June 28, 2017

Fear The Dragon Wins 2017 Pepsi North America Cup

June 17, 2017 – Following a stretch battle of the elimination winners, Fear The Dragon prevailed in 1:48.4 over slight favourite Huntsville with his stablemate Downbytheseaside finishing third in the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on Saturday, June 17 at Mohawk Racetrack.

David Miller earned his second consecutive victory in the Cup driving the Dragon Again-Armbro Cinnamon colt for trainer Brian Brown and owner Bruce Trogdon of Emerald Highlands Farm.

Sports Column (Chris Christoforou) got the first call off the gate leaving from post five with Classic Pro (Trevor Henry) firing just to his outside. The latter cleared at the :25.2 quarter mark, but his lead was short-lived as Filibuster Hanover (Louis-Philippe Roy) rushed up from third with Downbytheseaside (Brian Sears) hot on his heels.

Downbytheseaside took over command down the backstretch, putting up a track record half-mile clocking of :52.1 and three-quarters in 1:19.3. Meanwhile, Huntsville advanced from mid-pack with Fear The Dragon tracking his cover from sixth as Filibuster Hanover broke stride in the pocket.

From there, the stretch duel developed with Downbytheseaside leading the way into the lane while Huntsville closed in and Fear The Dragon fanned wide. Huntsville and Fear The Dragon battled past Downbytheseaside in front of the grandstand and duked it out to the wire with Fear The Dragon persevering by three-quarters of a length in a career-best 1:48.4 mile.

“This is a great, great feeling,” said 52-year-old New Jersey-based driver David Miller as he headed back to the winner’s circle. “My horse was having a hard time keeping up [during the fast middle fractions]. He was gapping and I was chasing him and didn’t really get within contention there until right at the head of the stretch and then he dug, he fought. Huntsville, he kept fighting and it was a battle right to the wire.”

“I’m very proud of Downbytheseaside, Brian [Sears], [caretaker] Toni [Dale Hollar] — they went a big mile today,” noted Brown. “He went all the top fractions. David told me ‘Dragon’ was back there pacing as fast as he could go the whole way to keep up. It was incredible fractions and for that horse to still finish third and hang in there, I was very proud of him. Fear The Dragon, what can you say? He’s tough, he just never gives up. David Miller, he’s just always in the right place.”

After 15 prior appearances in the Cup, the Hall of Fame reinsman won the Canadian classic for the first time in his career last year with Betting Line and reigned again in the 34th edition tonight for Brown.

It was the first time the Ohio-based Brown, 52, had a three-year-old colt in the North America Cup and the 1-3 finish in the final after winning two of the three eliminations left him at a loss for words when asked to describe the feeling.

“It’s unexplainable,” said Brown on winning the million-dollar race. “You’d have to ask the guys that win these races regularly. This is my first time. I don’t know what to say. It’s incredible that we’re even here with two horses. To come away with a win, it’s just something that’s unexplainable.”

The victory was also the first in the Cup for owner Trogdon, a longtime newspaper publisher who started building Emerald Highlands Farm in 1982. Emerald Highlands purchased the broodmare Armbro Cinnamon from the Peretti Farms dispersal at the Harrisburg Sale in 2013 for $15,000 in foal to Dragon Again and Fear The Dragon was born, raised and broke to jog at the Mount Vernon, Ohio farm.

Fear The Dragon paid $4.90 to win as the 9-5 second choice to 4-5 favourite Huntsville. Downbytheseaside finished three and three-quarter lengths behind in third at odds of 5-1. Completing the order of finish were: Classic Pro, Western Hill (Doug McNair), Sports Column, Miso Fast (Matt Kakaley), Filibuster Hanover, Ozone Blue Chip (Brett Miller), and Ocean Colony (Yannick Gingras).

During his freshman campaign, Fear The Dragon earned five wins, three second-place finishes and two thirds from 11 starts while banking $228,391. His success at two, including victories in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, Arden Stakes and Elevation, made him a top five contender to win the North America Cup heading into the season in Trot Magazine‘s annual Spring Book rankings.

Fear The Dragon is now undefeated in six starts this year with his seasonal earnings swelling to $597,453. He won his North America Cup elimination in 1:50 despite tripping on a head number in the stretch last weekend at Mohawk. Prior to that, he started his sophomore season in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes earning two of three wins in sub-1:50 fashion.

Click here for complete coverage of the Pepsi North America Cup undercard, including recaps and replays of the $75,000 Cup Consolation, the $440,000 Fan Hanover Stakes (for three-year-old pacing fillies), $365,000 Roses Are Red Stakes (pacing mares), $253,000 Armbro Flight Stakes (trotting mares), $251,000 Goodtimes Stakes (three-year-old trotting colts), and $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup (invitational pacers).

NA Cup Event Details Released

June 15, 2017 – Mohawk Racetrack has released admission, entrance and event details for Saturday’s $1 million Pepsi North America Cup.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids (ages 12-17) and children under 12 are free.

Tickets will be on-sale beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and doors will open at 4 p.m.

Tickets will be available for purchase at the main entrance and east gate entrance using cash, credit or debit. To avoid line-ups, fans are urged to purchase their tickets in advance through TicketMaster.

A will-call table will be set up outside the main entrance for guests with reservations in the Terrace Dining Room and Lounge. Signage will be posted to direct guests with reservations to will-call.

The pre-race concert with Kira Isabella will begin at 5 p.m. The rising country star will also be performing the national anthems at 6:15 p.m. Jojo Mason will take the stage at approximately 7 p.m. and will be performing between races.

Post time for Saturday’s 15-race card is 6:30 p.m.

