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2022 North America Cup Entries

Desperate Man winning the 2021 North America Cup.

Date: 06/14/2022

The 39th 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 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.

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 Desperate Man, with Trevor Henry in the bike, giving owner-trainer Kathy Cecchin her first win with her first starter.

TV host Jason Portuondo (left) and racing secretary Tony O'Sullivan (right) draw the posts for the Pepsi North America Cup
On Tuesday, the post positions were drawn at a lunch event in the Mohawk Park grandstand. TV host Jason Portuondo drew the names while racing secretary Tony O'Sullivan drew the numbers in the traditional double-blind method. O'Sullivan, a native of New Zealand, came to Canada as an assistant trainer before going on his own, training 2006 Breeders Crown winner Susie's Magic and 2016 Metro Pace winner Beyond Delight. He retired from training to take on this new role after long-time secretary Scott McKelvie retired in March, and this is his first North America Cup as secretary.

Woodbine Entertainment Group's Senior Vice-President of Standardbred and Thoroughbred Racing Jessica Buckley took to the podium to thank the horsemen and major sponsor Pepsi for continuing to support this race and Mohawk in general, given two years of reduced handle due to COVID restrictions. She said that wagering is up 18% over a year ago, and expressed optimism for a full season of 222 live dates. "It's fantastic to be together for a live draw for the first time since 2019. We hope to have a very large crowd return, we will have live music and barbecues returning, a party atmosphere." However she did express the concern overall in the North American racing industry, both standardbred and thoroughbred that field sizes have been down and that efforts will be made by Director of Standardbred Racing Bill McLinchey and the race office to bring those back to normal levels. "With the 2-year-olds that have qualified in the last few weeks we should be in a better spot for the summer."

Trainer Brent MacGrath interviewed by TV host Chad Rozema after he selected post 4 for Beach Glass
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, 17 horses made final entry so two elimination races were run on Saturday, June 11th, and were won by favorites Pebble Beach and Beach Glass. 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 5 finishers in each elimination race moved on to the final.

Trainer Brent MacGrath got first pick and chose post 4 for Beach Glass. MacGrath said "I'd rather let everybody else draw then I come in and move them around. Middle of the gate, see what the outside horses are doing, and that's the position (driver) Yannick (Gingras) wanted. He's getting stronger every week, he really needed the work, he's had a lot of issues. He got a little aggressive on us at the Meadowlands so we changed his gear, he's responded well, and we'll need some luck Saturday night. He needed the work, the education, retention (barn), that is the life of a top 3-year-old and he passed the test. He's ready to race." Beach Glass disappointed in 6th in the Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands before finishing second in his division of the Somebeachsomewhere at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 4.

Sonja Booth, assistant to trainer Noel Daley interviewed by Chad Rozema after choosing post 5 for Pebble Beach
The other elimination winner was Pebble Beach. Sonja Booth, assistant to trainer Noel Daley chose post 5. She said "We wanted 4 but I didn't get that so I'll go for 5. He's been fine, settled well in Canada, very easy going and handled the retention barn well. (Todd McCarthy) is an excellent driver, he gets to drive a lot of good horses so he's very comfortable here." Pebble Beach was third in the Breeders Crown and came back to finish second in a Meadowlands allowance on May 21 before winning his division of the Somebeachsomewhere on June 4.

James MacDonald, driver of Kolby Two Step from post 8 said, "He raced terrific in the Somebeachsomewhere, he was flying late at Pebble Beach, came home in 26 flat, then last week he had a tough draw, the 9 hole, connections took the pressure off me, said it's a long year, take him back, treat him right and if we make the final that's gravy. He did and did the back half in 52 seconds so he's coming into his own. Saturday night you never know. We'll just wait and see about the weather, the track bias, but I know he's got that big late kick if we save him so I'm hoping for a big speed battle and pick up the pieces. Once we get on the track it's just another race; when the gate opens, react. We're all trying to do the same thing, win."

Louis-Philippe Roy, driver of Frozen Hanover from post 9 said, "He's still developing mentally and physically but he is improving over the last few races so I'm hoping he will peak on Saturday. He can do whatever you want him to do (with his gate speed). I was here 4 or 5 years ago and they threw me against the best drivers and the racing is different from overnight racing."

The race is the 11th on Saturday and goes to post at 10:42pm ET. It will be shown on 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 $450,000 Fan Hanover, the distaff counterpart to the Cup for 3-year-old fillies as well as the $250,000 Goodtimes, the trotting equivalent. You can view the full card of entries here. Below are the entries for the 2022 Pepsi North America Cup:

1Fourever BoyMike WilderTim Twaddle20-1
2I Did It MywayAndrew McCarthyTony Alagna8-1
3RonJody JamiesonJames Dean20-1
4Beach GlassYannick GingrasBrent MacGrath3-1
5Pebble BeachTodd McCarthyNoel Daley8-5
6Arlo HanoverDexter DunnBrian Brown10-1
7Night HawkDavid MillerBrian Brown7-2
8Kolby Two StepJames MacDonaldTim Gillespie15-1
9Frozen HanoverLouis-Philippe RoyLuc Blais20-1
10Mad Max HanoverTim TetrickJake Leamon15-1
AEMarket BasedDexter DunnNancy Takter15-1

The North America Cup Trophy
More North America Cup info:

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