Spotlight On The Grand Circuit

The publicity department for the Grand Circuit has sent its weekly recap and preview of racing on the Grand Circuit.

This Week: Maxie Lee, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Chester, Pa., and Miss Versatility series leg, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J.

Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit heads to The Meadowlands on Saturday (May 29) with two $30,000 divisions in the second leg of the Miss Versatility series for older mare trotters. Then on Sunday (May 30), the Harrah’s Philadelphia program is topped by three $100,000 Invitationals — the Maxie Lee for open trotters, the Commodore Barry for open pacers, and the Betsy Ross for pacing mares.

Last Time: Its Academic and Beads both displayed high speed while winning the two $50,000 divisions of the opening leg of the Graduate Series for four-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands Saturday night (May 22).

Its Academic had to work hard from post four in the nine-horse field to make the front, unable to clear past El Ideal until the half while parked in a snappy :54.2. Things did not get any easier for the Ron Burke trainee from there, as pressure would come from Absattitudexpress to three-quarters, which was timed in 1:23.4.

Driver Yannick Gingras then coaxed a burst of energy from the son of Uncle Peter and Annapolis to get clear by 2-1/2 lengths as they straightened up in the stretch and were cruising through the lane to an apparent easy win.

But Hypnotic AM emerged off a third-over trip and was flying late.

“I did get a third-quarter breather,” said Gingras. “But I almost got caught sleeping there. The wire came just in time.”

Its Academic, who has now won 17 of 32 starts and earned $585,688 lifetime, paid $3.60 to win as the 4-5 favourite and finished a head in front of Hypnotic AM in 1:51.1. Hillexotic was third.

Beads brought his ‘A’ game in the second Graduate split, powering down the road in a season’s-best-equaling 1:50.2 on the trot, a time that he established in a Big M qualifier eight days earlier.

“They told me the best way to get along with him is to keep him busy, talk to him a lot,” said winning driver David Miller, who was behind the son of Archangel and Nepentha for the first time. “So I did and he felt comfortable the whole way.”

Beads fired off the gate from post six and was on the point while parked in :26.4. The Per Engblom trainee then reached the half in :55 and three-quarters in 1:23.4, and off that middle half of :57, had little trouble sprinting away from the pocket-sitting Sorella, who weakened and finished sixth.

The winner hit the finish 2-1/4 lengths in front of Amigo Volo to lift his lifetime stats to eight wins from 25 starts and earnings of $296,713. Moon Bridge was third. Lovedbythemasses, the 8-5 public choice, broke just after the start and finished seventh in the eight-horse field.

“He’s not the handiest or the quickest on the turns,” said Miller of Beads. “But at the head of the stretch I talked to my horse and he took off.”

Beads returned $11 to win as the third choice in the wagering.

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

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, 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 2021 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders (through the races on May 22, 2021):

Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras – 135; 2. Todd McCarthy – 95; 3. (tie) Dexter Dunn, Andrew McCarthy – 89; 5. George Brennan – 84.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 184; 2. Noel Daley – 57; 3. Todd Buter – 55; 4. Ake Svanstedt – 47; 5. Nancy Takter – 44.

Owners: 1. (tie) Renee Bercury, Brad Grant – 50; 3. (tie) Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi – 43.6; 5. Jesmeral Stable – 40.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next week at Northfield Park and The Meadowlands. Northfield will host the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie for older pacers while The Meadowlands will feature legs of the Graduate Series for four-year-old pacers and trotters.

(Grand Circuit)