MILTON, September 11, 2021 – Desperate Man, under a perfect drive from Trevor Henry, stormed home to take the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup, Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Trained by Kathy Cecchin, who co-owns with her husband, John, their daughter Nikki, and son-in-law Paul Davies, the son of Shadow Play finished a hard-charging second in last week’s Cup elimination.
On this night, he went one better and did it in style.
It was 3-5 favourite Bulldog Hanover who took early control of the race, as Jody Jamieson piloted the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes champ to the front around the first turn, leading his nine rivals through a sensible opening quarter-mile in :27.3. Rockyroad Hanover sat second followed by Whichwaytothebeach and Perfect Sting, while Henry had Desperate Man positioned in fifth.
There was little change as Bulldog Hanover continued to call the shots after a half in :55.1, with Henry making sure he kept his sophomore in touch with the leader, tipping to the outside and following the cover of Perfect Sting.
Desperate Man continued to pick up steam and pick off his rivals one by one, as the field began the turn for home.
Mid-way down the lane, Desperate Man, second to Bulldog Hanover in one of two Cup elims, exploded on the scene, striking front and going on to post a three-quarter length triumph in a time of 1:49.3, carving out a final quarter in :27.1. Perfect Sting finished second, Whichwaytothebeach was third, and Bulldog Hanover was fourth.
Henry’s pre-race plan worked to perfection.
“I had to get away better than what I did last week. I had to have him forwardly placed. He’s a little tricky behind the car. He’s funny: Last week, he kind of run behind the gate; I got him back pacing and I didn’t want to rush him off his feet. I was just interested in making the final. Tonight, I said we’ve got to have him closer, so you know, if he makes a mistake, he makes a mistake. But we’ve got to have him closer.”
It was an emotional scene in the winner’s circle.
A $20,000 purchase at the 2019 Lexington Select Sale, Desperate Man had delivered his owners and driver with their biggest win along with a $500,000 payday, while returning $17.20 for the win.
“He’s a special horse, but you know, we’ve had a lot of nice horses over the years, but nothing that makes money like this one,” offered John Cecchin.
Henry, longtime friends with the Cecchins, was thrilled to see the longtime horsepeople hoist the Cup trophy.
“It feels great. Like these people deserve it: They’ve been in the business a long time, had some hard times, and got lucky to get this horse. You know, I started at the bottom and now I won the biggest one, so it’s been great.”
The Winbak Farm-bred bay arrived at Cup with just a lone score in eight starts on the year. On the big stage at Woodbine Mohawk Park, he departed with a win for the ages.
There could still be more memorable moments to come.
“Hopefully, like the game plan is, he’s a Saturday night horse for two or three years, and after that we’ll buy him a saddle and ride him,” said John Cecchin.
For now, they’ll ride the wave of Pepsi North America Cup glory.
For more on Desperate Man and his connections, read the story The Million-Dollar Gift: woodbine.com/mohawk/mohawk-insider/the-million-dollar-gift/