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Spotlight On The Grand Circuit

Published: July 21, 2016 9:54 am 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: Joe Gerrity Memorial, Saratoga Hotel Casino, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Zweig Memorial and Zweig Filly, Vernon Downs, Vernon, N.Y.; Delvin Miller Adios eliminations, The Meadows, Washington, Pa; and Kindergarten Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.

Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action will be held this weekend at four different racetracks.

Action will begin on Friday (July 22) at the Meadowlands Racetrack with three $10,000 divisions of the Kindergarten for two-year-old trotting colts and two $10,000 divisions of the Kindergarten for two-year-old trotting fillies.

On Saturday (July 23), Saratoga will host their marquee event, the $260,000 Joe Gerrity Memorial for older pacers; The Meadows will offer a pair of $25,000 eliminations for their marquee event, the Devlin Miller Adios for three-year-old colt pacers; and the Meadowlands will feature two $10,000 divisions of the Kindergarten for two-year-old pacing colts and a lone $10,000 division of the Kindergarten for two-year-old pacing fillies.

The busy weekend will conclude on Sunday (July 24), as Vernon Downs will offer the $300,000 Zweig Memorial for three-year-old colt trotters (and $75,000 and $30,000 consolations), as well as the $140,000 Zweig Filly for three-year-old filly trotters (and $35,000 and $15,000 consolations).

Last time: Meadowlands Racetrack hosted nine lucrative Grand Circuit events this past Saturday, led by the $732,050 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace for three-year-olds.

Brian Sears, the dominant driving force at the Meadowlands for the first decade of the new millennium, returned to his old stomping grounds Saturday night and won the Meadowlands Pace in 1:48.2 with Control The Moment, a horse he drove for the first time last week in the ‘Pace’ elimination.

“It was great to get a spin with him last week,” said Sears, who also won the 2005 Pace with Rocknroll Hanover. “And I was real happy with the post draw.”

After having won a week ago from well off the pace, Sears had Control The Moment on the go early from Post 3 and was up in the early fray, as Lyons Snyder hit the quarter in :26.3. Racing Hill, the Tony Alagna trainee who opted to take a bye into the final, surged to the lead at the three-eighths pole before yielding the top to a headstrong Control The Moment, who had the lead at the half in :53.2 and three-quarters in 1:21.2.

Control The Moment looked home free after he opened up a two and a half-length edge at the head of the stretch, but got leg weary nearing the wire, as Racing Hill came back for more. In the final sixteenth, the 8-5 second choice was coming at the 3-5 favourite, but came up a nose short at the finish. Check Six was third.

“The trip worked out perfect,” said Sears. “And I think the fractions were pretty comfortable. But it was pretty exciting at the wire.”

Control The Moment returned $3.40 to win for trainer Brad Maxwell and owners Control The Moment Stable and has now won 11 of 16 lifetime starts, good for earnings just shy of $900,000.

Also on the stakes-loaded Saturday card, Always B Miki and driver David Miller took command down the backstretch with a powerful brush past Wiggle It Jiggleit and went on to a three-quarter length victory over 39-1 shot Shamballa in the $471,800 William R. Haughton Memorial.

And it was another world record – his third straight – as he paced the one and one-eighth miles in 2:01.1 as the 2-5 favourite in the 12-horse field. Always B Miki ($2.80) posted his fourth straight win and improved his season mark to 6-2-0 from eight starts for trainer Jimmy Takter and the ownership team of Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter.

“He’s just a fantastic horse to do what he does,” Jimmy Takter said. “He’s gone through a lot. It takes a special horse to come back from all the injuries he had. It gets me very emotional every time I see him race.

“This horse is one of a kind. I’ve had quite a few nice pacers, but this horse, you don’t do what he’s doing. I’m always a big statement guy, but I think this could be the greatest horse who ever lived. I really think so. He didn’t have an easy trip today. He won by a length and a half, maybe, but he’s a lazy horse. He’s not a grabby horse. But if somebody challenges him, he’s got another gear.”

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 – 294; 2. David Miller – 260; 3. Tim Tetrick – 246; 4. Jordan Stratton – 226.5; 5. Brett Miller – 182.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 390; 2. Jimmy Takter – 273; 3. Jeff Bamond Jr. – 175; 4. Peter Tritton – 139.5; 5. Clyde Francis – 132.5.

Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 139.5; 2. Bamond Racing – 117; 3. Burke Racing Stable – 93.85; 4. Weaver Bruscemi – 77.85; 5t. George Teague Jr. Inc. – 66.25; 5t. Teague Racing Partnership – 66.25.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at The Meadows and Meadowlands Racetrack. The Meadows will host eight Grand Circuit events, led by the final of the Delvin Miller Adios for three-year-old pacing colts. Meadowlands Racetrack will host eliminations for three lucrative stakes, led by the Hambletonian Oaks for three-year-old filly trotters, as well as the Reynolds Memorial for three-year-old colt trotters.

(Grand Circuit)

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