• North America Cup Heads Mohawk Menagerie

    POSTED Jun 15, 2011
    Mohawk Raceway presents one of Canadian harness racing’s biggest programs with the $1.5-million North America Cup in the center ring of multi-stakes action. Making the program all the more tempting, we are offering double Twin Spires Club points on all Mohawk wagering Saturday night, June 18.

    Glamour-boy pacer colts go the mile to take first dibs on top sophomore pacer status. It is not always a test that results in the best soph. The past two “Cup” winners have not aspired to greatness. In fact, it was the losing trip of Rock N Roll Heaven last year that got all the attention and he went on to be Horse of the Year.  

    There is a sister event, the Fan Hanover, for soph-filly pacers, two soph trot stakes –both handled at our exclusive Hambletonian Trail blog—and consolation events worth six-digits each. And we put together another Cal Expo Pick-4 ticket that promises to take a stab at making our current Pick-4 bankroll larger.   

    North America’s Finest

    The field for the 28th $1.5-million Pepsi NorthAmerica Cup features some of the most promising three-year-olds in North America’s division so far this year. It lacks only the female challenger, See You At Peelers. She is taking on her own ilk in the Fan Hanover, though aimed at meeting with the boys in the Little Brown Jug later this year. 

    Cup-elimination-winners Big Bad John, Powerful Mist and Up The Credit got to choose their posts, a perk of elim winners in this format. Powerful Mist chose first and got post 3, Big Bad John chose post 4 and Up The Credit took post 2.

    Elimination-winner Up The Credit has displayed talent on Mohawk’s seven-eighths oval. The Diplomat Stakes champion broke the stakes record in the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes two weeks back with a 1:49 win. In that division, he defeated another elim winner, our choice, Powerful Mist. And of course, world-champion Big Jim, highly touted and highly disappointing in the “Somebeach” and the Cup elim, made it into the final without winning a race.  

    Big Bad John is the “now” horse. He is undefeated in four starts at three, at home in Canada and he dominated in his elim despite a bad trip, winning it by 2 lengths. Trainer Ron Potter said his colt “has a slick gait but to me it’s all about his attitude. Every time he goes out there it’s a fight to him and he’s got the biggest heart, he wants to win. I was really nervous coming into the elimination, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m thrilled to be in the final.”

    Powerful Mist has not been getting the respect he deserves since he lost his “Hempt” wlim and the final at Pocono, going into the event a top choice. He had heavy excuses in both of those races, as we pointed out, and he barely lost to Custard The Dragon in the final. That one didn’t make it into the Cup cast but “Mist” proved us right –even after losing his Somebeach affair –when he devoured his Cup elim field at 5-1.

    In that elim, Mist defeated Big Jim in a 1:50.2. The danger in the final for Mist is the complexity of the trip. Cups are extremely fast races mostly because drivers push their steeds early for position. Speed can burn out quickly in a Cup, handing a mark to a horse that has gotten a comfortable trip along the way (as did Well Said in 2009). Thus, Mist has a shot to take the Cup.

    Big Bad John will probably take favorite status, though not by much, away from Big Jim. The “Bigs,” however, may cancel one another out in a squall of speed. This is where the situation becomes extremely valuable for bettors, as we suggest the contender may be the horse that the season has already forgotten: Shadyshark Hanover.

    Just like Mist, “Shady” has lost respect early in his soph career, based on some terrible trips and the likes of the Bigs. This is one strong and talented colt, though, and an upset at a price looms boldly. Shady made it to the final and gets a good post (see posts below), as well as he comes into the race from a big effort.

    Shady gamely tried to beat Up The Credit in an elim; he just lost by ½ length at the line. His loss to the mega-hot “Credit” has been unpronounced due to the winner’s status, and yet it is as good a race as the winning efforts of the other two elims. Shady was an astounding 7-1 in that race. He actually got the lead for a moment at the seven-eighths pole before Credit used his reserve pace (he had an easier trip) to pass and win.

    Shady is not done showing he was a hot freshman which has come back to make a big impression at three. We touted him before this season began as having a good chance of being better than Big Jim in 2011. His odds will be appetizing, perhaps longer than his chance to win. Shady and Mist could be the darling duo in the end.

