The $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup, celebrating its 25th running this Saturday, is the richest harness race in Canada, featuring the best 3-year-old pacing colts in North America. A full field of ten will go the standard distance of 1 mile around two turns of the 7 furlong oval at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, just west of Toronto. Red River Hanover owns the stakes record time of 1:48 4/5 in 2002 while Bettors Delight owns the record winning margin of 4 1/2 lengths in 2001. Other winners of the Cup, which began in 1984, include such champions as Jate Lobell (1987), Precious Bunny (1991), Presidential Ball (1993), Cams Card Shark (1994), Gallo Blue Chip (2000), and last year's winner Tell All.
Posts were drawn on Tuesday afternoon at a special event at Mohawk Racetrack. The fastest elimination winner, Somebeachsomewhere, drew post 2, after continuing his undefeated streak to 8 wins last Saturday night, pulling away to a 2 length victory over Art Official and Mucho Sleazy in 1:49, a new lifetime best and just 1/5 second off the track record. Clearly he will be the favorite, and is listed at 8-5 on the morning line, but so far no undefeated horse has ever won the Cup since it began in 1984, but 12 of 23 elimination winners have gone on to claim the classic. Regular driver Paul MacDonell, looking for his first career Cup victory, will be in the sulky again this Saturday.
Some consider Somebeachsomewhere as harness racing's equivalent to Big Brown, coming into the big race but also suffering foot problems. Trainer and co-owner Brent MacGrath said, "He stepped on a rock (last month). I couldn't train him at all. He came into (the Burlington) with only one qualifier. I had planned on training him up to this week. It's tough. The bruise is on the coffin bone, it's kind of a tricky place to deal with. But he's a champion horse. I think you'll even see him a little sharper next week. I would guess he's around 80% right now. All athletes, whether horses or humans, hurt a little if they play hard. He's always worked through any problem he's had. This is the first serious problem he's run up against. If I can train him a little bit this week, he'll definitely be a stronger horse here next Saturday night."
In to challenge the son of Mach Three include 4-1 second choice Badlands Nitro in post 4, who won his elimination by 1 1/4 lengths over Keystone Horatio in 1:50 1/5. The George Teague trainee is a perfect 4 for 4 this year, including a win in the Max C. Hempt Memorial at Pocono Downs on May 24. Teague said after the elimination, "He's the kind of horse you want to have because he's smart, fast, and got all the ingredients to be a good horse. I didn't want to race too many weeks in a row, hoping we'd make it to the (Cup) final." Teague trained 2006 winner Total Truth, and driver Brian Sears, who drove Rocknroll Hanover to victory in 2005, will be in the sulky.
The third choice on the morning line is 5-1 Art Official out of post 7. Art Official finished second behind Somebeachsomewhere in his elimination. This year he has 3 wins, in allowance company, in 7 starts, with two second place finishes in stakes company, in the Berry's Creek at the Meadowlands and the Burlington at Mohawk. Regular driver Tyler Buter will be in the sulky behind the son of Art Major for trainer Joseph Seekman.
Saturday's exceptional card also includes the female counterpart to the North America Cup, the $720,000 Fan Hanover Stakes for 3-year-old pacing fillies, the $532,000 Elegantimage Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters, as well as the $335,000 Goodtimes Stakes for 3-year-old trotters. The first race on Saturday at Mohawk goes to post at 7:10 PM ET, with the North America Cup carded as the 7th race, scheduled to go off at 9:40 PM. The race will be shown in Canada on The Score television network in a special telecast from 8:30 - 10:00 PM, and will be available at simulcast outlets all over North America.
|1||Santanna Blue Chip||Carl Jamieson||Jody Jamieson||10-1|
|2||Somebeachsomewhere||Brent MacGrath||Paul MacDonell||8-5|
|3||Deuce Seelster||Darren McCall||John Campbell||8-1|
|4||Badlands Nitro||George Teague||Brian Sears||4-1|
|5||Sand Shooter||James Arledge||David Miller||8-1|
|6||Mucho Sleazy||Casie Coleman||Mark MacDonald||15-1|
|7||Art Official||Joseph Seekman||Tyler Buter||5-1|
|8||Dali||Duane Marfisi||Luc Ouellette||8-1|
|9||Lennon Blue Chip||Casie Coleman||Jack Moiseyev||30-1|
|10||Keystone Horatio||John Kopas||Randall Waples||15-1|