Ten years after sending out Captaintreacherous to Pepsi North America Cup glory, trainer Tony Alagna will be represented by a half-dozen hopefuls in four $50,000 Cup eliminations on Saturday night (June 10) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
For the first time since 2009, four elimination races will be needed to determine the field for the Pepsi North America Cup final. The top two finishers from each elimination, plus two third-place finishers drawn by lot, will advance to the $1 million final on Saturday, June 17.
Alagna, closing in on 2,000 career wins, is well represented in the Cup elim quartet.
Kopi Luwak, a bay son of standout stallion Stay Hungry, faces seven rivals in race three, the curtain-raising Cup elimination.
Owned by Brad Grant, the colt sports a record of 1-2-0 from seven starts, his lone victory coming last August at The Red Mile when he nosed out Bamboozler at the wire in a leg of the Kentucky Championship Series.
Andrew McCarthy will pilot the $160,000 purchase from the 2021 Lexington Yearling Sale.
“He had a couple of poor draws and he bled, so we put him on Lasix," said Alagna. "We’re hoping a little better draw and second start on Lasix will help him out. He was definitely a player last year. We thought he was a really nice horse. He ended up getting sore so we stopped him and he’s come back well.”
Alagna will be represented by the pair of El Rey and Hungry Man in race five.
Owned by Brittany Farms LLC and El Rey Racing, El Rey, a son of powerhouse stallion Captaintreacherous, brings a mark of 5-3-1 along with $292,525 in purse earnings from 14 starts into his latest engagement.
The bay colt’s biggest win to date was in the $430,000 Governor’s Cup final last November, a gutsy neck score in 1:49.2.
“El Rey really didn’t fire in his elimination like he should have [finishing fifth]," said Alagna. "We found a couple little things that might have been bothering him, so we did some things that hopefully help him and he fires back on Saturday.”
Scott Zeron will be in the sulky.
Hungry Man, owned by Grant, heads into his elim on a winning note after a 2-3/4-length triumph in the Pennsylvania Stallion Series at Harrah's Philadelphia on May 28.
Bred by Steve Jones, the bay son of Stay Hungry owns a record of 2-3-0 from 15 starts.
“He was very good in his last start," said Alagna. "He won a Stallion Series and he won it in 1:49. He did it very handily, so we thought it was worth giving him a shot.”
Todd McCarthy, in the race bike for Hungry Man’s past two starts, gets the call again on Saturday night.
Dupree Hanover, winless in seven starts to date, will square off against seven foes in the seventh race and third Cup elimination.
Bred by Hanover Shoe Farms, the bay colt finished third at 27-1 in a division of the $75,000 Somebeachsomewhere Stakes on June 3.
“I was very happy with his first start at Mohawk," said Alagna. "It was only his second start back this year. He got locked-in late and the horses that were one-two had all the momentum, but he had some good pace.”
Dupree Hanover debuted last July at The Meadowlands, taking the runner-up prize in a Kindergarten dash.
Andrew McCarthy gets the assignment on Saturday night.
Another son of Stay Hungry, also owned by Grant, Stormalong, 2-0-3 from 15 starts, won an elimination of the Governor’s Cup last November.
The bay colt arrives at his latest outing off a pair of fifth-place finishes in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and a June 3 qualifier.
“He got a little aggressive on the front end [on May 28], big fractions, and hung in there amazingly well considering the fractions," noted Alagna. "We put him on Lasix after that start. We qualified him off the pace and he did it well."
Jordan Stratton, in the sulky for Stormalong’s past five races, will once again be in rein to the lifetime earner of $63,550.
Hungry Angel Boy, also a son of Stay Hungry, will return to Mohawk after a pair of qualifiers and a pair of thirds at The Meadowlands.
The lightly raced colt is no stranger to the Milton, Ont. oval, having won an opening leg of the Dream Maker last July.
Alagna, who co-owns the bay along with Pride Stables, Pit Bull Stable and Head Brittany, has coached Hungry Angel Boy to a 2-0-2 record from five starts, to go along with $23,480 in purse earnings.
“In his last race, he got pushed wide in the last turn and was in an impossible spot to win but raced very well to be third," said Alagna. "He was up there last year and he’s been over the track, so a good draw and we’ll hope for good things.”
A game plan Alagna hopes will bring him back to the Pepsi North America Cup winner’s circle once again.
“It would be nice to win with a son of Captaintreacherous. But it would also be great to win with a Stay Hungry son too," he said. "We’re excited about all the colts we have in the Cup elims.”
(With files from Woodbine; Photo of El Ray winning the Governor’s Cup)