Big Saturday card at Meadowlands leads busy Grand Circuit weekend

This Week: Meadowlands Pace, Hambletonian Maturity, W.R. Haughton Memorial, Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Delvin Miller Memorial, Golden Girls, Miss Versatility and Kindergarten Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; and Lawrence B. Sheppard Memorial, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.

Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit week begins on Friday (July 12) at Meadowlands Racetrack with two $10,000 divisions in the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old colt trotters and a pair of $10,000 divisions in the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old filly trotters.

The stakes heavy Saturday (July 13) Grand Circuit card at the Meadowlands features the $682,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds, the $450,000 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters, the $423,000 W.R. Haughton Memorial for free for all pacers, two divisions in the $306,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, two divisions in the $250,500 Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $207,700 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old filly pacers, the $179,550 Golden Girls for older pacing mares, and a $40,000 division of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares.

Saturday Grand Circuit action also includes the $120,250 Lawrence B. Sheppard for 2-year-old colt pacers at Yonkers Raceway.

Complete entries for the races are available at this link.

Last time: It appeared Lather Up barely broke a sweat as he paced his way into the history books with a 1:46 mile on Saturday evening (July 6) at The Meadowlands en route to his 20th career victory in the $250,000 Graduate final for 4-year-old pacers.

Only Always B Miki, at age five in 2016 at Red Mile, has ever stopped the clock as swiftly. The mile also broke the previous mark of 1:46.4 for a 4-year-old pacer, held jointly by stallion Warrawee Needy in 2013 at The Meadowlands and gelding Dr J Hanover in 2017 at Mohawk.

Lather Up paced his way into the history books with a 1:46 mile in the Graduate final. Lisa photo.

Steered by Montrell Teague, the son of I’m Gorgeous-Pocket Comb enjoyed the perfect pocket journey behind Indiana champion Always A Prince (Brian Sears). That rival established torrid fractions of :25.3, :52 and 1:19.1 prior to being overhauled by Lather Up.

The winner defeated a hard closing This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) by 2-1/4 lengths and Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) to procure his record-setting triumph. After his early efforts, Always A Prince held gamely for fourth.

Owned by his breeders, Gary and Barbara Iles, Lather Up is conditioned by Clyde Francis. He entered this contest after a costly break at the half-mile pole in the $500,000 Ben Franklin final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on June 29 caused him to finish ninth.

“I knew we were going to go a crazy mile,” said Montrell Teague. “When I popped the pocket and my horse just sprinted I knew we were in a very good position. He throws in a couple bad races here and there but we showed how good he really is tonight.

“It’s monumental; it’s amazing. Wiggles (2015 Horse of the Year and Teague standout Wiggle It Jiggleit) never did anything like that, but hats off to how good Lather Up really is.”

Lather Up has now amassed more than $1.18 million from 33 lifetime trips to the gate and sports a record of 8-5-0-1 for the season.

Atlanta (Yannick Gingras) took the overland route to claim a world record triumph in 1:49.1 in the $250,000 Graduate final for 4-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands on Saturday. The daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip exploded in the lane to defeat world champion Six Pack (Åke Svenstadt) and Indiana champion Custom Cantab (David Miller) at the wire.

The time of 1:49.1 was the fastest ever for a trotting mare, besting the 1:49.2 mark put up in 2017 by Hannelore Hanover at Red Mile. It was also the fastest trotting mile ever at The Meadowlands.

Leaving from post position four, Atlanta was unhurried as Manchego (Dexter Dunn) led the field of 10 through a swift opening quarter-mile of :26.2. That mare was overtaken by a first-over Six Pack shortly after that marker. Six Pack posted fractions of :54.1 and 1:22 as the field turned for home.

Driven confidently by Gingras, Atlanta commenced her march on the outside from third place at the top of the stretch to best Six Pack by a neck in a cavalry charge to the finish line.

“I can’t say I was not worried turning for home,” said Gingras. “His horse (Svanstedt with Six Pack) kicked clear and I know he’s a tremendous horse too but this mare is just unreal. She just kept on digging.

“Honestly I thought I was a winner at the eighth pole but his horse (Svanstedt’s) just kept on fighting and at that point I wasn’t so sure. When I tipped her off cover I really thought I was going to get him a little easier than I did but at the end of the day it was two great horses going at it and we came out on top.”

Owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor, the 4-year-old mare is trained by Ron Burke. The 2018 Hambletonian winner now has earned more than $1.48 million in her career and is a perfect six-for-six in her 2019 campaign.

Complete recaps of 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 – 391; 2. Yannick Gingras – 284; 3. Jason Bartlett – 216; 4. Dexter Dunn – 188; 5. David Miller – 160.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 333; 2. Jim King Jr. – 189; 3. Tony Alagna – 162; 4. Chris Ryder – 108; 5. Ake Svanstedt – 99.

Owners: 1. Brad Grant – 81.1; 2. Jo Ann Looney-King – 68.6; 3. Tim Tetrick LLC – 65.1; 4t. Burke Racing Stable – 60.4; 4t. Weaver Bruscemi – 60.4.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at Saratoga Casino Hotel, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, The Meadows and The Meadowlands. Saratoga will have the Joe Gerrity for older pacers; Hoosier will host the Nadia Lobell for 3-year-old filly pacers; The Meadows will have eliminations for the Adios for 3-year-old colt pacers; and The Meadowlands will host the second leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers and trotters and Tompkins-Geers events for 3-year-old colt and filly trotters.

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