Workin Ona Mystery, installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite, headlines a field of 10 for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
The 36th edition of Canada’s richest harness race, showcasing the finest three-year-old pacers on the continent, will go postward at 10:14 p.m. (EDT) and will be broadcast live on TSN5 from 10-10:30 p.m. The winner of the Pepsi North America Cup earns $500,000. This year marks the 19th anniversary of Pepsi’s sponsorship of the race.
Post positions were drawn Tuesday at Woodbine Mohawk Park, with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Connor Brown as the Guest Drawmaster.
A total of 18 three-year-old pacers competed in last weekend’s $50,000 eliminations to determine the field of 10 for the $1 million final. Elimination winners earned their connections the right to select their post position for the final.
Elimination winners Workin Ona Mystery (post four) and Bettor's Wish (post three) enter Saturday’s $1 million race with perfect records in 2019.
Trained by 2017 Cup winning trainer Brian Brown, Workin Ona Mystery is three for three this season and cruised to a career-best 1:49 victory in his elimination. The son of Captaintreacherous will team with driver Tim Tetrick, who has won the Pepsi North America Cup twice.
Workin Ona Mystery holds the highest winning percentage in the field with eight wins in nine starts.
A son of Bettor's Delight, Bettor's Wish is one of three Ontario-sired starters in this year’s contest. The Chris Ryder trainee shot up the inside to win his elimination in 1:49.3 and improve to four for four as a sophomore.
New Zealand driving sensation Dexter Dunn will make his Cup debut behind Bettor's Wish.
Award winners Captain Crunch and Stag Party had tough luck at the post-position draw.
Dan Patch Award winner Captain Crunch (post eight) recovered from a first-turn break to finish fifth in his Cup elimination. The Nancy Johansson trainee started his season with impressive back-to-back victories prior to his Cup eliminations.
A son of Captaintreacherous, Captain Crunch was last year’s Breeders Crown and Governor’s Cup champion. Scott Zeron will drive for trainer Johansson.
Casie Coleman trainee Stag Party will have to overcome post 10 for his trainer to win her third Cup. The son of Bettor's Delight has finished third in all three of his starts this season, which comes following an O’Brien Award winning season at age two.
Brian Sears, a two-time Cup winning driver, has landed the assignment for Coleman.
Ron Burke will have double the chances at his second Cup title, as he sends out Captaintreacherous colts De Los Cielos Deo (post two) and Captain Victorious (post five).
De Los Cielos Deo displayed incredible closing speed of a :25 final quarter and :51.2 back half to finish second in his elimination. The Burke student is currently winless in four starts this season after winning five of 10 as a rookie. David Miller, a two-time winner of the Cup, will drive.
Like his stablemate, Captain Victorious finished second in his elimination and is also winless in four starts this season. He paced a :26 final quarter in his elimination to finish second, his best result of the season. Yannick Gingras will drive.
Aflame Hanover (post one) is the underdog story in this year’s Cup. The son of unraced stallion Russell Hanover started on the Pennsylvania Fair Circuit and will now compete in a $1 million race for trainer Linda Schadel and her husband, Tony. The Schadel’s star is winless in nine starts and is coming in off a fifth-place finish in his elimination.
Local trainer Ben Baillargeon sends out Tyga Hanover (post six) in Saturday’s main event. The gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere was a maiden until four starts ago and finished fourth in his elimination to snap a three-race win streak. Sylvain Filion will drive.
Linda Toscano trainee Best In Show (post seven) will give local reinsman Bob McClure the biggest drive of his career. The regally-bred son of Bettors Delight, who finished third in his elimination, has two wins in five starts this season.
Hurrikane Emperor (post nine) is expected to be in the mix for trainer John McDermott. The son of Hurrikane Kingcole finished fourth in his elimination after leading into the stretch. The McDermott trainee has won three of four starts this season and will have Cup winning driver Daniel Dube in the sulky.
The Pepsi North America Cup has been carded on Race 11 on Saturday’s 15-race card.
The North America Cup stakes record is 1:47.4, set by Thinking Out Loud in 2012 and equaled in 2016 by Betting Line. Hall of Famer Bettor's Delight holds the record for the largest margin of victory, 4 1/2 lengths in 2001.
The list of past Cup winners is a who’s who of Standardbred greats, including Jate Lobell (1987), Precious Bunny (1991), Presidential Ball (1993), Cam's Card Shark (1994), Gallo Blue Chip (2000), Rocknroll Hanover (2005), Somebeachsomewhere (2008) and Captaintreacherous (2013).
The shortest-priced winners in Cup history are Jate Lobell and Presidential Ball at $2.70, while Goalie Jeff, in 1989, provided the biggest upset, returning $93.60 for a $2 win bet.
The Cup was raced at Greenwood Raceway from 1984-03, followed by Woodbine Racetrack from 1994-2006. The North America Cup was moved to Mohawk in 2007.
The Cup card wagering menu will feature a $100,000 guaranteed Pick-5, $100,000 All-Stakes Pick-4 and the usual $50,000 Early Pick-4.
The Pepsi North America Cup undercard features the $454,000 Fan Hanover, $330,000 Roses Are Red, $256,000 Armbro Flight, $247,000 Goodtimes and $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup.
Post time for the first of 15 races on the Pepsi North America Cup card is 6:30 p.m.
Here is the Pepsi North America Cup field in post-position order:
1. Aflame Hanover – Andrew McCarthy – Linda Schadel
2. De Los Cielos Deo – David Miller – Ron Burke
3. Bettors Wish – Dexter Dunn – Chris Ryder
4. Workin Ona Mystery – Tim Tetrick – Brian Brown
5. Captain Victorious – Yannick Gingras – Ron Burke
6. Tyga Hanover – Sylvain Filion – Ben Baillargeon
7. Best In Show – Bob McClure – Linda Toscano
8. Captain Crunch – Scott Zeron – Nancy Johansson
9. Hurrikane Emperor – Daniel Dube – John McDermott
10. Stag Party – Brian Sears – Casie Coleman
AE. Air Force Hanover – Yannick Gingras – Brian Brown