09/06/2014 11:02PM

Mohawk: Grand Circuit week concludes with six stakes

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Dancin Hill rolled to a two-plus length win in the Simcoe Stake.

Grand Circuit week wrapped up with a bang Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack.

Two divisions of the Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old pacers and two divisions of the Champlain Stakes for two-year-old pacers of both sexes highlighted the 12-race card.

In the first $106,038 Simcoe Stakes division, Dancin Hill and driver Scott Zeron picked up the victory in a career best clocking of 1:50 1/5.

Trained by Tony Alagna, Dancin Hill sat off the early pace as the lead changed hands a few times in the opening half mile.

In the third quarter, Zeron fired up Dancin Hill and brought him first up to challenge the leader Western Vintage.

After a three-quarter time of 1:22 3/5, Dancin Hill powered by Western Vintage in the lane and paced strong to the wire to win by 2 ¼ lengths over Winds Of Change.

Carracci Hanover took the show spot.

A son of Rocknroll Hanover – Beyonce Blue Chip, Dancin Hill has now won two of his last three starts and improved his seasonal record to three wins in 12 starts.

“I was very happy with him,” said Alagna following the race. “I felt good at the head of the lane because I know he always kicks home hard and Scott (Zeron) said he was super.”

Dancin Hill is owned by Tom Hill of Lancashire, Great Britain and has now won five races in his career for earnings of more than $133,000.

He paid $3.80 to win.

Melmerby Beach and Paul MacDonell scored their second victory in back-to-back weeks to take the second $107,538 division.

Melmerby Beach sprinted off the gate to grab the lead and paced by the opening quarter in :26 4/5.

After putting up fractions of :54 4/5 and 1:22 1/5, Melmerby Beach led the field into that lane, while Play It Again Sam was sticking close first up and Jet Airway was second over.

In the stretch, Melmerby Beach dug in and held off Play It Again Sam to win by half a length in 1:50 2/5.

Jet Airway couldn’t find his best stride and finished third, while Surprise Hanover got up for fourth.

A son of Somebeachsomewhere – Db Blue Chip, Melmerby Beach has now won three of his last five starts.

“The last few weeks we’ve been leaving with him pretty good and haven’t really done that much most of the year,” said MacDonell following the race. “He seems to be responding to that style of racing so far.”

MacDonell also said that Melmerby Beach may be better suited for the cooler weather.

“I think the fall weather is going to help him. He suffered a bit of allergy symptoms most of the summer and he is just getting stronger and better and we are hoping for a good fall season with him.”

Trained by Brent MacGrath for Schooner II Stable, Melmerby Beach has now won six of his 14 starts this year and seven in his career for earnings of more than $159,000.

He paid $6.50 to win.

Eighteen freshman pacing colts and geldings were split into two divisions of the Champlain Stakes.

In the first $123,120 division, Lyons Levi Lewis delivered a 1:52 1/5 victory as the 3/5 favorite.

Driven by Sylvain Filion, Lyons Levi Lewis got away in fourth and made a second quarter brush and touched down on the lead at the half in :55 1/5.

After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:23 2/5, Lyons Levi Lewis kept his rivals away to win by a length.

Thinkofagameplan finished second, while Some Power was third.

Following the race, Filion explained his strategy with the heavy favorite.

“Leaving the gate I just didn’t want to get caught up in the speed duel,” said Filion. “Let them settle and then retake the lead down the backside and control the pace.”

Lyons Levi Lewis, who is owned by Joseph Lyons Mound, has now won twice in eight starts for earnings of more than $265,000.

He paid $2.70 to win.

As the field approached the start in the first division, Sports Bettor fell down and tossed driver James MacDonald to the track.

Sports Bettor was caught outside the paddock, while James MacDonald was able to get up under his own power and continued driving on the remainder of the card.

If You Want Fire and Chris Christoforou benefited from hot fractions in the second $123,120 division to come from sixth at three-quarter pole and pace by his rivals to win in 1:52 2/5.

A first quarter battle saw Kona Kid, Southwind Indy and Mitt Jagger fly by the opening quarter in :26.

Mitt Jagger, who was three-wide around the first turn, finally took the lead, but Lyons Again paced up from fourth to take control at the half in :54.

Lyons Again reached the three-quarter pole in 1:22 2/5 to lead the field into the stretch, while Traceur Hanover sat two lengths back in second.

In the stretch, Lyons Again began to tire and needed the wire, but couldn’t hold on as If You Want Fire surged by the favorite to win by three-quarters of a length.

Lyons Again held on for second over a late charging Mikes Powerhouse.

A son of Bettors Delight – Dream Of Treasure, If You Want Fire lost the first four starts of his career, but has now won three races in a row for earnings of over $75,000.

Trained by Casie Coleman, If You Want Fire is owned by West Wins Stable, Ron Broadstone, Leslie Halsted and Dr. Fred Kruszelnicki.

He paid $8.60 to win.

Fourteen two-year-old pacing fillies were also on display in two divisions of the Champlain Stakes.

Happy Becky and Chris Christoforou made a second quarter move to the lead and never looked back to win the first $117,557 division.

A daughter of Cams Card Shark – Happy Doris, Christoforou sent Happy Becky from fourth to the lead in the second quarter.

Happy Becky paced by the three-quarter pole in 1:23 4/5 and then paced a strong final quarter to fight off Shakai Hanover, who was stuck in the two-hole, and Shes A Hot Mess, who came first up in the third quarter.

Trained by Casie Coleman, the clocking of 1:52 2/5 is a new career best for Happy Becky.

Following the race, Christoforou said racing luck just hadn’t been a friend of Happy Becky in her most recent starts.

“She had a little bad luck in her last couple starts…she got locked in last time and just circumstances,” said Christoforou. “I wanted to give her the best chance I could, so that’s how it worked out.”

Happy Becky is owned by West Wins Stable, J Robert Darrow, Ron Broadstone and Dave Miller.

She has now won five of her first seven starts and has earnings of more than $104,000.

Happy Becky paid $6.00.

The Show Returns and Scott Zeron took the second $117,557 division in 1:52.

Coming into the Champlain Stakes off a victory in the Shes A Great Lady Stakes consolation, The Show Returns grabbed the early lead over Sports Chic and Solar Sister.

Solar Sister made a move to the lead in the second quarter and carried that lead to the three-quarter pole as The Show Returns sat in the two-hole.

In the stretch, Zeron found room for The Show Returns and powered past Solar Sister to win by a length.

Sports Chic took second, while Solar Sister held on for third.

A daughter of Rocknroll Hanover – Stienams Place, The Show Returns was making her debut in the Tony O’Sullivan barn.

Owned by Richard and Joanne Young, she has now won three times in eight starts for earnings of more than $90,000.

She paid $4.90 to win.

The final rounds of the Champlain and Simcoe Stakes concludes Grand Circuit week, but harness racing’s finest will return next Saturday night for the $682,000 Canadian Trotting Classic.

Also on next Saturday’s card is the Elegantimage Stakes, William Wellwood Memorial and the Peaceful Way Stakes.

-edited release (WEG)