by Brett Sturman
Red Mile’s two-week Grand Circuit meet began this week and Sunday marks one of the best racing days to be found anywhere on the calendar this year to date. Featured throughout 11 divisions of the Bluegrass where sophomore pacers and trotters will rule the day are both the Little Brown Jug and Jugette winners, and a highly anticipated matchup between Jug winner Filibuster Hanover and the horse that missed the Jug, Huntsville.
Race 1: AIN’T THREE OK has banked nearly $100,000 on the season but somehow hasn’t landed in the winner’s circle yet, although she does show five runner-up finishes to her credit. She was actually pretty good last out in the Nadia Lobell as a big longshot and now goes first time Sears. TEQUILLA MONDAY did as well as she could in Delaware when trying to come from off the pace both times in the Jugette; NYSS star deserves to be favored in here. ELLA CHRISTINA beat eventual Jugette winner Caviart Ally at Philly three back but was a non-factor in the Jugette; I’d be surprised if she beat these on the big track. I’m not sure if I’d accept a price on ROARING TO GO of anything under 5-1. Picks: 4-3-5-1
Race 2: BOOGIE SHUFFLE won in 1:48:2 four back at Philly when he beat Filibuster Hanover and is one of the “now” horses of this group. Harder trainee was doomed by the posts in the Jug, but he’ll take a ton of action in here and probably should end up as the favorite. MISO FAST looked for awhile to be just one step below the top three horses in this division earlier in the season, but hasn’t been able to win in some time; is just two-for-17 on the year. MAROMA BEACH goes for Burke and gets Gingras; worth keeping an eye on. Picks: 2-6-4-5
Race 3: This looks like a spot where VICTOR GIO T would have to show something in order to keep competing against these types; the move to the inside will help. BILL’S MAN is going the better of the two Butenschoen trainee’s in here. JAKE goes for the hot barn. Picks: 1-3-7-4
Race 5: CAVIART ALLY pulled pocket on Blazin Britches in the Jugette final and wore that rival down in the stretch through guts and determination; Noel Daley filly couldn’t be any sharper right now. Between the heat racing 10 days ago and shipping since then I suppose she could “bounce,” but she’s so much the best that it shouldn’t matter.
Race 6: This division of the Bluegrass for 3-year-old fillies features the new #1 ARIANA G is now tops in the Breeders Crown/Hambletonian Society Top 10 poll and looks to continue her customary dominance in this group. DREAM TOGETHER gave it an honest shot against the champ in the Elegantimage but couldn’t trot with her late; figures to be up close again. CAVIART WONDER breaks but isn’t worse than most of these. SUNSHINE DELIGHT exits a career performance. Picks: 2-3-1-4
Race 8: DREAM BABY DREAM is better than that one-for-12 record this year indicates with Rod Allen and seems due for something more. She trotted the same final quarter time last out as Ariana G for what that’s worth and is playable for win in this race. What do we do with FEED YOUR HEAD? Her early September Mohawk form was phenomenal but it’s now her first race in three weeks on the heels of two straight sick scratches. That said, I’d expect Takter to have her ready. ICE ATTRACTION pops up with a good one every now and then; beat similar on Hambletonian day. Picks: 4-1-6-3
Race 11: This race features Meadowlands Pace winner Huntsville against newly crowned Little Brown Jug winner Filibuster Hanover and I can’t wait to see what we get from these today. Filibuster Hanover has made one more start this year than Huntsville (14 to 13) but he seems to have been put through less wear and tear. His Jug win was foreshadowed by that PASS Final at Philly last month and Burke has him going great guns at the moment; gets the big test for class now. HUNTSVILLE tuned up for this race with a big win in the Jenna’s Beach Boy at Hoosier last week and that Sept. 3 PASS loss doesn’t look as bad now once we see what that race produced. OCEAN COLONY is the best of the rest. Picks: 1-5-3-6
Race 12: What The Hill got his due last out in the Canadian Trotting Classic when he won easily in 1:51:4 off a perfect 2-hole trip. He now makes his third start back since having a throat procedure following the Hambletonian and is one of a few from this barn that are peaking right now in early fall; fires out again. LONG TOM set a good clip up front in the CTC and ran out of steam in the late stages; I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss. DEVIOUS MAN is another that’s likely to show speed but if he hasn’t been able to last on the front at Yonkers, is he going to last here? He’ll look to sit a trip if possible. INTERNATIONAL MONI didn’t pack the same closing kick in Canada that he did there earlier in the year; would need a bit of a reversal now. Picks: 6-3-4-8
Race 13: ART SCENE didn’t get the trip last out at Hoosier and ended up finishing a non-threatening fourth, but that’s okay. His mile two back at Mohawk was vicious and he should find this group more to his liking; bounces back now. MAJOR MOE shows two straight :26 and change final quarters and deserves respect coming from the barn of Brian Brown; can figure for a share. BLOOD LINE has been overmatched in almost all of his starts this year and will have every chance to win this if good enough. EDDARD HANOVER is a player if you forgive his most recent. Picks: 6-4-2-5