They may have set the bar high in 2008 when they teamed up in the Pepsi North America Cup, but Paul MacDonell and Brent MacGrath are hoping to recreate magic in 2014. The trainer/driver duo amazed thousands at Mohawk when they captured the 25th edition of the race with Somebeachsomewhere and this year they team up with Melmerby Beach, a son of the great pacer.
Melmerby Beach won once in five starts as a two-year-old and resurfaced for his three-year-old campaign in a qualifier on May 2. Off the one trial, the colt was victorious in a conditioned event at Woodbine on May 8 in 1:51.4.
However, sickness would prevent Melmerby Beach from making another start in advance of the stakes race raced named for his sire this past Saturday. Despite the slight change of plans, he finished third behind He's Watching, the fastest winner of the three Somebeachsomewhere divisions.
"He really kind of needed the start between his first start and the other night, but I thought he raced pretty good,” said MacDonell. "I don't know if he was just at peak condition for that race, but with that start and going into this race (the elimination) he should be getting pretty close to it.”
Melmerby Beach will leave from post six, in Race 5, on Saturday, the second of three eliminations for the North America Cup. That field includes Somebeachsomewhere division winner Always B Miki and a pair of second-place finishers in McWicked and Lets Drink On It.
"It looks pretty snug, it is a competitive field with Holloway's horse (Always B Miki) in there,” said MacDonell. "It will probably set up for a pretty competitive race and if he is back to where we think he can be he will be competitive as they are.”
Last year was the first appearance for Somebeachsomewhere as a sire in the North America Cup. His most notable son to date, Captaintreacherous, captured the Cup en route to earning over $2 million on the season.
MacDonell said he is happy to have another Cup hopeful and for it to be a son of "The Beach” is an added bonus.
"It is special and especially with a son of his, until we get there it is a bit stressed, but if we get there it will be a nice feeling,” said MacDonell, also noting the parallels between "The Beach” and "Melmerby”. "They have a lot of similar qualities, they are both top gaited horses, they both want to race and all those things add up.”
The 2008 Cup victory for MacDonell was his first North America Cup in his eighth try, since then he has had two attempts to regain Cup glory, finishing third in 2010 behind Piece Of The Rock and seventh in 2011 with Eighteen.
Capturing his first North America Cup meant a lot to MacDonell and he would love to do again. "(Winning) it certainly takes that burden off, I don't know how many tries I had at it before I actually won it, and once you get it it's kind of really nice and just makes you crave more.”--By Mark McKelvie/Woodbine Entertainment