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  • By Mark McKelvie, Woodbine CommunicationsThe field for the 37th Pepsi North America Cup will be determined by two C$50,000 eliminations this Saturday night (Aug. 22) at Woodbine Mohawk Park. A total of 15 3-year-old pacers were entered in Canada’s most prestigious harness race, forcing two eliminations with the top five finishers in each advancing to the C$1 million final.

Tall Dark Stranger offers trainer Nancy Takter a strong chance at a second consecutive Pepsi North America Cup title after she won last year’s edition with Captain Crunch. The son of Bettor’s Delight is coming in off a career best 1:47.1 victory in the Cane Pace.

Yannick Gingras will take his usual spot behind Tall Dark Stranger in Saturday’s Cup elimination.

Tall Dark Stranger will look to become the first horse to ever win the Metro Pace and Breeders Crown at age 2 and then win the Pepsi North America Cup the following year.

Metro Pace champions have come back to win the Pepsi North America Cup five times (Presidential Ball 1992-93, Rocknroll Hanover 2004-05, Somebeachsomewhere 2007-08, Sportswriter 2009-10, Captaintreacherous 2012-13). Breeders Crown champions at 2 have won the Pepsi North America Cup three times (Bettor’s Delight 2000-01, Well Said 2008-09, Captain Crunch 2018-19).

Jack Darling’s Beaumond Hanover and Dr. Ian Moore’s Tattoo Artist will finally meet after dominating the OSS this season. Both sophomores carry length win streaks into the Cup eliminations and both were victorious in OSS Gold action on Sunday night at Rideau Carleton Raceway.

Tattoo Artist has won five in a row and holds a mark of 1:48.2, while Beaumond Hanover has won four straight and has stopped the clock in 1:49.1.

Odds On Osiris made a name for himself last Saturday by winning the $250,000 Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park. The Melanie Wrenn trainee had never raced outside Indiana until that start and found the winner’s circle with her husband Peter Wrenn steering. He enters the Cup two-for-four this season and nine-for-14 overall.

Trainer Tony Alagna sends out Capt Midnight and Captain Barbossa in the opening split as part of three horses he’s entered in this year’s Cup eliminations.

Capt Midnight won five of six starts at Mohawk Park as a rookie, including the Dream Maker, Nassagaweya and Champlain. He was most recently second to Tall Dark Stranger in the Cane Pace. Captain Barbossa is winless in seven starts this season, but has raced in the finals of the Meadowlands Pace and Adios.

The first elimination also includes the gritty Beach Blanket Book, who has won three of eight and finished in the top two six times this season for Blake MacIntosh; and local starter Warrawee Vital, who is making just his second start in the last 6-1/2 months and is trained by Rob Fellows.

The first elimination is carded as race six with a post time of 9:05 p.m.

The starters in the second elimination will have their eyes open wide in search of a top result after missing many of the top contenders competing in the first split.

Allywag Hanover is four-for-six and the top earner in the field at $157,920 banked this season. The Brett Pelling trainee was third in the Meadowlands Pace final last month and enters the Cup elimination off a 1:49.1 victory in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division last Tuesday.

Pelling is a three-time Cup winning trainer, having captured the race with Rocknroll Hanover (2005), The Panderosa (1999) and David’s Pass (1995). This will be Pelling’s first crack at the Cup since returning to North America a couple years back following 11 years in his home country of Australia.

Captain Kirk is the third member of the Alagna barn competing in Saturday’s eliminations, and is the only horse to hold a win over Tall Dark Stranger this season. The Alagna trainee won the Geers Stakes on Aug. 1 in a career best 1:48.3 and last time out was third in the Cane Pace.

A quartet of Woodbine’s most prominent trainers will send out starters in the second elimination.

Carmen Auciello and Rod Boyd will be in search of their first Cup appearance. Auciello sends out Moneyman Hill, while Boyd sends out Aneto.

Moore trainee Denali Seelster will look to emerge from the shadow of his prominent stablemate Tattoo Artist. Gregg McNair sends out Mayhem Hanover, who was last year’s OSS Grassroots champion.

The second elimination field is completed by Velocity Rukkus, who races for trainer Mark Evers and has competed at Mohawk Park in each of the last two seasons.

The second Pepsi North America Cup elimination is carded as race eight with an approximate post time of 9:55 p.m.

The winners of Saturday’s eliminations will earn their connections the opportunity to select their post positions for the final. The C$1 million Pepsi North America Cup final is scheduled for Aug. 29.

Elimination 1 (race six)
1 – Beaumond Hanover (Jody Jamieson/Jack Darling)
2 – Warrawee Vital (Trevor Henry/Rob Fellows)
3 – Tall Dark Stranger (Yannick Gingras/Nancy Takter)
4 – Capt Midnight (Doug McNair/Tony Alagna)
5 – Odds On Osiris (Peter Wrenn/Melanie Wrenn)
6 – Beach Blanket Book (Doug McNair/Blake MacIntosh)
7 – Tattoo Artist (Bob McClure/Dr. Ian Moore)
8 – Captain Barbossa (Louis-Philippe Roy/Tony Alagna)

Elimination 2 (race eight)
1 – Captain Kirk (Mark MacDonald/Tony Alagna)
2 – Velocity Rukkus (Randy Waples/Mark Evers)
3 – Moneyman Hill (Jonathan Drury/Carmen Auciello)
4 – Aneto (Chris Christoforou/Rod Boyd)
5 – Denali Seelster (Trevor Henry/Dr. Ian Moore)
6 – Mayhem Hanover (Doug McNair/Gregg McNair)
7 – Allywag Hanover (Louis-Philippe Roy/Brett Pelling)

Fan Hanover attracts 16

The Pepsi North America Cup card on Aug. 29 will once again include the Fan Hanover, Armbro Flight and Roses Are Red.

