Red River Hanover poses with his trainer Bill Robinson and driver Luc Ouellette after winning the North America Cup
On Saturday June 23rd at Woodbine the 2002 North America Cup was run on a lightning fast surface on which several track records were tied or broken. The warm weather and great racing brought out what is possibly the largest standardbred audience ever at the track. Trainer William Robinson sent out three sophomore pacers to compete for $1.5 million purse, including 6-5 favorite Mach Three and 8-5 second choice Red River Hanover, each victorious in his elimination heat last weekend. The win was his fifth in the event.
When the starting gate pulled away, longshot wildcard entry Up Front Western was sent to the front right away, completing the initial 1/4 mile in 26 seconds flat. 7-1 third choice McArdle stayed a 1 1/4 length off the pace early. Travelling down the backstretch with half a mile to go, driver John Campbell decided to let Mach Three make his move. From fourth place early, Mach Three surged ahead of McArdle to take the lead after a half in 54 3/5, and stablemate Red River Hanover inherited third place as the tiring Up Front Western dropped back. At the top of the stretch, Red Rover Hanover went to the front and opened up a two length lead on the favorite, after 3/4 mile in 1:21 4/5, and held that margin all the way to the finish. Mach Three kept up with him for a second place finish, with McArdle third. The final time was a new track record of 1:48 4/5. Red River Hanover will now go on to the Meadowlands Pace on July 13th.
Purse: $1,500,000 Distance: 1 mile, pacers
Pgm Horse Driver Win Place Show 6 Red River Hanover Ouellette 5.20 2.90 2.50 1 Mach Three Campbell 2.80 2.30 9 McArdle Lachance 3.10
In deep stretch with Red River Hanover leading over Mach Three with McArdle coming on for third on the outside.
The winning owners celebrate the victory. Red River Hanover is owned by Lothlorien Equestrian Centre, headed by Audrey Campbell, and Jeffrey Snyder.
Winning driver Luc Ouellette holds the trophy. He said: "It was a great trip, a good scenario going into it. He felt very relaxed in the paddock. He got on the racetrack, his ears were up. Honestly, he felt a little cocky but there was no doubt. He just felt too good. He just never gets tired. Once he crossed over, he swelled right up. And at 1:21 and a piece (for the 3/4 mile), I felt then he might have a shot to go a really strong mile."
Red River Hanover out for a warm-up earlier in the evening. Trainer Bill Robinson said, "He's right on his game. Mach Three gave him a pretty good fight, but I knew around the last turn, no way. He's just too good right now. We were pretty careful with him last year because he had too much speed. He could get out of hand, manners-wise. So we just took it careful."
Post time favorite and eventual second place finisher Mach Three in the post parade. His driver John Campbell said: "It was the trip I wanted, but I just couldn't track down the winner. I had to make the move when I did, but it wasn't to be on this night. He raced really well, he went as well as he could and just ran into an unbelievable winner. My horse was still really strong at the top of the stretch, he felt good and I spoke to him in the hole and he responded, but mid stretch I knew there was just no catching the other horse."
Third place finisher McArdle returns from a warm-up earlier in the evening. His driver Mike Lachance said: "You can't ask for anything better, he raced even better than I thought he could. I knew I had a chance to get by that horse on the outside (Three Olives), because he just never gives up, you know. He just kept trying at the end there. I'm pretty proud of him. I'm so happy, because with the nine hole, it almost puts you out of the race, but I took him out, cause I knew he could leave so well from the gate."
On the undercard the trotting three-year-old fillies had their race, the $586,100 Elegantimage Stakes. 1-5 favorite Cameron Hall did not disappoint her backers, leading every step of the way and winning by 2 3/4 lengths in a track record time of 1:54 2/5. The win was her ninth in ten career starts, and she now holds the track records for both two and three year old trotting fillies.
Results chart Race 9
Cameron Hall warming-up earlier in the card. Driver Mike Lachance said: "She's such a pleasure to drive. She has such a great gait. It's almost like you are driving a pacer. She's getting better each week. She's quite a horse."
The older trotting fillies and mares division competed in the $150,000 Armbro Flight Invitational. Favored Donven Promise held off 16-1 longshot Gypsy Balance to capture the event in a time of 1:54 2/5. Trainer and driver Tom Strauss said, "She's a classy mare and she gives it her all every time she runs. We beat another very good horse tonight and it was a thrilling drive to the wire."
Results chart Race 4
Horses that didn't qualify for the main event in the Cup eliminations last weekend, instead competed in the $100,000 North America Cup Consolation. 2-1 second choice Henry Clay came from way off the pace to run down the even money favorite and pacesetter Million Dollar Cam for the win, in a time of 1:51. Henry Clay had finished fourth in his elimination heat, behind Mach Three, but failed to get in as a wildcard entry. Driver David Magee said, "He's really a nice colt. He had some trouble last week getting out of there. He should have probably been in the final if things went well for him last week. But he put it together today and it was a little easier bunch than he was in with last time. It was a good effort. He's a good horse from off the pace. We got carried to the three-quarters and he did it on his own from there."
Results chart Race 3
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