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Spotlight On The Grand Circuit

Published: August 28, 2019 10:04 am ET

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The publicity department for the Grand Circuit has sent out its weekly recap and preview of Grand Circuit races.

This Week: Yonkers Trot, Messenger Stakes, Hudson Filly Trot and Lady Maud, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; Maple Leaf Trot, Canadian Pacing Derby, Simcoe Stakes, and Champlain Stakes, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Milton, Ont.

Schedule of events: A busy holiday weekend of Grand Circuit action is led by a pair of Triple Crown events at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday (Aug. 31). The Hilltop oval will host the $500,000 Yonkers Trot for three-year-old trotters and the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for three-year-old pacers. These races will be the second legs in the Triple Crown for their respective gaits. Also on the Saturday program will be the $124,334 Hudson Filly Trot for three-year-olds and the $122,224 Lady Maud for three-year-old filly pacers.

Grand Circuit action at Woodbine Mohawk Park commences on Thursday (Aug. 29) with two divisions in the $195,597 Champlain Stakes for two-year-old filly trotters. The Friday (Aug. 30) program is highlighted by a single division in the $128,876 Champlain Stakes for two-year-old colt trotters. The Saturday (Aug. 31) program features the $600,000 Maple Leaf Trot for older trotters and the $525,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers. Also on the program will be a single division in the $171,503 Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old colt pacers.

Last time: It was a ‘non-Bettors Wish’ Saturday night (Aug. 24) during Yonkers Raceway’s eliminations for the 64th Messenger Stakes.

Bettors Wish (Dexter Dunn), the lone $30,000 supplemental entrant into the second jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown, summarily disposed of his five rivals in a non-wagering elimination.

A pole-sitting second early in the $40,000 off-the-card elimination, Bettors Wish took over from American Mercury (Tyler Buter) before a :28 opening quarter-mile. After a pedestrian :58 intermission, Escapetothebeach (Corey Callahan) tried it first-up from fourth.

Bettor’s Wish led through a 1:26.1 three-quarters, eventually holding off American Mercury by a half-length in 1:53.2. Escapetothebeach backed away but held third, with Branquinho (Jason Bartlett) fourth. That quartet goes into this Saturday night’s (Aug. 31) $500,000 finale of the Messenger.

Bettors Wish, a Bettors Delight colt, has hit the board in 22 of 23 career tries (13 wins, seven seconds, two thirds, $1,131,600). He now has eight wins and three seconds in 11 seasonal tries ($859,544). Chris Ryder co-owns (with Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm and Bettors Wish Partners) and trains.

“He was just so great, so easy to drive,” Dunn said. “I can’t wait for next week.”

The on-the-card, $40,000 elimination saw Aflame Hanover (Callahan, $6) finish what he started. From post position three, he never had an issue (:27.4, :56.3, 1:24, 1:52), beating pocketed pole-sitter U S Captain (Bartlett) by 1-1/2 lengths. Waterway (Joe Bongiorno), paired with the runner-up as the 17-10 wagering choice, was a closing third, while 37-1 rank outsider Reigning Deo (George Brennan) was a ground-saving fourth to advance.

For second choice Aflame Hanover, a Russell Hanover gelding co-owned by trainer Linda and Tony Schadel, it was his fourth win in 16 seasonal starts.

“He was super,” Callahan said. “He did everything I asked. His hobble hanger broke, but that didn’t bother him.”

Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website.

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, 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 2019 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders following this past weekend:

Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick – 776; 2. Yannick Gingras – 581; 3. David Miller – 486; 4. Dexter Dunn – 419; 5. Brian Sears – 374.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 713; 2. Tony Alagna – 366; 3. Jim King Jr. – 299; 4. Marcus Melander – 279; 5. Ake Svanstedt – 233.

Owners: 1. Fashion Farms – 192; 2. Brad Grant – 137.5; 3. Burke Racing Stable – 134.6; 4. Courant Inc. – 122.5; 5. Weaver Bruscemi – 122.1.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Scioto Downs, and Tioga Downs. Woodbine Mohawk will feature eliminations of the Peaceful Way and William Wellwood Memorial, Simcoe Stakes for three-year-olds (filly pacers, filly trotters and colt trotters) and Champlain Stakes for two-year-old pacers; Scioto will host the Jim Ewart Memorial for older pacers and the Charlie Hill for older trotters; and Tioga Downs will feature a leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older trotting mares.

(with files from the Grand Circuit)

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