Pepsi North America Cup Night was full of speed with record performances throughout the Saturday, June 18 card at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont. Trot Insider has provided complete coverage of all the stakes action.
Hannelore Hanover kicked off the stakes action with a bang as she equalled the world record for four-year-old trotting mares with a 1:51 romp in the $267,000 Armbro Flight Stakes.
Driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke, the Swan For All-High Sobriety mare equalled the world record set by Mistery Woman in 2014 at The Red Mile. She also lowered Bee A Magician's track and Canadian record for older mares by one-fifth of a second that was established in last year's Armbro Flight eliminations.
Gingras moved the popular elimination winner to the lead by the :27.2 opening quarter and carved out middle fractions of :56 and 1:24.1 before drawing away from her rivals in the stretch by six and a half lengths. Shake It Cerry (David Miller) closed from the outer flow for second and the other elimination winner, Rules Of The Road (Corey Callahan), finished third.
Hannelore Hanover was the heavy 1-9 favourite following her dominant 1:52.2 victory in last week's eliminations.
"I knew she could go like that. Last week, she was totally wrapped up," said Gingras after the record performance. "I knew she had a couple of big miles in her, that's for sure. She's fresh and she's never been racing with the top level horses so she was always within herself. It was a scary mile tonight, but she still had more."
The Indiana stakes star has now won seven of her eight starts this year for Pennsylvania's Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Frank Baldachino of Clarksburg, New Jersey. She went over the half-million earnings mark with her 16th career win.
Marion Marauder swooped in to steal the glory in the $268,000 Goodtimes Trot for local connections when the heavy favourite broke stride coming into the stretch.
A three-year-old son of Muscle Hill out of Spellbound Hanover, Marion Marauder is campaigned by local trainer Mike Keeling and owned by Keeling's son Devin along with Marion Jean Wellwood of Stratford, Ont.
Leaving from mid-field in post five, 3-5 favourite Dayson (Yannick Gingras) worked alongside early leaver Will Take Charge (Paul MacDonell) through a :27.4 first quarter and eventually cleared by the three-eighths mark.
As the popular elimination winner headed to the half in :56.3, driver Scott Zeron edged Marion Marauder out from mid-pack and followed the cover of Tony Soprano (John Campbell), who confronted Dayson on the way to three-quarters in 1:25.
Dayson and Tony Soprano continued to battle into the stretch when the former colt broke stride and Gingras quickly pulled him out of the way into the safety lane. Will Take Charge then came through inside while Marion Marauder rallied off cover as Tony Soprano leveled off down the lane. Blenheim (Chris Christoforou) also weaved in between horses after tracking Marion Marauder's cover.
In the end, Marion Marauder prevailed by half a length in a new lifetime mark of 1:52.4 over Will Take Charge, with Blenheim finishing one length behind in third. Bar Hopping (Tim Tetrick), the second favourite, finished fourth.
Sent postward as the 8-1 third choice on the toteboard after his fourth-place finish in last week's eliminations, Marion Marauder paid $18.40 to win.
"I didn't know what to expect last week," said former WEG driver Zeron, who had driven the colt to runner-up finishes in the William Wellwood Memorial and Breeders Crown last year. "All I remembered from him was how he was at two and he was a little shy behind the gate. I didn't know how much he had matured this year so I was a little cautious with him when I didn't have to be last week.
"I was confident in him so I pushed him out of the gate and I was able to land in a position where I saw John [Campbell] pulling on the outside with a nice horse of [Bob] McIntosh's [Tony Soprano] so I was happy to have that cover and finally be in the right spot -- be within two lengths at that three-quarter pole -- and he delivered."
Marion Maurader is now a three-time winner from 16 starts and just shy of the half-million earnings mark. The Hambletonian eligible will look to continue his winning momentum this summer with some tougher competition on the horizon.
"We beat Dayson today and we're going to have to tackle [divisional champion] Southwind Frank -- he's beaten us every other time -- but if I'm in the right spot, you know, I think I have a great shot."
John Bax, who campaigned the race's namesake and scored an upset victory with another local colt, Hemi Seelster, in last year's edition of the Goodtimes, presented the trophy to the winning connections.
Despite getting locked in down the backstretch, driver Brett Miller was able to maneuver Pure Country into the outer flow and the Jimmy Takter-trained three-year-old pacing filly closed late to earn millionaire status with a victory in the $438,000 Fan Hanover Stakes.
The elimination winners raced one-two through a :26.1 quarter, with Good Will Hanover (Chris Christoforou) leading the way over the 9-5 favoured Darlinsonthebeach (Dave Miller) while the reigning Canadian divisional champion L A Delight (Randy Waples) followed in third.
Meanwhile, Mayhem Seelster (Jack Moiseyev) fired from post nine, but was left parked out through the first panel. As she looked for a spot in fourth ahead of Pure Country, the outer flow began to advance from behind.
Good Will Hanover continued to lead the field past the half in :54.3 and three-quarters in 1:22.2 with Lindwood Beachgirl (James MacDonald) moving up to challenge first over and Newborn Sassy (Tim Tetrick) following her cover. However, Miller was able to tip Pure Country out third over during the third panel and sent the Somebeachsomewhere-Western Montana filly widest of all the closers in the stretch to prevail by one length in a career-best clocking of 1:49.3. Darlinonthebeach finished second and L A Delight was third over Newborn Sassy.
The beaten favourite in her elimination, Pure Country was defeated by a neck by Good Will Hanover and sent off as the 5-2 second choice in the final.
