Lather Up proved he was a step above his competition by capturing the 35th edition of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on Saturday night (June 16) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Trained by Clyde Francis, Lather Up and driver Montrell Teague powered forward from the beginning and took no prisoners en route to a four-length score in 1:48.1.
"It's a sensational feeling," said co-owner and breeder Gary Iles. "To come away with a win, it doesn't get any better than this."
The win was sweet redemption for trainer Francis and driver Teague after they came up just short in the 2015 edition with Wiggle It Jiggleit.
Lather Up fired from post four to the early lead, but was overtaken at the opening quarter (:26.3) by Done Well and driver Tim Tetrick. Teague wasted little time retaking the lead in the second quarter and had his charge showing the way through a :54.1 opening half.
"I definitely wanted to retake," said Teague. "(Tetrick) could have went on and taken a bigger fraction for the half but I was trying to go back to the front and back the half down as much as I could."
Nutcracker Sweet and driver David Miller were first-up rounding the far turn, supplying cover for a perfectly placed second-over Stay Hungry and driver Doug McNair.
Lather Up reached three-quarters in a sizzling 1:21.3 to lead into the lane. Two-hole sitter Done Well and an off-cover Stay Hungry fired their best shot in the stretch, but were no match for the 4-5 mutuel favorite.
Lather Up powered home in :26.3 for his biggest victory and sixth win in as many starts this season. Done Well finished second, while Lost In Time and driver Scott Zeron rallied from eighth, placed fourth-over at three-quarters, to grab third. Stay Hungry finished fourth.
"It didn't go the way I thought it was going to be," said Teague. "I thought everyone was going to be a lot more aggressive for a million-dollar race and I would come off cover, but there was only about three of them left out there and I was one of them."
Owned and bred by Gary and Barbara Iles, Lather Up’s beginning comes from a semen mix-up during breeding season and a near-death experience during birth. The true underdog is sired by-then Ohio stallion I'm Gorgeous, who has since returned to racing.
Lather Up made big noise during his rookie season, mainly in Ohio with the Francis trainee taking four of seven starts, including a stunning track record performance of 1:51.1 at Scioto Downs.
The talented colt wasted no time making an impact this season, posting a 1:50 track record mile at Miami Valley in his second start of the campaign on May 6.
Lather Up now holds a career record of 10 wins in 13 starts. The $1 million classic victory increases his seasonal earnings to $593,000 and career earnings to $667,100.
Winning trainer Francis is part of the George Teague Stable operation, which won the Pepsi North America Cup in 2006 with Total Truth.
A $2 win ticket on Lather Up returned $3.20. The $2 exacta with Done Well returned $17.20, while the trifecta with Lost In Time paid $133.20. A $1 winning-superfecta (Stay Hungry) returned $220.15. (WEG)