CAMPBELLVILLE, June 14…Ten of the continent’s finest three-year-old pacers, headed by the 2-1 morning line favourite, Big Bad John and the 5-2 second choice, Up The Credit, are set to contest Saturday’s $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack.
Post time for the 28th edition of the Cup, the richest pacing event in the world and one of the most contentious renewals in the race’s history, is 9:40 pm, with the winner earning $750,000. The Score will air a special one and one-half hour telecast nationally from 8:30 – 10:00 pm ET.
Post positions were drawn today at Mohawk, with Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn as guest drawmaster.
Last Saturday, three Cup eliminations were staged to determine the field for the final, with the connections of the winners earning the right to select post positions before the balance of the field was drawn. The top three finishers in each elimination qualified for the final. Fifteen of the past 27 Cup winners also won their eliminations.
Big Bad John (PP4, 2-1), to be driven by Brett Miller for trainer Ron Potter, was an impressive two and one-quarter length winner of his elim in 1:50.3. The son of Western Hanover is unbeaten in four starts this year and overall has won 11 of 13 career outings for owner Winchester Baye Acres Inc. of Ocala, Florida. Miller finished second with 34-1 shot We Will See in last year’s Cup.
"He’s got a slick gait but to me it’s all about his attitude," said Potter. "Every time he goes out there, it’s a fight to him and he’s got the biggest heart, he wants to win. I was really nervous coming into the elimination, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m thrilled to be in the final."
Up The Credit (PP2, 5-2), trained and co-owned by Carl Jamieson of Princeton, Ontario, won his third race in a row last Saturday, taking his Cup elim as the 3-5 choice by a half-length over Shadyshark Hanover in 1:50.4. Two weeks ago, the son of Western Terror shocked 1-9 Big Jim in a division of the Somebeachsomewhere in a career best 1:49, the fastest mark in the field. He’ll be driven as usual by Jody Jamieson, who steered Tell All to victory in the 2007 Pepsi North America Cup.
"Picking third, (post) 2 was left and it’s a good spot," said Jody Jamieson. "I think I will be able to get whoever I want in front of me and behind me and have a good trip from there. Posts 1 through 7, it’s a tightly contested race. It should be a great race."
Shadyshark Hanover (PP5, 5-1), trained by Ervin Miller, is the field’s second leading money winner with $605,332, much of which was generated from his second place finishes last year to Big Jim in both the Breeders Crown and Governor’s Cup.
One of three sons of 1994 Cup winner Cams Card Shark in the final, Shadyshark Hanover was a close second to Up The Credit in his Cup elim, when overtaken near the wire in his fourth start of the year.
"I think that’s the key to him [get a few starts under his belt]," said Tetrick. "He’s a Cams Card Shark and they seem to get better with each race. Like last year, he got better as the year went on, so hopefully that’s the case this year."
Powerful Mist (PP3, 6-1), trained by Wayne Givens, won the fastest of the three elims, in 1:50.2, scoring by one and one-half lengths over Rockabillie. The son of Powerful Toy will be making his 24th career start in the Cup, tops amongst the field. He’ll be driven for the first time by David Miller.
Big Jim (PP1, 7-1), last year’s champion two-year-old colt pacer in both Canada and the United States, comes into the Cup final off two shocking defeats, both times at 1-9. The son of Western Ideal, to be driven by Phil Hudon, finished second to Up The Credit in the Somebeachsomewhere, then was third last week to Powerful Mist and Rockabillie in his Cup elim.
Trained by James ‘Friday’ Dean for owner Jim Carr of Hamilton, Big Jim is far and away the field’s leading money winner with $1,077,580, after capturing last year’s Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs and Governor’s Cup at Woodbine.
Roll With Joe (PP7, 8-1), another Cams Card Shark offspring, most recently finished second to Big Bad John in his Cup elim, two and one-quarter lengths behind. To be driven by Randy Waples for trainer Edward Hart, Roll With Joe, who earlier won a division of the Somebeachsomewhere in a career best 1:49.3, is a full brother to 2001 Cup winner Bettors Delight.
Dr. Ian Moore of Rockwood, Ontario, trains and co-owns, along with RG McGroup Ltd. of Bathurst, New Brunswick and hockey Hall of Famer Serge Savard of Saint-Bruno, Quebec, two Cup hopefuls in Eighteen and Rockabillie.
Rockabillie (PP6, 15-1), a son of 2005 Cup winner Rocknroll Hanover, finished a solid second to Powerful Mist as a 63-1 outsider in last week’s elim. He’ll be driven for the first time by Brian Sears, who drove Rocknroll Hanover to victory in the 2005 Cup.
Eighteen (PP8, 25-1) also pulled off a surprise in his elim last week by finishing third to Up The Credit and Shadyshark Hanover, as a 40-1 outsider. After going winless in nine starts last year, the son of Cams Card Shark has won two of six starts this year. He’ll be driven by Paul MacDonell, who won the 2008 Cup with champion Somebeachsomewhere.
Foreclosure N (PP10, 25-1), trained by Mark Steacy, finished in a deadheat for third, along with Dutch Richman, in one of last week’s eliminations, two and one-half lengths behind winner Big Bad John. Another son of Rocknroll Hanover, Foreclosure N, to be driven by Sylvain Filion, is owned by R. Peter Heffering of Port Perry, who raced 1991 Cup winner Precious Bunny.
Dutch Richman (PP9, 30-1), another Cup hopeful trained (and co-owned) by Ervin Miller, will be handled for the first time by Scott Zeron. The son of Richess Hanover has won six of nine career starts.
Well Said, the 2009 Cup winner, holds the stake, track and Canadian record of 1:48.1 while Hall of Famer Bettors Delight has won the race by the largest margin, four and one-half lengths, in 2001.
Other winners of the Cup, which began in 1984 at Greenwood Raceway, include such champions as Jate Lobell (1987), Precious Bunny (1991), Presidential Ball (1993), Cams Card Shark (1994), Gallo Blue Chip (2000), Rocknroll Hanover (2005), Somebeachsomewhere (2008) and Well Said (2009).
The Cup was raced at Greenwood from 1984-93, followed by Woodbine from 1994-2006. It was held at Mohawk Racetrack for the first time in 2007. The shortest-priced winners, at $2.70, are Jate Lobell and Presidential Ball, while Goalie Jeff, in 1989, provided the highest win payoff, $93.60.
Last year, Sportswriter, driven by Mark MacDonald for trainer Casie Coleman, won the Pepsi North America Cup as the 3-1 third choice, holding off longshots We Will See and Piece of the Rock, in 1:48.3.
The exceptional card on Saturday also includes the $601,000 Fan Hanover Stakes for three-year-old filly pacers, headed by the brilliant, undefeated See You At Peelers, a daughter of Bettors Delight, and the once-beaten Krispy Apple; the $347,000 Goodtimes Stakes for three-year-old colt trotters, featuring elim winners Blue Porsche, VC Chocoholic and Imperial Count and the $519,000 Elegantimage Stakes for three-year-old filly trotters, with elim winners Crys Dream and Beatgoeson Hanover, along with beaten favourite Lukes Sophie.
Post time for the first race is 7:10 pm ET.