A Bettor’s Grand Guide To The North America Cup
The million-dollar Pepsi North America Cup is the season’s first seven-digit purse offering and it’s early season arrival is a considered a major test for glamour-boy pacers. Mohawk Raceway hosts a huge stakes program on the night of the event, featuring pacers and trotters in strongly contested fields (some of those races are covered in our regular blog and in this week’s week’s Hambletonian Trail blog, brought to you exclusively by TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society.)
And there is a $100,000 guaranteed Pick 4 covering races four through seven. TwinSpires players hitting it get a 20-percent bonus. On our weekly blog you can find suggested contenders for your ticket.
Even though it is early in the season, by the time of the “Cup” there are usually great expectations for a single colt. Still, only two dead-on favorites produced wins since 2005 and both were exceptional giants of pacing. In 2005 Rocknroll Hanover was 70 cents to the dollar and won big, fighting to the top early in a :25.4 first quarter to go wire to wire. Three years later the next and only favorite to win since had a similar trip as Rocknroll Hanover, only this colt excelled late and his wire-to-wire victory added lengths to his winning margin.
That colt was the extraordinary Somebeachsomewhere. His racing career was sterling, though a few steps cost him the Meadowlands Pace win. At four he was sent to stud and his crops made it apparent that the Mach Three bloodline was productive. His colts and fillies were fit and competitive. And then came a colt, Captaintreacherous, who was, by and large, the closest match to his sire and the crème of his sire’s good crops. He was a terror at two and he is unbeaten in just a few races at two and now we are poised to see this special colt try to win the Cup.
Captaintreacherous is what makes this race a challenge for all bettors because you either admit before the race that he is the best or you defy what may already be obvious to some of us. This is always a basic problem with the rare few that race like Captaintreacherous. We suggest a few scenarios after we go through the field, horse by horse, in post position order.
1 – Apprentice Hanover
This guy has every reason to improve. He flirted with threatening his frosh division but was a bit too soft. This season he may be in the mix more but we are unsure whether that means he can beat some of these other fireballs. For sure he will catch some big checks but he may wind up in the second tier of the division. He has very little chance of winning this race. He is, as mentioned, among the fine progeny of Somebeachsomewhere, which is no hindrance.
2 – Vegas Vacation
He has won four races in four starts as a sophomore, dwarfing his frosh campaign where he was one for 10. After that ratty season he changed his status—he was gelded. So he is hot and is a factor but we doubt very much if he is on the level of Captaintreacherous. “Vegas” seems one-dimensional and that points to speed trouble. His 5-2 morning line is very liberal. I wouldn’t take him at 6-1 here.
3 – Fool Me Once
This guy is also one-dimensional and he poses a bigger problem to Vegas than to the “Captain.” He won the fastest elim last week but speed is more dangerous than it is prosperous when it is the only juice in the tank. With some kind of tactical temperance, he could be a monster. But he will not fool me once in this race. He is 4-1 on the morning line and should probably be 8-1.
There is just no telling how fast the Captain can pace or how much adversity he can overcome because he shows no areas of weakness. These are the signs of a true champion; now we need to watch carefully for an Achilles’ heel. Even great horses lose races but the super horses are freaks of their breed, defying elements of speed and dueling and overcoming trips that show how so many horses are mediocre at best. In one sense I would not be surprised if this event was an easy win for him and, oddly enough, not as fast as everyone would predict. All the other horses here must have things go their ways to beat the Captain but the Captain needs no more to win but his talent.
5 – Twilight Bonfire
He gets into the race as the random draw; it is hard to imagine doubling that luck factor and seeing him win a race in which he did not earn his presence. This race will put some fight into him and that means watching the colt for future wagers against less experienced foes. Other than that, we dismiss 99 percent of his chances to win here.
6 – Wake Up Peter
This is trainer Tony Alagna’s other entry and certainly he is more than a few notches below Alagna’s Captain. He is a Rocknroll Hanover progeny, which is to his credit, but does not appear to meet the standard of his competition here. He shows himself to be an opportunist, a stalker waiting to take advantage of burned out duelers and which ever foes find the unfortunate outside route. Against the Captain, this guy looks third class.
7 – Sunshine Beach
Another Somebeachsomewhere son, he seems to have some tactical sense but at the same time doesn’t have the ultimate push to get the job done against this kind of class. There is room for improvement and a positive change in style but it doesn’t seem to be in play at this point. He will be moving only once, if he gets the path, and that will happen late in the mile when it will be too late to get all the money but perhaps pick up a few bucks from the Canadian pot.
8 – Odds On Equuleus
No other colt in this field, in our opinion, is peaking as well for this race as “Odds.” His history with the Captain is solid and they battled with fervor at two. Odds returns at three with two solid performances, though his first was an obviously needed mile that was unproductive on the tote. I expect Odds to be a bit closer to the top than usual but that doesn’t mean he will have less territory to close once the stretch drive takes form. But we have to respect the currency of his improvement.
9. – Captive Audience
He got attention because he approached the Captain in the elimination and there were gasps because there appeared in the stretch a possibility the Captain would fold. But Captive Audience turned into one more reason to love the Captain. Watch the replay, the Captain dismissed the very idea another horse would pass him. Captive Audience will have to hope a strange streak of fear overcomes the Captain if he is ever to pass him while the Captain is paying attention.
10. Martini Hanover
This colt has had our support over the past few weeks because he is a go-getter, tough competitor and has a lot of talent. Still, getting the outside post is not the worse of his problems with winning this race. He appears early on to be a second-stringer and though we are sure he will collect a significant number of valuable checks this season we cannot see him measuring up to the class that will be necessary to keep up with the division leaders.
(ae) Varadero Hanover
He is ever-improving and was dynamite at long odds (we love horses that refuse to read the toteboard) but even if for some reason he gets into the field he needs a bunch of us wiseguy handicappers to be wrong about a lot of other things we have evaluated in order to win this race. He could be available to pick up some pieces; many horses make their living with this kind of style.
So there is no way we will go against Captaintreacherous, which means he could turn into a low-priced overlay if the population of the betting public doesn’t buy into some other opinions currently circulating (the new hot horse as we go to press is Alagna’s other pacer). So if something happens that puts the Captain into a territory of 1-1 or up, consider that a major overlay.
Then look at exotics with the Captain as key. You can decide the value of the exactas on your own, though we are using those we expect to bring the price higher:
Cup exacta plays:
to Odds On Equuleus; Apprentice Hanover; Sunshine Beach
Cup trifecta plays:
to Odds On Equuleus; Apprentice Hanover; Sunshine Beach
to Odds On Equuleus; Vegas Vacation
As well, single the Captain as a single in the Pick 4 and see our other blog, under H2W, Mohawk, for the suggested contenders in the $100,000 guaranteed exotic with a 20-percent bonus for TwinSpires players that hit it.