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Spotlight On The Grand Circuit

Published: July 13, 2016 1:10 pm ET

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The publicity department for the Grand Circuit has sent out its weekly story that recaps and previews Grand Circuit races.

This Week: Meadowlands Pace, Hambletonian Maturity, W.R. Haughton Memorial, Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Delvin Miller Memorial, Golden Girls and Miss Versatility, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; and Lawrence B. Sheppard Memorial, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.

Schedule of events: The stakes heavy Saturday (July 16) Grand Circuit card at the Meadowlands features the $732,050 Meadowlands Pace for three-year-olds, the $471,800 W.R. Haughton Memorial for free for all pacers, the $471,200 Hambletonian Maturity for four-year-old trotters, two divisions in the $306,500 Stanley Dancer Memorial for three-year-old male trotters, the $223,150 Golden Girls for older pacing mares, two divisions in the $193,000 Delvin Miller Memorial for three-year-old filly trotters, the $157,400 Mistletoe Shalee for three-year-old filly pacers, and a $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares.

Saturday Grand Circuit action also includes the $100,000 Lawrence B. Sheppard for two-year-old colt pacers at Yonkers Raceway.

Last time: Wiggle It Jiggleit got back on track at the Meadowlands Saturday (July 9), one week after finishing third in the Ben Franklin. He shrugged off heavy rain and a ‘sloppy’ track to record a sensational half-length win over rival Freaky Feet Pete in the $250,000 Graduate Series final for four-year-old pacers. The winning time of 1:47.2 was a lifetime best for the defending Horse of the Year. Rock N Roll World was third.

One week after finishing third behind Always B Miki (as a five-year-old, ineligible for the Graduate) and Freaky Feet Pete, Wiggle It Jiggleit was away well from Post 3. Freaky Feet Pete also left quickly, and, while parked, had the lead at the quarter in :25.3. With Wiggle It Jiggleit right behind him, Freaky Feet Pete hit the half in :53.1 and three-quarters in 1:20.4 and appeared to get a bit of separation as they turned for home.

But then driver Montrell Teague hit the gas pedal, and once again, Wiggle It Jiggleit, who returned $3.00 to win as the 1-2 favourite, had more than enough fuel left in the tank, as he edged clear in the final sixteenth to record his 32nd win in 40 lifetime starts for trainer Clyde Francis and owners George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership.

In the $250,000 Graduate Series final for four-year-old trotters, John Campbell gave Musical Rhythm a perfect steer from Post 10, and after yielding the top before three-quarters, came back for more in deep stretch to storm home a convincing two-length winner in 1:51.2.

Musical Rhythm left quickly and was parked in second as Crazshana hit the quarter in :27.4. Musical Rhythm took over shortly thereafter, trotting past the half in :55.4. Wings Of Royalty, who got off the rail at the three-eighths and provided live cover for even-money favourite Maestro Blue Chip, ranged up to get the top at three-quarters in 1:23.2 as Campbell handled his charge with care through the far turn. Through the stretch, Maestro Blue Chip did not fire, and nearing the wire, Campbell swung Musical Rhythm out of the pocket and exploded home in the final sixteenth to record the win in 1:51.2, a lifetime best. Centurion ATM, a 30-1 longshot, finished second, with Crazshana third. Maestro Blue Chip faded to sixth.

Musical Rhythm returned $12.20 to win as the third betting choice for owners Santo and Nunzio Vena, Claude Hamel and (trainer) Ben Baillargeon, and has now won 12 of 14 starts this year.

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2016, 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 Farm is the sponsor for the 2016 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the current leaders:

Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras – 224; 2. Jordan Stratton – 221.5; 3. David Miller – 220; 4. Tim Tetrick – 216; 5. Matt Kakaley – 175.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 340; 2. Jimmy Takter – 208; 3. Jeff Bamond Jr. – 175; 4. Peter Tritton – 139.5; 5. Clyde Francis – 127.5.

Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 139.5; 2. Bamond Racing – 117; 3. Burke Racing Stable – 85.9; 4. Weaver Bruscemi – 69.9; 5. Courant A B – 65.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at Saratoga, Vernon Downs, the Meadows and the Meadowlands. Saratoga will have the Joe Gerrity for older pacers; Vernon features the Zweig Memorial for three-year-old colt trotters and the Zweig Filly for three-year-old filly trotters; the Meadows will have eliminations for the Adios for three-year-old colt pacers; and the Meadowlands will host the first leg of the Kindergarten Series for two-year-old colt and filly pacers and trotters.

(Grand Circuit)

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