After sweeping the trotting features one week ago at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Andy McCarthy is loaded for bear as he's been listed to drive four impressive contenders for tonight's lucrative stakes as Mohawk is set to host the richest night in Canadian harness racing.
The $1 million (USD) Mohawk Million is the main event of a card that also includes the $720,000 Metro Pace, $455,000 She's A Great Lady and $215,000 Milton Stakes.
If the oddsmaker at Woodbine Mohawk Park is correct, then a bettor will receive a buck for a buck bet on Abuckabett Hanover in Saturday night’s $720,000 Metro Pace for two-year-old male pacers. Listed as the strong 6-5 morning-line choice, Abuckabett Hanover will start from Post 3, which was selected by driver Andy McCarthy following the colt’s elimination victory last Saturday. Lining up at McCarthy’s right in Post 4 is Highlandbeachsbest, who captured the second Metro elim.
“I like the three hole; it gives you options,” said McCarthy, who also drove Exploit, Abuckabett Hanover’s stablemate in the barn of trainer Tony Alagna, to a third-place finish behind Highlandsbeachbest.
“Everybody usually wants Post 3 or the 4, but I prefer to be inside of the other elimination winner. It just gives you another option.”
A $160,000 yearling purchase, the Alagna-trained son of Betting Line finished third and second in his first two starts, but has been unbeatable since. Abuckabett Hanover has won his last four starts, including a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes leg, divisions of the Nassagaweya and Champlain (a career-best 1:50.3), and his 1:51 elimination score.
In his six starts, Abuckabett Hanover has displayed versatility, winning from both off the pace and on the front end.
“He’s still a green colt and he prefers to race off cover, but his last two starts show it doesn’t really matter,” said McCarthy. “He can go down the pike as well. Yes, he’s very versatile and I can do whatever I want with him.
“He’s a nice colt and progressing along nicely. He’s been winning pretty handy up here. I think he’s in pretty good spot.”
McCarthy also picked up a drive in the Mohawk Million for two-year-old trotters with the 3-1 second choice Venerate, who was sensational in a 1:51.4 victory last Sunday in the $250,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes final at The Red Mile. The Love You colt was driven by Andy Miller in the final, but unable to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions, Miller and his wife, trainer Julie Miller, turned to McCarthy, who was at The Red Mile on Sunday and saw Venerate in action.
“It looked like he did it pretty easy, too,” said McCarthy about the mile that equaled the fastest thus far in 2020 by a freshman trotter. “I think he’s a very nice drive to have in the race.”
McCarthy’s predicament is he starts in the trailing post 10.
“It’s an unfortunate post position, but we’ll make it work,” he said. “I’m not a big believer in trailers; I’d prefer to have the nose on the gate, even if it is on the outside. It looks like there is going to be enough speed in there, so hopefully we can get through there without too much trouble. Work our way into the race after the first quarter. I’ll make sure I give him enough room to get through there.
“I might have the best horse in the race, it’s just a matter of trying to work my way into it.”
McCarthy will also start from post 10 with Caviart Ally in the $215,000 Milton final for older mare pacers. The five-year-old daughter of Bettors Delight finished third in her Milton elim last Saturday, her first start since finishing seventh in an Aug. 2 overnight at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Trainer Brett Pelling prepped Caviart Ally with a pair of winning qualifiers earlier this month at the Meadowlands, and in her first start back she finished a late-closing third as the betting favourite.
“She was good in the elim, and I expect her to be a lot better this week,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy will also drive Scarlett Hanover in the $455,000 She’s A Great Lady final for two-year-old filly pacers. The daughter of Bettors Delight won her elim in 1:53.2 to stretch her current winning streak to three. McCarthy picks up the drive as Yannick Gingras will instead direct Caviart Audrey, who won the second She’s A Great Lady elim in 1:52.4. Scarlett Hanover starts from post 3, while Caviart Audrey is in post 4.
“She looks really handy,” McCarthy said of his first-time drive. “Looks like she has a lot of speed. She’s been winning on the front, but I’m sure she doesn’t have to be on the front. She definitely looks like she has enough speed to give them a shake and give me a chance to do some good in the race.”
First post time for Saturday’s rich card is 7:00 p.m. To view the entries for Saturday's card, click the following link: Saturday Entries - Woodbine Mohawk Park.
(Harness Racing Weekend Preview)