Harness Racing: North America Cup at Mohawk
The two North America Cup eliminations at Mohawk Park delivered a pair of high-focused sophomore-pacing winners, but neither of them won due to the weakness of foes. Perfect Sting and Bulldog Hanover go to the final on Saturday with bigger threats than either faced in their respective elim miles.
The public will be split, for sure, on creating a favorite, since Bulldog Hanover has been all the rage in Ontario this season. From the start of North America Cup predictions, Bulldog Hanover (Shadow Play) has been the number-one pick to win the “Cup,” support that has more than a touch of bias.
Trained by John Darling, an Ontario mainstay, the soph-pacer has made his bones against province-based colts; he did not tour the division’s earlier stakes south of the border. His six wins of the season did not meet the likes of 2021’s competitive division. His Cup elim would have been a mighty challenge had Lawless Shadow not scratched. Instead, he faced only two of the division’s exceptional colts, Rockyroad Hanover and Southwind Gendry, both making the final. His win was impressive (more about that below),
Perfect Sting finally won after being the division’s top choice in many of the stakes in the U.S. and burning a lot of money. Even so, he was all out to beat Whichwaytothebeach from Bret Pelling’s bombshell barn. The space between them in the stretch (no others challenged) may have landed in dead-heat territory were it not for the extra that Pelling’s colt used leaving from post 8.
Aside from the aforementioned, an impressive performer we cannot overlook is Desperate Man (6-1). He, too, is a son of Shadow Play, and in the first elim his lunge at Bulldog Hanover beat Rockyroad Hanover for second and was on target to pass Bulldog Hanover at the wire.
The scenario we love in the final is that which burns out the two elim winners with scalding fractions and has Desperate Man flying around or between them with plenty of closing pace. His price should be right also, making him a key horse for single-race and-multi-race exotics.