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2019 North America Cup Entries

Lather Up winning the 2018 North America Cup.

Date: 06/11/2019

The 36th running of the Pepsi North America Cup at Woodbine Mohawk Park, one of the most important races on the continent for three year old pacers, will be run Saturday night June 15. 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 Connor Brown (right), a Toronto Maple Leafs rightt winger, with Mohawk racing secretary Scott McKelvie.
First run in 1984 at Greenwood Raceway, the race has featured a who's who of pacing history, with such winners as Jate Lobell, Precious Bunny, Gallo Blue Chip, Cam's Card Shark and Somebeachsomewhere. The late Cam Fella won the race in 1982 (when it was still called the Queen City Pace), and went on to sire four North America Cup winners: Goalie Jeff, Precious Bunny, Presidential Ball and Cam's Card Shark. 1987 winner Jate Lobell went on to sire three winners of his own: Safely Kept, David's Pass, and Gothic Dream. Last year's winner was Lather Up as the 3-5 favorite, giving driver Montrell Teague his first win in the race.

The honorary drawmaster traditionally has been a local hockey personality, and this year is no exception as Toronto Maple Leafs 4th line left winger Connor Brown 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 Toronto played junior hockey with the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League before he was drafted 156th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. He joined the big club full time in 2016. Asked if he would rather have a Stanley Cup ring or a wedding ring, he said he is in a steady relationship so he hopes to have both rings very soon. His first NHL goal was against Frederik Anderson, then of the Anaheim Ducks, but is now his teammate with the Leafs. He played in all 82 regular season games in each of last 3 seasons, and as of the end of the 2018-19 season, has 43 goals and 56 assists, for 99 total points in 253 games.

WEG President and CEO Jim Lawson (right) with Honourary Drawmaster Connor Brown and Judith George of the Milton District Hospital Foundation, the official charity partner for the NA Cup
Woodbine Entertainment Group's President and CEO Jim Lawson, in his welcome speech, took the opportunity to talk about recent developments in the business, most notably moving standardbred racing away from the city of Toronto permanently to Mohawk Park, stressing that it's a better environment for the fans who are closer to the action than they were at Woodbine, and that most wagering comes from online and offtrack/simulcasting. He mentioned the various capital improvements that have been made at Mohawk Park, especially the new paddock that is to be ready in time for the Breeders Crown to be run here in late October. He apologized to horsemen and fans for the disuption caused by the construction, especially when it relates to the new gaming operator, Elements Casino, and the expanded offerings (the room formerly used for the draw is now used for high limit table games), but this is a funding model that will ensure the sport's survival over its 20 year contract and hopefully beyond.

Honourary Drawmaster Connor Brown with the trophy and draw board
Unlike in thoroughbred racing, almost all harness races are run at a mile and entry into the finals of major stakes races involves eliminations the week before. For the North America Cup, 18 horses made final entry so two elimination races were run on Saturday, June 8th, and were won by Worrkin Ona Mystery and Bettors Wish. These victories gave their connections the right to select their post positions first, while the rest of the field was drawn at random. The top 4 finishers in each elimination race plus two 5th place finishers drawn by lot, moved on to the final.

Trainer Brian Brown got first pick and chose post 4 for Workin Ona Mystery. The 2-1 morning line favorite is 8 for 9 lifetime, including the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes at both Meadows and Pocono, followed by a career best 1:49 clocked when winning his elimination heat. Brown said, “‘Mystery’ didn’t scope as [well] after his race, so he’s actually in Lexington right now going through the hyperbaric chamber, so, technically, he’s supposed to be much better when he comes back this week.” Regular driver Tim Tetrick will be in the bike on Saturday night.

The other elimination winner was Bettors Wish. Chantal Mitchell, assistant to trainer Chris Ryder, chose post 3 for the 7-2 third choice. He comes here off his win in the Art Rooney at Yonkers Raceway, and is undefeated in his 4 starts this year. Mitchell said that the colt is "as consistent as consistent could be" and that "he's in the best shape he's ever been in." Regular driver Dexter Dunn tries to win his first North America Cup.

Completing the top three in the morning line is Captain Crunch who drew post 8 as the 5-2 second choice. After winning the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes at Harrah's Philadelphia (Chester), he was a disappointing 5th in his North America Cup elimination. Regular driver Scott Zeron is in the bike Saturday for trainer Nancy Johansson.

The race is the 11th on Saturday and goes to post at 10:14pm ET. It will be shown on TSN5 in Canada from 10-10:30pm, 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 $454,000 Fan Hanover, the distaff counterpart to the Cup for 3-year-old fillies as well as the $247,000 Goodtimes, the trotting equivalent. You can view the full card of entries here. Below are the entries for the 2019 Pepsi North America Cup:

1Aflame HanoverAndrew McCarthyLinda Schadel20-1
2De Los Cielos DeoDavid MillerRon Burke5-1
3Bettors WishDexter DunnChris Ryder7-2
4Workin Ona MysteryTim TetrickBrian Brown2-1
5Captain VictoriousYannick GingrasRon Burke15-1
6Tyga HanoverSylvain FilionBen Baillargeon12-1
7Best In ShowBob McClureLinda Toscano15-1
8Captain CrunchScott ZeronNancy Johansson5-2
9Hurrikane EmperorDaniel DubeJohn McDermott15-1
10Stag PartyBrian SearsCasie Coleman12-1
AEAir Force HanoverYannick GingrasBrian Brown 

The North America Cup Trophy
More North America Cup info:

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