There will also be several special food and drink options for fans to enjoy. A beer tent will be set up in the concert area (at the east end), while Woodbine’s brand-new food truck will also be on-site

The popular ‘First Bet on Us’ promotion is back and the first 2,500 fans to sign up will receive a 2017 Pepsi North America Cup hat.

The $1 million Pepsi North America Cup has been carded as Race 12 and will head postward at approximately 10:40 p.m.

The $100,000 All-Stakes Pick-4 starts in Race 9 and features the Fan Hanover, Goodtimes, Roses Are Red and Pepsi North America Cup.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit northamericacup.com


NA Cup Post Draw Complete

June 13, 2017 – The post position draw for the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup took place today (Tuesday, June 13) at Mohawk Racetrack. The NA Cup will spearhead a spectacular evening of stakes racing this Saturday (June 17) at the Campbellville, Ont. oval, and the top three-year-old pacers on the continent will be the main attraction.

Matt Martin of the Toronto Maple Leafs served as the special guest drawmaster for the event.

Trot Insider learned earlier in the morning that David Miller, who won eliminations with both Fear The Dragon and Downbytheseaside in the eliminations, will steer Fear The Dragon in the final.

Prior to the open post position draw, the winners of the NA Cup eliminations selected their starting spots for the final. Via their victories last weekend, the elim winners – Huntsville, Downbytheseaside, Fear The Dragon – earned the right to choose their post position for Saturday’s final. The connections of Downbytheseaside picked first and selected Post 2. The connections of Huntsville then picked second and selected Post 3. The connections of Fear The Dragon then selected Post 4.

The open draw then took place and filled out the rest of the post positions for the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup.

The post positions for the Cup appear below.

(Post – Horse – Driver – Trainer)
1 – Ocean Colony – Yannick Gingras – Jimmy Takter
2 – Downbytheseaside – Brian Sears – Brian Brown
3 – Huntsville – Tim Tetrick – Ray Schnittker
4 – Fear The Dragon – David Miller – Brian Brown
5 – Sports Column – Chris Christoforou – Blake MacIntosh
6 – Classic Pro – Trevor Henry – Dr. Ian Moore
7 – Ozone Blue Chip – Brett Miller – Ronald Coyne Jr.
8 – Filibuster Hanover – Louis-Philippe Roy – Ron Burke
9 – Western Hill – Doug McNair – Tony Alagna
10 – Miso Fast – Matt Kakaley – Ron Burke

Somebeachsomewhere colt Ocean Colony (PP1, Yannick Gingras) will be looking to strike from the rail in the lucrative NA Cup for trainer Jimmy Takter and reinsman Yannick Gingras. The bay won a pair of races in the United States to kick off his three-year-old campaign, and then followed those up with a speedy second-place effort to Fear The Dragon in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action. Ocean Colony took a two-hole trip in his Cup elim last week and finished third to Fear The Dragon when all was said and done. Bred by Garth Bechtel (of Caledon East, Ont.), Ocean Colony is owned by Christina Takter (East Windsor, NJ), John Fielding (Toronto, Ont.), Hatfield Stables (Columbus, OH), Marvin Katz (Toronto, Ont.), Al Libfeld (Toronto, Ont.) and Sam Goldband (Toronto, Ont.)

Downbytheseaside (PP2, Brian Sears) is heading into the NA Cup final off of a two-length, 1:50.4 victory in his elimination. David Miller steered the Somebeachsomewhere colt to victory in his elim – which extended the bay’s 2017 unbeaten streak to four – but stated afterward that Downbytheseaside was not at his best during the race. Miller will drive fellow elim winner Fear The Dragon in the final, and pilot Brian Sears has picked up the mount on Downbytheseaside for Saturday. Brian Brown trains Downbytheseaside for owners Country Club Acres Inc. (Findlay, OH), Joe Sbrocco (Brecksville, OH), Richard Lombardo (Solon, OH) and Diamond Creek Racing (Wellsville, PA). The colt has won 12 of his 17 career races, has never finished off the board, and has banked more than $858,000 in overall purses.

The Ray Schnittker-trained Huntsville (PP3, Tim Tetrick) has been a force on the racetrack in his 15 career starts, as he has posted 10 wins and has never finished worse than second. The son of Somebeachsomewhere was sent away at five cents on the dollar in his NA Cup elim and he didn’t disappoint his backers. Huntsville grabbed the lead at the halfway point in his elimination and went on to register a four and a quarter-length, 1:49.1 victory, which was the fastest clocking in the elims. Schnittker (of Middletown, NY) co-owns the colt with his fellow breeder, Charles Iannazzo (Tappan, NY), along with Ted Gewertz (New York, NY) and Steven Arnold (Purchase, NY).

Fear The Dragon (PP4, David Miller) was on his game in last weekend’s NA Cup elims, as the son of Dragon Again paced to a one and a half-length win in 1:50. The colt jumped over a fallen head number in the homestretch, but quickly recovered and went on to post the victory for trainer Brian Brown and pilot David Miller, who will steer the bay in the final. Emerald Highlands Farm (Mount Vernon, OH) owns Fear The Dragon, who is a perfect five-for-five this season and has won 10 of his 16 career starts. The bay has more than $325,000 in career purses heading into Saturday and has missed hitting the board just once in his career.

After a third-place finish behind Downbytheseaside in his Cup elim, Sports Column (PP5, Chris Christoforou) will look to put it all together this Saturday when all the money is on the line. The Sportswriter colt was plucked for $20,000 as a yearling and has earned $243,000 racing out of the barn of trainer Blake MacIntosh. Although Sports Column has yet to record a win in his four starts this year, the colt still boasts a solid career slate of 4-2-3 from 10 starts. He won in 1:52.1 over Mohawk last year at age two and would surely love to record the biggest win of his career in Saturday’s marquee event.

