Total Truth, with Ron Pierce at the controls, wore down the leaders in the closing strides to score a thrilling victory in the 23rd edition of the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup, Canada's richest harness race, on Saturday night at Woodbine.
Sixth for the most of the mile, 7-2 second choice Total Truth, the son of three-time Breeders Crown champion Jennas Beach Boy, was tipped 4 wide turning for home while the field chased 7-1 pacesetter Jeremes Jet, who had rocketed to the front from post 10, clocking a half in 54 2/5, then blistering 3/4 in 1:21 2/5. As Jeremes Jet began to wilt late in the stretch, it was anybody's race in the closing strides, but Total Truth, on the outside, outkicked the 9-10 odds-on favorite Feelin Friskie, eventually scoring by one length, in 1:49 1/5. A 55-1 longshot, Fox Valley Tribal, who briefly poked his head in front in the four-way battle before the wire, wound up third, a half-length further back, while 25-1 Dave Panlone was a flying fourth on the inside.
It was the first Cup win for Pierce and co-owner and trainer George Teague. "It (the trip) was absolutely perfect," said Pierce. "We had good, live cover the whole mile. This horse got a perfect trip and had a full tank. I didn't even see the fractions. I was just sitting there with a ton of horse. When I got away on Mr. (John) Campbell's back, I was licking my chops the whole way. It was smooth sailing, a nice, smooth trip." "Right from the start, I thought (Total Truth) would be good," said Teague. "He matured real well (over the winter), matured out of the soreness problems he had as a two-year-old. He'll probably go next to the Meadowlands Pace (July 15)."
On the undercard, Bee Line and driver Luc Ouellette outlasted a group of longshots to win the $559,200 Elegantimage Stakes for 3-year-old trotting fillies. After 3-5 favorite Buck I St Pat made a break at the start and lost all chance, the race became a wide-open affair. Oaklea Odessa and Paul MacDonell seized the front and took the field through 3/4 in 1:25 1/5, but the pack was closing in and Bee Line buzzed up on the outside to wrest command in mid-stretch. At the wire, 10-1 Bee Line was 1 1/2 lengths in front of 34-1 Armbro Domino, while 59-1 KD Girl wound up third, in 1:54. "My tactics were to follow (the favorite) but when she broke, obviously that went out the window," said Ouellette. "But I thought it made the race more even. She's very versatile. I just thought going those type of fractions, we were going to better off coming from behind. I was very confident (turning for home). I moved early on the turn. She was well within herself. This filly is only going to get better, I believe."
In the $280,600 Goodtimes Stakes for 3-year-old trotters, 3-1 third choice Majestic Son led at every call and sailed to victory. With Trevor Ritchie at the controls, Majestic Son repulsed a challenge from longshot B Cor Rennegade approaching the 3/4, then opened 3 lengths on the field turning for home. From there, he was able to hold 2-1 second choice Glidemaster, safe by three and one-quarter lengths, reaching the wire in a career best 1:53.2. 8-5 favorite Algiers Hall, made a break just before the start and never recovered, finishing a 'distanced' seventh in the field of 10. "He really did (bring his A game)," said Ritchie. "I've got to give all the credit to (trainer) Mark Steacy and his crew. There were some problems with this horse. They worked hard and long on him. They made some changes and did the right thing. (The win was) very impressive, but it's not surprising. I had a lot of confidence in this horse. I just hoped Mark could get him right. And I knew that if he could, he'd go a big trip and he did. He worked on his feet. His feet are a little bit of a problem so he changed his shoeing. And he did some other little tinkering with his gear."