Saturday night card at Mohawk Raceway offers numerous stakes

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Ted Black

June 16th, 2016

It might be too far early in the season to begin crowning division champions, something generally reserved for the Breeders Crown races, but this Saturday night's card at Mohawk Raceway in Toronto, Canada, could get the argument started in several divisions.

There are several lucrative stakes races early on the Saturday card at Mohawk, but the action seriously heats up well after sunset. Beginning with the ninth race, Mohawk will host the $440,000 Fan Hanover Stakes for three-year-old filly pacers, the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup for older pacers, the $330,000 Roses Are Red final for pacing fillies and mares and then then main event, the $1 million North America Cup for three-year-old colt pacers.

Saturday's ninth race is the $440,000 Fan Hanover final for three-year-old filly pacers, named in honor of the talented and durable filly that won 45 of 72 races during her career and upended the boys to capture the Little Brown Jug. There may not be a horse in this event headed to the Jug, but the group consists of several talented sophomores.

Elimination winners Darlinonthebeach and Good Will Hanover will start from posts two and three, respectively, following identical 1:50.2 victories last weekend. Darlinonthebeach looms the slight favorite having already defeated two-year-old champion Pure Country, but Good Will Hanover will certainly be a primary contender here.

Both LA Delight and Pure Country head into the Fan Hanover final off good efforts in their elims, although neither has attained their freshman form. Pure Country won all 10 of her starts last year en route to being freshman filly pacing champion for trainer Jimmy Takter, while LA Delight won 11 of 12 starts and was clearly the second best among her division. Both LA Delight and Pure Country have ample back class and they both merit respect from posts six and seven, respectively.

One race later in the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup, the older pacers will be on display but it will be Always B Miki who will garner the lion's share of the backer. Blessed with immense ability, Always B Miki won all four of his starts last year for Takter in an abbreviated campaign and has won twice in four starts this year. But he has not raced consistently this year and this race is likely a prep for the Ben Franklin elims that will be conducted next weekend at Pocono Downs.

Those not willing to settle for a short price on Always B Miki - and that should be many players - there are four legitimate options. Evenin Of Pleasure has regained his winning ways of late and captured two of his last three outings after having limited success in the George Morton Levy Memorial Series at Yonkers. Shambala has won his last two starts, including the Preferred, but he missed last week. Nickle Bag dominated this group earlier, including an upset win over Wiggle It Jiggleit here, while McWicked will start from post 10 looking to regain his sophomore form.

Then one race later in the $1 millon North America Cup, the featured event of the night and the meet, much of the attention will be on elimination winners Betting Line (David Miller) and Boston Red Rocks (Tim Tetrick). Betting Line won his elim in stellar, first over fashion in 1:49.1 for trainer Casie Coleman and looms the 8-5 favorite, while Boston Red Rocks won in 1:50.3 for trainer Steve Elliott and should be the solid second choice.

But a trio of horses could easily split the elim winners in the exacta. Lyons Snyder (Sylvain Filion) finished a gritty second in the faster split won by Betting Line and has enough gate speed to dictate the tempo again here. Big Top Hanover (Yannick Gingras) rallied well to finish second to Boston Red Rocks for trainer Ron Burke. Control The Moment won eight of nine starts last year but is winless in two starts this year. His effort last week left a lot to be desired, but he has enough back class to complete the trifecta.