Progress Pace, Fall Four eliminations in Grand Circuit spotlight

This Week: Progress Pace eliminations, Bally’s Dover, Dover, Del. and Fall Four eliminations, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.

Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit returns to Dover Downs this Thursday (Nov. 17) for two $35,000 eliminations in the Progress Pace for 3-year-old open pacers. A field of 12 will compete for eight spots in the final slated for Nov. 23.

On Saturday night (Nov. 19), Meadowlands Racetrack will host the Fall Four eliminations for freshman pacers and trotters. The Fall Four features a pair of $20,000 eliminations in the Governor’s Cup for 2-year-old male pacers, and single $20,000 eliminations in the Valley Victory for 2-year-old male trotters and the Three Diamonds for 2-year-old filly pacers. Eliminations were not required in the Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old filly trotters. The $1.5 million finals will be held on Nov. 26.

Complete entries for the races are available at this link.

Last time: Fresh off his 1:48.1 triumph in the Breeders Crown at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Pebble Beach reeled off his fourth consecutive win by way of a gritty 1:51.2 score in Thursday’s (Nov. 10) $158,200 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers, named in honor of Hap Hansen, at Bally’s Dover.

Pebble Beach (left) responded willingly in the stretch to parry the inside challenge of archrival I Did It Myway in the Matron Stakes for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings. USTA/James Witherite photo.

I Did It Myway, who defeated Pebble Beach in the Kentucky Championship Series final, powered to the front from post seven, was driven clear of Pebble Beach by Andy McCarthy through a :25.4 first quarter before yielding control back to Pebble Beach with a circuit to go.

“I was content to let I Did It Myway get around me at that point and then get back around him in the stretch,” said winning driver Todd McCarthy. We had to duel a little bit and getting to the half in :54 and change was pretty solid.”

Once on top, Pebble Beach rated a :54.3 half before fending off a first-over bid from Greatest Ending (driven by Yannick Gingras) to three-quarters in 1:22.4. Meanwhile, I Did It Myway lurked from the pocket, poised to challenge again off the home turn.

As they had done many a time throughout the season, Pebble Beach and I Did It Myway threw down in the stretch, with Pebble Beach bracing for the inside challenge of his archrival. The son of Downbytheseaside-Santa Rosa dug in smartly, winning by three-quarters of a length. I Did It Myway finished a game second up the open stretch; Energetic Hanover (David Miller) rallied off stalled cover for third.

“As soon as they got to him at the top of the stretch, he dug right in,” McCarthy continued. “I didn’t have to ask him too much. He won with the earplugs in and still had pace. He was impressive. It’s definitely one of his big attributes, his ability to accelerate like he can. I was happy with how he dug in to fend them off.”

“I was real happy the way he held on,” said Noel Daley, who trains Pebble Beach for Patricia Stable, Joe Sbrocco, Country Club Acres Inc. and LAExpressFoderaDeoVolente. “He’s always been a good horse.”

Pebble Beach, now a 16-time winner from 27 starts, paid $3.20 to win.

Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. For a list of 2022 race winners on the Grand Circuit, click here.

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 11-12-22):

Drivers: 1. Dexter Dunn – 1,542; 2. Tim Tetrick – 1,058; 3. Yannick Gingras – 1,017; 4. Todd McCarthy – 931; 5. David Miller – 894.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 1,021; 2. Ake Svanstedt – 858; 3. Tony Alagna – 778; 4. Brett Pelling – 534; 5. Marcus Melander – 441.

Owners: 1. David McDuffee – 229.7; 2. Burke Racing Stable – 196; 3. Brad Grant – 188.3; 4. Crawford Farms Racing – 182.3; 5. Caviart Farms – 180.3.

Looking ahead:  Grand Circuit action takes place next week at The Meadowlands and Dover Downs. The Meadowlands will feature four TVG finals for older pacers and trotters and the Fall Four stakes finals for 2-year-old pacers and trotters. Dover will host the Progress Pace final for 3-year-old open pacers.

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