The Grand Circuit rolls into Canada in a big way this weekend with major stakes events slated for Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday (Aug. 26) and Saturday (Aug. 28).
Some of the possible contenders for the 2021 Mohawk Million will be in action on Thursday (Aug. 26) with five divisions of the Champlain Stakes — three for male trotters and two for the fillies.
Fillies begin the Thursday night stakes action with a seven-horse contest in the second race. Delilah Hanover leads the charge as the 2-1 morning line favourite following a third-place effort in the $326,850 Jim Doherty Memorial behind Venerable. Bob McClure drives the daughter of Muscle Hill from trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman from post 3 against a field including Resolving, who posted an 11-1/4 length victory in an Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold division at Grand River Raceway on July 28. Trevor Henry pilots that Robert Fellows trainee from post 7.
The second division for the fillies, carded as Race 6, puts the unbeaten record of Adare Castle to the test. Mark Etsell trains the daughter of Muscle Mass who owns three OSS Gold victories – her most recent a 1:55.3 head decision on Aug. 20 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. James MacDonald has the drive from post 2 as the 2-1 choice.
Colts and geldings have their first Champlain split in Race 4, with the Marcus Melander trainee Letsdoit S leading the nine-horse charge. The Nuncio colt ships north from an eighth-place finish in the $293,450 Peter Haughton Memorial after tiring from a first-over trip. Doug McNair grabs the drive behind the colt from post 6.
Division two for the colts and geldings, going as Race 7, aligns a full field fronted by Twin B Archie, who just missed victory in a Gold event on Aug. 19 by a neck in 1:55.1. James MacDonald stays in the bike behind the Archangel gelding for trainer Scott McEneny and starts as the 5-2 morning-line choice from post 2.
Another undefeated rookie will try to extend its unbeaten record in the final Champlain division, set as Race 10. Paul MacDonell pilots Duly Resolved from post 4 for trainer John Bax after coasting to a 1:56.3 victory in a Gold division on Aug. 19. The gelding by Resolved has won in all four of his outings and moves onto the Grand Circuit as the 5-2 morning-line favourite.
Saturday is loaded with stakes action for multiple groups of horses, with pacing two-year-olds competing in the $279,600 Nassagaweya, two-year-old pacing fillies in the $227,300 Eternal Camnation, pacing sophomores in the $171,500 Somebeachsomewhere and three-year-old pacing fillies in the $169,550 Simcoe Stakes.
Division one of the Nassagaweya includes the Casie Coleman Herlihy trainee Contact Zone, who sped to a 1:53 victory in a division of OSS Grassroots on Aug. 16 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. He starts form post 2 in a field that includes Century Inspector, who finished third in the $251,050 Battle of Waterloo; Nautical Hanover, who was runner-up in the $86,500 Dream Maker Series; and Many Moons, who holds the swiftest speed badge of the group with a 1:51.3 mark taken in a preliminary of the Dream Maker.
Battle of Waterloo champ Betterhavemymoney will try to rebound in the second Nassagaweya division following a fifth-place effort in a Gold split on Aug. 14. James MacDonald pilots the Nick Gallucci trainee who scorched the Grand River track to take its signature race by just a head in 1:52.4 back on Aug. 1.
Sophomore pacing fillies battle in the Simcoe following the Nassagaweya with an overflow field of 11. Voelz Delight tops the field from post 5 following a second-place effort in a Gold division at Rideau Carleton on Aug. 22, which came after she won an OSS split at Grand River on Aug. 2. Sylvain Filion retains the drive for the Benoit Baillargeon trainee in a field also including OSS stars Best Head West and Grassroots graduate Twin B Sunkissed.
Freshmen pacing fillies then start in their first division for the Eternal Camnation in Race 6. I Love Ongait competes from post 2 in this affair off a fourth-place finish in an OSS Gold split on Aug. 17 in a field that also draws Big Bettor Hanover, who finished second in the $145,060 Battle of the Belles on Aug. 2.
The second division of the Eternal Camnation goes towards the tail of the card as the evening’s twelfth race. Nick Gallucci trainee Prohibition Legal will look to keep her unbeaten record intact following three-straight victories against Gold competition. James MacDonald pilots that probable favourite from post 5.
North America Cup prospects start their stakes action on Saturday in Race 8, the first division of the Somebeachsomewhere. The field includes last season’s Grassroots champ Second Bruiser and Desperate Man, who upset Lawless Shadow and Bulldog Hanover in a division of OSS Gold on July 25 at Georgian Downs. Summa Cum Laude also ships north for the first division as last year’s Breeders Crown champ will try to rebound from a seventh-place finish in the $100,000 Max Hempt Second Consolation.
Bulldog Hanover leads the second division of the Somebeachsomewhere riding back-to-back victories against Gold competition. Jody Jamieson drives the Jack Darling trainee from post 4 in a field including Jimmy Connor B, who put in a powerful 1:50.1 performance in a division of Grassroots on Aug. 20; his stablemate and last year’s Battle of Waterloo champ Bettor Sun; and Nick Gallucci’s upstart Powertrain, who will try to get back on the wagon following a break in a Gold division on Aug. 21.
Saturday’s card also features potential starters for the upcoming $316,000 Roses Are Red Stakes in a $35,000 Fillies & Mares Open Pace and Canadian Pacing Derby prospects in the $34,000 Preferred Pace. First-race post time for both the Thursday and Saturday cards is 7 p.m. (EDT).
With 12 horses entered for the Roses Are Red, eliminations are not required for the Saturday, Sept. 4 final. The field of a dozen is listed below in alphabetical order:
JK First Lady
Keep Rockin A
Lit De Rose
Major Occasion A
So Much More
Only Jk First Lady, Lyons Sentinel and Peaky Sneaky will not race in this Saturday’s Mares Open.
The post position draw for the Roses Are Red final will be conducted on Saturday evening.
To view Thursday's harness racing entries, click on the following link: Thursday Entries - Woodbine Mohawk Park.
To view Saturday's harness racing entries, click on the following link: Saturday Entries - Woodbine Mohawk Park.