Ontario-sired Shadow Play colt Classic Pro (PP6, Trevor Henry) will start mid-gate on Saturday and will look to improve on his second-place finish in his Cup elimination. The bay started his season by racing through the conditioned ranks over Mohawk and then made a miscue in his division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes. After a qualifying mile, Classic Pro jumped into the Cup elims last week where he finished second behind Huntsville, who many have picked to win it all. Classic Pro is owned by his trainer, Dr. Ian Moore (Puslinch, Ont.), R G McGroup Ltd. (Bathurst, NB) and former Montreal Canadiens great Serge Savard (St-Bruno, QC).

Bettors Delight gelding Ozone Blue Chip (PP7, Brett Miller) will look to upset the apple cart in the Cup final. Trained by Ronald Coyne Jr. and driven by Brett Miller, Ozone Blue Chip had the daunting task of going first-up against Huntsville in his elim last Saturday. Although his bid was rebuffed and he finished more than four lengths in arrears of the winner, Ozone Blue Chip was able to hold on for third place. The $30,000 yearling purchase has recorded one win from five starts this year and would put a charge into the Mohawk tote board with a win on Saturday. Ron Coyne Stables Inc. (New Egypt, NJ) shares ownership of the gelding along with Canadian Blair Corbeil (Beaumont, AB) and Christopher Mazzone (Palm Harbor, FL).

Although he has only recorded one win in four starts this season, Filibuster Hanover (PP8, Louis-Philippe Roy) has been right there amongst some of the better ‘glamour boys’ this season. To go along with his lone win, the Somebeachsomewhere gelding has recorded three second-place finishes, including his runner-up performance to Fear The Dragon in his Cup elim last week. A member of the always-dangerous ‘Burke Brigade,’ Filibuster Hanover is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC (Fredericktown, PA), Joseph Di Scala Jr. (Katonah, NY), J And T Silva Stables LLC (Long Beach, NY) and Weaver Bruscemi LLC (Canonsburg, PA).

A homebred of Hamilton, Ont.’s Tom Hill, Western Ideal gelding Western Hill (PP9, Doug McNair) will have the arduous task of trying to capture the NA Cup final from the nine-hole this Saturday. The bay will be making his fourth start of the season when he faces the gate this weekend. After a tightener in a Mohawk overnight to start the season, Western Hill turned around and won a conditioned race over Mohawk before entering the Cup elims. He faced Downbytheseaside in his Cup elim and finished second, two lengths in arrears of the eventual winner.

After having been the fourth-place finisher in the Cup elims that was lucky enough to draw into the final, Miso Fast (PP10, Matt Kakaley) was slapped by the post position gods on Tuesday, as the Roll With Joe colt drew the worst starting spot of them all. The Ron Burke-trained bay has posted a record of 1-2-0 from five starts this year. After having started from Post 8 in his elimination, Miso Fast gave a good effort to get up with the leaders, but ultimately ended up finishing more than six lengths back of Huntsville. Burke owns the colt along with the Our Horse Cents Stables (Melville, NY) and J And T Silva Stables LLC (Long Beach, NY).

Miller’s NA Cup Mount Unveiled

June 13, 2017 – This past weekend, David Miller won Pepsi North America Cup eliminations with Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon. Trot Insider has been told who Miller will be driving in this Saturday’s $1 million final, and has also been told who will be steering the other mount.

Brian Brown, trainer of both Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon, told Trot Insider this morning (Tuesday, June 13) that Miller will drive Fear The Dragon this Saturday in the $1 million NA Cup.

Trot Insider will discuss this and more with Brown after Tuesday’s NA Cup post position draw, which will take place today at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont.. The draw is bing live streamed by the Woodbine Entertainment Group. For information on the streaming, click here.

Miller was pleased with Fear The Dragon after his 1:50 elimination victory last weekend. “I was real happy with him. He was just cruising along there,” Miller said. “I asked him a little bit – he’s a bit lazy at times – and I was real happy with him. He was real comfortable.”

Miller also discussed Fear The Dragon’s brief break of stride in the homestretch. Miller explained that the colt stepped over a head number that had fallen to the track earlier in the race. Fear The Dragon avoided the head number, quickly regrouped, and went on to score the one and a half-length win.

“If you watch, leaving the gate Yannick’s horse (driver Yannick Gingras, aboard Ocean Colony) lost his head number as he was crossing over and I didn’t even think of it through the stretch and my horse stepped over it,” said Miller.

Brown also told Trot Insider that Brian Sears has picked up the mount on the highly regarded Downbytheseaside, who Miller steered to a 1:50.4 victory in his Cup elim. The win extended Downbytheseaside’s 2017 undefeated streak to four, but Miller stated after the mile that the colt was not at his best in the race.

“I don’t think he was at his best tonight for whatever reason, but I’ve seen him better,” Miller said in a post-race interview. “[The wind] could be playing a factor; you’re leaving into it and you’re finishing into it and it might have something to do with it.

“He was a pretty solid horse last year and got better as the year went on, which is unusual. He came back this year and we can’t be happier with him. Just tonight, I wouldn’t say he was at his best.”

The NA Cup, the richest Standardbred race in Canada, will take place this Saturday night (June 17) at the Campbellville oval. A tremendous evening of racing will thrill those in attendance and watching via simulcast. The eliminations for the NA Cup and other top stakes races took place last weekend at Mohawk. To read Trot Insider’s recap of elimination night, which includes analysis, replays and quotes from connections, click here.

