This Week: Canadian Trotting Classic and Elegantimage, William Wellwood Memorial and Peaceful Way finals, and Metro and She’s A Great Lady eliminations, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Milton, Ontario; and Kindergarten Series, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.
Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off at Tioga Downs on Friday (Sept. 13) with four $10,000 races in the Kindergarten Series, one event each for 2-year-old colt and filly trotters and pacers.
Grand Circuit action at Woodbine Mohawk Park will be held on Saturday (Sept. 14) and will feature the C$605,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for 3-year-old open trotters, the C$376,000 Elegantimage for 3-year-old filly trotters, the C$370,000 William Wellwood Memorial for 2-year-old trotting colts, the C$405,000 Peaceful Way for 2-year-old trotting fillies, two C$40,000 eliminations in the Metro for 2-year-old pacing colts and two C$35,000 eliminations in the She’s A Great Lady for 2-year-old pacing fillies.
Last time: On closing night of the 2019 Eldorado Scioto Downs meet, Atlanta withstood the late charge of two rivals to hold on for the victory in the $220,000 Charlie Hill Memorial while in the next race, McWicked came flying down the middle of the stretch for a narrow win in the $440,000 Jim Ewart Memorial.
With Lather Up scratched in the Jim Ewart, 2-1 favorite McWicked (Brian Sears) got away fifth as Filibuster Hanover (Chris Page) led the nine-horse field through a :25.3 first quarter. This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) moved past Filibuster Hanover and led through fractions of :52.4 and 1:20 and to the top of the stretch.
Fifth while turning for home, Sears guided McWicked to the center of the track passing four rivals to win by a nose in 1:49. Donttellmeagain and Western Fame dead heated for second and Courtly Choice was fourth, a neck back.
“He was a little loose on his cover, but you know he just keeps digging to the wire,” said Sears following the win. “Casie’s (Coleman) done an amazing job bringing him back. I want to thank (owner) Ed James for letting us race him again another year. It’s been a lot of fun. This horse, he shows up every week and gives it his all.”
For McWicked, an 8-year-old son of McArdle, it was his fourth win in 2019, the 38th of his career and increased his lifetime earnings to $4,622,405. He is owned by S S G Stables and trained by Casie Coleman.
In the $220,000 Charlie Hill Memorial, Yannick Gingras and Atlanta held off the late charges of Plunge Blue Chip and Mission Accepted to win in a track record 1:51.4.
“I was hoping maybe for a lot of crazy speed early, so I could race off a helmet or chasing down horses any way,” said Gingras. “I think that’s her best game. But the way it worked out, I was able to make the front end and I knew Timmy (Tetrick on favorite Guardian Angel As) was parked the whole mile, so that was definitely a plus.”
After being parked third as Mission Accepted led the nine-horse field to the first quarter in :27.1, Gingras moved Atlanta to the lead the first time past the grandstand then led through fractions of :56 and 1:24. With the lead turning for home, Gingras allowed Atlanta to drift out a little off the turn leaving room for Plunge Blue Chip and Mission Accepted to challenge the winner on the inside.
Atlanta’s winning margin over Plunge Blue Chip was a head and third-place Mission Accepted was a half-length back. Favorite Guardian Angel As finished fourth.
Atlanta, a 4-year-old Chapter Seven mare, is trained by Ron Burke and owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor. She has now won seven of 11 starts this year and is 19-for-35 lifetime with $1,799,089 in career earnings.
Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website.
Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, 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 2019 Grand Circuit awards.
Here are the leaders following this past weekend:
Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick – 863.5; 2. Yannick Gingras – 656; 3. David Miller – 541; 4. Dexter Dunn – 491; 5. Brian Sears – 414.
Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 748; 2. Tony Alagna – 446; 3. Marcus Melander – 359; 4. Jim King Jr. – 306.5; 5. Ake Svanstedt – 305.
Owners: 1. Fashion Farms – 192; 2. Brad Grant – 168.8; 3. Courant Inc. – 152.5; 4. Burke Racing Stable – 135.9; 5. Weaver Bruscemi – 123.4.
Looking ahead: A busy schedule of Grand Circuit racing will be taking place next week at the Delaware County Fair, Woodbine Mohawk Park and Hoosier Park. Delaware will be hosting nine Grand Circuit events, led by the Little Brown Jug, the third and final leg of Pacing’s Triple Crown for 3-year-olds; Mohawk will feature the the Milton for older pacing mares and Metro and She’s A Great Lady finals for freshman pacers; and Hoosier will host seven Grand Circuit races, including the Caesars Trotting Classic for open trotters and the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby for open pacers.