Gimpanzee headlines first leg of Graduate at Tioga
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Tioga Downs will host the first Grand Circuit stakes of the 2020 season when the first trotting leg of the Graduate Series comes to town on Sunday evening.
Thirteen declarations split into two $50,000 divisions carded as races 11 and 12 on the 15-race extravaganza.
Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) will face five rivals as he makes the Graduate his first start of hie 4-year-old campaign for trainer Marcus Melander and Swedish owners Courant Inc. and SRF Stable. The son of Chapter Seven closed out his sophomore season powerfully with wins in the Yonkers Trot, New York Sires Stakes final and Breeders Crown to vault past $1 million in 2019 earnings.
The second split will feature trotting "Girl Power" as top mares Grand Swan and Pure Chance invade to the Empire State with powerful midwest resumes.
Melander and Sears team up again to send out Grand Swan, who cashed in for over $400,000 by dominating the Indiana program last year for owners Never Too Late Stable, Grand Swan Racing, Soulsby and Weisenberg.
Pure Chance (Aaron Merriman) parlayed multiple wins in the Ohio Sires Stakes program with a few Grand Circuit scores into nearly a quarter million dollars in earnings for trainer Chris Beaver who shares ownership with Steven Zeehandelar.
Tioga will host the first leg of the Graduate Series for pacers on a card that includes the $175,000 (est.) Roll With Joe Open Pace and the opening leg of the 2020 New York Sires Stake for 3-year-old trotting fillies.
The Graduate Series moves to The Meadowlands for leg #2 for the trotters on June 27, leg #2 for pacers on July 4 and both $250,000 finals on July 11 at the Meadowlands on Meadowlands Pace elimination night.
The ive racing schedule at Tioga throughout the month of June is Sunday and Monday with a 4 p.m. post time. (Tioga Downs)