NA Cup Draw To Be Live Streamed

June 13, 2017 – Mohawk Racetrack will be live streaming today’s post position draw for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup.

The draw is scheduled to get underway shortly after Noon and can be viewed on northamericacup.com.

Matt Martin of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be the guest drawmaster.

The connections of Downbytheseaside, Fear The Dragon and Huntsville will have the opportunity to select their posts for the final, based on their victories in last Saturday’s eliminations. The seven other horses to qualify for the $1 million final will be entered into an open draw for the remaining post positions.

Also at today’s draw, Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) will also be making a few corporate announcements, including news regarding the future of live racing at Mohawk.


Clouthier Book Signing On ‘Cup’ Night

June 11, 2017 – Trot Insider has learned that former Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association Executive Director Hec Clouthier will be making a special appearance at Mohawk Racetrack on Pepsi North America Cup Night, Saturday, June 17.

Clouthier will be at Mohawk signing copies of his new book, ‘Give ‘Em Hec!’ which details different aspects of his life, mainly his polished political career. Details regarding the exact time and location of the signing are not available at this moment, but Trot Insider will provide those details when they emerge.

Clouthier, pictured during one of his recent book signings.

“The Woodbine Entertainment Group has been very kind and I appreciate the opportunity to be part of their big night,” Clouthier told Trot Insider. “It has been rewarding and humbling the number of horsepeople who have expressed an interest in my book. I’m sure they will enjoy the portions dedicated to harness horse racing.”

Clouthier has already started promoting his book, as he took part in a mini book-signing tour earlier this month in Pembroke and Petawawa.

While in discussion with The Daily Observer, Clouthier said that people have always encouraged him to put pen to paper and write his memoirs, but “other things kept getting in the way.”

Although, once the calendar flipped to 2017, Clouthier had no excuses. The man in the fedora hurt his back early this year, which limited what he could do physically. With a proper recovery his No. 1 priority, Clouthier – who is also known for his love of horse racing and marathon running – finally took some time to reflect, and Give ‘Em Heck was the result.

“Writing a book is a daunting task,” Clouthier told The Daily Observer, “but so is running a marathon.”

(With files from The Daily Observer)

North America Cup Elims Complete

June 10, 2017 – Eliminations for next Saturday’s mega-stakes card continued on June 10 at Mohawk Racetrack, including three eliminations for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup.

The three-year-old pacing colts faced off in three $50,000 Pepsi North America Cup eliminations over the course of the evening with the top three finishers from each race advancing to the June 17 final along with one fourth-place finisher (drawn by lot). The post position draw and press conference for the North America Cup will take place on Tuesday, June 13 at Mohawk, with Toronto Maple Leafs’ left-winger Matt Martin attending as the guest drawmaster.

Sent postward as the overwhelming 1-9 favourite in the first Cup elimination, Downbytheseaside delivered a 1:50.4 winning effort to keep his perfect sophomore record in tact heading into the final. David Miller drove the popular Somebeachsomewhere-Sprig Hanover colt for trainer Brian Brown.

In the first elim, Sports Column (Chris Christoforou) fired off the gate from post seven with Eddard Hanover (Matt Kakaley) leaving just to his inside to secure a pocket spot through a 27-second first quarter.

However, it wasn’t long before Lawrencetown Beach (Paul MacDonell) advanced first-up from fourth with favourite Downbytheseaside hot on his heels.

Downbytheseaside and Miller cleared Lawrencetown Beach past the half in :54.4 and opened up two and a half lengths on the way to three-quarters in 1:21.4. He was untouchable in the stretch while the scramble was on for the remaining spots in the final. Western Hill (Doug McNair) rallied off cover for second-place while Sports Column rode the pylons and edged out late-closer Some Attitude (Tim Tetrick) for third.

Despite Downbytheseaside’s winning effort, Miller noted there was room for improvement in his performance.

“I don’t think he was at his best tonight for whatever reason, but I’ve seen him better,” Miller said in a post-race interview. “[The wind] could be playing a factor; you’re leaving into it and you’re finishing into it and it might have something to do with it.

“He was a pretty solid horse last year and got better as the year went on, which is unusual. He came back this year and we can’t be happier with him. Just tonight, I wouldn’t say he was at his best.”

Downbytheseaside is now four-for-four this year following a standout freshman year in which he won eight of 13 races, posted a 1:49 world record mile and banked almost $645,000. The Brown trainee entered the Cup eliminations off a victory in the $300,000 Art Rooney on May 27 at Yonkers Raceway.

He is owned by Country Club Acres Inc., Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo and Diamond Creek Racing.

A top-ranked Cup contender heading into the season, Downbytheseaside is the 9-2 second choice in Trot Magazine‘s Spring Book.

U.S. divisional champion and early season Cup favourite Huntsville was a wide-open winner in the second elimination, scoring in 1:49.1 for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Ray Schnittker.

The 1-9 favourite made his move after watching an early three-horse battle that ensued in front through a :26.3 first quarter. Classic Pro (Trevor Henry) persisted on taking the leading role with his inner advantage among the three leavers, but the three-wide Normandy Beach (Yannick Gingras) kept rolling and cleared while Ozone Blue Chip (Brett Miller) took back to third.

Once the top three fell in line, Huntsville rushed to command at the three-eighths mark and clocked middle splits of :55.2 and 1:22.1 before widening his leading margin to four and a quarter lengths in the stretch. Classic Pro finished second with Ozone Blue Chip third after moving first-up in the third panel. Miso Fast (Matt Kakaley) came on for fourth over Normandy Beach and drew into the final.

