Nichols, NY - The Graduate Series makes a stop at Tioga Downs on Sunday (June 11) for the third and last preliminary leg leading up to the $250,000e finals on July 8 at The Meadowlands.
Eleven trotters were declared and split into two short fields carded as races three and five, each division for a purse of $50,000.
The enigmatic Trolley fell just short of taking last week's second leg at Mohawk, losing a tight photo to Dayson in 1:52.3 and comes into Sunday's third race as the logical choice among the field of five. Trolley doesn't race often, having made only ten starts at two and three but when he's good he's very good. He successfully battled the best of his crop last season despite a pre mature end to his campaign, counting a second in last year's Beal final as his career highlight to date. Erv Miller trains the son of Donato Hanover for Paymaq Racing, Leland Mathias, Greg Gillis and Louis Willinger while Marcus Miller is the driver.
Division two fields six and serves as the seasonal debut of the 2016 Triple Crown winning Trotter of the Year, Marion Marauder. After a storybook three-year-old season, he has had a pair of Mohawk qualifiers to prepare for trainer Paula Wellwood and will be reunited with driver Scott Zeron on Sunday. Marion Marauder won 10 of his 15 starts last year while earning nearly $1.5 million for his owners the grandma & grandson duo of Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling.
Ten pacers declared for the single division $75,000 Graduate leg (race 7) and quite a formidable group it is. Dr J Hanover (Doug McNair) just last week paced the fastest mile in the long history of Canadian harness racing with his 1:46.4 win in the second Graduate leg at Mohawk and has drawn post two on Sunday. Tony Alagna trains Dr J for Brad Grant, Robert LeBlanc, Steve Wienick and Irwin Samelman.
Posted just to his inside is Boston Red Rocks (Tim Tetrick) who did a lot of the work in the record mile and finished second, beaten only a length at the end. Sintra (Jody Jamieson) has won divisions of both Graduate legs and possess a wicked lick when called upon. Jimmy Takter sends out the dynamic Lyon's Snyder (Mark MacDonald) while all Check Six (Yannick Gingras) does is win money.
It's a stellar start to the Grand Circuit season at Tioga Downs and the racing starts at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.