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Driver Randy Waples and trainer Bob McIntosh celebrate with the North America Cup trophy.
The 29th running of the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup was contested on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack, the richest harness race in Canada, featuring the best 3-year-old pacing males in North America going the standard 1 mile trip around the 7/8 mile stonedust oval in Campbellville, Ontario. A full field of 10 lined up behind the starter under ideal racing conditions, a clear night with temperatures in the mid 70's and minimal wind and a lightning-fast track. Last year's Breeders Crown 2-year-old pace winner Sweet Lou was sent off as the 1-2 favorite, off wins in the Pennsylvania Sires stakes at Pocono and Meadows followed by his Cup elimination. In to challenge him included 5-1 second choice Warrawee Needy, second to Sweet Lou last week, and 8-1 third choice Thinking Out Loud, second in the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes followed by a third place finish in the eliminations.
Four horses fight for the lead down the stretch: Thinking Out Loud (outside), Time To Roll, Dapper Dude, and Sweet Lou (rail).
Thinking Out Loud wins the North America Cup.
Pgm Horse Driver Win Place Show 5 Thinking Out Loud Waples 18.60 8.40 8.50 3 Time To Roll Miller 9.00 9.10 2 Dapper Dude Campbell 9.50 Winning Time: 1:47.4 $2 Exacta 5-3 133.50 $2 Trifecta 5-3-2 1,108.90 $1 Superfecta 5-3-2-4 1,587.15
Results chart Race 7
Left: Thinking Out Loud returns after the race. Winning driver Randy Waples said, "It's just an unbelievable feeling. It really is. I just drove a horse for a guy who's in every Hall of Fame in the world. He makes it so easy. His crew is unbelievable. He's been a great horse since the day that he set foot on the track. I was lucky enough to pick him up. I owe it all to Bob and his crew."
Right: Thinking Out Loud warms up earlier in the evening
Left: Second place finisher Time To Roll heads out for the post parade. The 9-1 fourth choice raced sixth 13 lengths back early with driver Andy Miller, then closed on the far outside to get second beaten just 1/2 a length. The Jim Takter trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 7 starts, earning $378,470 for owner Lothlorien Farm.
Right: Third place finisher Dapper Dude warms up earlier in the evening. Driver John Campbell said, "I thought at the head of the stretch that we had a legitimate shot to win, I was pretty sure I going to run down Sweet Lou, but I couldn't hold off the other two at the wire, but I was really happy with my colt. My horse is really progressing and showing that he can pace with the best horses in the world. History has shown that Bobís horses get better as the year goes on, so I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a great, competitive year."
Left: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Sweet Lou shortly after the start of the race. Trainer Ron Burke said, "I thought he was alright tonight. Maybe he wasn't as good as we would have hoped, but at the same time I think it took a lot out of all three of us that were near the front. We'll go back to the drawing board and get him ready for The Meadowlands Pace. I still feel he's the best colt and I'm not going to panic over it. I said it before and I'll say it again that this is a great year and a super competitive bunch."
Right: The start of the North America Cup.
There were five other stakes races on Saturday night. Kicking off the stakes action on the North America Cup undercard was the $530,000 Elegantimage Stakes for 3-year-old trotting fillies. 14-1 Valdonna led first time by through an opening quarter in 27 3/5 before 7-1 Win Missy B took over, getting fractions of 56 2/5 and 1:24 2/5. Entering the stretch, 1-2 favorite Check Me Out, 3rd early, moved up to take over the lead, and was all out to hold off late-running 3-1 Maven to win by a nose in a new Canadian record time of 1:52 1/5. It was another 2 3/4 lengths back to Win Missy B third.
Results chart Race 3
Winning driver Tim Tetrick said, "My mare kept fighting all the way to the wire. Give Maven tons of credit. She fought tooth and nail. It was a great horse race all the way down the lane. I wanted to make sure I got away close. I thought there might be a little more speed than there was. But the front two were setting enough pace. I was going to move to the front, but Brian (Sears, on Win Missy B) beat me to the punch. I was stuck first over. But around the last turn I got to get back in behind him for a little bit and braved my mare back up. She just trotted a heckuva last quarter to win the race in a very, very tight photo."
The $351,000 Goodtimes Stakes featured a full field of ten 3-year-old trotters. 161-1 longest shot Gym Tan Laundry set the early pace of 27 1/5, 56 1/5, and 1:24 while 1 3/4 lengths in front of 36-1 Prayer Session in second. Gym Tan Laundry still led at the 1/8 pole, but was passed late, as 8-1 Beer Summit, 4th early, outfinished Prayer Session by 1/2 a length for the win in a track record equalling time of 1:52 2/5. It was just a neck back to pacesetter Gym Tan Laundry third.
Results chart Race 5
Beer Summit in the winner's circle. Driver Ron Pierce said, "I had the horsepower. It helps to have the horse that's good enough to win the race. The trip worked out really well. I floated him out of there off the seven-hole, fell into the four-hole, picked up some very good cover and tipped him off the cover's back just before we straightened up. Mike did his job, he had him up on his toes, and (Beer Summit) had plenty of trot to the wire." Trainer Mike Vanderkemp added, "I thought we had one of the best horses and we just needed a trip."
Immediately before the main event was the $376,000 Armbro Flight Stakes for trotting older fillies and mares. 9-2 Frenchfrysnvinegar led for the first 3/4 mile through fractions of 27 2/5, 57 4/5, and 1:26 2/5 while as many as 3 1/2 lengths in front of 6-5 favorite China Pearls stalking in second. Through the stretch, the pacesetter tired badly, as 5-1 Pembroke Heat Wave, 3rd early, took over the lead at the 1/8 pole and held off late-running 2-1 Cedar Dove to get the victory in 1:54.
Results chart Race 6
Pembroke Heat Wave in the winner's circle. Driver Brian Sears said, "I didn't go in with any set game plan, I was just looking to not gun out of there too hard, but get in the best spot I possibly could. With Action Broadway making a break, I didn't have to use her too hard and got away third. I thought she would be strong enough to pull first over and she was and I was able to get it done."
Results chart Race 9
American Jewel in the winner's circle. Driver Tim Tetrick said, "She did a lot of work tonight; she was right on the front and worked hard to get there. She's just an awesome filly, my favourite, and she can carry her speed a long, long way. I wanted to have the four hole because she likes to be able to float out of there and get positioned. She's such a high-speed filly that you don't want her locked in. I wanted to give her every chance possible to win tonight."
Closing out the stakes action was the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational for older pacers. 22-1 Golden Receiver battled for the lead with 15-1 River Shark through fractions of 25 2/5, 54 1/5, and 1:21 4/5 while stalked by 13-1 Atochia and 5-2 We Will See. Entering the lane, We Will See took over the lead, and he held off late-running 7-5 favorite Betterthancheddar by a nose in 1:48 2/5. It was another 2 lengths back to Atochia third.
Results chart Race 6
We Will See in the winner's circle. Trainer Sam De Pinto said, "He's starting to get into his form and everything went good. He had to come first up, but he likes that kind of a trip. Betterthancheddar raced super, he followed us I think the whole way and it was pretty close. They're all good horses, you can't take nothing away from any of them. If I had to put my finger on anybody it would be Betterthancheddar and Mark Harder's horse Golden Receiver. I thought those two were probably the toughest ones in the race. I would have liked to work out a trip behind them, but it didn't work out that way. But we still got the job done. He did what he had to do. He's a tough horse, he knows how to win."
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