The summer of harness racing stakes action begins with the Saturday, June 15 program at Woodbine Mohawk Park, which gathers racing’s best for an evening of racing highlighted by the $1-million 2019 Pepsi North America Cup.
Off a 1:49 victory as the odds-on favourite in his elimination, Workin Ona Mystery enters the 36th Pepsi North America Cup as the 2-1 morning line favourite after the elim favourite, Captain Crunch, made a break and squeezed into the final with a fifth-place finish. Sired by 2013 “Cup” winner Captaintreacherous, Workin Ona Mystery will try to give trainer Brian Brown his second Cup victory, with his first coming in 2017 with Fear The Dragon. Tim Tetrick will sit in the bike from post 4 for owners Diamond Creek Racing, Stambaugh Leeman Stable, Alan Keith and Wingfield Brothers LLC.
Bettors Wish, the other elimination winner, flanks Workin Ona Mystery from post 3. The Bettors Delight colt capitalized on Captain Crunch’s break and slid to a 1:49.3 victory after trying to slow the pace midway through the race. Chris Ryder trains and co-owns the colt with partners Bella Racing Ltd., Fair Island Farm Inc. and Kenneth Solomon. Dexter Dunn again will sit in the bike.
De Los Cielos Deo finished second to Bettors Wish in his elimination, but came from last at the half to only miss victory by a length while pacing a :51.2. The Ron Burke-trained son of Captaintreacherous entered the Cup eliminations off a 1:48.4 qualifying mile at the Meadowlands following an uneventful start to his sophomore season. David Miller will sit in the sulky from post 2 for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC, Larry Karr, Jerry & Theresa Silva Stables, Purnel & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. (Click here for a recap and replays of the elims)
A $75,000 Cup consolation goes earlier in the card and collects six who failed to qualify for the final, with Ontario connected Bronx Seelster and Century Farroh starting from the outer two posts.
Bronx Seelster, who ascended to the stakes stage as a two-year-old by winning the Battle of Waterloo, starts from post 5 with Trevor Henry driving following an eighth-place finish from off the pace in his elimination. Wayne McGean trains the Big Jim colt for owners Capers 3 Stable.
Century Farroh, who was undefeated this year before finishing seventh in his Cup elimination, starts from post 6. Sylvain Filion drives the Mach Three colt, who entered the Cup eliminations off a 1:52.4 victory in a division of Somebeachsomewhere and an eight-length victory in a division of Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS). Dr. Ian Moore conditions the colt for owner Ratchford Stable NS.
Following the Cup consolation, sophomore trotting colts -- some of which are Hambletonian hopefuls -- hit the track for the $247,000 Goodtimes Final. Tony Alagna’s unbeaten colt Pilot Discretion fronts the field off a 1:52 victory by three-and-a-half lengths in his elimination. Andrew McCarthy will drive the son of Muscle Hill from post 3 for owners Robert LeBlanc, David Anderson and John Fodera.
Forbidden Trade, the other elimination winner, starts alongside Pilot Discretion. An OSS champ at two, the son of Kadabra upset Swandre The Giant, an Indiana bred who sold for a seven-digit figure and now races for trainer Ron Burke, off a pocket trip in a 1:53.1 mile. Bob McClure will drive the Luc Blais trainee from post four for owner Determination. (Click here for a recap and replays of the elims)
Ron Burke looks for another victory in the $256,000 Armbro Flight as he sends the top pair in the race. Yannick Gingras opts to drive Atlanta, who beat the boys in the 2018 Hambletonian, off a seven-and-a-quarter length victory in 1:51, which equaled the Canadian record. The four-year-old Chapter Seven mare starts from post 4 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor.
A few races later, defending-champion Hannelore Hanover lowered the Canadian record with a 1:50.3 victory in her elimination. The seven-year-old Swan For All mare faded from the spotlight towards the end of last year but bounced back to the top ranks with that elimination victory for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLc, Frank Baldachino and Jerry & Theresa Silva Stables. No driver has been named for Hannelore Hanover at this point, but the champion mare will start from post 3. (Click here for a recap and replays of the elims)
Harness racing's Horse of the Year from 2018 McWicked, who paced a 1:46.2 mile last year at The Red Mile, heads the field for the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup. Now eight years old, the son of McArdle starts from post 2 off a 1:49.4 victory in the Preferred Pace at Woodbine. Brian Sears drives the Casie Coleman trainee for owner S S G Stables as he faces Camluck Classic winner The Wall as well as sophomore-sensation-turned-four-year-old Jimmy Freight.
Warrawee Ubeaut headlines the $454,000 Fan Hanover Final off a 1:49.1 victory under wraps in her elimination. The filly by Sweet Lou has yet to lose from three starts this season and looms closer to $1 million in earnings for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC, Phillip Collura, Jerry & Theresa Silva Stables, Purnel & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi. Yannick Gingras will steer the Ron Burke trainee from post 5.
The other elimination winner, Treacherous Reign, starts from post 3. The Tony Alagna-trained daughter of Captaintreacherous has also yet to lose a race this season, entering the final off a 1:50 victory from post 10 as the odds-on favourite. Dexter Dunn will sit in the sulky for owners Alagna Racing LLC, Big Als Stables, Let It Ride Stables Inc and Dana Parham. (Click here for a recap and replays of the elims)
Shartin N and Caviart Ally face off once more in the $330,000 Roses Are Red Final, which follows the Cup. Shartin N, who last year became the first mare to earn $1 million in a season, won handily in the prep with a 1:48.4 mile while Caviart Ally gave chase. Jim King Jr. trains the six-year-old Tintin In America mare and regular-pilot Tim Tetrick sits behind from post 4.
Caviart Ally, now finishing runner-up to Shartin N on two occasions, returns to the site of her best miles with post 2. Brett Pelling conditions the five-year-old Bettors Delight mare, who won her Milton elimination in 1:48.3 last year before cruising to a 1:51.2 victory in the final. Andrew McCarthy sits in the bike as one of 10 others attempting to dethrone the current queen of the division.
Capping the stakes action on the program, eight fillies gather for the $35,000 Fan Hanover consolation. Sunny Dee, who lost her first race when finishing sixth in her elimination, fronts the octet for trainer Bob McIntosh and drive Trevor Henry. A winner of eight races from nine starts, she is a homebred for Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., C S X Stables and Al McIntosh Holdings Inc.
The 15-race card gets underway at Woodbine Mohawk Park with first-race post scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (EDT) and the last-race post planned to go before midnight.
The Cup card wagering menu will feature a $100,000 guaranteed Pick-5, $100,000 All-Stakes Pick-4 and the usual $50,000 Early Pick-4.
To view entries for Saturday's card, click on one of the following links: