Mohawk Offers Stellar Card on Saturday Night

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Ted Black

June 15th, 2017

This Saturday night harness racing fans will certainly focus their attention north of the border as Mohawk Racetrack in Toronto, Canada, hosts the latest edition of the $1 million North America Cup final for three-year-old pacing colts on a night in which the track will also offer a host of other finals and several superb overnight events.

Saturday's third race is the $250,000 Armbro Flight final for trotting fillies and mares and much of the attention will be on the two elimination winners who will start alongside one another. Defending division champion Hannelore Hanover (Yannick Gingras) will start from post four following her 1:52.2 elimination score last weekend, while Charmed Life (Philip-Louis Roy) arrives off her 1:53.1 elim tally, her fourth win in seven outings this year.

Hannelore Hanover will likely be the 4-5 choice in this event, while Charmed Life should be in the 3-1 range. But those looking for a price could opt for Broadway Donna or Caprice Hill. Broadway Donna was last year's champion three-year-old filly trotter, but she has fared moderately in four-year-old events this season for trainer Jim Campbell. Caprice Hill has won once in two starts this year after a solid sophomore campaign in which she sported an 8-5-0 slate and $630,000 banked from 15 starts and was the second best in her division behind 'Donna'.

Then two races later in the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup for older pacers, the razor sharp Dr J Hanover will put his two-race win streak on the line from post eight against Nirvana Seelster, McWicked, Always At My Place and Great Vintage. Dr J Hanover has won his last two starts in impressive fashion, including a Canadian record 1:46.4 score two starts back and then a 1:48.3 romp at Tioga Downs last week. Nirvana Seelster was a sharp Preferred winner over the track last week, while Always At My Place has thumped conditioned foes in his last two outings and is rapidly rounding into peak form.

Then just past the midway point of the card, Mohawk will present the $440,000 Fan Hanover final for three-year-old filly pacers and this event could eventually go a long way toward determining division honors.

Elim winners Idyllic Beach (Gingras) and Tequila Monday (Brian Sears) will vie for the favorite's role when they leave from posts four and five, respectively. Idyllic Beach, last year's juvenile filly pacer champion, has won both of her starts this year, while Tequila Monday has won three of five outings and been second in each of her other two tries. She owns the biggest win of the year to date courtesy of her triumph in the $150,000 Lismore final at Yonkers Raceway.

But those for a price have several options in this affair. Bettors Up was a solid second to Tequila Monday last week and gets the rail, while Agent Q, one of last year's top juveniles and Roaring To Go, a winner seven times in 14 outings last year for trainer Kevin Lare. All three have serious upset chances.

One race later the focus will be on the older trotters in the $250,000 Good Times final. Enterprise (Tim Tetrick) merits the favorite's role since the Marcus Melander trainee has won all four of his starts this year and all five of his lifetime outings. International Moni prevailed in her seasonal debut last week at 15-1, so onlookers should be wary of playing him at a short price. Jake, Seven And Seven and Guardian Angel As all merit upset chances, especially Seven And Seven, who was fourth as the 4-5 choice in his seasonal debut one week ago and could prevail at 8-1 or higher.

Then one race later in the 11th, the top older pacing mares in the sport will clash in the $375,000 Roses Are Red final and much of the attention will be focused on the three elim winners who will start alongside one another.

Defending division champion Lady Shadow (Gingras) has won all three of her starts this year, including last week's elim in 1:50.2 first over into a fast back half. Nike Franco N (Tetrick) won her elim in 1:49.2 and poses the biggest upset threat to the reigning champ. She was second to 'Shadow' in the $150,000 Betsy Ross final at Harrah's Philadelphia two starts back. Frost Damage Blues won her elim last week at 6-1 and will likely be an even higher price this weekend as she draws in against the two best pacing mares in the sport.

Then one race later in the main event, the $1 million North America Cup final for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, all three elim winners will garner much of the support.

Downbytheseaside won his elim in 1:50.4 to remain perfect in four starts on the year, but catch driver David Miller opted off of him to take Fear The Dragon for the final. Fear The Dragon has won all five of his starts this year, including last week's elim in 1:50 when he jumped a fallen head number in deep stretch and veered out sharply. But the most impressive elim winner last week was Huntsville (Tetrick), who prevailed handily in 1:49.1 for trainer Ray Schnittker and looms the solid favorite off of that performance.

Of course, those not willing to accept a chalky result to the North America Cup final could opt for one of the three runner-ups, Classic Pro, Filisbuster Hanover or Western Hill. Filibuster Hanover was second at 12-1 in his elim, while both Classic Pro and Western Hill were 40-1 or higher and will likely be in that price range again this weekend.

Division honors and Maryland-bred horse of the year title contenders Lady Shadow, Tequila Monday and Classic Pro will all look for lucrative scores on the card. Downbytheseaside currently tops the Hambletonian Society National Top 10 poll, but several horses in the top 10 - including fellow NA Cup finalists Huntsville and Fear The Dragon - will be looking to use a victory in one of the finals to vault past the current leader if he has a hiccup in the main event.