The Fan Hanover, for 3-year-old pacing fillies, has attracted 16 entrants split into a pair of C$35,000 eliminations.

The undefeated Party Girl Hill makes her Mohawk Park debut in the second Fan Hanover elimination. The Chris Ryder trainee joins the stable of Chantal Mitchell in search of her seventh win in as many starts.

Fresh off a 1:49 PASS victory, Party Girl Hill will square off with seven rivals that includes star Indiana filly Priceless and OSS Gold winners Karma Seelster and Lauras Love.

The first Fan Hanover elimination features last year’s O’Brien Award winner Alicorn. The Mitchell trainee is looking to get back in the winner’s circle after back-to-back fourth-place finishes.

Linda Toscano trainee Rocknificent is the current standout of the group. She has won three of six starts this season and has never finished outside the top three. The Toscano trainees wins came in a pair of PASS events and the Geers Stakes.

Elimination 1 (race two)
1 – Rocknificent (Bob McClure/Linda Toscano)
2 – Rose Run Victoria (Robert Shepherd/Rod Boyd)
3 – Beach Sports (Doug McNair/Gregg McNair)
4 – Perfect Storm (Trevor Henry/Bob McIntosh)
5 – Betalady (Chris Christoforou/Susie Kerwood)
6 – Nectar (Louis-Philippe Roy/Stephen Charlton)
7 – Alicorn (Louis-Philippe Roy/Chantal Mitchell)
8 – Peaky Sneaky (Yannick Gingras/Nancy Takter)

Elimination 2 (race three)
1 – All Day Sunshine (Louis-Philippe Roy/Dan Lagace)
2 – Party Girl Hill (Doug McNair/Chantal Mitchell)
3 – Priceless (Yannick Gingras/Brandon Bates)
4 – Karma Seelster (Doug McNair/Gregg McNair)
5 – Rose Run Vantage (Sylvain Filion/Anthony Beaton)
6 – Off The Press (Robert Shepherd/Rod Boyd)
7 – Lauras Love (Bob McClure/John Pentland)
8 – Lady Lou (Doug McNair/Tony Alagna)

The Fan Hanover eliminations have been carded as races two and three. The final will go for a purse of C$400,000.

No eliminations for Armbro Flight and Roses Are Red

This year’s Armbro Flight for older trotting mares and Roses Are Red for older pacing mares did not require eliminations, as all horses entered go directly to their respective finals on the Pepsi North America Cup undercard.

Superstar Atlanta will return to defend her Armbro Flight crown, taking on seven rivals. The Ron Burke trainee won last year’s final in a track, stakes and Canadian record time of 1:50.2.

The field for the C$220,000 Armbro Flight is listed below in alphabetical order:

Felicityshagwell S
Hey Livvy
Only Take Cash
Plunge Blue Chip
Pure Chance

The Roses Are Red will see a competitive group of nine older pacing mares clash.

Kissin In The Sand and Seaswift Joy N are the only returnees from last year’s final. This year’s field of nine includes five 4-year-olds: Philly Hanover, So Much More, Stonebridge Soul, Trillions Hanover and Warrawee Ubeaut.

The field for the C$290,000 Roses Are Red is listed below in alphabetical order:

Kissin In The Sand
Major Occasion A
Philly Hanover
Seaswift Joy N
So Much More
Soho Burning Love A
Stonebridge Soul
Trillions Hanover
Warrawee Ubeaut

Pepsi North America Cup closed to general public

Woodbine Entertainment announced Tuesday (Aug. 18) that this year’s Pepsi North America Cup will not be open to the general public. The event will be by invitation only

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7 Responses

  1. Mark – question please – why does the gate truck go side by side with the horses around the track till they get to turn for home then peel off ? Why not slow the truck after the first turn – let them go by – then continue around the track and not be in the picture? I have always wanted to know and am sure is an easy one. I do not follow harness racing all the time , but do watch a race from time to time. Thanks

    1. Hey Kim, put a call in to a U.S. Trotting Association official to get you a detailed answer. Stay tuned.

      Good question, BTW. I cut my teeth on harness racing and don’t know the answer…

  2. Kim,

    The reason the starting gate doesn’t peel off sooner is a good one. A harness racing official, a harness “judge,” rides in the car and, if you will, legislates the start of the race so that all horses have a fair chance.

    Horses must be “on gait” at the start so that all have an equal chance, according to the rules. If the car peels off too soon, the judge won’t have the proper perspective vis a vis any possible infractions.

    Technically, gapping is not permitted anywhere; required to close the gap. Seems to me this rule is a bit antiquated, instituted when virtually all tracks were half-milers. On mile tracks, fast horses naturally open gaps and leavers from the outside will drop in if they don’t have the speed to make the front.

    One rule I do know are odds-on favorites are to be written aggressively, pull out when first given an opportunity, no getting “boxed in” if the driver can help it.

    I may get more clarification on the gate issue…

  3. John – I can agree with the start and the judge seeing for ” fairness ” — but all the way around the track —
    if thems the rules – I can live with that – Thank You

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