The $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup, held at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ontario, just west of Toronto, is the richest pacing race in the world and features the top 3-year-old pacers in North America going the standard distance of 1 mile, two turns of the 7 furlong stonedust oval, in what has become a major prep for the Triple Crown of Pacing. Celebrating its 29th running this year, the race has seen some of the greatest names in harness racing including Well Said, Somebeachsomewhere, Gallo Blue Chip, and the great Cam Fella who won the event when it was still called the Queen City Pace.
Two elimination heats were contested at Mohawk last Saturday night, with the rich final to be run this Saturday, June 16. Post positions for the Cup were drawn at a special lunch-hour event at Mohawk on Tuesday. Michael Del Zotto, a defenceman for the New York Rangers, was on hand to assist as the Honorary Drawmaster. The native of Stouffville, Ontario was selected 20th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and made his NHL debut October 2, 2009 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and scoring his first goal the next game against the Ottawa Senators. In 204 career regular-season games he has 21 goals, 68 assists, for 89 points, and 88 penalty minutes.
The posts were determined in two stages. In the first stage, Del Zotto randomly drew the names of the two elimination winners, to determine the order in which those entrants' connections can come up on stage to pick the post position.
After those had been taken, the rest of the field was drawn using the normal double-blind system. Sweet Lou, who has won 13 of 15 lifetime starts and a world record holder, is the 3-5 favorite having won the fastest of the eliminations, in Canadian record time. Owner-trainer Ron Burke said, "Post four gives us both options to race from the back or leave and as the draw came out, I think maybe it looks like we are going to have to push forward and push hard. It's one of the best fields, I think, assembled for this race in a long time, Warrawee Needy, both Takter horses are excellent, both McIntosh horses are excellent. It's a great field with great drivers. We are going to have to be on top of our game to pull this off.”
Warrawee Needy is the 9-2 second choice out of post 8, after finishing second to Sweet Lou in his elimination. He is 9 for 12 including three Gold Finals and the Super Final as a 2-year-old for owner-trainer Carl Jamieson. Driver Jody Jamieson will try to win for his father Carl again, as he did with Up The Credit last year. The driver said, “It kind of ties my hands a little bit with what I can do with the 8 hole, but like I have been saying all along, he is a great horse. He is going to overcome it and he will give us his biggest effort.”
Dapper Dude, winner of the other elimination, is the 8-1 third choice out of post 2 for owner-trainer Bob McIntosh. It was his fifth win in only nine career starts. Driver John Campbell, who has won a leading six Cups, retains the drive on the son of The Panderosa, ironically the last Cup winner driven by Campbell in 1999.
The Pepsi North America Cup will go to post at 9:40pm ET on Saturday night carded as race 7 of a 13 race card. The race will be broadcast live on The Score network in Canada in a special telecast from 8:30 - 10:00PM ET, and will be available at simulcast locations across North America. In addition, the North America Cup card will be available on the TVG television network and account wagering system in the United States and HPI-TV in Canada.
The undercard boasts an impressive list of stakes races for other divisions: $642,000 Fan Hanover for 3-year-old pacing fillies, $530,000 Elegantimage for 3-year-old trotting fillies, $376,000 Armbro Flight for trotting mares, $351,000 Goodtimes for 3-year-old trotting colts, the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational for older pacers, and the $100,000 NA Cup Consolation.
|1||Bettors Edge||Tim Tetrick||Linda Toscano||30-1|
|2||Dapper Dude||John Campbell||Robert McIntosh||8-1|
|3||Time To Roll||Andy Miller||Jimmy Takter||12-1|
|4||Sweet Lou||Dave Palone||Ron Burke||3-5|
|5||Thinking Out Loud||Randy Waples||Robert McIntosh||12-1|
|6||State Treasurer||David Miller||Dr. Ian Moore||20-1|
|7||A Rocknroll Dance||Yannick Gingras||James Mulinix||10-1|
|8||Warrawee Needy||Jody Jamieson||Carl Jamieson||9-2|
|9||Pet Rock||Brian Sears||Virgil Morgan Jr.||15-1|
|10||Simply Business||Ron Pierce||Jimmy Takter||25-1|
|AE1||Easy Again||TBA||George Teague Jr.||TBA|