Triple Crown Races Lead Grand Circuit

Published: July 1, 2021 10:01 am EDT

A pair of Triple Crown races — the MGM Grand Messenger Stakes and the MGM Yonkers Trot — highlight this weekend's slate of Grand Circuit harness racing.

This Week: MGM Grand Messenger Stakes, MGM Yonkers Trot, Park MGM Pace and New York New York Mile finals, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; Landmark Stakes, Historic Track, Goshen, N.Y.; Artiscape, Crawford Farms Trot, Joie De Vie and Roll With Joe, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J.; and Nadia Lobell, Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.

Schedule of events: On Friday (July 2), Yonkers will feature the $500,000 MGM Grand Messenger Stakes, $500,000 MGM Yonkers Trot, $150,000 Park MGM Pace and $150,000 New York New York Mile. The Messenger and Yonkers Trot are the first legs of the Pacing and Trotting Triple Crowns, respectively.

Also on Friday, Historic Track will host eight Landmark Stakes events for two- and three-year-olds. There will be two divisions each in the $21,150 three-year-old colt pace and $9,526 two-year-old filly pace, and single divisions in the $9,900 three-year-old filly pace, $8,650 three-year-old filly trot, $11,350 two-year-old colt pace and $10,850 two-year-old colt trot.

On Saturday (July 3), The Meadowlands has five stakes for older pacers and trotters with two divisions in the $224,500 Roll With Joe for older pacers, and single dashes in the $160,000 Artiscape for pacing mares, $135,000 Crawford Farms for older trotters, and $156,000 Joie De Vie for trotting mares.

Action concludes on Sunday (July 4) at Hoosier Park with the $110,000 Nadia Lobell for three-year-old filly pacers.

Last Time: Ahundreddollarbill captured the first of two $40,000 eliminations of the MGM Yonkers Trot for three-year-old colts and geldings on Friday night (June 25) at Yonkers Raceway in a sparkling 1:54.2 and likely stamped himself as the favourite for the $500,000 final on July 2.

Driven by Andy McCarthy, Ahundreddollarbill is owned by Crawford Farms Racing and James Crawford IV. He won for the fourth time in 2021 without defeat.

The second $40,000 elimination turned into a match race between Åke Svanstedt entrymates Johan Palema and Ambassador Hanover, with Johan Palema and driver Yannick Gingras getting up for the win in the final strides of a 1:54.1 mile. Owned by Bender Sweden Inc., Johan Palema was a winner for the second time in three starts in 2021 after going winless in six tries as a freshman.

American Courage just missed the track record by a fifth of a second and Abuckabett Hanover overcame troubles on the turns to win their respective $40,000 MGM Grand Messenger Stakes eliminations for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers at Yonkers Raceway.

Driver Matt Kakaley and American Courage kicked on and came home in :27 to win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:50.4. American Courage is trained by Travis Alexander for owner-breeder Fiddler’s Creek Stables. American Courage made his 10th stop in the winner’s circle from 11 trips behind the gate, and he has pocketed $218,633.

Abuckabett Hanover (Andy McCarthy) was the headliner of a 1-9 entry in the second elimination and scored by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:51.3. Tony Alagna trains Abuckabett Hanover for the partnership of Crawford Farms Racing, Alagna Racing, Jablonsky Held Stable and Barbara N. Wienick Stable. Now four-for-four as a sophomore, Abuckabett Hanover is an eight-time winner overall, and he has put away $255,021.

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 June 25):

Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras – 260; 2. Tim Tetrick – 157; 3. Dexter Dunn – 153; 4. Andrew McCarthy – 143; 5. Todd McCarthy – 120.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 320; 2. Nancy Takter – 99; 3. Tony Alagna – 87; 4. Marcus Melander – 79; 5. Ake Svanstedt – 74.

Owners: 1. Brad Grant – 71.3; 2 (tie). Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi – 69.4; 4. Black Horse Racing – 51.7; 5. Renee Bercury – 50.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next week at The Meadows, Yonkers Raceway and The Meadowlands. The Meadows will have Arden Downs stakes for three-year-old colt and filly trotters; Yonkers will hold Springfield Stakes eliminations for two-year-old colt pacers; and The Meadowlands will feature the Graduate finals for four-year-old pacers and trotters, Meadowlands Pace eliminations for three-year-olds and Reynolds divisions for three-year-old colt and filly trotters.

(Grand Circuit)