It's like déjà vu all over again for the connections of Hayden Hanover as they prepare to watch their colt in Saturday's $1 million Pepsi North America Cup at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
The Julie Miller-trained Hayden Hanover finished third last week in his North America Cup elimination, which was won by Stay Hungry, and will start Saturday's final from post 9. His elimination finish and draw for the final were nearly identical to his trip to Mohawk in September for the Metro Pace, when Hayden Hanover finished third in an elimination won by Stay Hungry and started the final from post 10.
Despite his unfavorable Metro starting spot, which produced a track-low 4.4 percent winners last year, Hayden Hanover finished second to Lost In Time, so his connections might hope for the déjà vu to continue.
"Your starting point is only a position," said Miller, who will watch her husband Andy drive Hayden Hanover in Saturday's North America Cup final. "If Andy can maneuver a nice trip I hope we can take advantage of it. It's a deep field, a lot of nice horses, and I think it's going to come down to the trip."
Hayden Hanover, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the millionaire Hana Hanover, has started three times this year and posted a second and a third. For his career, the colt has won two of 14 races and hit the board a total of 11 times to earn $303,992. He is owned by Pinske Stables and Jim Simpson.
Last year, Hayden Hanover had the fastest winning mile of the season for a 2-year-old male pacer thanks to his 1:50 score in a division of the International Stallion Stakes. In addition to finishing second in the Metro, he was runner-up in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes championship.
Hayden Hanover remained in Canada following his North America Cup elimination rather than returning to the Millers' base in New Jersey. He also remained in Canada last year for the Metro.
"Last year he had a good experience up there, so I'm OK with leaving him up there for the week," Miller said. "He's good in the fact that he takes care of himself. He's a good eater, he loves the field, and he's an easy horse to jog and train, so I'm not on pins and needles in that respect. I have a lot of confidence in how he is up in Canada."
Although post 9 at Woodbine Mohawk Park has produced only eight wins in 156 pacing races this year (5.1 percent), Miller is happy for the opportunity to experience the North America Cup with Hayden Hanover.
"It's an honor just to make the final," Miller said. "It's a magical day up there in Canada. If we can have some success in it, it will even be better. We just need a lot of luck, a lot of racing luck."
Andy Miller hopes Hayden Hanover's versatility can be a benefit on Saturday.
"He can leave, or like on Saturday, I raced him off of cover and he was good that way," he said. "It's not like he's one dimensional. It will be a great race."
Lather Up, Stay Hungry and Wes Delight won last week's North America Cup eliminations. That trio has won 11 of 13 races this year to lead a deep group into the final. Lather Up, who is unbeaten in five races this year, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. (Ken Weingartner/USTA)