If recent form is any indication, Magnum J will be flying through the stretch in Saturday's $1 million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack. He will try to make history and land in the winner's circle.
Magnum J, last year's Battle of Waterloo champion, will try to become the first horse to win the North America Cup from post 10 since the event moved from Greenwood Raceway to Woodbine in 1994 and then to Mohawk in 2007, a span of 22 races. He enters the Cup off a fourth-place finish in his elimination, where he started from post nine and rallied from last place with a :26.2 final quarter-mile to end up 1 1/4 lengths shy of winner Boston Red Rocks.
His final quarter was four-fifths of a second better than any other horse in the field.
A week earlier in a division of the Somebeachsomewhere at Mohawk, Magnum J started from post 10 and rallied from last place in the final quarter-mile, this time in :25.4, to finish fourth. He paced his back half in :53.
Magnum J is 15-1 on the North America Cup morning line. Betting Line, who won the first of last week's two Cup eliminations in a career-best 1:49.1, is the 5-2 favorite for trainer Casie Coleman and driver David Miller. Boston Red Rocks, who won his elim in 1:50.3, is the 3-1 second choice, with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Steve Elliott.
"It would be good if he could be a little closer to the front end; I think he would still close good," said trainer Gregg McNair, who owns Magnum J with Tony Lawrence and William Brown. "He's not likely going to get that chance Saturday, so we'll probably have to race him the same way as the last two starts.
"We'll just hope they go big fractions and something opens up and he maybe gets good money somehow. We'll see how things go."
Magnum J won two of four races last year, with his final start coming in the Battle of Waterloo on Aug. 3 at Grand River Raceway. Soreness issues forced McNair to quit with the horse for the season, but the son of Big Jim-Jamirotoy trained back well this year.
He finished seventh in his seasonal debut because of a breathing issue, but bounced back to win a division of the Ontario Sire Stakes in 1:53.2 at The Raceway at Western Fair District. That victory was followed by his two starts from the outside posts in the Somebeachsomewhere and North America Cup elimination.
McNair selected Magnum J, a C$10,000 yearling purchase, at the 2014 Forest City Sale.
"I wanted to try a Big Jim because he was a heck of a speed horse himself," McNair said. "Magnum J, he kind of caught my eye a little bit. He's been a good buy. It's too bad that we had to shut him down last year, and when he's real good this year he's not drawn good.
"I really don't know how good he is. But he's a fast horse.
Doug McNair, Gregg's son, is the regular driver of Magnum J. The McNairs will try to join the father-son team of driver Jody Jamieson and trainer Carl Jamieson to win the North America Cup. The Jamiesons accomplished the feat in 2011 with Up The Credit.
"It's not impossible," Gregg McNair said. "It seems like that right now, but that's why they have the race.
"He's got some other stakes this year," the trainer added, "but none for a million dollars." (HRC)