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Spotlight On The Grand Circuit

Published: September 13, 2017 2:57 pm 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: Canadian Trotting Classic, Maple Leaf Trot, Elegantimage, Milton Stakes, and Metro eliminations, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; Nadia Lobell, Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; Kindergarten Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; Standardbred Stakes, Delaware County Fair, Delaware, Ohio; and Simpson Stakes, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Chester, Pa.

Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action will kick off at Hoosier Park on Wednesday (Sept. 13) with the $160,000 Nadia Lobell for three-year-old filly pacers.

The Meadowlands on Friday (Sept. 15) will host three $10,000 divisions in the Kindergarten Series for two-year-old colt trotters, three $10,000 divisions in the Kindergarten Series for two-year-old filly trotters, two $10,000 divisions in the Kindergarten Series for two-year-old colt pacers and two $10,000 contests in the Kindergarten Series for two-year-old filly pacers.

Grand Circuit action at Mohawk will be held on Saturday (Sept. 16) with the $684,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for three-year-old open trotters, the $593,000 Maple Leaf Trot for older trotters, the $385,000 Elegantimage for three-year-old filly trotters, the $256,000 Milton Stakes for older pacing mares and three $40,000 eliminations in the Metro for two-year-old pacing colts.

Delaware and Harrah’s Philadelphia will offer Grand Circuit racing on Sunday (Sept. 17). Delaware will host the $70,000 (est.) Standardbred Stakes for two-year-old colt pacers and the $45,000 (est.) Standardbred Stakes for two-year-old filly pacers. Harrah’s Philadelphia has the $105,000 (est.) Simpson Stakes for three-year-old colt pacers and the $80,000 (est.) Simpson Stakes for three-year-old colt trotters.

Last time: After Rockin Ron (driven by Matt Kakaley) blew by Mel Mara (Dave Palone) like the 2-1 public selection was standing still it appeared the trophy for the $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial would clearly belong to his connections. McWicked, however, had other plans as he and Brian Sears unleashed a scintillating rally through the passing lane to score by a neck in 1:49.3 on Saturday (Sept. 9) at Eldorado Scioto Downs.

“I won the three-year-old Breeders Crown championship with this horse,” said Sears. “You have to ask him a little more than you used to when he was younger, but he still has that speed.”

As expected speedster Luck Be Withyou (PP5, Aaron Merriman) immediately left the gate to take command. After leading the field of 10 swift older pacers through an opening quarter-mile in :26.1, Palone gave Mel Mara his cue and the stallion responded with a first-over move to take the lead through a half-mile in :54.2.

The world champion’s stint on top would be short lived as Rockin Ron was loaded with pace and overhauled Mel Mara from fourth in a flash shortly before 1:21.3 for the three-quarters was posted on the board. In a moment Rockin Ron (9-2) not only passed Mel Mara but left him completely in his wake by several lengths.

As the field strode toward the final turn, it seemed Rockin Ron was going to collect an emphatic victory, as Check Six (Chris Page), Boston Red Rocks (Josh Sutton) and McWicked all had plenty of work to do from sixth, third and fourth, respectively.

As Rockin Ron disposed of Check Six and Boston Red Rocks, McWicked was winding up along the inside and gaining on the leader with every inch. As Sears urged him on, the six-year-old stallion edged past Rockin Ron with a :27.2 final panel to annex the race. Rockin Ron held for second while Boston Red Rocks and Check Six dead-heated for third place.

Owned by Ed James and conditioned by Casie Coleman, 2014 Dan Patch Award winner McWicked boosted his career bankroll past the $2 million mark and collected the 22nd win of his 68-race career.

The stallion suffered from breathing problems as a four-year-old which caused him to miss nearly all of the 2015 season and abbreviated his campaign last year. In 2017, McWicked has compiled a record of 21-7-3-2 after those issues were rectified.

“Casie has trained him on and off throughout his career and she has really done a great job with him,” Sears, who also won the Jug Preview with Downbytheseaside earlier on the card, said. “I’m just very happy I received the opportunity to drive him tonight and that I was able to win with him again.”

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2017, 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 2017 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders through and including the races on Sept. 9.

Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras – 795; 2. David Miller – 614; 3. Tim Tetrick – 520; 4. Scott Zeron – 417; 5. Corey Callahan – 289.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 663.5; 2. Jimmy Takter – 584; 3. Brian Brown – 295; 4. Ake Svanstedt – 223; 5. John Butenschoen – 212.

Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable – 157.1; 2. Emerald Highlands Farm – 155; 3. Determination – 154; 4. Diamond Creek Racing – 147.8; 5. Weaver Bruscemi – 135.

Looking ahead: Another busy schedule of Grand Circuit racing will be taking place next week at the Delaware County Fair, Mohawk Racetrack, Hoosier Park and Harrah’s Philadelphia. Delaware will be hosting seven Grand Circuit events, led by the Little Brown Jug, the third and final leg of Pacing’s Triple Crown for three-year-olds; Mohawk will feature the finals of the William Wellwood Memorial and Peaceful Way for freshman trotters and the Metro and Shes A Great Lady for freshman pacers; Hoosier will host seven Grand Circuit races, including the Centuar for open trotters and the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby for open pacers; and Harrah’s Philadelphia has the Simpson Stakes for sophomore filly trotters and pacers.

(Grand Circuit)

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