MILTON, August 29, 2020 – Tall Dark Stranger looked like a million dollars in taking the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup, Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Trained by Nancy Takter, Tall Dark Stranger and Yannick Gingras were content to let Tattoo Artist make his mark on the lead, as the latter powered from post seven to strike front early in the proceedings.
With Bob McClure in the bike, Tattoo Artist took his nine rivals through an opening mile carved out in a snappy :25.4, with Tall Dark Stranger settling in second. Longshots Moneyman Hill, in third, and Mayhem Hanover, sitting fourth, watch the pacesetting duo set the tone early.
Soon after the quarter-mile mark, Gingras, contesting his ninth Cup, powered his 3-5 favourite to the outside and to the lead, as they cut a half in :53.3.
It was Tall Dark Stranger still calling the shots as the field geared up for the stretch drive. McClure pulled Tattoo Artist to the outside looking to track down the frontunner. For a brief moment, it appeared as though they were cutting into the lead of Tall Dark Stranger, but he pulled away down the lane for another impressive score.
Tattoo Artist was second, while 127-1 Moneyman Hill finished third. Odds on Osiris, leaving from post 10, rallied to take fourth.
There was plenty of emotion in the aftermath of the victory, including a teary-eyed Gingras, and an elated Marvin Katz, who co-owns Tall Dark Stranger with Crawford Farms Racing, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor.
It was the second straight Cup title for Takter, who won last year with Captain Crunch.
And it was also a historic triumph.
“I’m overjoyed, I really am,” said Katz. “I’ve been doing this for a very long time and I’ve been fortunate to have many great horses, but I think this guy really rates up with some of the greatest horses we’ve ever seen. This is historic. What he’s done tonight has never been done before. He won the Metro as a two-year-old, he won the Breeders Crown – he’s come back to win the Meadowlands Pace and he’s won the North America Cup. Somebeachsomewhere, Captaintreacherous… they couldn’t do it, but he’s done it.”
The enormity of the accomplishment wasn’t lost on Takter, who wasn’t able to watch the race in-person.
“This is an extra-special colt in extraordinary circumstances,” she told Woodbine Mohawk Park. “I’m so proud of the horse and my team.”
Gingras had ample praise for the competitive spirit shown by the sophomore superstar.
“I rolled him to three-quarters pretty hard but he just never quits. He’s just a tremendous horse – the best pacing colt I’ve ever driven, there’s no doubt in my mind. He’s just an amazing animal. I feel awesome, there’s no doubt about it. This means so much. I couldn’t be any happier right now.”
A son of 2001 Cup winner Bettors Delight, Tall Dark Stranger, closing in on $2 millions in earnings, is now 14 for 16 lifetime.
“I think he’s just stronger than they are right now, and he can get them tired just by trying to keep up with him,” said Gingras.
Tall Dark Stranger paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.40, combining with Tattoo Artist ($4.30, $3.50) for a $16.20 exactor. Moneyman Hill ($20.70) completed a $2 triactor worth $476.40. Odds On Osiris rounded out a $1 superfecta worth $2,596.30.
Saturday evening’s Pepsi North America Cup card established a new Pepsi North America Cup handle record of $5,619,402. The handle was headlined by $1.1 million in new money wagered on the Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout.