Grand Circuit rolls into Tioga on Sunday
August 25, 2017
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Tioga Downs presents its biggest card of the season on Sunday with nine Grand Circuit stakes on the day carrying total purses of nearly $750,000. Highlights include the $170,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot, $150,000 Joie De Vie Open Mare Trot and $158,000 Artiscape Open Mare Pace, supported by six divisions of the Reynolds stakes for 2 year olds.
Ten of the finest trotters in the land are entered for the Crawford Farms (Race 8) with the combined earnings of the field in excess of $12 million.
Resolve (post seven) is the leading career money winner and arguably the best trotter currently racing in North America for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt and owner Hans Enggren. A winner three times in eight seasonal starts, Reslove's most recent effort was a convincing open-lengths win in the $303,000 John Cashman Memorial on Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands.
Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron) chased Resolve home on that occasion and has drawn just to the outside of his chief rival on Sunday. He's handling the graduation to the veteran ranks nicely for trainer Paula Wellwood and owners Marion Wellwood and Devin Keeling with wins in the Hambletonian Maturity and Graduate final versus 4-year-old competition. Facing this deep and talented group in only his second foray into open competition is an arduous task for last year's Triple Crown champ.
The Joie De Vie (Race 6) features last year's dominant division leader Hannelore Hanover (post five, Yannick Gingras) and her newest rival in Swedish import Pasithea Face S (post two, Tim Tetrick). In their initial meeting Pasithea Face vanquished her accomplished rival with a grueling first-over move to win the Dr. John Steele Memorial on Hambo Day. Hannelore Hanover has not raced since while Pasithea Face tuned up with an overall track record 1:50.4 at Tioga last week in a leg of the Miss Versatility.
The Artiscape (Race 7) pits Lady Liberty winner Pure Country (post five, Mark MacDonald) against Golden Girls winner Nike Franco N (post two, Tetrick) in another field of six. Those two threw down for the final three-eighths of a mile in the Lady Liberty with Nike Franco wrestling the lead away by a neck at the stretch call before Pure Country rallied back to get the win.
The Reynolds stakes cover six races, two each for the trotting and pacing colts and a single division of fillies for each gait.
It's Corntastic weekend at Tioga Downs and post time on Sunday is 1 p.m. (Tioga Downs)