    As for Big Jim, trainer James Dean says he is changing tactics, trying to avoid the duel we presume could take place among the Bigs. Dean says Jim won’t go for the lead. “Last week, Phil [Hudon, the driver] said [Jim] was a little warm behind the gate and when he finally moved him [to the front] he couldn’t get him to settle down…Generally he doesn’t get wound up. Last year you could drive him with two fingers.”

    Dean is opting for some gear changes, new to Jim, who is 7-1 on the morning line. No one can predict how this will affect the colt. Also new to the race is driver Phil Hudon. He has never performed in any of the 27 Cups.

    Listed below is the field for the 28th Cup.

    Post Position-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning line odds

    1.Big Jim-Phil Hudon-James Dean-7-1
    2.Up The Credit-Jody Jamieson-Carl Jamieson-5-2
    3.Powerful Mist-David Miller-Melvin Wayne Givens-6-1
    4.Big Bad John-Brett Miller-Ron Potter-2-1
    5.Shadyshark Hanover-Tim Tetrick-Erv Miller-5-1
    6.Rockabille-Brian Sears-Dr. Ian Moore-15-1
    7.Roll With Joe-Randall Waples-Ed Hart-8-1
    8.Eighteen-Paul Macdonell-Dr. Ian Moore-25-1
    9.Dutch Richman-Scott Zeron-Erv Miller-30-1
    10.Foreclosure N-Sylvain Filion-Mark Steacy-25-1

    ‘Fan’ Frenzy

    Saturday at Mohawk, eight glamour-girl filly pacers take on See You At Peelers in the $601,000 Fan Hanover Final. “Peelers” towers over her division and has yet to lose a race. But there is no law of the universe forbidding a defeat, so you either pass this race or you support contradiction.

    We handed you last week’s longshot elim winner, What’s New Pussycat, but do not endorse her in the final. Here, two legitimate contenders can find a way to defeat Peelers, even if that comes from Peelers beating herself with an uncharacteristic break or some strange internal incident. Those fillies are Krispy Apple and Pretty Katherine. They will be the second-and-third choices but still offer odds you would never see them get were it not for the presence of Peelers. Beware. 

    Consolation Miles

    The $100,000 Pepsi North America Cup Consolation is tough field to find “toss-outs.” A favorite if not the strong choice could be Mystician. On recent performance, however, we give a decent shot to Townslight Hanover. He was shuffled back last time out and came out when free to get for fourth. He could get a better trip in here with great odds and take down the second-string glamour boys.

    In the $75,000 Fan Hanover Consolation, the field is even, at least by comparison to the fight with Peelers that the first string has to face. There is no clear favorite. Since it is like that, Honky Tonk Woman. She was shuffled back and came up short at the line. She should do better facing this group. The buzz horse is JK Soundofmusic. Don’t be surprised if she puts in a big mile as she is improving by the week. 

    Cal Exotic

    The June 18 no-takeout Pick 4 at Cal Expo is from Race 9 through Race 12.

    Race 9
    (9) Mr Avalanche was a wire-to-wire winner as a favorite last out and could offer some better odds here from the outside post. (10) Twice The Rukas, lost as the choice and gets the far outside which could also up his possible payoff.

    Race 10
    (3) Gorgeous Forever appears to be a sound single here, since the other suspicious contenders are in the two outside posts.

    Race 11
    (6) Looking At You was second at 7-1 last out in an impressive trip that ate up a lot of real estate late. This is the type of style that could win a mile like this, where a false favorite can arise. So, we also include (8) Code Blue, also 7-1 last time with a good effort.

    Race 12
    (3) Rossridge Elberta was strong with an early duel and must be respected here. The same goes for (6) Cinnamon, due to a strong win that can be repeated. As well, this ticket goes unusually deep by adding (8) OG’s Si Bon. This one had a brutal journey as the choice and may be dismissed with good odds only to get a winning trip.

    If you want to use all of these, the 9,10/3/6,8/3,6,8 ticket cost $12 ($1 ticket).

    (Ray Cotolo assisted in this edition.)

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