Saratoga Opening Day
Yellow Ribbon Hcp.
Queens Plate results
Trainer Casie Coleman celebrates with the North America Cup trophy. She also won the Fan Hanover Stakes earlier in the card.
The 27th running of the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup was contested on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ontario, the richest pacing event in the field, featuring the best 3-year-old pacing males in North America going the standard 1 mile trip around the 7/8 mile stonedust oval. A full field of 10 lined up behind the starter on a humid, overcast night with temperatures in the high 60's. New Jersey Sires Stakes winner Rock N Roll Heaven was sent off as the 5-2 favorite off his elimination victory last week, over 3-1 second choice All Speed Hanover, winner of his elimination heat after finishing a close second in the New Jersey Classic. Sportswriter was the 7-2 third choice off a disappointing third place finish in his elimination, after finishing second in the Burlington Stakes.
Sportswriter (outside) battles with We Will See in the stretch
Sportswriter wins the North America Cup.
Pgm Horse Driver Win Place Show 6 Sportswriter MacDonald 8.50 5.50 4.60 1 We Will See Miller 21.40 10.50 10 Piece Of The Rock MacDonell 15.20 Winning Time: 1:48.3 $2 Exacta 6-1 235.90 $2 Trifecta 6-1-10 4,877.10 01 Superfecta 6-1-10-3 26,151.60
Results chart Race 7
Left: Sportswriter returns after the race. His driver Mark MacDonald said, "Well, I think there was a little divine intervention, to be honest with you, because pretty much everything had to go wrong for this to go right for me. And it did. And I got lucky. It's a big win for me. It's pretty emotional. From the middle of the gate, I took him right off. I know everyone said he's from off the pace. I had a lot of confidence in the horse. He's a great horse. I knew Casie had him good. They did a great job. This horse has had 5 quarter cracks since he qualified. It's amazing how good they could get him in four starts. If he was a girl, I'd marry him. All of my big wins have been with (Casie Coleman). Got really lucky to get the drive back on the horse."
Right: Sportswriter warms up earlier in the evening. His trainer Casie Coleman said, "His (foot) issues were my own stupidity. I decided to put aluminum shoes on him after his first qualifier, thinking that was going to help him. I blew one quarter crack on the left front the one on the right front and bruised his heels. So we had to do all that (healing) before we could put his steel shoes back on. Thanks to Jeff Boyd, our blacksmith, he did an unbelievable job., Michel Turgeon, he's his caretaker and Harry Wilson, his assistant trainer. The Mohawk spa, he's been in there twice a day at most. I owe this win a lot to that Mohawk spa. I suggest some guys get in there because it definitely worked on this horse. He raced tremendous last week (third in his elim). He raced his heart out. Today, he's ready to rock and roll now. Sportswriter's back."
Left: Second place finisher We Will See in the post parade. His trainer Sam De Pinto said, "I'm extremely happy, I'm simply thrilled. Brett (Miller) gave him a terrific trip and he told me that if the whipping rule wasn't in effect he thought we would win the race. "
Right: Third place finisher Piece Of The Rock in the post parade. His driver Paul MacDonell said, "I had the 10-hole so had no choice but to take back and head for the wood and was able to sneak up the inside down the backstretch. I was able to thread in between horses down the stretch and get third place money. He raced terrific."
Left: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Rock N Roll Heaven in the post parade. His trainer Bruce Saunders said, "I thought he got a great trip, John (Campbell) put him in a terrific spot second over. Sportswriter raced absolutely sensational and my horse just didn't fire like he should. We will collect the pieces, watch the replay and make an assessment. The last few races front end speed held on and it did again here tonight."
Right: The field at the start of the North America Cup.
There were four other stakes races on Saturday night. Kicking off the stakes action on the North America Cup undercard was the $387,000 Goodtimes Trot for 3-year-old trotters. 6-1 Rock Hollywood took over the lead on the clubhouse turn through an opening quarter of 27 2/5 but was passed midway down the backstretch by 8-5 favorite Text Me through a half in 55 3/5. Text Me continued to lead to the top of the stretch through 3/4 in 1:25, but 4-1 second choice Sing Jesse Sing, 5th early, passed him on the outside to take over the lead in mid-stretch. 9-2 third choice Priority Photo closed with a rush from 6th but Sing Jesse Sing held him off by a head in 1:53 3/5. It was another 1/2 length back to 63-1 Windsun Galaxie third, while favorite Text Me was another 1/2 length back in fourth.
Results chart Race 4
Sing Jesse Sing in the winner's circle. Winning driver Jody Jamieson said, "The pace was set up front and they were rocking pretty good. When they started to come back to me, I angled my horse out and coming from a top barn, they had the horse well prepared and he dug in right to the wire. I thought I had Text Me early in the stretch and then he wouldn't go away. Then when Trond zipped off my back, I thought he had me at one point but my horse dug in. I was never sure until about 5 feet from the wire when we were there."
The $666,000 Fan Hanover Stakes is the distaff counterpart to the North America Cup, featuring 3-year-old pacing fillies. Driver Mark MacDonald sent 9-1 Western Silk to the front on the clubhouse turn through slow fractions of 26 2/5, 55 2/5, and 1:23 3/5, while as many as 1 1/2 lengths in front of 43-1 Ticket to Rock stalking in second. Entering the stretch, Western Silk opened up a 2 1/4 length advantage through 7/8 in 1:36 1/5. 9-10 favorite Put on a Show, who was 6th early and wide throughout, put in a strong rally on the outside but was left with too much to do, as Western Silk held her off by a neck in 1:50 1/5. It was another 1 1/4 length back to 5-4 second choice Fancy Filly third.
Results chart Race 5
Western Silk in the winner's circle. Her trainer and co-owner Casie Coleman said, "I was concerned when (MacDonald) was leaving the gate. This filly is a closer and I never ever give instructions to a driver but obviously Mark saw a lot of closers in the race and decided to leave. I already told him, I said 'you're lucky because I was going to kill you when I saw you were leaving the gate', but it all worked out. It's just absolutely unbelievable she made the final. I knew she was 100% tonight but last week when she came out of the elims she was in rough shape and we got her fixed up."
Results chart Race 9
Ultimate Cameron heads out for the post parade. Her driver Trevor Ritchie said, "I felt very good when I saw the half time flash up. I thought with the way this filly has been racing, she was going to be pretty tough to get by. She was good and comfortable. She drives like a sweetheart. She'll leave hard for you but after that she'll relax good and she got a nice little breather. After the half, I knew they were going to have to go something to get by her and they were right at her wheel so they're some great fillies."
Results chart Race 6
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