This Week: Joe Gerrity Memorial, Saratoga Casino Hotel, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Nadia Lobell, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; Delvin Miller Adios eliminations, The Meadows, Washington, Pa.; and Tompkins-Geers and Kindergarten Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.
Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action will be held this weekend at four different racetracks.
Action begins on Friday (July 19) at Harrah’s Hoosier Park with the $150,000 Nadia Lobell for 3-year-old filly pacers.
Meadowlands Racetrack on Friday hosts the second leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. There will be three $10,000 divisions for 2-year-old trotting colts, two $10,000 divisions for 2-year-old pacing colts and single $10,000 divisions for 2-year-old pacing fillies and trotting fillies. On Saturday (July 20), the Meadowlands card will offer two divisions in the $100,900 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old trotting colts and two divisions in the $93,600 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old trotting fillies.
Also on Saturday, Saratoga will host their marquee event, the $260,000 Joe Gerrity Memorial for older pacers.
Finally, The Meadows on Saturday will offer a trio of $25,000 eliminations for the Devlin Miller Adios for 3-year-old colt pacers. The $400,000 Adios final the following Saturday afternoon anchors a blockbuster card that features six Grand Circuit stakes.
Complete entries for the races are available at this link.
Last time: What a week for trainer Linda Toscano. On Sunday evening (July 7), the trainer gave a gracious acceptance speech at her induction into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., and on Saturday night (July 13), she stood in the winner’s circle after Best In Show pulled a 27-1 upset in the $682,650 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace.
It was the perfect bookend to a seven-day span she’ll never forget.
“This is another one I never dreamed of,” Toscano said after becoming the first female trainer to win the Pace. “This is home for me. This is awesome.”
In a thrilling finish, Best In Show slipped through an opening on the rail to defeat his more heralded rivals. He got up by a head over Bettor’s Wish, the brave first-over challenger who couldn’t have raced much better. Right in the mix was Workin Ona Mystery in third, with the pacesetting Captain Crunch, the North America Cup winner and the 1-2 favorite in the Pace, a close-up fourth in the blanket finish. The time was 1:48 on the warm evening for the track’s signature race.
Brian Sears, also a Hall of Famer, gave Best In Show a perfect ground-saving drive. Best In Show left alertly before readily yielding to let the favorites duke it out while settling into fourth.
“I knew they were racing pretty good,” Sears said. “It was all the horses to beat and they were going at it. I was pretty content. I wanted to sneak him around there a little bit. I got a little opening, and he fired for me.”
And he fired up the toteboard.
Best In Show paid $56.20, $14.40 and $6.80. Bettor’s Wish returned $4.00 and $2.80. Workin Ona Mystery paid $3.80 to show.
The time was 1:48 after clipping through aggressive fractions of :26.2, :52.4 and a blazing 1:19.3 to the three-quarter pole.
It was fourth win in 12 lifetime starts for Best In Show, who competed in a non-winners of two races condition as recently as May.
“We knew he was a nice colt last year and he got a little colt sore on us,” Toscano said. “We shut him down, brought him back and he’s done everything right.”
Best In Show has been rapidly making up for that lost time.
The son of Bettor’s Delight out of Put On A Show races as a homebred for owners Richard Young and Joanne Young. He turned in a pair of second-place finishes in his previous two starts, an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold and his Pace elimination behind Bettor’s Wish.
Complete recaps of all the weekend 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 – 481; 2. Yannick Gingras – 344; 3. Dexter Dunn – 230; 4. Jason Bartlett – 226; 5. David Miller – 210.
Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 393; 2. Jim King Jr. – 209; 3. Tony Alagna – 192; 4. Chris Ryder – 138; 5. Marcus Melander – 125.
Owners: 1. Fashion Farms – 107; 2. Brad Grant – 86.9; 3. Jo Ann Looney-King – 75.3; 4. Tim Tetrick LLC – 71.8; 5. Howard Taylor – 67.1.
Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at The Meadows, Plainridge Racecourse and Meadowlands Racetrack. The Meadows will host eight Grand Circuit events, led by the final of the Delvin Miller Adios for 3-year-old pacing colts. Plainridge will card the Spirit of Massachusetts for older trotters and the Clara Barton for older pacing mares. Meadowlands Racetrack will host eliminations for three lucrative stakes, led by the Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters, as well as the Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old colt trotters.