Super Program At Mohawk For North America Cup; Graduates Gather In N.J.

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

June 18th, 2015

The first major stakes for the glamour-boy pacers takes place this Saturday, June 20. It’s the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup, which leads a huge menu of stakes on the Mohawk Raceway program—Fan Hanover, Roses Are Red, Armbro Flight, Goodtimes and Mohawk Gold Cup. Plus, there’s a huge “Cup” consolation.

The Goodtimes is covered on the Hambletonian Trail blog at TwinSpires. The exclusive blog covers all events for Hambo hopefuls (soph-colt-and-filly trotters). There are great betting races for these classic divisions as they fight to make it to the second weekend in August to race in the classics. It’s exclusive, extended coverage from TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society.

The Meadowlands brings four-year-olds together for six-digit purses in two Graduates finals on Friday, June 19. And, of course, overnight racing presents another batch of contenders in our horses-to-watch (H2W) list. There are serious contenders for across-the-board/exotic action. Please peruse the list and don’t miss out on exclusive probabilities from our personal files.

TwinSpires also continues to team with Hoosier Park for another season of player perks. Click here to check it out. A spring special offers free harness past performances through June. Click here to take advantage of the deal.

Check for the June 20 Mohawk program promotions and watch for a special second edition of the harness blog on Friday.

North America Cup 

The field for this lucrative event, one which can hurl a glamour-boy pacer to the top of the division in many aspects, is extremely deep this year. Aside from early season stars there is strong muscle in some that are driving to their peaks. Two-year-old-turned-three champs are here and the likes of a freaky, unbeaten pacer that won a “Cup” elim in his first test against the big boys stands as a threat to those blessed bloodlines.

As we do each year, we hope to express a profitable, valuable winner by analyzing each colt. The field for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup, reviewed in alphabetical order:

Arque Hanover
Though the first elim (Wiggle It Jiggleit victory) was slow to the half, this guy (30-1) took to the outside and challenged. Sure, he lost by 6 lengths when “Wiggle” paced away down the stretch, but he stayed for second, best of the rest, as the quarter-time increased. Speed will matter in the final, which could be his burden.

He was second in his elim and was grinding late after a closing effort that worked for the winner (Wakizashi Hanover), who sat cold through up-front shuffling in the first three-quarters. This race will look to some like Artspeak may be losing his chops but that would be a great mistake to believe. He is a fine colt and has a lot more in his tank for the long season. The elim will shave some money off of his probable win return, which is something to watch closely. (Don’t forget last year’s great win price on Jk Endofanera, who won off the fast pace.)

Betting Exchange
He gunned early and worked hard to get the top, passing two that did not make the final, including Split The House, then he gave way to “Split” as that one challenged to take the lead again—all of this heading into a 1:22.4 three-quarters, enough to allow the backfield to start pacing. Holding second was impressive after the tiring trip to the top. Sans the strain, this colt may have something to say about the final’s result.

Good Friday Three
Another mad closer (80-1) taking advantage of steaming fractions, Good Friday Three soared from the back of the pack and made up a great deal of ground to catch third in a line of six gaining on In The Arsenal (winner of this elim) at the wire. He is in for trouble if he waits for the last moment to move in the final.

Hurrikane Ali
As he was showing signs of stepping strongly at three, along came this elim, where even with the Wiggle suck-along factor, “Ali” struggled to stay in the flow. This was simply a bad performance with no excuse and with no reason to toss it out he becomes a faint contender for the final.

In The Arsenal
He is a giant right now, with a powerful gait and a conviction to stay on any lead he makes. He brushed to challenge Go Daddy Go’s lead in his elim with ease just past a :54.4 half and did not get the top until after the 1:22.3 three-quarters. He held on as six rivals were strewn across the track attempting to nab him (see paragraph on Good Friday Three). We thought “Daddy” was very good but “Arsenal” made him look like a claimer in this one.

Penji Hanover
He topped our entire agenda two weeks back with $45.00 place and $19.60 show payoffs, then showed up here at 11-1 and beat out the five late closers to get second to Arsenal. He moved out from Daddy when he was becoming tired and was lacking room to take a better stab at Arsenal than he did (Arsenal held on in the end by a neck). “Penji” needs the same kind of trip and for a lot of other things to go his way in order to win the final and that could develop; there is some kind of chance, though not a big one.

Wakizashi Hanover
He is peaking—or has he peaked? That is hard to determine unless he shows he can win on his own in the final and not rely on burned-out speed, which gives a lot of these guys a shot. Defeating Artspeak doesn’t define a problem with Artspeak, even though “Wak”-driver Tim Tetrich said Artspeak “was kind of struggling there in the turn.” Artspeak was rolling well after losing cover fifth on the outside. That early pull lost him a length, at least, while Wak brushed after a smooth second-over trip. The result of this examination is that Wak’s trip was good but relied upon the failure of Artspeak and the early speed that collapsed.

