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HARNESS RACING - Post positions for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup were drawn Tuesday afternoon (June 11) during Woodbine Mohawk Park's annual media conference and luncheon for Canada's most prestigious Standardbred race.
Eighteen of the world's top three-year-old male pacers contested the NA Cup eliminations last Saturday at Mohawk. The combatants had been divided into a pair of nine-horse splits. When the dust settled, it was the Brian Brown-trained Workin Ona Mystery and Chris Ryder pupil Bettors Wish that emerged victorious.
Via their elimination victories, the connections of Workin Ona Mystery and Bettors Wish earned the right to select their starting spots for the final, which will take place this Saturday night (June 15) at the Campbellville, Ont. oval.
The connections of Workin Ona Mystery picked first and selected Post 4, which were "Timmy's orders," according to trainer Brian Brown, who was referring to the wishes of driver Tim Tetrick. The connections of Bettors Wish then followed and chose Post 3.
The open draw then followed, the results of which appear below.
(Post - Horse - Driver - Morning Line Odds)
Hails from the barn of Brian Brown, is heading into the Cup final having won eight of his nine career starts and boasting a mark of 1:49 mark, which was taken during his Cup elim. After having started from Post 9 in his elim, Workin Ona Mystery shot to the lead for driver Tim Tetrick. The duo landed on the point after the opening quarter and led the rest of the way. The duo ultimately hit the wire first, one and one quarter lengths ahead of Captain Victorious. Workin Ona Mystery, who is a son of Captaintreacherous, has been perfect thus far in his three-year-old campaign.
He had prepped for his Cup elim by recording victories in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes dashes. The most recent of the PASS performances came at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where Workin Ona Mystery was a wrapped-up, 1:49.3 winner.
The colt is owned by Diamond Creek Racing (of Wellsville, PA), the Stambaugh Leeman Stable (Wauseon, OH), Alan Keith (Johnstown, OH) and Wingfield Brothers LLC (Kenton, OH).
Brown provided an update on Working Ona Mystery at the draw and revealed some interesting information about the 2-1 morning line favorite.
"`Mystery' didn't scope as [well] after his race," said Brown, "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."
Recent Art Rooney Pace victor will take his best shot in the Cup final for trainer Chris Ryder. The talented son of Bettors Delight was a tactical and opportunistic winner in his Cup elimination, as he left from Post 1, engineered a pocket trip through the fractions (:26.2, :56.2, 1:23) and fired through in the lane when the rail opened up. The end result was a sharp, 1:49 win over a hard-charging De Los Cielos Deo, who was motoring home on the far outside.
Bettors Wish kicked off his 2019 campaign in overnight action at Yonkers Raceway, but stepped up just a few weeks later to sweep the Art Rooney. The bay punctuated his victory in the Rooney final with a 1:51.4 mile, one in which he zipped away from his competition late to post a six-length victory.
Bettors Wish - who has won nine of his 16 career starts and has only missed the board once - is unbeaten thus far in 2019 after four starts. He is owned by Chris Ryder (Allentown, NJ), Bella Racing Ltd. (Delaware, OH), Fair Island Farm Inc. (Versailles, KY) and Kenneth Solomon (Coral Springs, FL).
Chantal Mitchell, who is Bettors Wish's assistant trainer, said during the conference that the colt is "as consistent as consistent could be" and that "he's in the best shape he's ever been in."
The connections of last season's Dan Patch winner as the Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year in the U.S., experienced some bad luck in the bay's Cup elim, as the colt made his first-ever charted break. Scott Zeron and Captain Crunch were able to regroup, race overland the rest of the way, and finish fifth to gain entrance to the final. Captain Crunch had been nothing short of sensational this season heading into his Cup elim.
The son of Captaintreacherous debuted on May 19 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono with a life's best 1:49.1 win in the slop, and followed that effort up with a 1:49.2 victory over the same course on May 26 without being asked. Zeron drives Captain Crunch for trainer Nancy Johansson and owners 3 Brothers Stables (New York, NY), Christina Takter (East Windsor, NJ), Rojan Stables (Wilmington, DE) and Caviart Farms (Vienna, VA).
The bay has won eight of his 13 career starts and has banked $688,000 in purses.