"Things weren't working out very well at the beginning there and we slipped out there," noted Miller after the race. "She felt so good scoring down and she was really sick last week. Jimmy did a heck of a job getting her right. She was very good tonight.
"This track here, with this long stretch, you never know...you see a lot of horses win on the front, but you see a lot of horses come from off-the-pace. It's kind of tough to get in the right spot sometimes. She's just a great mare and she can overcome a lot."
The Miss Pennsylvania champion earned her second win this year from five starts after a perfect 10-for-10 freshman campaign for Pennsylvania owner/breeder Diamond Creek Racing. The Fan Hanover victory pushed her bankroll to $1,178,953.
Always B Miki paced the fastest mile in the history of Canadian harness racing on the undercard, winning the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational in 1:47.1 for driver David Miller and trainer Jimmy Takter.
Evenin Of Pleasure (Sylvain Filion) left from post five with 78-1 outsider Nirvana Seelster (Phil Hudon) sprinting off the gate and crossing to command into the first turn. Nirvana Seelster blazed through the first quarter in :25.2 and headed to the half in :53.2 while Miller moved 1-5 favourite Always B Miki underway from sixth. Always B Miki flushed out Bettors Edge (Yannick Gingras) from third and followed his cover past three-quarters, which was clocked in 1:20.2, before sweeping by with apparent ease and opening up three and a half lengths en route to the record-setting victory. Shamballa (Rick Zeron) closed off the winner's cover to finish second and Evenin Of Pleasure was third.
The former Canadian record of 1:47.2 was set 10 years ago by Primetime Bobcat at Woodbine Racetrack and matched by Won The West, A Rocknroll Dance, and Modern Legend in subsequent victories at Mohawk.
Always B Miki has finished no worse than second in nine starts since his return to racing late in 2015. The Gold Cup was his seventh victory over that time span and 21st lifetime. The five-year-old millionaire son of Always A Virgin and Artstopper is owned by Takter's wife Christine and Bluewood Stable of New Jersey, along with the Roll The Dice Stable of Delaware.
Lady Shadow successfully defended her title in the $370,000 Roses Are Red Stakes for older pacing mares with a wire-to-wire winning effort and went over the million-dollar earnings mark in the process for trainer Ron Adams.
Yannick Gingras picked up the catch-drive on the elimination winner and sent the five-year-old Shadow Play-Lady Camella mare to the lead from post three while the rest of the field lined up behind her. Lady Shadow cruised through fractions of :26.3, :54.1 and 1:21 before holding off the inside closers, Waasmula (Trevor Henry) and Solar Sister (Doug McNair).
Lady Shadow lowered her lifetime mark to 1:48.1, coming within one-fifth of a second of the Canadian record for older pacing mares that was set by Anndrovette, a former three-time Roses Are Red winner and fifth-place finisher as the 3-1 favourite in this year's edition.
“Believe me I was surprised too that there was no speed on the outside,” said Gingras after the race. “I watched a few of her replays and looked at her lines from last year and before that because I was actually thinking about racing her off the back, especially with the way the card has been playing out -- the front hasn’t been that good.
“Obviously, she is better on the front, her lines show that, but when the gate folded, nobody left so it made my decision easy.”
Lady Shadow is owned by David Kryway of Amherstburg, Ont., along with Carl Atley of Ohio and Pennsylvania's Edwin Gold and Bfj Stable. The win was Lady Shadow's third in nine starts this year and 19th lifetime, sending her bankroll to $1,080,541.
She paid $10.50 to win as the 4-1 second choice.
In a $40,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred Pace also on the undercard, Venus Delight was shuffled to last, but staged a big rally in the homestretch to circle the field for the 1:50.2 victory.
Insider Venus Delight got away mid-pack, but as the backfield advanced in the outer flow, she founded herself in seventh-place by head-stretch. However, Tim Tetrick fanned the millionaire mare out wide coming off the final turn and reeled in the 6-5 favourite Witch Dali (Jody Jamieson), who had led through fractions of :26.1, :55.1 and 1:23. A :26.2 closing quarter put Venus Delight a half-length in front of Witch Dali at the wire. Our Hot Majorette (Rick Zeron) shot through along the pylons off a three-hole trip to finish less than a length behind in third.
Venus Delight picked up her second win this year since her Betsy Ross victory at Harrah's Philadelphia at the end of May. The six-year-old Bettors Delight-Venus Killean mare is now a 27-time career winner for trainer Jeffrey Bamond Jr. and Bamond Racing LLC.
A total of $1,210,071 was wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 for Saturday night’s mandatory payout in the 15th and final race of the night.
The carryover entering the night was $484,912. The new money wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 brought the total pool to $1,694,983.
Those who connected with a winning ticket scored a return of $6,538 for a $1 ticket or $1,307.60 for a 20-cent ticket.
The winning combination was 6-12-4-8-11 as the top five finishers from Saturday’s Jackpot Hi-5 race were: Carracci Hanover (7-2), Asap Hanover (8-5), Mckinney (17-1), Shadow Place (12-1) and St Lads Lotto (10-1).
The Jackpot Hi-5 pool helped bring the total handle for Pepsi North America Cup night to $5,241,508, a new Mohawk Racetrack and North America Cup night record.
Click here for full coverage of the featured $1 million Pepsi North America Cup.
- Entries - Saturday's overnight sheet
- Results - Saturday's racing results
- Program Pages - past performance program page for each race, courtesy of TrackIT
- News - all the previews and recaps leading up to Canadian harness racing's richest prize
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