Freshmen ready to open Grand Circuit meeting in Lexington

Lexington, KY — Harness racing’s best will return to The Red Mile beginning on Thursday afternoon (Sept. 29) with the first of its six-day stakes meeting. Freshman trotting colts and geldings and freshman pacing fillies take center stage Thursday in a total of five Bluegrass Stakes divisions.

Trotting colts and geldings take the first swing in the first of three divisions of the $328,000 Captain Corey Bluegrass Stakes in the afternoon’s fourth race. Kentucky Championship winner French Wine will try to overcome the outermost post in the field of eight, in rein to Andy Miller for conditioner Julie Miller, after toppling Peter Haughton champ Kilmister in the state-sponsored championship. Kilmister will again start from post one after having only drawn wider than post two once in his seven starts. Brian Sears has the driving duties on Kilmister for trainer Marcus Melander.

Division two of the Captain Corey goes as race seven on the 10-race program and gathers a field of budding talent attempting to breakthrough. Prince Of Honor steps into the top ranks off a 1:53.2 victory in the Kentucky Goldenrod final and will start at the pylons with Todd McCarthy in the sulky for trainer Carter Pinske. He’ll spar against seven others including Kentucky Commonwealth champ Espresso, who has a polar-opposite starting spot with post eight. Andy Miller has another high-draw driving assignment with Espresso for trainer Julie Miller.

Ari Ferrari J will try for his first picture in his career in the last division of the Captain Corey. In eight starts, the Tony Alagna pupil has yet to head for the winner’s circle, but enters the race nine contest off a second-place finish to French Wine in the $400,000 Kentucky Championship final. Dexter Dunn retains the driving duties and will score Ari Ferrari J from post two against eight other foes.

Freshman pacing fillies begin their stakes engagements in race six with the first of two divisions of the $283,000 McWicked Bluegrass Stakes. Twin B Joe Fresh starts from post two off a 1:49.2 stroll to win the $400,000 Kentucky Championship final with Dexter Dunn in the sulky for trainer Chris Ryder. The filly, who came within a fifth of a second of Warrawee Ubeaut’s 1:48.3 world record when winning at The Red Mile on Aug. 14, has finished no worse than second in her eight starts. She’ll attempt to maintain that sharp record in a group of eight which also includes Kentucky Commonwealth champ Hungry For Love, who starts from post eight with David Miller driving for trainer Ron Burke.

Racing for Thursday wraps with the second division of the McWicked. Cory Mumford pupil Vivians Dream will try to rebound off back-to-back losses, one in the New York Sires Stakes final and the other in the $200,000 Kentuckiana Stakes. Brian Sears acquires the drive on Vivians Dream from post five against a group including Kentucky Championship runner-up Strong Poison, who starts from post four in rein to Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke; and Bankers Luck, who starts from post three with Dexter Dunn in the sulky after a residency in Canada and enters off a seventh-place finish in the She’s A Great Lady eliminations.

Each division of the Captain Corey Bluegrass Stakes is sponsored by the Captain Corey Syndicate and Hanover Shoe Farm. The McWicked Syndicate and Winbak Farm sponsor each division of the McWicked Bluegrass Stakes.

First-race post time is 1 p.m. (EDT).

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