Busy Grand Circuit week begins Wednesday

This Week: Dan Patch Invitational, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; Carl Milstein Memorial, MGM Northfield Park, Northfield, Ohio; Fox Stake, the Ralph Wilfong, the Horseman Stakes and the Hoosier Stakes, Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, Ind.; and Gold Cup and Saucer trials, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino, Charlottetown, PEI.

Schedule of events: An extremely busy week of Grand Circuit action kicks off this Wednesday (Aug. 10) as The Indiana State Fair will host one day of Grand Circuit racing with the feature being the $55,670 Fox Stake for 2-year-old colt pacers. The co-featured event is the $45,797 Ralph Wilfong for 2-year-old colt trotters. The Hoosier Stakes for 2-year-olds will see two divisions in the $28,540 2-year-old filly trot and single divisions in the $26,726 2-year-old filly pace, the $26,314 2-year-old colt pace and the $23,564 2-year-old colt trot. The Horseman Stakes for 3-year-olds features single divisions in the $35,388 3-year-old colt trot, the $32,088 3-year-old colt pace, the $27,832 3-year-old filly trot, and the $27,832 3-year-old filly pace.

Friday night (Aug. 12) at Hoosier Park will feature the $315,000 Dan Patch Invitational for older pacing horses.

On Saturday (Aug. 13), Northfield Park will host the $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old pacers. Also on Saturday, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino will host two of three trials for the Gold Cup and Saucer for older pacers. The third trial will be held on Monday (Aug. 15).

Complete entries for the U.S. races are available at this link. Entries for the Red Shores Racetrack & Casino races are available at this link.

Last Time: Cool Papa Bell was a legend in baseball’s Negro Leagues, the era when players of color were banned from Major League Baseball.

Cool Papa Bell emerged belatedly to upset at 52-1 in the 97th edition of the Hambletonian, for 3-year-old trotters, at the Meadowlands. Lisa photo.

Cool Papa Bell, the trotter named for the ballplayer, carved his own legend by pulling off the biggest upset in Hambletonian history on Saturday (Aug. 6) at The Meadowlands, paying $106 to win.

His 1:51.3 victory was a stunning conclusion to a stakes-laden afternoon on a day when temperatures soared into the 90s at The Big M.

For Jim Campbell, it was also a memorable day as he became the third trainer to win the $1 million Hambletonian and the filly companion event, the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, in the same year. Fashion Schooner paid $14 for her Oaks upset earlier in the day.

Campbell, the brother of Hall of Fame driver John Campbell, joined the elite circle occupied only by Jimmy Takter and Jan Johnson.

The Oaks surprise was just a hint of things to come.

“It’s unbelievable,” Campbell said. “It’s something that I never dreamed could happen because it’s so hard to get a horse to get into one of the races. To come out and win both of them, I’m just very blessed. I’ve gone out of here many nights when things didn’t go good in my truck, and be mad. A day like today erases any bad day I’ve ever had in horse racing.”

It was the second Hambletonian win for Campbell, who trained Tagliabue to victory in 1995.

Cool Papa Bell gave “Rising Star” Todd McCarthy the biggest driving win of his blossoming career.

McCarthy, to borrow a Thoroughbred expression, gave Cool Papa Bell a “ground-saving trip.” Away in the back of the pack, Cool Papa Bell threaded his way around horses to hug the pylons, moving into contention rounding the second turn.

Up front, 3-5 favorite Rebuff was on the lead and trying to close the deal. When he weakened, ultimately finishing sixth, an upset started to percolate. Cool Papa Bell shook loose at the top of the lane, angling outside for his first clear path in the scramble to the finish.

“We did get fortunate with a couple of breakers,” Campbell said. “That did help us. People kept moving off the rail and he kept advancing, which was the winning move. Todd deserves all the credit for that. Instead of worrying about getting into a slow outer tier, he figured to take a shot up the inside.”

From that point, it was up to the overlooked gelding.

“Out of the turn, I didn’t know, they were still looking pretty cozy there,” McCarthy said. “I wasn’t quite sure how much I’d have left there, too. But when that little fella straightened, he had his mind on the job today and halfway down the stretch, I knew if everything kept going well, we’d be right there.”

Cool Papa Bell won by three-quarters of a length over the filly Joviality S, with Temporal Hanover third to give trainer Marcus Melander the second- and third-place finishers.

Cool Papa Bell posted his seventh win in 17 career starts for Scott Farber’s Runthetable Stables, from Montvale, N.J.

Farber paid $100,000 for Cool Papa Bell as a yearling, the most he had ever paid for a horse.

Sometimes bargains come in expensive packages.

Farber, a college baseball player and student of the sport, changed the horse’s name to honor the ballplayer rumored to be among the fastest players the sport had ever produced.

“I was hoping the horse would live up to the great ballplayer’s name,” Farber said. “He’s done just that.”

Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website.

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2022, 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 2022 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders (through the races on 8-6-22):

Drivers: 1. Dexter Dunn – 656; 2. Tim Tetrick – 549; 3. Yannick Gingras – 429; 4. Todd McCarthy – 413; 5. David Miller – 345.

Trainers: 1. Tony Alagna – 366; 2. Ron Burke – 356; 3. Ake Svanstedt – 342; 4. Nifty Norman – 261; 5. Brett Pelling – 212.

Owners: 1. David McDuffee – 125.9; 2. Schooner II Stable – 100; 3. Courant Inc. – 94; 4. Brad Grant – 76.3; 5. Hot Lead Farm – 75.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino and Woodbine Mohawk Park. Pocono will host four events for 3-year-olds — the Earl Beal Memorial (colt and gelding trot), the Max C. Hempt Memorial (colt and gelding pace), the James Lynch Memorial (filly pace) and the Delmonica Hanover (filly trot). Red Shores has the Gold Cup and Saucer final for older pacers. Woodbine Mohawk Park has eliminations for the William Wellwood (2-year-old open trot) and Peaceful Way (2-year-old filly trot).

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