This Ron Burke trainee finished a dynamite second after being unleashed in his Cup elimination. The son of Captaintreacherous sat well off the tempo and paced a huge back half in what was the tougher of the two elims. He fired home like a rocket in the stretch after he was tipped wide and just finished a length behind Bettors Wish at the wire.
De Los Cielos Deo had caught everyone's attention a week prior to the Cup elims by firing to a 1:48.4, wire-to-wire victory during qualifying action at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Although he is winless after four pari-mutuel starts heading into the Cup final, De Los Cielos Deo has stamped himself as one of the most feared entrants in this year's field.
The bay colt has won five of his 14 career starts and $217,000 in purses for Burke Racing Stable LLC (Fredericktown, PA), Lawrence Karr (Randolph, NJ), Jandt Silva Purnel & Libb (Delray Beach, FL) and Weaver Bruscemi LLC (Canonsburg, PA).
Has won ten of his 13 career races heading into the Cup final and has affirmed himself as a player for trainer John McDermott. Hurrikane Emperor uncorked a first-over move in his Cup elimination and held the lead into the stretch. He ended up drifting out in the lane, which allowed the pocket-riding Bettor Wish to pounce for the win, but he was still strong, finished fourth, and was individually timed in 1:50.
The bay son of Hurrikane Kingcole made his qualifying debut this season in 1:51.4 and romped in his three New Jersey Sire Stakes races that followed. He captured each of his aforementioned NJSS tests by double-digit lengths - the most dominant of which was a 1:52 tally in which he won by 26 and a half lengths.
The colt has banked $318,000 to date and is owned by Jonathan Klee Racing (Mineola, NY), Kuhen Racing LLC (Yardley, PA), Pegasis Investment Group (Boca Raton, FL) and William Garofalo (Fairfield, NJ).
The colt won three of his 10 freshman starts and missed the board just twice, but he is winless thus far in 2019, a season in which he has made four pari-mutuel starts. Captain Victorious did win a qualifier at the Meadowlands Racetrack in 1:51.1 in late April and it appears as though he could be rounding into form just at the right time for The Captain V Stable (Fredericktown, PA).
The Linda Toscano trainee has progressed during his five sophomore tilts to this point and has recorded 1:50.3 wins over both the Meadowlands Racetrack and Mohawk. The brown colt has raced to a record of 3-2-2 from his eight career starts and has banked $115,000 for Richard Young (Boca Raton, FL) and Joanne Young (Coconut Creek, FL).
Canada's 2018 Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year, is heading into the Cup final off of a third-place finish to Workin Ona Mystery in the elims. Although Stag Party finished third, the Casie Coleman trainee raced first-up in the tilt and was individually clocked in 1:49.2.
Stag Party had come into the elims off of a pair of third-place finishes over Mohawk, where he captured the Metro Pace last season. Stag Party, who has finished on the board in all of his 12 career starts, has won six races and banked $698,000 for owners John Fielding (Toronto, Ont.), Mac Nichol (Burlington, Ont.), McKinlay & Fielding (Toronto, Ont.) and the West Wins Stable (Cambridge, Ont.).
After having worked out a pocket trip, was held on to finish fourth in his Cup elim to advance to Saturday's final. He was individually clocked in 1:49.3 in his elim, which was won by Workin Ona Mystery.
Tyga Hanover, who had overcome broken equipment to win his Somebeachsomewhere division one week earlier, will now take his best shot in the Cup final for trainer Ben Baillargeon and owners Thomas and Elizabeth Rankin (St. Catharines, Ont.) and Glen Rankin (Ottawa, Ont.).
The bay tightened through the lower conditions at Mohawk to kick off his three-year-old campaign, but stepped up in his Somebeachsomewhere split to hold off Best In Show, Stag Party and Bronx Seelster in victory. The gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere has now won three of his 11 career starts and has banked $72,000 in purses.
Aflame Hanover who has been rising through the Pennsylvania ranks since his freshman campaign, advanced to the Cup final via his fifth-place finish in his elim, which was won by Workin Ona Mystery. After having been shuffled back to sixth, the Linda Schadel trainee closed with pace, finished three lengths behind Workin Ona Mystery, and was individually timed in 1:49.3.
The Russell Hanover gelding has made 24 career starts and has notched six wins and 15 on-the-board finishes for owners Tony and Linda Schadel (Sacramento, PA).
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