Up captured the Pepsi North America Cup in a time of 1:48.1.

Trained by Clyde Francis, Lather Up and driver Montrell Teague powered forward from the beginning and took no prisoners en route to a four length score in 1:48.1.

"It's a sensational feeling," said co-owner and breeder Gary Iles. "To come away with a win, it doesn't get any better than this."

The win was sweet redemption for trainer Francis and driver Teague after they came up just short in the 2015 edition with Wiggle It Jiggleit.
Lather Up fired from post four to the early lead, but was overtaken at the opening quarter (:26.3) by Done Well and driver Tim Tetrick. Teague wasted little time retaking the lead in the second quarter and had his charge showing the way through a :54.1 opening half.

“I definitely wanted to retake,” said Teague. “(Tetrick) could have went on and taken a bigger fraction for the half but I was trying to go back to the front and back the half down as much as I could.”

Nutcracker Sweet and driver David Miller were first-up rounding the far turn, supplying cover for a perfectly placed second-over Stay Hungry and driver Doug McNair.

Lather Up reached three-quarters in a sizzling 1:21.3 to lead into the lane. Two-hole sitter Done Well and an off-cover Stay Hungry fired their best shot in the stretch, but were no match for the 3-5 mutuel favorite.

Lather Up powered home in :26.3 for his biggest victory and sixth win in as many starts this season. Done Well finished second, while Lost In Time and driver Scott Zeron rallied from eighth, placed fourth-over at three-quarters, to grab third. Stay Hungry finished fourth.

Owned and bred by Gary and Barbara Iles, Lather Up now holds a career record of 10 wins in 13 starts. The victory increased his seasonal earnings to $458,165 and career earnings to $532,265.

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

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2018, 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 2018 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders following the past weekend.

Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick – 368; 2. Yannick Gingras – 266; 3. Jordan Stratton – 154; 4. Jason Bartlett – 139; 5. David Miller – 104.5.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 270; 2. Jim King Jr. – 146; 3. Peter Tritton – 122; 4. Jimmy Takter – 112; 5. Richard Banca – 75.

Owners: 1. Vonknoblauch Stable - 107; 2. Richard Poillucci – 66; 3t. Burke Racing Stable – 65.9; 3t. Weaver Bruscemi – 65.9; 5. Jo Ann Looney-King – 60.

Looking ahead: Next weekend Grand Circuit action will be taking place at four different tracks. Pocono will have the finals for the Ben Franklin (older pacers), Earl Beal Memorial (3-year-old trotters), Max Hempt Memorial (3-year-old pacers) and James Lynch (3-year-old filly pacers); Northfield Park will host the Cleveland Trotting Classic for older trotters; Tioga Downs will offer Tompkins-Geers stakes for 3-year-old colt and filly pacers; and Historic Track will feature Landmark Stakes for 2- and 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits.

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