MILTON, October 22, 2019 – On and off the racetrack, Captain Crunch is always clutch when it’s crunch time.
When the opportunity arose to be part of unique component of the Breeders Crown Charity Challenge, trainer Nancy Johansson, who has done stellar work with champion pacer Captain Crunch, as well as with her other stable of horses, didn’t hesitate in supporting the endeavor.
“Obviously, it was something we jumped on pretty much right away when we were asked to do it,” said the New Jersey-based Johansson, who has already set career-best marks across the board in 2019. “It’s always good to see something like this for our sport, to give back to the community. Horse racing is an integral part of our lives, and in Ontario, especially, there are a lot of farms, and great horsepeople – it’s a big part of the economy. So for us to contribute back to all of that, it’s just a win-win for everybody.”
The Breeders Crown Charity Challenge partners four award-winning Standardbreds with four celebrities, and a charity of their selection, as part of a social media challenge leading up to the 2019 Breeders Crown which will take place at Woodbine Mohawk Park on October 25-26.
Eddie Olczyk (former NHL player/coach, current NBC Sports analyst), Dan Plesac (former MLB pitcher, current MLB Network analyst), Michael “Pinball” Clemons (former CFL player/coach) and Kim MacDonald (Weather Network personality) are the celebrities.
Each one has been tasked with drawing the biggest fanbase for their horse by directing fans to Woodbine Mohawk Park’s Facebook page. The team that acquires the most votes (fans have been voting once a day for their favourite) during the challenge will receive additional funds raised through an auction.
The connections of Dan Patch Award honorees Captain Crunch, Gimpanzee, Warrawee Ubeaut and Woodside Charm pledged one per cent of their respective horse’s earnings from June 1, 2019 to October 26, 2019 to go towards the charity of their associated celebrity.
Each charity is guaranteed to receive $5,000 minimum.
Team Plesac, currently leading the way, is partnered with Captain Crunch. The former pitcher selected the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society (OSAS) as his charity.
Founded in 1996 to assist in the adoption and relocation of retired and non-racing Standardbred horses within Ontario, OSAS helps to educate and assist in the retraining and management of the horses.
Captain Crunch, a son of Captaintreacherous, out of Sweet Paprika, (from the family of Dan Patch Award-winner Sweet Lou and $2.78 million-earner Bettor Sweet) was the 2018 Dan Patch Award recipient for best two-year-old male pacer.
His top triumphs last year came in the Breeders Crown and year-ending Governor’s Cup.
In 2019, he notched back-to-back scores in divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes before breaking stride in his elimination for the North America Cup. He jumped a shadow in the first turn but recovered to finish fifth and advance to the $1 million final.
The bay colt delivered a primetime performance in the big race, stopping the clock in 1:47.2. The time is the fastest ever by a three-year-old pacer on Canadian soil.
On October 19, he finished third in his Breeders Crown elim, one week ahead of the highly anticipated final. With the result, his record now stands at 11-3-3 from 22 career starts.
“You always worry when you have a two-year-old champion, and you want them to come back and race well at three,” started Johansson. “There’s always a lot of pressure coming from a champion two-year-old season to a three-year-old season, as it is. We’ve been so lucky. He’s a just a wonderful horse. He’s an exceptional individual both physically and mentally. He has great pedigree. He’s just a really nice horse to be around. Special horses have those extra-special qualities to them.”
The type of horse that’s always up for the challenge, no matter when, where or what it happens to be.