Stephen Foster Night
NA Cup Night
Woodbine Oaks Day
Belmont Festival Friday
Betting Line winning the 2016 North America Cup.
The 34th running of the Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk, one of the most important races on the continent for three year old pacers, will be run Saturday night June 18. Sponsored by Pepsi since 2001 and with a purse of $1 million (Canadian) it is the richest harness race in Canada and a key prep for the Pacing Triple Crown.
Honorary drawmaster Matt Martin (right), a Toronto Maple Leafs left winger, with Mohawk racing secretary Scott McKelvie.
The honorary drawmaster traditionally has been a local hockey personality, and this year is no exception as Toronto Maple Leafs 4th line left winger Matt Martin was invited to randomly draw the names while racing secretary Scott McKelvie drew the post positions in the usual double-blind system. The native of Windsor, Ontario was drafted by the New York Islanders in 2008, and as an unrestricted free agent in 2016, was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs for 4 years and $10 million. He was introduced to the sport of horse racing by his girlfriend while with the Islanders, and had just returned from a trip to New York to attend the Belmont Stakes. He has a reputation as an enforcer and a grinder, and said his toughest opponent in a fight is Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, one of the biggest players in the NHL at 6 ft 9 and 250 pounds.
WEG President and CEO Jim Lawson (right) with Honourary Drawmaster Matt Martin.
Honourary Drawmaster Matt Martin with the trophy and draw board
Trainer Brian Brown won two of the three eliminations. Downbytheseaside was drawn first, and Brown chose post 2 for the 3-1 third choice on the morning line. He comes into the Cup off wins in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes at the Meadows and the Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers. New driver Brian Sears gets the call on Saturday night. Huntsville, the fastest elimination winner, was drawn second, and trainer Ray Schnittker (represented by his assistant Jessica Dowse) chose post 3 for the 8-5 favorite, who will have Tim Tetrick in the bike. He comes here off a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes win at Harrah's Philadelphia. Fear the Dragon chose third and Brown put the 2-1 second choice in post 4 with driver Dave Miller, who is the regular driver for both Fear the Dragon and Downbytheseaside. Before coming to Mohawk he won Pennsylvania Sires Stakes at Meadows, Pocono, and Philadelphia.
The race is the 12th on Saturday and goes to post at 10:40pm ET. It will be shown on TSN3 and TSN5 in Canada from 10-11pm, or you can watch it online at the Woodbine website. The North America Cup is part of an excellent card of racing with five additional stakes races, including the $440,000 Fan Hanover, the distaff counterpart to the Cup. You can view the full card of entries here. Below are the entries for the 2017 Pepsi North America Cup:
|1||Ocean Colony||Yannick Gingras||Jimmy Takter||10-1|
|2||Downbytheseaside||Brian Sears||Brian Brown||3-1|
|3||Huntsville||Tim Tetrick||Ray Schnittker||8-5|
|4||Fear The Dragon||David Miller||Brian Brown||2-1|
|5||Sports Column||Chris Christoforou||Blake MacIntosh||25-1|
|6||Classic Pro||Trevor Henry||Dr. Ian Moore||20-1|
|7||Ozone Blue Chip||Brett Miller||Ron Coyne||25-1|
|8||Filibuster Hanover||Louis Philippe Roy||Ron Burke||15-1|
|9||Western Hill||Doug McNair||Tony Alagna||20-1|
|10||Miso Fast||Matt Kakaley||Ron Burke||20-1|
The North America Cup Trophy
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