This Week: Jim Ewart Memorial and Charlie Hill Memorial, Eldorado Scioto Downs, Columbus, Ohio; Champlain Stakes, Simcoe Stakes and Milton eliminations, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Milton, Ont.; and Miss Versatility leg, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J.
Schedule of events: Grand Circuit racing will open this week on Friday (Sept. 9) at The Meadowlands with the $40,000 fifth leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older trotting mares.
On Saturday (Sept. 10), Eldorado Scioto Downs will feature the $200,000 Jim Ewart Memorial for older pacers and the $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial for older trotters.
Also on Saturday, Woodbine Mohawk Park will offer two divisions in the C$170,225 Simcoe for 3-year-old male trotters; single divisions in the C$163,735 Simcoe for 3-year-old filly pacers, the C$185,250 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old male pacers and the C$167,200 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers; and two C$35,000 eliminations in the Milton Stakes for older female pacers.
Last Time: World-record holder Bulldog Hanover lived up to his reputation and 1-9 odds in yet another head-turning triumph, this one coming in Saturday’s (Sept. 3) C$650,000 Canadian Pacing Derby at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
With Dexter Dunn at the controls, the 4-year-old son of Shadow Play-BJ’s Squall arrived on an eight-race win streak and standing as the fastest pacer of all time, courtesy of his 1:45.4 mile in the William R. Haughton this July.
While he was a second off that mark in the Canadian Pacing Derby, he was every bit as outstanding, tying the track and Canadian record in the process.
Tattoo Artist set his sights on the lead as the field was sent on its way, but Dunn had plans of his own, guiding Bulldog Hanover to the front off the first turn and taking his rivals through an opening panel carved out in :26.3. Tattoo Artist sat second, followed by Poseidon Seelster, Jimmy Freight and Desperate Man.
It was status quo through a half in :54.3, with Bulldog Hanover locked-in and looking as though there was plenty left in the tank. Jimmy Freight and Desperate Man were soon on the move, looking to engage the leader ahead of the three-quarter pole, while James MacDonald, in the race bike of Tattoo Artist, waited for an opportunity to take his shot.
In front by 1-3/4 lengths after three-quarters in 1:21.1, Dunn and Bulldog Hanover turned for home large and in charge, as a game Tattoo Artist looked to pull off the 23-1 upset.
At the wire, Bulldog Hanover was a comfortable one-length winner over Tattoo Artist. Poseidon Seelster, at 85-1, was third, while Jimmy Freight finished fourth.
“Well, when you’ve sat behind so many horses and you sit behind a horse like ‘Bulldog,’ it really is a pleasure and it’s a joy being out there,” lauded Dunn. “You know, I’m just along for the ride. You know, what he’s doing is just amazing to see, the way he does it as well. There’s no easy trips for him, he does all the hard work in those big races and he’s running away from good horses.”
The bay, who arrived at the final off a sparkling 1:48 performance in his Debry elimination one week ago, is now 24-3-1 from 32 career starts, for trainer Jack Darling, who co-owns with Brad Grant.
Bred by Hanover Shoe Farms, Bulldog Hanover, 10-0-0 from 11 dashes this year, was a $28,000 purchase at the 2019 Harrisburg Sale. He paid $2.20 for the Canadian Pacing Derby 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 9-3-22):
Drivers: 1. Dexter Dunn – 781; 2. Tim Tetrick – 633; 3. Yannick Gingras – 534; 4. Todd McCarthy – 492; 5. David Miller – 355.
Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 477; 2. Tony Alagna – 450; 3. Ake Svanstedt – 394; 4. Nifty Norman – 276; 5. Marcus Melander – 231.
Owners: 1. David McDuffee – 138.4; 2. Schooner II Stable – 120; 3. Courant Inc. – 114; 4. Brad Grant – 104.8; 5. Caviart Farms – 100.8.
Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Woodbine Mohawk Park, with the Milton final for older pacing mares, the Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old male and female trotters, and eliminations in the Canadian Trotting Classic for 3-year-old male trotters, the Elegantimage for 3-year-old filly trotters, the Metro Pace for 2-year-old male pacers and the She’s A Great Lady for 2-year-old filly pacers.