by Al Cimaglia
June 18, 2017
Tonight, for your wagering pleasure Mohawk will conduct a star studded 15 race card which begins at 6:30 EST. The main event will be in Race 12, the 34th edition of the $1,000,000 Pepsi North America Cup, the richest harness race in North America.
Throughout the program there will be six stake races. The Late Pick 4 starts in Race 9 and will have a guaranteed pool of $100,000. Contained in that sequence will be the Fan Hanover Final, the Goodtimes Final, the Roses are Red Final, and last but not least, the North America Cup Final.
Last year's Cup winner was the outstanding pacer Betting Line, trained by Cassie Coleman and driven by David Miller. Betting Line equalled the stakes record with a sizzling mile timed in 1:47.4.
This year's morning line line favorite will be Huntsville (8/5) who will be driven by Tim Tetrick and is trained by Ray Schnittker. Huntsville has won 10 of 15 lifetime starts, and equalled a personal best mark of 1:49 set at Harrah's Philadelphia on June 1.
Xpressbet account holders who hit Mohawk's All Stakes Late Pick 4 will split 1,000,000 in XB Reward Points.
Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.
Race 3-Armbro Flight Final-$253,000
4-Hannelore Hannover-World champion mare will down this field if she is close to her best.
3-Charmed Life-Beat #4 in her 1st start this year. Roy steers, that helps but will need a few breaks to come out on top.
7-Broadway Donna-This mare will grind her way into contention, will keep top 2 honest and if they misstep could surprise.
Race 5-Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational-$100,000
1-Nirvana Seelster-Razor sharp and if she can make it 4 straight sub 1:50 miles could pop at a nice price.
2-McWicked-Program favorite needs a good steer. Miller may not want to let #1 control pace for too long.
6-Great Vintage-Small track master raced well here last week. 6-1 ML, will respect Gingras and Takter and is a must use.
Races 9-12-$100,000 Guaranteed Pick 4-Xpressbet All Stakes Pick 4 to split 1,000,000 XB Reward Points
Race 9-Fan Hanover Final-$440,000
4-Idyllic Beach-Winner of >$700k at 2 is off to great start this year. Versatile filly is machine like, her race to lose.
5-Tequila Monday-Odds maker has this 3 year old as the 8/5 favorite. I'll believe she can beat #4 only after it happens.
1-Bettors Up-Home town gal is no slouch. McNair will have her in position if top two aren't at their best.
Race 10-Goodtimes Final-$251,000
2-International Moni-Last week in 1st start of year, circled field with a 54.3 back half. Looks sharp enough to win again.
4-Enterprise-ML favorite is 5-5 lifetime. Could stay perfect but I'm thinking both #2 and #6 will make that very difficult.
6-Seven And Seven-Should be tighter this week, and will likely be driven more aggressively. Won the Wellwood here.
Race 11-Roses are Red Final-$365,000
4-Lady Shadow-Gingras will drive this mare like she is the best. Unless it is an off-night she will likely be the winner.
3-Nike Hanover-Last 2 were sub-1.50 miles and to knock off #4 will probably need to go at least that fast.
2-Frost Damage Blues-If top two blister each other all the way around, JMac will be coming late and could supply a shocker.
Race 12-$1,000,000 Pepsi North America Cup XXIV-Final
2-Downbytheseaside-Wasn't Miller's pick but Sears is just fine. Fractions were sizzling in last win, my choice to upset #3.
3-Huntsville-Toyed with the field in his elimination. Tetrick will be out and going with 8/5 ML chalk when wings fold up.
4-Fear The Dragon-This colt is also razor sharp. May enjoy long stretch more than top 2 and Miller might be able to sweep by.
You can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia