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NA Cup Eliminations In The Books

RockNRollHeavenCupElimedit.jpg

Published: June 19, 2010 10:45 pm ET

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Rock N Roll Heaven, All Speed Hanover and We Will See each scored impressive wins Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack in eliminations for next week's $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup, the richest pacing event in the world.

But it was Rock N Roll Heaven who stamped himself the likely Cup favourite after a thrilling nose victory over Kyle Major, with Sportswriter just a head behind in third,

It was the first, the fastest and arguably the toughest of the three $50,000 Cup eliminations, with the top three in each qualifying for the rich final next Saturday, along with one fourth-place finisher drawn by lot. The winners also get to select a post position before the balance of the field is drawn next Tuesday.

Trained by Bruce Saunders and catch-driven by Tim Tetrick, who replaced an injured Dan Dube, Rock N Roll Heaven, a son of 2005 Cup winner Rocknroll Hanover, was placed fifth in the early going as Kyle Major and driver Jody Jamieson cut out the mile.

Kyle Major took the field through an opening quarter in 26 seconds, the half in :54.1 and still lead by a length as the field turned for home, while being pressed by last year's two-year-old champion Sportswriter and Mark MacDonald, as the three-quarters was reached in 1:21.2.

Meanwhile, Rock N Roll Heaven, the 6-5 favourite who left from Post 9, was flying on the outside and brushed up to challenge Kyle Major and Sportswriter in the late going as the trio battled to the wire in a sizzling 1:48.4.

"I'm very delighted," said Saunders. "He's certainly an exceptional horse. I thought it was a terrific race. I think I would anticipate, with the quality of colts this year, that a lot of races will be just like this one. Kyle Major was sensational. Sportswriter went an enormous trip first over. We were the beneficiaries of the trip."

Last week, Rock N Roll Heaven, winner of the Berry's Creek and New Jersey Sires Stakes at the Meadowlands earlier this year, was in front in his Burlington division when he suddenly bolted from lights at the half-mile pole. He thus had to qualify on Tuesday in order to race in his elim.

The second elim also went to a favourite, 6-5 All Speed Hanover and driver Ron Pierce, who found a seam between the pacesetters in mid-stretch and burst through to take the lead, holding a closing Delmarvalous (Brian Sears) safe by three-quarters of a length in 1:49.4, with Fred And Ginger (Dave Palone) third.

All Speed Hanover, a son of 1994 Cup winner Cams Card Shark, is trained by Mike Vanderkemp and won the Breeders Crown last year in an upset over Sportswriter.

He entered the elim off a nose loss in the $500,000 New Jersey Classic last week at the Meadowlands.

"He was a little under the weather last week," said Pierce. "He had a touch of the flu. He wasn't on his game, otherwise he would have won."

"[In the stretch], I had a ton of horse," continued Pierce, who won last year's Pepsi North America Cup with champion Well Said in a stakes, track and Canadian record of 1:48.1 and also took the 2006 edition with Total Truth. "I was either going to work him to the outside or I would [hopefully] find some space on the inside. So I went that [inside] way."

The third elimination went to 12-1 longshot We Will See, driven by Brett Miller, who inched up late to collar odds-on One More Laugh (Tim Tetrick) and pacesetter Piece Of The Rock (Paul MacDonell) in 1:49.

Piece Of The Rock had blistered through a quarter in :25.4, a half in :54.1, then three-quarters in 1:21.1 as he locked up in a speed duel with One More Laugh. Meanwhile, Miller, who had enjoyed a pocket trip with the son of Western Ideal, came out in deep stretch and inched past the leaders near the wire.

"Once I got away in the two-hole, I was very happy because the trainer [Cosmo De Pinto] told me the colt always gives 110% finishing," said Miller. "So being that close, he felt good and I thought we had a shot. My colt dug in halfway down the stretch. He was fighting, but actually I didn't think I was going to get by those two horses. But, late, late in the mile he just dug in and beat them."

It was his first win in five starts this year, after most recently finishing third to One More Laugh in last week's Rooney final at Yonkers.

Art Professor drew in to round out the field of 10.

Since 1984, 15 of 26 Cup winners also emerged victorious in their elimination, including the last two years by champions Well Said and Somebeachsomewhere.

The post draw for next Saturday's Pepsi North America Cup will take place during a press conference on Tuesday.

For recaps of tonight's Fan Hanover and Goodtime Trot eliminations, click here.

To view Saturday's results, click here.

(With files from WEG)


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