The 37th Pepsi North America Cup for a purse of $1-million headlines a stakes-filled card this Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Originally scheduled for June 20, this year’s Pepsi North America Cup card is worth the wait as it’ll feature nine stakes races and purses totalling $2.4 million. The $400,000 Fan Hanover, $290,000 Roses Are Red, $220,000 Armbro Flight, $234,058 Nassagaweya (two divisions) and $214,645 Eternal Camnation (three divisions) makes up the "Cup" undercard.
Tall Dark Stranger is the favourite heading into the Pepsi North America Cup. The Nancy Takter trainee is looking to become the first horse to ever win the Metro Pace and Breeders Crown at age two and then return to win the Cup at age three.
A son of 2001 Cup winner Bettors Delight, Tall Dark Stranger dug in for driver Yannick Gingras to prevail by a head over Capt Midnight in 1:48.4 during last Saturday’s first elimination. The multiple award-winning colt is 13 for 15 lifetime with $1.4 million earned for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor.
Trainer Takter is one for one in the Cup, winning last year’s edition with Captain Crunch. Gingras will be searching for his first Cup win in his ninth appearance.
Tony Alagna will send three starters in hopes of capturing his second Pepsi North America Cup. All three of Alagna’s starters are sired by his Cup-winning trainee Captaintreacherous, who took the title in 2013.
Captain Kirk powered home impressively in :25.4 to pick off Allywag Hanover and capture last Saturday’s second Cup elimination in 1:49.3. The speedy ‘Kirk’ is two for six this season, three for 15 overall and has earned $194,280 for owners Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Brad Grant and Captain Kirk Racing.
The only loss on Tall Dark Stranger’s record this season was in the Geers Stakes on August 1, a race that Captain Kirk won in a career-best 1:48.3.
Jody Jamieson will get the call behind Captain Kirk after driver Bob McClure opted to go with the Dr. Ian Moore trained Ontario Sires Stakes star Tattoo Artist, who was fifth in his elimination. Jamieson is a two-time Cup winner (Tell All–2007, Up The Credit–2011) and will be making his 10th appearance in the race.
The Alagna barn will also send out Capt Midnight, runner up to Tall Dark Stranger, and Captain Barbossa, who posted a :25.3 final-quarter to finish fourth in that same race.
This year’s Cup will have four Ontario-sired starters, as Tall Dark Stranger (Bettors Delight), Mayhem Hanover (Sportswriter), Denali Seelster (Sunshine Beach) and Tattoo Artist (Hes Watching) will wear the trillium.
Trainer Brett Pelling has more Cup wins than all of this year’s Cup trainers combined and will look to add to his total with Allywag Hanover. The legendary conditioner has won the race three-times (Davids Pass–1995, The Panderosa–1999, Rocknroll Hanover–2005).
Louis-Philippe Roy will make his second Cup start behind Allywag Hanover.
A pair of drivers and a pair of trainers will be making their Cup debuts on Saturday.
Moneyman Hill offers the regular Woodbine duo of driver Jonathan Drury and trainer Carmen Auciello their first crack at the Cup. James MacDonald has picked up the drive on Captain Barbossa for his first Cup drive, while trainer Melanie Wrenn sends out her first Cup starter in Odds On Osiris.
The Pepsi North America Cup record is 1:47.2, established last year by Captain Crunch. Favourites have won 15 of 36 editions of the Cup, but only three of the last 11. Bettors Delight holds the record for largest margin of victory at four-and-a-half lengths in 2001, while the Cup has been decided three times by a nose (Quite A Sensation–1986, Jate Lobell–1987, Arizona Jack–1996).
The 37th Pepsi North America Cup has been carded as Race 11 and has a post time of 10:43 p.m. Fans can watch live coverage of this year’s $1-million on TSN4 from 10-11 p.m.
The full field for this year’s Pepsi North America Cup is listed below. The number beside a driver’s name indicates number of Cup starts. The number beside a trainer’s number indicates number of Cup starters. A name in bold indicates Cup winner.
