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Melander Loaded With Trotting Talent

Published: September 8, 2021 12:17 pm ET

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Marcus Melander might not end up with a favourite in Saturday’s (Sept. 11) stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park, but the trainer still looks to be a factor in the night’s three Grand Circuit trots, sending out three horses in the William Wellwood Memorial and one in each the Goodtimes and Peaceful Way.

Melander’s trio in the $640,000 Wellwood Memorial for two-year-old trotters features two elimination winners, Periculum and Temporal Hanover, and an elimination runner-up, Letsdoit S.

Periculum handed New Jersey Sire Stakes and Peter Haughton Memorial champion King Of The North the first loss of his career, winning by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.3. Periculum led to the quarter in :27.2, then settled in third behind King Of The North and Twin B Archie before coming home in :27.2 for the victory.

Doug McNair will drive Periculum from post four in the final. The son of Muscle Hill-Amour Heiress has three top-three finishes in six races this season, with his first win coming last week. He missed the Peter Haughton because of sickness.

“He’s a strong horse, but he’s the type of horse that likes to chase other horses,” said Melander. “Doug drove him perfectly last week. The optimal trip for him is like the one he got in the elimination, or at least to find some cover, and he can really sprint the last quarter.”

Temporal Hanover has four wins and two seconds in seven races and enters Saturday off back-to-back victories at Mohawk, in his Wellwood elim and a division of the Champlain Stakes. The son of Walner-Think Twice was second to King Of The North in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship after capturing two preliminary divisions.

His only off-the-board effort came in the Peter Haughton final, when he started from post nine and battled his way to the lead in a :26.3 opening quarter.

Tim Tetrick will drive Temporal Hanover from post five in the Wellwood final. McNair was in the sulky for the elimination, which Temporal Hanover won by a neck over World At War Deo in 1:55.1.

“He got a tough trip in the Peter Haughton and he just got tired that day,” said Melander. “Other than that, he’s done nothing wrong. He’s a little bit more laidback, but he’s a very nice horse. He was very good in his elimination.”

Letsdoit S missed by a neck in his Wellwood elimination, which was won by Duly Resolved in 1:55.1. Letsdoit S has two wins and two seconds in five races and also was a Champlain division winner.

McNair drove Letsdoit S in his elimination, but Dexter Dunn will get the assignment in the final. Dunn and the son of Nuncio-Bacio will start from post nine.

“He got beat by a very good horse in his elimination, but it was some slow fractions and they sprinted home,” said Melander. “I was very happy with him. Obviously, the nine-hole is not the best, but hopefully he can leave out of there and get some position. He’s a good horse and might overcome it.

“I think the favourite is going to be King Of The North. He was probably a little short last week because he hadn’t raced since Hambo Day (in the Haughton on August 7). But all of my horses raced very well. I’m confident in my horses.”

The winner of the Wellwood gets the final spot in the 10-horse Mohawk Million for two-year-old trotters later this month.

In the $392,000 Peaceful Way for two-year-old female trotters, Melander sends out Peyton Hanover. She will start from post five with McNair in the sulky. Last week in her elimination, the daughter of Muscle Hill-Pennies From Above finished third behind Adare Castle and American Beauty. She was beaten by three-quarters of a length.

Peyton Hanover won her career debut, in the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at The Meadowlands, and has finished third a total of three times. She finished seventh in the Jim Doherty Memorial final on August 7 and did not race again until last week.

“I thought she was going to be better in the (Doherty) final, so we gave her a break,” said Melander. “We changed a little bit of the training with her, and she was good in the elimination. She never got any clearance, really. I was happy with her. We drew good and the horse feels good, so I’m excited about her.”

Adare Castle, who is undefeated in five career races, won her elimination in 1:55.4. The other elim went to Venerable, unbeaten in six career starts, in 1:54.2.

“It might be hard to beat Venerable, but behind her, I think (Peyton Hanover) is one of the better fillies,” said Melander. “Venerable is a fantastic horse. But I’m confident in my horse. She raced good. Hopefully, we get the right trip. You never know; it’s horse racing.”

In the $240,000 Goodtimes for three-year-old trotters, Melander’s hopes ride with the enigmatic Dancinginthedark M. The colt has seven wins and four seconds in 17 career races, with his six off-the-board finishes coming in races where he went off stride. He made breaks in three of his four starts prior to his Goodtimes elimination, when he was second behind Fashion Frenzie in 1:53.2.

Dancinginthedark M, a son of Readly Express-Leila, counts four Grand Circuit stakes among his seven lifetime victories, including a 1:50.1 score in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial in July at The Meadowlands.

Tim Tetrick will drive Dancinginthedark M, who leaves from post six. Elimination winners Fashion Frenzie and Locatelli start from posts five and three, respectively.

“After some miscues, it wasn’t bad,” Melander said about his colt’s elimination. “It was a very slow half (:58), which was not optimal for him. But we drew OK, which was the most important thing after not winning.

“You can’t really trust him a hundred per cent but if he stays (trotting), in my opinion, he’s the horse to beat. We tried some new shoes last week but it’s still a work in progress. Hopefully, I can figure it out.”

Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Mohawk. The card also includes the $1 million North America Cup for three-year-old pacers and $425,000 Fan Hanover for three-year-old female pacers.

To view complete entries for Saturday's harness racing card at Woodbine Mohawk Park and complimentary past performance pages, click on the following links: Saturday Entries -- Program Pages (courtesy TrackIT).

(USTA)


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