$1m North America Cup Preview at Mohawk Raceway

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Ted Black

June 18th, 2015

Those who follow harness racing and the Women's World Cup know that the big stage is north of the border this weekend as Mohawk Raceway in Toronto, Canada hosts the $1 million North America Cup for three-year-old pacing colts on a stakes-filled 15-race card that also includes a trio of overnight events perhaps better suited for Monday night.

Saturday's North America Cup final is the highlight of a superb program at Mohawk and will likely go a long way toward determining this year's three-year-old colt pacing champ and potentially horse of the year. The three top sophomores in the most recent USTA Top 10 poll will all be behind the gate for the main event, as will several others looking to crack the list. Not to be overlooked is the presence of last year's harness racing horse of the year, JK She'salady, in the $480,000 Fan Hanover final for three-year-old pacing fillies as she looks to rebound from the first setback of her 14-race career.

Race 4 Preview

The stakes action gets started early when several of the sport's top three-year-old colt trotters go postward in the $235,000 Good Times final, an early prep for the prestigious, $1 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands in August. Not surprisingly, the road to the Hambo once again appears to go through the barn of trainer Jimmy Takter, who won the race last year with Trixton while favored Father Patrick, the eventual champion three-year-old colt trotter, made a break at the start.

Takter will send out a trio of potential Hambo starters, Canepa Hanover (Yannick Gingras), French Laundry (Brett Miller) and The Bank (Takter). Of the three, Canepa Hanover is clearly the best right now and is among the early favorites for the Hambo. French Laundry has displayed plenty of ability from the outset of his career and will be the main contender on Saturday, while The Bank still has plenty to prove. Another sharp score by Canepa Hanover in the Good Times final will vault him to the top of the list among sophomore trotters.

Race 6 Preview

Two races later on the card the older trotting mares will have their chance to shine in the $275,000 Armbro Flight final and the race includes three of the best trotters mares in the land. Bee A Magician (Brian Sears), the 2013 harness horse of the year when she enjoyed an undefeated campaign at age three, has rebounded from a subpar four-year-old season a year ago to win four of her first five outings this spring. Shake It Cerry (Gingras), last year's champion three-year-old filly trotter for Takter, is a serious threat as is Classic Martine (Tim Tetrick), a durable sort very familiar with Bee A Magician.

Race 9 Preview

Then three races later in the ninth, the $350,000 Roses Are Red final for pacing fillies and mares, any number of distaffers could prevail in this wide open affair. Lady Shadow won in wire-to-wire fashion last weekend for trainer Josh Green, while Colors A Virgin (Trace Tetrick) got moved up to first via disqualification. Yagonnakissmeornot (Jody Jamieson) and Anndrovette (Tim Tetrick) are both proven commodities, while Weeper (Gingras), last year's Maryland-bred horse of the year, will look to rebound from a fourth-place effort as the 3-5 choice last week to prove that she belongs among the elite in this division.

Race 10 Preview

Then one race after the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational, a wide open event for older pacers, all eyes will once again be on JK She'salady (Tim Tetrick) when she goes postward as the 7-5 favorite in the $480,000 Fan Hanover final for three-year-old pacing fillies. The reigning harness horse of the year faded to fourth as the 3-20 favorite last week in the elim, suffering the first setback of her 14-race career. She provided live cover for longtime rival Sassa Hanover (Gingras) in that event, but will look to turn the tables on that one this weekend. Elim winner Moonlit Dance could step up, while Solar Sister (Doug McNair) will also look to regain her winning ways after failing as the choice in her elim last week.

Race 12 Preview - North America Cup Final

Race 12 is the main event for the weekend and perhaps the Mohawk meet as 10 sophomore pacing colts go postward in the Grade I, $1 million North America Cup final. The sport's top three sophomores - Wiggle It Jiggleit, In The Arsenal and Artspeak - will clash for the first of perhaps numerous meetings this season.

Most of the attention will be directed at Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague), the undefeated son of Mt Wiggles who has won all 10 of his starts this year and all 11 in his career, including last weekend's effortless, six-length score in 1:49.2 in his NA Cup elim and a prior 1:49 scorcher at Harrington Raceway in Delaware. Owned and trained by George Teague, Jr. of Rainbow Blue fame, Wiggle It Jiggleit was able to stroll past the half in 56 seconds last weekend before uncorking a 53.2 back half that included an eye-opening 25.4 final quarter. He may not be afforded such a leisurely pace this weekend, however, with a cool $1 million on the line.

Certainly the top threat to unseat Wiggle It Jiggleit from his place atop the current Top 10 poll is In The Arsenal (Brian Sears), hero of the $300,000 Art Rooney final at Yonkers two starts back who maintained his sharp form last weekend by taking his NA Cup elim in first over fashion. This American Ideal colt out of an On The Road Again mare has won all four of his starts this year for trainer Kelvin Harrison and climbed to third in the poll last week following his sharp elim score.

Last week's other NA Cup elim winner, Wakizashi Hanover (Tim Tetrick), will get plenty of support as well although he may not be the third choice. Trained by Joann Looney-King for the Tri County Stables, Wakizashi Hanover has won four of five starts this year and last weekend displayed a tremendous late kick that easily enabled him to overhaul favored Artspeak in the final 100 yards. Despite beating that rival one week ago, however, Wakizashi Hanover might still be a higher price than that colt on Saturday.
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Since the three elims winners were permitted the luxury of choosing their post positions, the other seven got thrown into the random draw and as luck would have it Artspeak (Scott Zeron), last year's champion two-year-old colt pacer and the beaten favorite in his NA Cup elim, got burdened with post 10 on the far outside. Nevertheless, this Tony Alagna trainee, a winner 10 times in 13 career outings with one second- and two third-place finishes in his three defeats, remained in the Top 10 poll and will likely be the 4-1 third choice from his outside draw when the gate folds on Saturday.

Looking to join the elite ranks are Betting Exchange (David Miller) and Yankee Bounty (Corey Callahan) who have raced well this season. Betting Exchange has been very good despite his winless status from five starts, finishing second twice and third last weekend. He was a sharp second to In The Arsenal in the Art Rooney final two starts back. Yankee Bounty was among the finalists for Maryland-bred horse of the year last season as a freshman when he won 8 of 10 starts and banked over $325,000. Also winless in five starts this year, Yankee Bounty has been second three times and third once along the way and cannot be entirely overlooked this weekend.

While Wiggle It Jiggleit will arrive undefeated and has the gate speed to control things early, at some point he is likely to face some serious pressure and will have a difficult time coasting by the half in 56 flat. In fact, the son of Mr Wiggles will more likely have to make the front in 54 and change at the midway mark, which could prove his undoing later. In The Arsenal is sharp now and will have the task of chasing first over and Wakizashi Hanover could work out an ideal trip, but look for Artspeak to overcome post 10 and a third over journey to post a 4-1 upset on a night when many detractors might have already cast him aside.