1. Mayhem Hanover – Doug McNair (3) – Gregg McNair (3)
2. Moneyman Hill – Jonathan Drury (0) – Carmen Auciello (0)
3. Captain Kirk – Jody Jamieson (9) – Tony Alagna (7)
4. Tall Dark Stranger – Yannick Gingras (8) – Nancy Takter (1)
5. Capt Midnight – Doug McNair (3) – Tony Alagna (7)
6. Denali Seelster – Trevor Henry (2) – Dr. Ian Moore (5)
7. Tattoo Artist – Bob McClure (1) – Dr. Ian Moore (5)
8. Allywag Hanover – Louis-Philippe Roy (1) – Brett Pelling (5)
9. Captain Barbossa – James MacDonald (0) – Tony Alagna (7)
10. Odds On Osiris – Sylvain Filion (5) – Melanie Wrenn (0)
STACKED CUP UNDERCARD
Many of the sport’s top performers and some of the new stars will take to the track on Pepsi North America Cup night.
The Fan Hanover, Roses Are Red and Armbro Flight were all moved with the Cup from their original date on June 20. The Nassagaweya and Eternal Camnation were both originally scheduled for this Saturday and now have an even bigger platform to shine.
Party Girl Hill is looking to run her perfect record to eight for eight in the $400,000 Fan Hanover. The Tom Hill homebred did not race at two, but has taken the racing scene by storm this season with several dazzling performances.
A daughter of Captaintreacherous, Party Girl Hill sprinted home in :26.1 to hold off Lady Lou for a 1:50 victory in last Saturday’s elimination. Doug McNair sat behind the filly for the first-time and helped push her over $200,000 in earnings.
Trained by Chris Ryder, Party Girl Hill joined the barn of trainer Chantal Mitchell for her visit to Canada. Mitchell will also send out O’Brien Award winner Alicorn, who was second in her elimination last weekend.
Peaky Sneaky was the quickest of the elimination winners, stopping the clock in 1:49.1 last Saturday. The Nancy Takter trainee will again be steered by Yannick Gingras.
The Fan Hanover is carded as Race 8 (9:24 p.m. EDT)
The $290,000 Roses Are Red for older pacing mares will see a field of eight battle. Kissin In The Sand was to be the ninth horse in the field, but has been scratched.
The group of mares will be hungry for a major stakes score, as the division leader and last year’s winner Shartin N is absent from the event. Her trainer Jim King Jr. will still be represented by Soho Burning Love A, who has three wins and six top-two finishes in 10 starts this season.
Ron Burke trainee Warrawee Ubeaut has struggled through five starts this season, but the four-year-old is returning to the site of her Breeders Crown victory last fall. Philly Hanover, Trillions Hanover, So Much More and Stonebridge Soul are the other four-year-olds in the field.
The Roses Are Red is carded as Race 10 (10:14 p.m. EDT)
Trainer Ron Burke is going for his fifth consecutive victory in the Armbro Flight, as he sends out last year’s winner Atlanta. The superstar trotting mare won last year’s event in a Canadian record time of 1:50.2 to piggyback on her former stablemate Hannelore Hanover, who had won the event in each of the three years prior.
Atlanta is the star of the show in the eight-horse field. The $220,000 Armbro Flight is carded as Race 3 (7:44 p.m.).
The Eternal Camnation for two-year-old pacing fillies will have three divisions (Races 1, 2, 12) on Saturday’s card, while the Nassagaweya for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings will have two splits (Races 7, 9).
A $36,000 Preferred Handicap Pace is also on tap and features a pair of Breeders Crown champions. American History will be going for back-to-back wins at Mohawk Park, while Dancin Lou returns to the site of his Crown triumph last year at three. The Preferred Handicap is Race 5 (8:09 p.m. EDT).
The wagering menu for Saturday’s card has been enhanced to include a $100,000 Early Pick-5 (starts Race 1), an ‘All-Stakes’ Pick-5 (starts Race 7) and a Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout (Race 11). The carryover for the Jackpot Hi-5 is $381,378.37.
A special first-race post time of 6:30 p.m. (EDT) has been set for the Pepsi North America Cup card.
Fans can catch live coverage of the 37th Pepsi North America Cup on TSN4 from 10-11 p.m. (EDT). Horseplayers can watch and wager on the entire card through HPIbet and the new Dark Horse App offers rookie and veteran horseplayers a great option to get in the action.
(Woodbine Mohawk Park)
To view Saturday's harness racing entries, click on the following link: Saturday Entries - Woodbine Mohawk Park.