Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit returns to Dover Downs this Wednesday (Nov. 27) for the $335,000 final in the Hap Hansen Progress Pace for 3-year-old open pacers. Elimination winner Captain Crunch heads a field of eight in the Hap Hansen, the final stake of the 2019 Grand Circuit season.
Complete entries for the race are available at this link.
Last time: Six Pack went out a winner, capping his career by capturing Saturday’s (Nov. 23) $350,000 TVG Open Trot championship by three-quarters of a length with a track-record 1:50 performance over a surface labeled “good” because of rain at The Meadowlands.
Manchego, the lone mare in the race, finished second and Guardian Angel AS was third. Gimpanzee, the 3-year-old taking on older trotters, finished fourth.
Guardian Angel AS took the lead on the first turn while Six Pack, on the inside, and Manchego, on the outside, battled for second through an opening quarter in :26.3. Guardian Angel AS gave up the front to Manchego in a half of :53.4, with Six Pack third and Gimpanzee fourth.
The top four remained in that order as Manchego reached three-quarters in 1:22.4, but Six Pack was on the move and came home with a :26.3 final quarter to hit the wire first. The winning time established a track record for 4-year-old stallion trotters.
“It was a perfect trip for him,” trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt said about Six Pack. “It was a fast first quarter and fast first half, so then I thought I had a good chance to win.”
Six Pack, by Muscle Mass out of Pleasing Lady, is owned by Ake Svanstedt Inc., Little E-Knutssontrotting, Stall Kalmar Inc., and L Berg Inc. He was bred by Brittany Farms.
For the year, Six Pack has won four of 12 races and earned $581,314. Lifetime, the 4-year-old stallion won 19 of 35 races and $1.93 million. He will stand at Deo Volente Farms in New Jersey.
Six Pack was a Dan Patch Award winner at age 3, when he became the fastest 3-year-old trotter in history with a 1:49.1 mile. This season, he became the fastest 4-year-old male trotter, with a 1:49.2 score.
Always A Prince and driver Yannick Gingras went to the front from post eight and never looked back, rolling to a 1:48.2 win in Saturday’s $350,000 TVG Open Pace championship. The margin of victory was 4-3/4 lengths.
Bettor’s Wish, the lone 3-year-old in the field of older male pacers, finished second and American History was third.
Always A Prince, trained by Tyler George, set fractions of :27, :55, and 1:22.1 on his way to the win. It was Gingras’ first drive behind Always A Prince, a 4-year-old gelding, who was sent off at odds of 5-1.
“He certainly left a good impression,” Gingras said. “(I was told) he’s really nice to drive, he can race either way, and left it up to me behind the gate. When the gate opened, there wasn’t much speed. A couple horses left inside of me, but I was able to get a really good first half, and I think it made the difference.
“When I looked at the race, I didn’t see a crazy amount of speed. I thought there were more horses that were looking to race from behind, so I thought maybe it could work out that way. But maybe once every 20 times it works out the way I think.”
For the year, Always A Prince has won four of 18 races and earned $362,835. He has won 23 of 40 lifetime starts and $855,710.
Always A Prince, by Always A Virgin out of Glorious Princess, is owned by Carl Atley and Melanie Atley. He was bred by Emerald Highlands Farm.
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 – 1,396.5; 2. Yannick Gingras – 1,363; 3. Dexter Dunn – 1,049; 4. David Miller – 960; 5. Andrew McCarthy – 828.
Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 1,322; 2. Tony Alagna – 887; 3 Nancy Johansson – 717; 4. Ake Svanstedt – 677; 5. Marcus Melander – 628.
Owners: 1. Courant Inc. – 289.5; 2. Brad Grant – 271.7; 3. Burke Racing Stable – 242.5; 4. Robert Key – 226; 5. Fashion Farms – 224.5.
Looking ahead: The 2019 Grand Circuit season will conclude after this week; the 2020 Grand Circuit schedule will be released in January.