by Frank Carulli
June 12, 2018
The message came across loud and clear for North America's top 3-year-old pacers: there's no room for error in this Saturday's C$1 million Pepsi North America Cup at Woodbine-Mohawk Park
The message was delivered in last weekend's three, $50,000 elimination heats. The winning margins were tight, the winning times were separated by 4/5 of a second and the winning horses are a combined 15-for-17 this year.
O'Brien Award winner Stay Thirsty ($4.10, Doug McNair) set the tone when he rallied from third-over at the top of the stretch to win by a head in 1:50 after a 26-second final quarter. He caught 3-to-2 second choice Done Well, who forged a short lead after racing first-over much of the way. "This is always what you dream of when you're growing up watching the race," said McNair. "To be in the race and have one that is legit and low odds is a great feeling."
In the second division, the top three finishers -- all qualfiers for the finals -- were sepearted by less than a length. Wes Delight ($5.70, Corey Callahan) sat in the pocket as Nutcracker Sweet ranged up off cover to challenge pace-setter American History in the stretch. Wes Delight found a seam and split rivals late for a neck victory in 1:50.2
Lather Up enters the 35th North America Cup as the lone unbeaten in 2018 after he avoided a traffic tie-up and surged on the inside to win going away in 1:49.2. Lather Up, the 3-to-5 favorite, seized the moment when pace-setter Lost In Time and first-over challenger County Choice locked wheels near the 1/8th pole.
SPEED CARRIES IN GRADUATE SERIES AT TIOGA
Good form -- and good speed -- proved a winning combination as the Graduate Series took center stage at Tioga Downs last Sunday.
Odds-on favorites Filibuster Hanover (Yannick Gingras), Miso Fast (Tim Tetrick) and Highalator (David Miller) all went wire-to-wire in the $50,000 divisions for 4-year-old pacers.
In the trotting division, Tetrick drove Guardian Angel AS ($5.90) to victory in a lifetime-best 1:52.4 and Miller guided Moonshiner Hanover to a 24-to-1, pocket-sitting upset in 1:53.1.