This Week: Breeders Crown finals, Madison County and Pegasus, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; John Simpson Stakes, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Chester, Pa.; and Kindergarten Series fourth leg, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J.
Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action this week commences on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 28) at Harrah’s Philadelphia with three divisions in the $99,201 John Simpson Stakes for 3-year-old colt pacers and three divisions in the $99,201 John Simpson Stakes for 3-year-old colt trotters.
Hoosier Park on Thursday (Oct. 29) will host the $70,000 Madison County for 2-year-old filly trotters.
Breeders Crown finals at Hoosier begin on Friday (Oct. 30) with $600,000 races for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. Also on Friday, Hoosier will contest the $60,000 Pegasus for 3-year-old filly trotters and the $50,000 Pegasus for 3-year-old filly pacers.
The Saturday (Oct. 31) card at Hoosier features four $500,000 Breeders Crown finals for 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits; the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace and Open Trot; and the $300,000 Breeders Crown Open Mare Pace and Open Mare Trot. In addition, Hoosier will offer the $60,000 Pegasus for 3-year-old colt pacers and the $55,000 Pegasus for 3-year-old colt trotters.
The Meadowlands on Friday (Oct. 30) will host the fourth leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. There will be a pair of $20,000 divisions for the colt and filly trotters and a single $20,000 division for the colt and filly pacers.
Complete entries for the races are available at this link.
Last time: Charging to his 11th win of the season, Tall Dark Stranger and regular driver Yannick Gingras fought off a late charge by Warrawee Vital to win the second Breeders Crown elimination for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings in 1:48.4 on Saturday (Oct. 24) at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.
Warrawee Vital tried to get a hold of the pace right off of the gate, leaving quickly and taking the lead over Captain Barbossa, with Tall Dark Stranger dropping in third into a fiery :25.4 first panel. Gingras shifted to the overland route to take over the lead, guiding the other six colts to three-quarters in 1:23. From the back, Captain Kirk failed to sustain an outer-tier advance while Elver Hanover stayed in fourth. Meanwhile, the original trio in front wrestled for the finish line.
Warrawee Vital came out gallantly down the center of the track for a charge at Tall Dark Stranger, making Gingras urge the leader to shake off the challenger — as he has done through the season when faced with a possible duel to the wire. Tall Dark Stranger responded again with a :25.4 closing quarter, winning by a neck in 1:48.4. Captain Barbossa held on for third, while Elver Hanover and Sandbetweenmytoes followed to make the final.
“I just trust (Tall Dark Stranger) and let him fight off horses in the stretch,” Gingras said. “Last week in Lexington, I knew he was in the best shape he’s ever been.”
Leaving fast and finishing faster, Cattlewash won the first 3-year-old colt pacing Breeders Crown elimination. The mile, clocked in 1:47.2, equaled the all-age track record and set a sophomore colt pacing mark.
Driver David Miller left alertly from the rail with Cattlewash and rebuffed an early outside challenge from No Lou Zing, who settled in second through a :26 first quarter. Longshot The Greek Freak followed in third and favorite Capt Midnight sat in fourth.
Miller sat comfortably with Cattlewash as he cut a :54.1 half. Heading into three-quarters, Capt Midnight took to the outside and started a strenuous chase for the leader, but one that saw him fade as Cattlewash excelled to three-quarters in 1:20.3.
Allywag Hanover took his shot off the sizzling third panel and swung wide into the stretch, but he could not rally off weakening cover. Meanwhile, Cattlewash remained strong to the line, holding off No Lou Zing by 1-1/2 lengths. The Greek Freak, who drafted behind the leading pair, finished third, followed by Save Me A Dance and Manticore.
“He’s real sharp right now,” David Miller said, adding that he had no strategy when leaving from post one. “If a lot of horses left, I would’ve raced him differently, but no one did. It’s an awfully long stretch, but he (was going easily).”
Cattlewash, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Road Bet, is trained by Ron Burke for owner and breeder William Donovan.
Complete recaps of all the 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 – 1,026; 2. Dexter Dunn – 812; 3. Tim Tetrick – 620.5; 4. David Miller – 575; 5. Andrew McCarthy – 556.
Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 966; 2. Nancy Takter – 955.5; 3. Tony Alagna – 642; 4. Ake Svanstedt – 587; 5. Marcus Melander – 450.
Owners: 1. Caviart Farms – 211.4; 2. Burke Racing Stable – 209.1; 3. Determination – 200; 4. Brad Grant – 196.5; 5. S R F Stable – 182.3.
Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next week at Dover Downs, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, and The Meadowlands. Dover Downs will feature the Matron Stakes for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. Harrah’s Hoosier Park will host the Carl Erskine, Monument Circle, Crossroads of America and USS Indianapolis for 3-year-olds. The Meadowlands will feature the finals of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits.