CAMPBELLVILLE, June 13 – Downbytheseaside, Fear The Dragon and Huntsville, all impressive winners in last weekend’s eliminations, headline a field of 10 for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup, Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack.
The 34th edition of Canada’s richest harness race, showcasing the finest three-year-old pacers on the continent, will go postward at 10:40 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on TSN3 & TSN5 from 10:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET. The winner of the Pepsi North America Cup earns $500,000. This year marks the 17th anniversary of Pepsi’s sponsorship of the race.
Post positions were drawn today at Mohawk, with Toronto Maple Leafs’ forward Matt Martin as the guest drawmaster.
Three eliminations for this year’s Pepsi North America Cup were contested last Saturday. The top three finishers from each $50,000 elimination, plus a fourth-place finisher drawn by lot, qualified for the $1 million final. A total of 25 three-year-old pacers competed in the eliminations, the highest turnout since 2010.
The elimination winners earned their connections the right to select their post before the balance of the field is drawn. Eighteen of the past 33 Cup winners won their elimination.
Huntsville (PP3), a son of 2008 Cup winner Somebeachsomewhere, was last Saturday’s fastest elimination winner, as he toured the Mohawk oval in 1:49.1 to win by four and a quarter lengths for trainer Ray Schnittker and driver Tim Tetrick. It was the third win in four starts this season for last year’s U.S. Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year.
Co-breeders Schnittker and Charles Iannazzo share ownership of the pacing star with Ted Gewertz and Steven Arnold. Huntsville has won 10 of 15 career starts and has never finished worse than second. The bay pacing colt holds a mark of 1:49 and has earned over $800,000 during his racing career.
Downbytheseaside (PP2), trained by Brian Brown, won the first elimination by two lengths in 1:50.4. It was the fourth win in four outings this season for the son of Somebeachsomewhere.
The Brown trainee’s only prior start on Canadian soil was a 1:51.1 score in last November’s $520,000 Governor’s Cup at Woodbine. Downbytheseaside is a 12-time winner and the richest horse in the field with $858,616 earned for owners Country Club Acres Inc, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo and Diamond Creek Racing.
Team Brown took two of the three elimination last Saturday, as Fear The Dragon (PP4) overcame a quick stretch break to win his division in 1:50.
A son of Dragon Again, Fear The Dragon was pulling away from his rivals when he jumped over a head number on the racing surface. The Brown trainee quickly reset and held onto to pick up his fifth win in five outings this season. Fear The Dragon, who is owned by Emerald Highlands Farm of Mount Vernon, Ohio, has won 10 of 16 career starts and banked over $325,000.
David Miller, who won last year’s North America Cup with Betting Line, drove both of Brown’s trainees in the eliminations and opted to go with Fear The Dragon for the final. Brian Sears will catch-drive Downbytheseaside.
The big three of harness racing’s ‘glamour boys’ division are the top-three choices heading into the Cup final. Huntsville is the 8/5 morning-line choice, while Fear The Dragon is 2/1 and Downbytheseaside is 3/1.
Not to be overlooked, Classic Pro (PP6, Trevor Henry) was the quickest of the second-place finishers in last Saturday’s eliminations. The Dr. Ian Moore trained son of Shadow Play was runner-up to Huntsville, pacing his mile free-legged in 1:50.
Classic Pro, who has two victories to his name, is co-owned by Montreal Canadiens’ legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Serge Savard, along with Moore of Puslinch, Ontario, and R G McGroup Limited of Bathurst, New Brunswick.
Driver Doug McNair of Guelph, Ontario steered Western Hill (PP9) to a runner-up finish in the first elimination. The bay gelding paced his mile in 1:51.1 and finished a pair of lengths behind Downbytheseaside.
Tom Hill of Hamilton, Ontario owns the son of Western Ideal, who’s won 5 of 13 career starts. Tony Alagna, who trained 2013 Cup winner Captaintreacherous, is the conditioner of Western Hill. Last year, Alagna trainee Racing Hill finished second in the Cup.
Trainer Ron Burke, who sent out 2014 Cup winner JK Endofanera, will be represented by two-horses, Filibuster Hanover and Miso Fast. This will be the second year in a row Burke has sent out two Cup starters.
Filibuster Hanover (PP8) finished second to Fear The Dragon, pacing his mile in 1:50.1. The son of Somebeachsomewhere has three wins and nine top-three finishes from 17 career starts. Miso Fast (PP10) was the fourth-place finisher to draw into the $1 million Cup final. The Roll With Joe colt paced a mile of 1:50.3, finishing a little over six lengths back of Huntsville. He’s won six of 18 career starts.
Driver Matt Kakaley, who is making his NA Cup debut, qualified both of Burke’s horses for the final and has selected Miso Fast as his drive. Louis Philippe Roy, the leading driver at Mohawk, will make his Cup debut behind Filibuster Hanover.
Trainer Blake MacIntosh of Cambridge, Ontario sends out Sports Column (PP5) in the Cup final. The son of Sportswriter finished third in his elimination and will be driven by Chris Christoforou of Campbellville, Ontario. The bay colt has won four of his 10 career starts and is owned by Hutt Racing Stable LLC of Pennsylvania, MacIntosh and Daniel Plouffe of Bromont, Quebec.
Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter will be searching for his first Cup title with Somebeachsomewhere colt Ocean Colony (PP1). The four-time winner is owned by John Fielding, Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband of Toronto, along with Takter’s wife, Christina. Yannick Gingras, a native of Quebec, will drive Ocean Colony.
Completing the field is Ron Coyne trainee Ozone Blue Chip (PP7). The Bettors Delight colt finished third in his elimination and is a three-time winner. He is co-owned by Blair Corbeil of Beaumont, Alberta, along with Ron Coyne Stables Inc of New Jersey and Christopher Mazzone of Florida.
Brett Miller, who finished second in last year’s Cup with Racing Hill, will steer Ozone Blue Chip.
The North America Cup stakes record is 1:47.4, set by Thinking Out Loud in 2012 and equaled last year by Betting Line. Hall of famer Bettors Delight holds the record for the largest margin of victory, four and half lengths in 2001.
The list of past Cup winners is a who’s who of Standardbred greats, including Jate Lobell (1987), Precious Bunny (1991), Presidential Ball (1993), Cams Card Shark (1994), Gallo Blue Chip (2000), Rocknroll Hanover (2005), Somebeachsomewhere (2008) and Captaintreacherous (2013).
The shortest-priced winners in Cup history are Jate Lobell and Presidential Ball at $2.70, while Goalie Jeff, in 1989, provided the biggest upset, returning $93.60 for a $2 Win bet.
The Cup was raced at Greenwood Raceway from 1984-03, followed by Woodbine Racetrack from 1994-2006. The North America Cup was moved to Mohawk in 2007 and this year’s edition marks the 11th time Canada’s richest race will be held at the Campbellville oval.
Mohawk’s Cup night card will offer three Pick-4 wagers, including an All Stakes Pick-4 with a $100,000 guaranteed pool, comprising of Races 9 through 12.
The North America Cup undercard features the $440,000 Fan Hanover for three-year-old pacing fillies, $365,000 Roses Are Red for pacing mares, $253,000 Armbro Flight for trotting mares, $251,000 Goodtimes for three-year-old trotters and the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational for older pacers.
Post time for the first of 15 races on the Pepsi North America Cup card is 6:30 p.m.
Here is the field for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup.
1. Ocean Colony (Yannick Gingras/Jimmy Takter) 10/1
2. Downbytheseaside (Brian Sears/Brian Brown) 3/1
3. Huntsville (Tim Tetrick/Ray Schnittker) 8/5
4. Fear The Dragon (David Miller/Brian Brown) 2/1
5. Sports Column (Chris Christoforou/Blake MacIntosh) 25/1
6. Classic Pro (Trevor Henry/Dr. Ian Moore) 20/1
7. Ozone Blue Chip (Brett Miller/Ron Coyne) 25/1
8. Filibuster Hanover (Louis Philippe Roy/Ron Burke) 15/1
9. Western Hill (Doug McNair/Tony Alagna) 20/1
10. Miso Fast (Matt Kakaley/Ron Burke) 20/1