$1 million North America Cup Preview

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Ted Black

June 16th, 2015

Last weekend's trio of eliminations for the $1 million North America Cup for three-year-old colt pacers and the two elims for the $480,000 Fan Hanover for three-year-old filly pacers helped explain the results and may prove insightful into this weekend's lucrative final.

In the first of the three eliminations for the North America Cup, Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) easily lived up to his role as the 1-9 favorite when he gained command soon after the start and by the opener in 26.2, got a ludicrous breather by the half in 56.3 then whistled home in splits of 27 flat and 25.4 to complete a solid 1:49.2 mile.

Not only did Wiggle It Jiggleit look unbeatable on paper, his soft fractions early allowed him to sprint away from his rivals in the lane to a six-length score and he has won all 10 of his starts this year and all 11 in his career for owner-trainer George Teague, Jr. of Rainbow Blue fame. When any superior animal is allowed to dictate the tempo, his rivals simply have no chance of overtaking him as thoroughbred racing fans witnessed when American Pharoah led throughout to capture the Belmont Stakes and complete the coveted Triple Crown sweep.

But one race later on the card in the first of two eliminations for the Fan Hanover, reigning horse of the year, JK She'salady (Tim Tetrick) was unable to overcome a slow pace and first over journey and settled for fourth in the first setback of her 14-race career. Bettor Be Steppin led the way early, then JK She'salady launched a first over bid but faded in the lane and barely secured a spot in this weekend's final as Sassa Hanover prevailed in 1:49.4.

Then one race later in the second Fan Hanover elim, Moonlit Dance (James Macdonald) benefited from a fast early tempo up front and rallied to score in 1:50.4 for her third straight tally and fourth in 10 starts this year. But the fast early splits enabled her to rally late and the final clocking was considerably slower than the first division, so look for Sassa Hanover and JK She'salady to be right there at the finish this weekend.

Then two races later in the second North America Cup elim, In The Arsenal (Brian Sears) overcame a first over journey to score in 1:49.4 for trainer Kelvin Harrison. Recent winner of the $300,000 Art Rooney final at Yonkers Raceway in New York, In The Arsenal continued the perfect start to his campaign by posting his fourth win in as many starts and his gritty effort certainly makes him a candidate to upset this weekend.

Then two races later in the third North America Cup elim, Wakizashi Hanover (Tetrick) rallied from well off the pace and widest of all in the lane to overhaul 1-5 favorite Artspeak (Scott Zeron) in 1:49.2. A winner four times in five starts this season for trainer Joann Looney-King, Wakizashi Hanover went by the defending two-year-old pacing colt champ with little difficulty in the lane.

Winning the elims for the North America Cup also proved beneficial since the connections of those three colts were able to choose their post positions for Saturday's $1 million final. Wakizashi Hanover chose post two, Wiggle It Jiggleit opted for post three and In The Arsenal took post five. Artspeak was the unluckiest of the group, drawing post 10 on the far outside, but his backers will certainly relish the chance to play him at 4-1.

In fact, this Saturday's North America Cup and Fan Hanover finals will offer some value. Wiggle It Jiggleit will be the solid favorite and In The Arsenal will take plenty of support, as might Wakizashi Hanover although the jury is still out on him. But Artspeak is likely to get overlooked a bit because of his modest second-place finish as the 1-5 favorite last week and his unlucky post 10 draw this week. But those willing to back him could be justly rewarded.

Likewise, the Fan Hanover could offer some value to those who want to back JK She'salady. Having suffered the first defeat of her career at a very short price, JK She'salady could be 6-5 or higher this weekend and that price would have looked like a steal before the elims. Granted, her two efforts this year have not been as impressive or inspiring as those she uncorked last summer and fall but those willing to back a beaten another beaten favorite could be well rewarded.