by Frank Carulli
June 5, 2018
Dunbar Hall parlayed a home course advantage and a typically strong stretch kick into a victory over champion mare Ariana G and 10 other trotters in the $92,250 Graduate Series last Saturday at Woodbine-Mohawk Park.
Ariana G (Yannick Gingras) went wire-to-wire in the opening leg of the Graduate the previous week at the Meadowlands, holding off a late bid by Dunbar Hall to prevail by 3/4 of a length. But in the rematch, Dunbar Hall, despite being fourth-over in eighth place approaching the stretch, flew home through a :26.4 final quarter-mile to defeat runner-up Achilles Duharas by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:53 in a wild scramble to the finish. Ariana G, now 22-28 lifetime, faded to fifth as the 2-to-5 favorite.
Jody Jamieson drove Dunbar Hall into the C$100,000 earnings club this year for trainer Stephanie Jamieson and co-owners Carl Jamieson and George Harrison. He paid $18 to win.
"I got a lot of texts and comments about how explosive his turn of foot was (at the Meadowlands) and I thought if I got any kind of clean trip I had a shot," said Jody Jamieson.
The Graduate Series for pacers was split into two $63,500 divisions, with Tim Tetrick driving both winners -- fast-closing Miso Fast ($8) and upsetter Maroma Beach ($29.20) -- earlier on the card.
The track's richest race -- The C$1 million Pepsi North America Cup -- is taking shape after three divisions of the $60,000 Somebeachsomewhere were contested. Lather Up (Montrell Teague) lived up to 1-to-9 billing with an easy win in 1:50.3 while Burning Midnight (Trevor Henry) sprung a 28-1 upset in 1:50.4, covering the final quarter in 27 seconds. Jimmy Freight (Louis Phillippe Roy) paced the fastest time in 1:50.2 to win the third leg, but he is not eligible for the June 16 Cup.
'LEGEND' GROWS IN BATTLE OF LAKE ERIE
A harness racing 'legend' fired his best shot in the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie last Saturday at Northfield Park.
VonKnoblauch Stable LLC's Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) sustained a first-over grind and surged ahead of 1-to-5 favorite Rockin Ron in the closing yards to win in the track's signature race for older pacers. Jordan Stratton guided the 5-to-2 winner to a one-length win in 1:49.4 as Bit Of A Legend N's bankroll swelled to more than $2.2 million lifetime.
Rockin Ron (Matt Kakaley) went around Missle J (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) at the quarter pole and led through a :54.4 half mile and a 1:21.4 third-quarter split. Bit Of A Legend N came off the rail from fourth to go after the leader before they reached the half and simply wouldn't go away. He wore down Rockin Ron in the stretch and reversed a 12-length defeat against the same rival that set a track record in winning the Camluck Stakes at Western Fair the previous week.
GRISMORE'S 7,000 WIN HOLDS SPECIAL MEANING
Greg Grismore, the second-leading driver of all-time at Northfield Park, enjoyed what he called the "biggest thrill" of his racing career when he guided Nehemiah to victory at the Ohio track May 29. Nehemiah was parked the mile and had to sustain a 3-wide rally to prevail at 7-1 odds.
It was Grismore's 7,000 career win but, just as important, Nehemiah is co-owned by Grismore's son, Curtis.
"It's a huge thrill doing it on my son's horse," said Grismore. "It was probably the biggest thrill of my career."
Grismore had many thrills prior to his milestone victory. The Pandora, Ohio native drove his first winner in 1987, guided Won The West to victory in the Cleveland Classic during a $5 million purse-earnings season in 2007 and came back the next year to win the Jugette at the Delware County Fairgrounds with Good News Lady.