Progress Pace opens up final week of 2022 Grand Circuit

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

Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit returns to Dover Downs this Wednesday (Nov. 23) for the $250,000 Progress Pace final for 3-year-old open pacers.

On Saturday night (Nov. 26), Meadowlands Racetrack will host the Fall Four events for freshman pacers and trotters and the TVG series finals for open pacers and trotters. The Fall Four features the $416,200 Valley Victory for 2-year-old male trotters, the $475,400 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old filly trotters, the $430,000 Governor’s Cup for 2-year-old male pacers and the $428,400 Three Diamonds for 2-year-old filly pacers. The TVG finals consist of the $345,000 Open Pace, the $330,000 Open Trot, the $158,000 Mare Pace and the $140,000 Mare Trot.

Complete entries for the races are available at this link.

Last time: The Nov. 23 final of the Progress Pace could very well shape up to be a reprise of the Pepsi North America Cup. Not only did five of the 10 Cup starters qualify for the Progress in Thursday’s (Nov. 17) $35,000 eliminations at Bally’s Dover, but the elimination winners — Pebble Beach and Beach Glass — paved the way for a showdown at the speedway with convincing scores.

Pebble Beach extended his current win streak to five with a stout 1:49.3 win in the second Progress elimination, working to the lead at the bell and evading the closest of his five rivals by a handy 2-1/4 lengths.

Todd McCarthy eased the Downbytheseaside colt into the pocket after Birthday (driven by David Miller) pushed to the lead through a :26.3 quarter, but the earner of $1.7 million surged to the fore shortly thereafter. Birthday yielded for a pocket ride through middle splits of :55 and 1:22.1, but began to gap into the far turn after being headed for second by Mad Max Hanover (Tim Tetrick), who commenced a first-over bid out of fourth on the backstretch.

Mad Max Hanover offered mild pressure to the leader to force the :27.1 third split but leveled off as Pebble Beach accelerated clear at will. The North America Cup and Breeders Crown champion coasted home with plenty in reserve while a resurgent Mad Max Hanover re-rallied to nab Birthday for second. Energetic Hanover (Dexter Dunn), who failed to fire off the home turn after being forced wide around stalled cover, remained even to finish fourth.

Noel Daley trains 17-time winner Pebble Beach, who paid $2.60 to win, for Patricia Stable, Joe Sbrocco, Country Club Acres, and LAExpressFoderaDeoVolente.

Making his first start back after flipping his palate on Oct. 1 at the Red Mile — and missing the Breeders Crown as a result — Meadowlands Pace winner Beach Glass landed right back in the win column in the first elimination, prevailing by a measured 2-3/4 lengths in 1:50 while in line to Yannick Gingras.

The son of Somebeachsomewhere worked to clear Captain Cowboy (Tetrick) midway around the first turn and traveled uncontested from that point on, managing splits of :26.3, :55.1 and 1:22.2. With an eighth of a mile to go, Captain Cowboy broke stride from the pocket, forcing Fourever Boy (Dunn) to check and shoving I Did It Myway (Andy McCarthy) three-wide off the home turn. As a result, Beach Glass was six lengths in front in upper stretch, but Gingras geared the Brent MacGrath trainee down in the final yards of his 11th victory in 17 career starts. Fourever Boy stayed on well for second, I Did It Myway was a one-paced third, and Captain Cowboy reset in time to preserve fourth place.

Beach Glass, who has banked $985,544, is owned and was bred by Schooner II Stable of Nova Scotia. He paid $3.20 to win.

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 11-19-22):

Drivers: 1. Dexter Dunn – 1,552; 2. Tim Tetrick – 1,068; 3. Yannick Gingras – 1,039; 4. Todd McCarthy – 953; 5. David Miller – 906.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 1,037; 2. Ake Svanstedt – 865; 3. Tony Alagna – 792; 4. Brett Pelling – 544; 5. Noel Daley – 443.

Owners: 1. David McDuffee – 229.7; 2. Burke Racing Stable – 200.5; 3. Brad Grant – 198.3; 4. Crawford Farms Racing – 182.3; 5. Caviart Farms – 180.3.

Looking ahead: The 2022 Grand Circuit season will conclude after this week; the 2023 Grand Circuit schedule will be released in February.

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