“It looked like it was easy enough and he caught a nice division and he raced really well,” said Schnittker, who bred the Somebeachsomewhere-Wild West Show colt with Charles Iannazzo and shares ownership with Theodore Gewertz and Steven Arnold. “It was a good mile. Probably in the afternoon or something like that it would be a [1]:48 and a piece mile I would think.”

Huntsville earned seven wins, including a 1:49 world record victory, and four seconds in 11 starts as a freshman while banking more than $720,000. He has continued his streak of finishing in the top two in all of his four sophomore races including three winning efforts.

“He’s a very fast colt, he’s a great big colt so hopefully he just keeps getting better as the year goes on,” Schnittker. “You never know though.”

David Miller earned his second Cup elimination win with another Brian Brown trainee, but Fear The Dragon‘s 1:50 victory was not without an anxious moment when he stepped on a piece of equipment in the stretch and broke stride.

Ocean Colony (Yannick Gingras) left from post six to establish the lead over post two starter Hurricane Beach (Louis-Philippe Roy) with the 1-5 favourite Fear The Dragon securing a position in third from post seven. After a :27.2 opening quarter, Miller made his move with Fear The Dragon and they rushed to command.

Fear The Dragon carved out middle splits in :55 and 1:22 with Hurricane Beach, who was all over Gingras’ helmet throughout, eventually committing first-over. However, Fear The Dragon began to draw away from his competition.

Meanwhile, Filibuster Hanover (Matt Kakaley) swept outside and battled with Ocean Colony in the race for place down the lane. That’s when trouble struck for Fear The Dragon, but the Dragon Again-Armbro Cinnamon colt had built up a multiple-length cushion and was able to reset quickly to cross the wire as a legitimate winner on the pace. Filibuster Hanover edged out Ocean Colony for second-place one and a half lengths behind Fear The Dragon while Hurricane Beach finished back in fourth.

“If you watch, leaving the the gate Yannick’s horse lost his head number as he was crossing over and I didn’t even think of it through the stretch and my horse stepped over it,” said Miller, explaining the incident at the end of the mile.

Fear The Dragon recovered to remain perfect in five starts this year.

“I was real happy with him. He was just cruising along there,” said Miller. “I asked him a little bit — he’s a bit lazy at times — and I was real happy with him. He was real comfortable.”

Fear The Dragon won five of his ll starts as a two-year-old while banking almost $230,000 in purses for owner Emerald Highlands Farm. He was assessed as the 14-1 fourth choice in Trot‘s annual pre-season Cup rankings.

Also impressed by Huntsville’s winning performance, Miller noted that it will be “a tough, tough, tough choice” on which horse he will drive in the final.

“He was really impressive tonight,” Miller said of Huntsville. “The last few times I’ve seen him race, he’s had some running in problems, but tonight that was not the case at all. He looked very good, very sharp. It will be a good race.”

Five-time Fan Hanover Stakes winner Jimmy Takter will look to add another trophy to his collection with O’Brien and Dan Patch winner Idyllic Beach a top contender after winning her $35,000 Fan Hanover Stakes elimination for three-year-old pacing fillies.

Yannick Gingras floated the 3-5 favourite Idyllic Beach off the gate from post seven into an early four-hole and began to advance first-over after Jayes A Lady (Louis-Philippe Roy), Soiree Seelster (Sylvain Filion) and Roaring To Go (Brett Miller) took turns on the front end through opening panels of :27.3 and :55.3. Idyllic Beach progressed through three-quarters in 1:23.2 and began to edge ahead of Roaring To Go down the lane before drawing two and a half length clear in deep stretch to win in 1:51. Al Mar Got A Fever (Brian Sears) tracked the winner’s cover and finished second over Roaring To Go with Future Headlines (Tim Tetrick) and Dancing Shadows K (Randy Waples) coming on to complete the top five finish order.

After winning eight of 14 races at two and banking almost $730,000, Idyllic Beach is perfect in two sophomore starts. The Somebeachsomewhere-Idyllic filly is owned by Takter’s wife Christina, Brixton Medical Inc., and Toronto partners John Fielding and Marvin Katz.

Tequila Monday continued her stakes streak winning the second Fan Hanover elimination in a new lifetime mark of 1:50.4 with Brian Sears in the sulky for trainer Chris Oakes.

Taking a liking to a bigger track surface, the popular Lismore Pace and New York Sire Stakes champion Tequila Monday tipped out from fourth after a :56.3 half while a battle ensued up front as Shes Watching (Scott Zeron) rushed up to contend with pacesetter Bettors Up (Doug McNair) through three-quarters in 1:23.4. However, Tequila Monday closed outside in the stretch to score the one and a quarter length victory, delivering as the odds-on favourite. Bettors Up won the duel with Shes Watching, finishing in front of that foe in the race for place. Agent Q (David Miller) and Action Majesty (Yannick Gingras) were fourth and fifth, respectively.

A daughter of American Ideal out of Margarita Monday, Tequila Monday is owned by Susan Oakes and Chuck Pompey. The consistent filly has finished no worse than second in all 10 of her career starts while banking over $300,000 in purses.

In the first of three $35,000 Roses Are Red Stakes eliminations for older pacing mares, Frost Damage Blues and driver James MacDonald closed off cover down the stretch to win in 1:50.1. Early trailer Pure Country (Brett Miller) tracked the winner’s cover and closed widest of all to secure the runner-up honours while Witch Dali (Doug McNair) and Bernadette (Yannick Gingras) finished third and fourth.

Blue Moon Stride (Tim Tetrick) took a brief two-hole tuck before overtaking early leaver Lakeisha Hall (Matt Kakaley) through a :26.2 quarter. The 6-5 favourite Darlinonthebeach (David Miller), who followed in third, then swept by on the way to the half in :54.1 and led past three-quarters in 1:21.4 with Bernadette leading the outer flow and closing in on the leader as the mares turned for home. Meanwhile, Blue Moon Stride came through along the pylons, but the backfield came to life with Frost Damage Blues ultimately prevailing at odds of 6-1 ahead of millionaire Pure Country.

Tom Fanning trains Frost Damage Blues for New Jersey owner William Augustine. The five-year-old Western Ideal-Art Matters mare is now two-for-four this year and has won 14 of 28 starts lifetime for earnings approaching the $200,000 mark.

In her Canadian debut, Nike Franco N swept to command during a leader shuffle on the backstretch and won the second Roses Are Red elimination convincingly in a career-best time of 1:49.2 in rein to Tim Tetrick.

Outsider Lyons River Pride (Trevor Henry) blasted off the gate and crossed to command during a :27.1 first quarter before Call Me Queen Be (Scott Zeron) looped her to take the lead and then the popular JoAnn Looney-King trainee Nike Franco N went by on the way to the midway point in :54.3. From there, Nike Franco N clocked three-quarters in 1:22.2 and kept clear of the pocket-pulling Call Me Queen Be down the stretch. Penpal (Pat Lachance) followed in third while Sandbetweenurtoes (Doug McNair) advanced first-over to finish fourth.

Richard Poillucci owns the seven-year-old McArdle-Nearea Franco mare, who has won seven of her 10 starts since arriving in North America last year. The victory was Nike Franco N’s 25th lifetime and pushed her earnings close to $460,000.

Driven by Yannick Gingras, the multiple award-winning mare Lady Shadow continued her current stakes win streak in the final Roses Are Red elimination by wearing down pacesetter and eventual third-place finisher Prairie Sweetheart (Matt Kakaley) and holding off the pocket-pulling Wrangler Magic (Louis-Philippe Roy) for the 1:50.2 victory. Lay Lady Lay (Doug McNair) finished fourth.

Prairie Sweetheart took charge off the gate from post six and led the ladies through panels of :27.2, :56.2 and 1:23 while the 1-9 favourite Lady Shadow progressed first-over from fifth and took over command in the stretch. The six-year-old Shadow Play-Lady Camella mare then held off Wrangler Magic by three-quarters of a length for her third consecutive win this year and sixth in a row dating back to the 2016 Breeders Crown.

Ron Adams trains the divisional darling who boasts 30 career wins and more than $1.9 million in earnings for owners David Kryway, Carl Atley, Edwin Gold, and the BFJ Stable.

Lady Shadow will by vying for her third straight Roses Are Red title next weekend.

Here are the fields in post position order for the Fan Hanover and Roses Are Red Stakes:

$440,000 Fan Hanover Stakes
1. Bettors Up
2. Al Mar Got A Fever
3. Shes Watching
4. Idyllic Beach
5. Tequila Monday
6. Action Majesty
7. Agent Q
8. Future Headlines
9. Roaring To Go
10. Dancing Shadows K
AE: Obvious Blue Chip

$365,000 Roses Are Red Stakes
1. Bernadette
2. Frost Damage Blues
3. Nike Franco N
4. Lady Shadow
5. Wrangler Magic
6. Call Me Queen Be
7. Witch Dali
8. Penpal
9. Pure Country
10. Prairie Sweetheart
AE: Lay Lady Lay

Amidst Saturday’s eliminations, Nirvana Seelster posted the fastest mile of the night in the weekly $34,000 Preferred Pace after rebuffing a stern challenge from Ellis Park (Randy Waples) down the backstretch. Trevor Henry drove the six-year-old Camluck-No Strikes Against gelding to a sparkling new lifetime mark of 1:48.1 for trainer Bill Budd and owner Bruce Davy of Brockville, Ont. Fool Me Once (Doug McNair) and returning star Modern Legend (James MacDonald) finished second and third.

To view Saturday’s harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results – Mohawk Racetrack.

For the official judges’ report from Saturday’s card, click the following link: Judges’ Report – Mohawk – June 10.

Rising Star Headlines NA Cup

June 7, 2017 – Canadian recording artist Kira Isabella is a star on the rise.

Singing from the age of seven, Isabella learned first from her dad and then went on to singing lessons. And, like many Canadian female country singers of her generation, she was inspired by Shania Twain. She started writing poetry in Grade 4 and that turned into the song writing she’s known for today. In addition to Twain, she lists Sheryl Crow, Faith Hill and Taylor Swift among her influences.

Now a seasoned pro with a number of charted singles, Isabella has played multiple festivals including the inaugural years of Boots and Hearts in 2012, 2016’s CMT Fest and this June 17 she’ll be up on stage with opener Jojo Mason at the Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack.

“CMT Fest was one of my favourite shows so far. It takes so long to come into your own and be confident, to feel comfortable on stage in front of a crowd,” said Isabella. “A big part of it is how I connect with my fans, they’re like friends. They’re easy to talk to and I’ve been playing with the same band now for a couple of years, so I’m very comfortable around them.

“I really felt like CMT Music Festival was a time that it all came together,” continued Isabella. “It really clicked for me. I’ve been doing it since I was seven but it can take a really long time to get your stage legs.”

Isabella on stage at Boots and Hearts (Photo by Trish Cassling)

The fresh faced 23-year-old Ottawa resident appeared on the Canadian country music scene in 2011 with her first radio single Love Me Like That and she hasn’t looked back. In October of 2012, at the tender age of 17, Kira released her first album, Love Me Like That. which included 11 tracks and it garnered her five radio hits between 2011 and 2013 including the title track Love Me Like That, A Real Good Radio, A Little More Work, Songs About You and Blame It on Your Truck. The age-appropriate stories spoke to her audience and won over a multitude of fans.

With her next album 2014’s Caffeine & Big Dreams, Kira released a somewhat controversial single, Quarterback. Not one to shy away from controversy, Quarterback came with a very strong message about sexual assault, and people were listening. The song was Isabella’s first US release and it put her on the road to more grown-up content.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum subject-wise you’ll find the track Shake It If Ya Got It, it’s meant for dancing and is a feel good song that anyone can appreciate.

Other singles from Caffeine & Big Dreams included Gone Enough and I’m So Getting Over You. The later may have produced one of my favourite pieces of merchandise, a ladies only t-shirt that showed up all over the place.

As fans, we’ve had the opportunity to watch this young woman grow up as she’s honed her stage chops by opening up for the likes of Carrie Underwood, Terri Clark, Gord Bamford and Tim Hicks, and she’s moved on to headlining festivals herself. Kira has been nominated for multiple Canadian Country Music Awards and Junos, and won the CCMA Rising Star Award in 2012 and Female Artist of the Year in 2013.

Isabella soon to light up the stage at the NA Cup (Photo by Trish Cassling)

Kira’s staying busy and recently played the 18th Annual Tin Pan Alley Songwriters Festival at Hugh’s Room in Toronto.

“It was very packed, so that was awesome. I haven’t done writers rounds like that in a little while so it was very cool to get to do that,” said Isabella. “I got to do a new song that I wrote, something very ballad-y that I wrote with two girls that are from Toronto. I was very excited to do that.”

She also has a new single out and it might sound familiar to you. Isabella’s cover of John Waite’s Missing You, which she told us is her dad’s favourite song, was a great surprise from the Canadian country artist.

She’s also got a great duet with the Chris Buck Band on the radio with the single, That’s When You Know. Kira told us that they recorded their parts separately but they shot the video together. The song is all about Buck meeting his girlfriend, and Isabella said she loved the song the first time she heard it.

“He is so sweet, he is honestly the coolest guy. Very genuine,” said Isabella. “I loved the song when I first heard it but secondly, I loved his voice. His voice is so deep and so country. I love voices like that I feel like there are only a few of them out there that are so true.”

If you’re looking for a wedding song, this could be it.

You can learn more about Kira Isabella at kiraisabella.ca and all over her social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And, you can get your tickets for the Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack, which of course includes a night of world class racing, by clicking here.

(by Trish Cassling of thereviewsarein.com for WoodbineEntertainment.com)

NA Cup Eliminations Drawn

June 6, 2017 – The connections of 25 three-year-old pacers have entered their charges to contest the $50,000 Pepsi North America Cup eliminations, which will be the focal point of this Saturday evening’s (June 10) live program at Mohawk Racetrack.

Saturday’s NA Cup elims have been carded as Race 3 (8:10 p.m.), Race 8 (9:50 p.m.) and Race 9 (10:10 p.m.). The entry total of 25 is the largest number of entries received for the Pepsi North America Cup since 2010 (30). Mohawk’s Saturday card will kick off with a first-race post time of 7:30 p.m.

The top three finishers from each of Saturday’s elims – plus one fourth-place finisher, drawn by lot – will advance to the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup final, which will be contested on Saturday, June 17 at Mohawk, located in Campbellville, Ont.

Many of the colts and gelding that have been entered to contest the NA Cup elims prepped over Mohawk last weekend in the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes. For a complete recap of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, which includes race replays, click here.

The first of the NA Cup elims will feature the horse that many consider the favourite to capture the ‘Cup’ – the Somebeachsomewhere colt Downbytheseaside (PP4, David Miller), who is heading into the elims as a force to be reckoned with. Trained by Brian Brown and driven by David Miller, the accomplished bay has won 11 of his 16 career starts and has always hit the board (including three show and two place finishes). The career winner of more than $833,000 in purses has come out of the gate in fantastic form this year, as he is a perfect three for three and is fresh off of a sweep of the Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers Raceway, which took place late last month. Downbytheseaside is owned by Country Club Acres Inc. (Findlay, OH), Joe Sbrocco, (Brecksville, OH), Richard Lombardo (Solon, OH) and Diamond Creek Racing (Wellsville, PA).

The second elim will be headlined by another top colt that many believe has what it takes to win it all – the Ray Schnittker-trained and Tim Tetrick-driven Somebeachsomewhere colt Huntsville (PP2, Tim Tetrick). Huntsville is heading into the NA Cup eliminations in fine form. The winner of nine of 14 career starts last went postward on June 1 at Harrah’s Philadelphia during Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action. With Tetrick at the helm, the duo left from Post 7, whacked out all the speed (:26.3, :54.2 and 1:21.4) and capped off the performance with a :27.1 final frame. The win time was 1:49 and the margin of victory was more than seven lengths. Schnittker (of Middletown, NY) and Charles Iannazzo (Tappan, NY) bred the colt, and the duo co-owns along with Ted Gewertz (New York, NY) and Steven Arnold (Purchase, NY). Huntsville has won two of his three starts thus far this season.

On paper, the third elim looks like it could be a real dogfight, as Macs Jackpot, Hurricane Beach and Fear The Dragon are all slated to mix it up.

The Jim Campbell-trained and David Miller-driven Macs Jackpot (PP1, David Miller) stepped up and showed that he was an NA Cup contender last week in the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes. The gelding shrugged off his Post 9 start, raced hard from the back of the pack through solid fractions, and closed hard in the lane to get up for a neck victory in 1:51.4. The bay son of Somebeachsomewhere is a homebred of his New York, NY-based owner, Jeffrey Snyder.

After having been lightly raced at two, and having worked his way up through the conditioned ranks this season, the Luc Blais-trained Hurricane Beach (PP2, Louis-Philippe Roy) was strong last weekend in his division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes. Driver Louis-Philippe Roy sent the gelded bay to the lead from Post 9, and the son of Somebeachsomewhere cut all the fractions en-route to a four-length, 1:50.3 victory. Hurricane Beach, who was a $230,000 purchase, is owned by the Determination stable of Montreal, Que.

It’s safe to say that Dragon Again colt Fear The Dragon (PP7, David Miller) will have some of his rivals looking over their shoulders on Saturday, as the fleet-footed bay has won nine of his 15 career starts and has never missed the board. Trained by Brian Brown and driven by David Miller, Fear The Dragon has not lost a race since last October. He has been a perfect four for four thus far in 2017, and the last three of his wins have come against Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition. Fear The Dragon, who is owned by Emerald Highlands Farm (Mount Vernon, OH), looks to be in fine form heading into the NA Cup elims, as he has posted back to back 1:49.1 wins.

For free, printable program pages for Mohawk’s Saturday card, courtesy of TrackIT, click here.

To view the harness racing entries for Saturday at Mohawk, click the following link: Saturday Entries – Mohawk Racetrack.

Elimination 1 (Race 3)
(Post – Horse – Driver – Trainer)
1. Lawrencetown Beach (Paul MacDonell – Paul MacDonell)
2. Ideal Wheel (Louis Philippe Roy – Casie Coleman)
3. Western Hill (Doug McNair – Tony Alagna)
4. Downbytheseaside (David Miller – Brian Brown)
5. Some Attitude (Tim Tetrick – Bob McIntosh)
6. Eddard Hanover (Matt Kakaley – Ron Burke)
7. Sports Column (Chris Christoforou – Blake MacIntosh)
8. Stealth Bomber (Brett Miller – Tony O’Sullivan)

Elimination 2 (Race 8)
(Post – Horse – Driver – Trainer)
1. Arsenal Seelster (Jonathan Drury – Colin Johnson)
2. Huntsville (Tim Tetrick – Ray Schnittker)
3. Beckhams Z Tam (Ricky Macomber Jr. – Jamie Macomber)
4. Classic Pro (Trevor Henry – Dr. Ian Moore)
5. Ozone Blue Chip (Brett Miller – Ron Coyne)
6. Normandy Beach (Yannick Gingras – Ron Burke)
7. Beyond Delight (Sylvain Filion – Tony O’Sullivan)
8. Miso Fast (Matt Kakaley – Ron Burke)
9. Richard Hill (Doug McNair – Richard Moreau)

Elimination 3 (Race 9)
(Post – Horse – Driver – Trainer)
1. Macs Jackpot (Tim Tetrick – Jim Campbell)
2. Hurricane Beach (Louis Philippe Roy – Luc Blais)
3. Filibuster Hanover (Matt Kakaley – Ron Burke)
4. McMach (Paul MacDonell – Bob McIntosh)
5. Darlings Dragon (Donald Dupont – Marie Dupont)
6. Ocean Colony (Yannick Gingras – Jimmy Takter)
7. Fear The Dragon (David Miller – Brian Brown)
8. Streakavana (Sylvain Filion – Scott McEneny)

Promoting Mohawk & The NA Cup

June 5, 2017 – On Monday, June 5 at Mohawk Racetrack, WEG’s publicity department, OSAS and driver Jody Jamison were busy showing members of Global Toronto’s ‘The Morning Show’ what racing at the Campbellville, Ont. is all about, as the raceway gears up for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup.

The NA Cup will spearhead a tremendous card of live Standardbred racing on June 17. North America Cup eliminations will take place this coming Saturday (June 10). The elims will be drawn on Tuesday (June 5).

Liem Vu (in the background) and Jody Jamieson, pictured in the drivers’ room at Mohawk Racetrack (Image courtesy Mark McKelvie / WEG)

“Liem Vu (co-host of The Morning Show) was out here (at Mohawk) this morning,” WEG communications co-ordinator Mark McKelvie told Trot Insider. “He shot a feature on racing at Mohawk and had the opportunity to jog an OSAS horse with Jody Jamieson. He also got to learn a bit about what goes on at Mohawk and got to see how drivers prepare each night.”

Liem Vu and Jody Jamieson, amongst the colours in the Mohawk drivers’ room (Image courtesy Mark McKelvie / WEG)

The horse that Liem and Jamieson jogged with was the 13-year-old grey gelding Ruff Me Up. The promotional work came less than 24 hours after Jamieson was helping promote racing in Quebec.

Liem Vu, selecting his boots in the Mohawk drivers’ room (Image courtesy Mark McKelvie / WEG)

McKelvie explained to Trot Insider that the feature is scheduled to air on June 15 and will be shown on The Morning Show on Global Toronto.

The feature will help promote the NA Cup and Mohawk racing, which will occur five nights a week all summer at the picturesque raceway.

Liem Vu and Jody Jamieson, pictured jogging OSAS Standardbred Ruff Me Up at Mohawk Racetrack (Image courtesy Mark McKelvie / WEG)