Favored Sweet Lou to start from 4 in NA Cup
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Last year, Up The Credit, driven by Jody Jamieson for his father, co-owner and trainer Carl Jamieson, won the 2011 Cup as the 2-1 second choice, defeating Roll With Joe and Big Jim in 1:49.3.
This year, Sweet Lou is the prohibitive morning line choice, but the Jamiesons have another major contender in Warrawee Needy, the O'Brien Award winner last year as Canada's top two-year-old colt.
Sweet Lou (PP4, 3-5), trained and co-owned by Ron Burke, boasts an incredibly impressive resume. The son of 2003 Cup winner Yankee Cruiser won 10 of 12 starts last year, along with two runner-up finishes, and concluded his season with a seven and one-half length romp in 1:49 at Woodbine on October 29 in the Breeders Crown in world record fashion, en route to USTA divisional honours and $688,117.
This year, the bay colt, to be driven by Dave Palone, has been even more outstanding, perfect in three starts, including a track and Canadian record performance of 1:47.4 in his elimination as the 2-5 favourite, with Warrawee Needy two and one-quarter lengths back in second.
"Post four gives us both options to race from the back or leave and as the draw came out, I think maybe it looks like we are going to have to push forward and push hard,” said Burke. "It's one of the best fields, I think, assembled for this race in a long time. Warrawee Needy, both Takter horses are excellent, both McIntosh horses are excellent. It's a great field with great drivers. We are going to have to be on top of our game to pull this off.”
Dapper Dude (PP2, 8-1), one of two Cup entrants co-bred, co-owned and trained by Robert McIntosh, won the other elimination in 1:49.3, fending off Time To Roll by a head. It was his fifth win in only nine career starts. Driver John Campbell, who has won a leading six Cups, retains the drive on the son of The Panderosa, ironically the last Cup winner driven by Campbell in 1999.
McIntosh's other Cup hopeful is Thinking Out Loud (PP5, 12-1), a winner in six of his nine starts. The son of Ponder, to be driven by Randy Waples, finished third to Sweet Lou in his elimination.
Warrawee Needy (PP8, 9-2), co-owned and trained by Carl Jamieson, was runner-up to Sweet Lou in last Saturday's elimination in his first start of the year, after becoming sick in mid-May and missing planned starts in the Upper Canada elims and final at Georgian Downs.
Last year, the son of E Dees Cam won nine of 12 outings and starred in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, winning three Gold finals and the Super Final November 12 at Woodbine. Driver Jody Jamieson seeks a third Cup win, after taking the 2007 edition with Tell All and last year's renewal with Up The Credit.
"We were hoping for a little different post,” said Jody Jamieson. "It kind of ties my hands a little bit with what I can do with the eight-hole, but like I have been saying all along, he is a great horse. He is going to overcome it and he will give us his biggest effort.”
Trainer Jimmy Takter will also send out a pair for the Pepsi North America Cup – Simply Business and Time To Roll.
Simply Business (PP10, 25-1), a son of 2005 Cup winner Rocknroll Hanover, won last year's $1 million Metro Pace, while compiling a record of four wins in eight starts and $672,462. A $350,000 yearling purchase in 2010, Simply Business is, however, winless in four starts this year and was fifth to Sweet Lou in his elim. Driver Ron Pierce looks for a third Cup victory, after winning with Total Truth in 2006 and Well Said in 2009.
Time To Roll (PP3, 12-1), another Rocknroll Hanover colt, has won three of only six career starts and last Saturday finished just a head behind Dapper Dude in his elim. Owned and bred by Lothlorien of Cheltenham, Ontario, who has co-owned three previous Cup winners – Red River Hanover (2002), Rocknroll Hanover (2005) and Well Said (2009), Time To Roll will be driven by Andy Miller.
A Rocknroll Dance (PP7, 10-1), one of four Rocknroll Hanover colts in the Cup, is the field's leading money winner with $907,461. Last year, the James Mulinix co-owned and trained colt concluded his season with a victory in the Governors Cup at Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack in Pennsylvania. Earlier, he'd finished second to Sweet Lou in the Breeders Crown and second to Simply Business in the Metro.
This year, he's won one of three outings and was a troubled fifth to Dapper Dude in his elim, yet only one-half length behind the winner. Yannick Gingras will drive.
Pet Rock (PP9, 15-1), the other Rocknroll Hanover offspring, is a four-time winner in nine career starts, including the Art Rooney this year at Yonkers. Trained by Virgil Morgan Jr., Pet Rock, who finished third to Dapper Dude, just a half-length back in his elim, will be driven by Brian Sears, who won the 2005 Cup with Rocknroll Hanover.
Bettors Edge (PP1, 30-1), a son of 2001 Cup winner Bettors Delight, is a two-time winner in 14 starts for trainer Linda Toscano. North America's leading driver, Tim Tetrick, will be looking for his first Cup win with Bettors Edge, who finished fourth to Sweet Lou last Saturday.
State Treasurer (PP6, 20-1), a son of 2002 Horse of the Year Real Desire, qualified for the Cup with a fourth-place finish, only a half-length behind winner Dapper Dude in his elimination. Trained by Dr. Ian Moore, State Treasurer, a four-time winner in 14 outings, will be driven by Dave Miller.
Well Said, the 2009 Cup winner, holds the stake record of 1:48.1 while Hall of Famer Bettors Delight has won the race by the largest margin, four and one-half lengths, in 2001.
Other winners of the Cup, which began in 1984 at Greenwood Raceway, include such champions as Jate Lobell (1987), Precious Bunny (1991), Presidential Ball (1993), Cams Card Shark (1994), Gallo Blue Chip (2000), Rocknroll Hanover (2005), Somebeachsomewhere (2008) and Well Said (2009).
The Cup was raced at Greenwood from 1984-93, followed by Woodbine from 1994-2006. It was held at Mohawk Racetrack for the first time in 2007. The shortest-priced winners, at $2.70, are Jate Lobell and Presidential Ball, while Goalie Jeff, in 1989, provided the highest win payoff, $93.60.
The exceptional card on Saturday also includes the $642,000 Fan Hanover Stakes for three-year-old filly pacers, headed by elim winners American Jewel and Romantic Moment, along with last year's champion, Economy Terror; the $351,000 Goodtimes Trot for three-year-old colt trotters, featuring elim winners Market Share and Knows Nothing, and the $530,000 Elegantimage Stakes for three-year-old filly trotters, with Check Me Out, last year's champion two-year-old in both Canada and the United States, expected to be a prohibitive favourite after her easy elim win.
In addition, the $376,000 Armbro Flight for trotting mares and the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational for older pacers will be part of the glittering undercard.
Post time for the first race is 7:10 pm ET. Post time for the 29th edition of the Cup, the richest pacing event in the world, is 9:40 p.m., with the winner earning $750,000. The Score will air a special one and one-half hour telecast nationally from 8:30-10 p.m. ET.