by Paul Ramlow, publicity director, the Grand Circuit
This Week: Breeders Crown finals, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Circle City and Madison County, Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; and Kindergarten Series, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J.
Schedule of events: The 12 Breeders Crown championship events at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will be front and center in the Grand Circuit spotlight this week. The 12 Breeders Crown championship races will be contested on Saturday (Oct. 27).
On Friday (Oct. 26) Hoosier Park will host the Circle City for 3-year-old pacers and trotters and the Madison County for 2-year-old male pacers. A total of 10 events will be raced on Friday. The Saturday Hoosier program will feature Madison County races for 2-year-old filly pacers, as well as contests for freshman trotters of both sexes.
Also on Friday, The Meadowlands will offer the final preliminary leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old pacers and trotters. There will be a pair of $10,000 divisions for both colts and fillies on each gait.
Complete entries for the races are available at this link.
Last time: Breeders Crown eliminations were in the spotlight this past weekend at Pocono as a record 24 contests were raced at the Pennsylvania oval.
From start to finish, Atlanta and driver Scott Zeron led the six-horse field and won the second $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination for 3-year-old trotting fillies on the “sloppy” track at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday (Oct. 20), skillfully holding off a late-closing Lily Stride to win in 1:53.1.
The field lined up behind Atlanta, with Lily Stride next, followed by Manchego, then Ciao Dolce, Supergirl Riley and Phaetosive. Atlanta cut the fractions in :28.2, :57.4 and 1:26.
At three-quarters the only movement behind Atlanta came from Phaetosive. She came to the outside after lagging behind the five others and picked off enough of them to finish fourth and make the final.
Manchego rolled in the stretch to get third as Lily Stride was pushed futilely to try to catch Atlanta and finished second.
Atlanta is by Chapter Seven out of Hemi Blue Chip. She was bred by Order By Stable.
“I wanted to command the lead early,” Scott Zeron said in the winner’s circle, “And (Atlanta) stole the first fraction. It took her a bit to get back after the two heats in the Hambletonian and she was coming off two heats at the Red Mile, so tonight was good.”
Rick Zeron trains Atlanta, the 2018 Hambletonian winner, and he co-owns her with Crawford Farms, Howard Taylor, Brad Grant and Holland Racing Stable. She paid $4.20 to win.
Plunge Blue Chip and driver/trainer/co-owner Ake Svanstedt once again dominated a field of 3-year-old trotting fillies, this time in the Breeders Crown’s first $25,000 elimination for her division, winning easily in 1:53.3 on a track rated “sloppy.”
The daughter of Muscle Mass-Dunk The Donato sat fourth off the gate as Top Expectations grabbed the lead with Looking For Zelda in the catbird seat and Courtney Hanover behind her in single file. The first quarter was clocked in :27.
Leading the field to a half in :56.2, Svanstedt pulled Plunge Blue Chip into the first-over position to challenge the leader. She tagged alongside of Top Expectations until the 1:25 three-quarters near the final turn when she eased to the front entering the stretch. Plunge Blue Chip drew away to win in 1:53.3 with a lot of trot left.
Passing tired foes, Impinktoo slid into second, while Looking For Zelda locked into third and Courtney Hanover checked in fourth. Top Expectations was fifth.
Ake Svanstedt owns Plunge Blue Chip along with Blue Chip Bloodstock, also the breeder, Tomas Andersson and Rick Zeron Stables. Plunge Blue Chip paid $3.20 to win.
Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website.
Grand Circuit Standings: In 2018, 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 2018 Grand Circuit awards.
Here are the leaders following the past weekend.
Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras – 1,335; 2. Tim Tetrick – 1,332.5; 3. David Miller – 1,088.5; 4. Scott Zeron – 649; 5. Andrew McCarthy – 581.5.
Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 1,144.5; 2. Jimmy Takter – 1,088; 3. Tony Alagna – 647.5; 4. Julie Miller – 429; 5. Jim Campbell – 427.
Owners: 1. Fashion Farms – 315; 2. Diamond Creek Racing – 247.9; 3. Burke Racing Stable – 241.7; 4. Weaver Bruscemi – 225.2; 5. Marvin Katz – 219.2.
Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next weekend at Hoosier Park and Meadowlands Racetrack. Hoosier has the Monument Circle, Carl Erskine, Crossroads of America and USS Indianapolis on Nov. 2; while the Meadowlands will race the four Kindergarten Series finals on Nov. 3.