Wiggle It Jiggleit
This guy may not be a mystery at all; he may be the real thing—a super colt with no heart to have any horse in front of him, at least any horse not firing on more cylinders that does he, because essentially, Wiggle is a fast horse. But until he is nosed and loves that challenge enough to use his speed to thwart it (remember the Captaintreacherous attribute that merged speed with strength) we reserve judgment. If his one-dimensional strength is even better than he has already produced, say goodnight to all others and forget about any spins on Wiggle. The final is the test because no one is going to let Wiggle steal this race—he will have to earn the win, which means pushing buttons that may or may not work.

Yankee Bounty
He was once thought to become one of the fastest horses alive but that hasn’t worked out for him and he comes to the final with little chance to make dreams come true, certainly not the ones about his pacing fury. Again, only a configuration that is far-fetched and affects all of the colts mentioned already with any chances, will open a door for this guy to win.

Also Eligible: Split The House
It is unlikely he will get into the race, though anything can happen to suppress a living creature and take it out of the race but should he get into it, the early-speed factor could become more intense if only for a quarter. He will have little to no chance of winning. He is most likely to race in the consolation; check for entry.

Post positions/morning line

1 – Good Friday Three – 20-1
2 – Wakizashi Hanover – 5-2
3 – Wiggle It Jiggleit – 8-5
4 – Betting Exchange – 15-1
5 – In The Arsenal – 7-2
6 – Yankee Bounty – 20-1
7 – Arque Hanover – 25-1
8 – Hurrikane Ali – 24-1
9 – Penji Hanover – 20-1
10 – Artspeak – 5-1
AE – Split The House

Artspeak’s 10-hole draw is going to raise his odds, as the morning-line alone predicts. Wiggle It Jiggleit is in a perfect spot but so is In The Arsenal. Hope for a major testing of Wiggle by Arsenal and Artspeak at the best odds you may get on him the rest of the season and Artspeak is the play. This time, we would like Wakizashi Hanover chasing him down the stretch for what should be a strong-paying exactor. The other components for a triactor and superfecta that has some decent offering are Betting Exchange and In The Arsenal.

Fan Hanover 

The first piece of information to address before measuring the field of the $479,000 final comes from trainer Nancy Johansson, trainer of Jk Shesalady, who lost her first race in 14 starts, finishing fourth in her elim on June 13. Ms. Johansson said that the filly had “quite a bit of mucous” in her system after the race and was in need of antibiotics. Nancy said she wasn’t disappointed in the race, however, considering a tough outside trip and said, “We have time to get her to bounce back.”

Nancy feels “JK” is the horse to beat and we also feel that way. There is no way to demote the chances of JK using the illness as a factor. Certainly she would be scratched if she was too ill to race. The plus side of this is, of course, that she may go off at the best price she has offered yet in 14 events at two and three. Sassa Hanover, who won the elim, will get far more support than anyone could have predicted before the elim. The same goes for Moonlit Hanover, the other elim winner. “Sassa” will be an exotic factor.

The outside contenders that could play roles in the exotics are Doctor Terror and Bettor Be Steppin. The former was a demon at 24-1, almost catching Moonlit Hanover and paying huge numbers to place and show. The latter gets post 10 but may have an advantage there to close on a few of these apt to burn out badly in the stretch.

Roses Are Red

The $350,000 Roses Are Red Final offers an edition seeming more competitive than years past. Lady Shadow bottomed out the field in her elimination last week and Colors A Virgin was valiant in her second-place finish and was placed first because of the disqualification of Venus Delight. Of the elim winners, Colors A Virgin was the sharpest. However, she has a tendency to do more work than she needs too by traveling first over to get the top. This trend may prove to be her worst enemy.

We believe Colors A Virgin is the best horse here and will win if the best horse wins. Meanwhile, her price will shrink significantly after her strong performance. With that in mind, Sandbetweenurtoes meets our qualifications as an outside contender. She raced well in her elim, finishing second (after disqualification). She has improved with every start and will likely be the benefactor of a hot pace, given she chooses to sit off the lead.

Armbro Flight

Bee A Magician versus Shake It Cerry is the focus of this final for the older trotting gals. “Bee” mostly like gets the strongest support; they’re starting to bet her again as if she cannot lose again. “Cerry” is younger and maybe faster but speed won’t determine the winner. Bee has a lot of tactical talent and would be smart to use it here.

Frau Blucher broke and recovered last week, just making it into this fray while supported well at 4-1 in the Cerry elim. She is definitely exotic material here for value (she will go off higher than she should). It could be a strong last half for Handover Belle, as she could close well and wide on collapsing speed; she may be wining with Bax Of Life, who rarely gets rolling until after the half.

All in all, the scenario to take uses keys Cerry with the “Frau” and “Belle,” counting on significant chaos that will greatly affect Bee and deliver big money.

Mohawk Gold Cup

There are a few locals in this that will attract Canadian-fan money. Hometown heroes can always have that strange edge but we like Great Vintage, who won a few weeks back for us in the Jerry Taylor Memorial at Philadelphia. He is super sharp right now and in a perfect spot with inflated odds. It could be a steal and we want to be the robbers.

Cup Consolation

Go Daddy Go won’t be anywhere near as favored as he was in the Cup elim (he was sent off at 5-2). Regardless of what went wrong, he should be forgiven for that performance. In the $75,000 Cup Consolation he will meet far less competition than those that defeated him in the elim (see Cup analysis above) and regardless of post 9 he will be out for revenge and should be able to win at a price.

Graduation Days

This Friday, June 19, the Meadowlands features the third round of the Graduate series, which covers both gaits of the four-year-old division. One split for each gait will go on the Big M’s card.

The trotting version has four-year-old dynamo Father Patrick on display from the outermost post, number 10. Losing in a sprint against Jl Cruze two weeks ago, the division leader comes off as vulnerable. Jl Cruze is poised to try and pull off a similar stunt in this round but we will support Father Patrick despite his post, as he will likely be a better price because of it.

Underneath, look out for the ever-improving trotter Sumatra. The gelding was closing well to finish third to Shake It Cerry and Gural Hanover in the second preliminary and should be put in a similar situation this time around.

The pacing end is an interesting affair, as it will go 1 1/8 miles, attracting 12 foes. The two series leaders, Doo Wop Hanover and Rockeyed Optimist, will square off from posts 8 and 9, respectively, with Jk Endofanera, entering off a second in the second round of the Graduate, drawing post 11. Those three will likely be the top betting interests, with everyone else having inflated prices.

Off a sharp effort in the second round of this series, All Bets Off will likely be ignored for the first time since May 2, when he made his seasonal debut. Ron Burke’s pacer had a niche last year for riding in the catbird seat and making a slingshot move to the lead in the stretch. The goal here will likely to be to secure a stalking spot, which will allow him to save his energy and strength for the stretch.

H2W Legend

Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last) time because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.


6/19/15, B Rock Solid R8; Watersides Kipper R9

6/19/15, Art Of Duty R1; +Put It In Gear ae R5
6/20/15, Ponyta Boy R3; +Schooner Or Later R10
6/20/15, +BR Money Matters R4; +Lust R8; +Escalante R7

6/18/15, +Van Zandt R9; Fleurje R10
6/20/15, +Woodmere Jolt R2; Sandhill Star R3; +A Teachers Pet R5

6/19/15, +Er Monica R5; Glorie Dream R11

6/18/15, MJs Last Dance R9

6/19/15, Glimmer N Shimmer R5; Moshannon Mojo R6; Posey Tina R9

6/22/15, Massive Winner R12

6/19/15, Kelly Blue Chip R12

6/18/15, Sailors Fortune R5; Times Are Tight R8

6/19/15, Spin A Dream R1

6/21/15, +Change Your Luck R1; Lyons Again R11
6/18/15, Bettor Angel R3; Bold Fresh R8; Briefly R9

6/21/15, Ff Bigshow R10

Running Aces
6/20/15, +Tawa Road R4; Fox Valley Disco R4; +Da Terror R5; Mar Dream R5; Winonefordoug R8; +Mattoxs Spencer R10

6/18/15, Space Walk R8
6/19/15, Bo Tox Hanover R7; +Iced Out R10

6/18/15, +Beauxarts Hanover R7; +Daughty Hanover R8
6/20/15, Makes Me Stupid R6; Dynamic Rayzer R7

6/18/15, Mama Said ae R7
6/19/15, +Friskie Til Dawn R1; +Bell Flower R1; +Finefeelinfriskie R1; +Cielle R8
6/20/15, +Lucky Lime R3; +Manipulated R4; Docs Bonanza R6; Bettor Choice R7 +Big Green Tractor R9; +A Bettor World ae R11

6/19/15, Dj John Boy R6; Blue Gem R9
6/20/15, Saint Pattys Doll R5; +Ulster R7; Lilys Real Boy R9; Glorious Winner R12

6/19/15, Giacometti R1; Magic Starlite R6

Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition.