The top-three finishers in last season’s vote for best 2-year-old male pacers – champ Sportswriter, All Speed Hanover and One More Laugh – as well as recent stakes winners Fred And Ginger, Kyle Major, Ideal Matters, Keystone Raptor and Rock N Roll Heaven were among 30 horses to enter the Pepsi North America Cup eliminations at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario.
The entries were divided into three elims, to be contested Saturday, from which the top-three finishers in each split and one fourth-place finisher drawn by lot will advance to the C$1.5 million final on June 26.
Sportswriter was the spring book favorite for the North America Cup, which is harness racing’s richest race for 3-year-old pacers.
The colt, trained by Casie Coleman and driven by Mark MacDonald, was second in his seasonal debut on May 29 and finished fourth in a division of the Burlington Stakes won by Kyle Major on June 12. Last year, he won seven of eight races and set a world record with his 1:49.2 victory in the Metro Pace at Mohawk.
Burlington winners Kyle Major and Ideal Matters will join Sportswriter in the first North America Cup elim, which also includes Hoosier Cup runner-up Allthatgltrsisgold and Berry’s Creek and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Rock N Roll Heaven.
Fred And Ginger, who won this year’s Max C. Hempt Memorial at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and is coming off a track-record 1:48.4 victory in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows, joins All Speed Hanover in headlining the second elim.
All Speed Hanover is coming off a second-place finish, beaten by a nose by BG’s Folly, in the $500,000 New Jersey Classic on June 12 at the Meadowlands. Last year, he won the Breeders Crown to prevent Sportswriter from completing a perfect campaign.
Also part of the second elim are Upper Canada Cup winner Haul Away and Upper Canada Cup runner-up Twin B Warrior.
One More Laugh, fresh off his win in the Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers Raceway, leads the third elim. Last season, One More Laugh became history’s fastest 2-year-old on a five-eighths of a mile track with his 1:49.2 win in the Governor’s Cup at Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack.
Burlington division winner Keystone Raptor is also among the hopefuls in the third elim.
Following are the fields for the eliminations with listed drivers and trainers. Elimination winners will get to pick their post positions for the C$1.5 million North America Cup final.
First elimination: 1. Rock Me Please, Steve Condren, Bob McIntosh; 2. OK Commander, Doug McNair, Gregg McNair; 3. Ideal Matters, Dave Palone, Mike Vanderkemp; 4. Power Of A Moment, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller; 5. Code Word, Sylvain Filion, Kevin O’Reilly; 6. Allthatgltrsisgold, Dave Magee, Bobby Brower; 7. Sportswriter, Mark MacDonald, Casie Coleman; 8. Kyle Major, Jody Jamieson, Shawn Robinson; 9. Rock N Roll Heaven, Daniel Dube, Bruce Saunders; 10. Dr Dreamy, Brian Sears, Brenda Teague.
Second elimination: 1. Mach Dreamer, Luc Ouellette, Murray Brethour; 2. Delmarvalous, Brian Sears, Brenda Teague; 3. Twin B Warrior, Randy Waples, Jeff Gillis; 4. Art N Charm, Mike Saftic, Robbie Roberts; 5. All Speed Hanover, Ron Pierce, Mike Vanderkemp; 6. Four Starz Trace, Jody Jamieson, Joe Seekman; 7. Stonebridge Tonic, Doug McNair, Gregg McNair; 8. Haul Away, Tim Tetrick, David Menary; 9. Fred And Ginger, Dave Palone, Ron Burke; 10. Triple Major, Sylvain Filion, William Companion.
Third elimination: 1. We Will See, Brett Miller, Sam DePinto; 2. Woodstock, Yannick Gingras, Mike Vanderkemp; 3. Iam Bonasera, Dave Magee, Erv Miller; 4. BP Chimo, Sylvain Filion, James Barton; 5. Keystone Raptor, Jack Moiseyev, John Kopas; 6. Piece Of The Rock, Tim Tetrick, Bob Young; 7. Warrawee Legend, Rick Zeron, Claude Cadieux; 8. One More Laugh, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker; 9. Art Professor, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott; 10. Malicious, David Miller, Ian Moore.