Somebeachsomewhere, Graduate contested
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The road to the Pepsi North America Cup made a final stop on Saturday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park for the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes.
A group of 28 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings competed over three $60,000 divisions with 19 of the 28 competitors eligible to the Pepsi North America Cup.
The first division saw Burning Midnight and driver Trevor Henry pull off a 28-1 stunner in a wild finish that had six-horses across the track.
Nutcracker Sweet, the 6/5 favorite, cleared early-leader Hidden Delight entering the backstretch and led the field through middle-half fractions of :54.2 and 1:22.1. The speedy Summer Travel left from post-ten and was parked the entire mile, grinding away first-over, while eventual winner Burning Midnight was in that outside flow sitting ninth and fourth-over turning for home.
In the stretch, Hidden Delight popped from the two-hole and took the lead, but couldn't hold off rivals on his outside. Simple Kinda Man angled from a buried spot and came flying, but the fastest of them all was Burning Midnight, who paced home in :27 to hit the wire first in 1:50
Simple Kinda Man was second, while Grand Teton got third despite a quick mid-stretch break. Hidden Delight settled for fourth.
A gelded son of Mach Three, Burning Midnight came into Saturday's contest off a third-place finish in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event for his season debut. The Corey Giles trainee went three for eight during his rookie campaign, posting a mark of 1:51.3.
The Somebeachsomewhere victory gives Giles his first career Grand Circuit score.
"It feels awesome," said Giles post-race. "I told Trevor (Henry) he can go for a piece, just keep him brave and when you use him he'll pace hard down to the wire."
Burning Midnight now has $135,701 in career-earnings for owners Brad Gray and Denise Guerriero, who will be making the starting fee payment next Saturday to take a shot at the Pepsi North America Cup.
"He's in." said Giles.
Burning Midnight paid $59.10 to win.
Lather Up remained undefeated in 2018 with an easy victory in the second Somebeachsomewhere division.
Driven by Montrell Teague, Lather Up got 1/9 favourite-respect and called all the shots. The son of Im Gorgeous posted fractions of :27, :55.4 and 1:23.4, before pacing off on his rivals and winning in 1:50.
St Lads Neptune delivered a strong final-quarter charge to finish second beat a length and a quarter, while Scouts Report and Stock were six-plus lengths back rounding out the top-four.
Trained by Clyde Francis, Lather Up turned many heads with an incredible 1:49.1 victory last week in his Woodbine Mohawk Park debut and Teague felt he was just as good Saturday.
"He did it just as easy as last week and plugs were still in, so it's looking good for next week."
Lather Up is now four for four as a three-year-old and eight for 11 overall in his career. Saturday's score increases his career-earnings to $142,100 for owners Gary and Barbara Iles.
Teague, who finished second in the 2016 Pepsi North America Cup with Wiggle It Jiggleit, is ready for another chance at Canada's richest race.
"We'll be prepared with him, but the pressure is going to be on like always. I don't think I'm going to get as easy as trip as I've been given the horse the last couple times, but we'll figure out."
A $2 win ticket on Lather Up returned $2.20.
The final division was captured by Jimmy Freight, who is not eligible to the Pepsi North America Cup
Driven by Louis Philippe Roy, Jimmy Freight was fired out to the lead and never looked back. The Richard Moreau trainee posted fractions of :26., :55.2 and 1:22.4, before pacing home in :27.3 to win by four and a half lengths in 1:50.2.
Metro Pace champion Lost In Time was forced to come first-up and struggled on the far turn. The Jimmy Takter trainee lost significant ground on the leader, but kept battling in the lane and fought off rivals to finish second.
When You Dance finished third, Chocolate Swirl was fourth.
Owned by Adriano Sorella, Jimmy Freight is now three for four this season with all three wins by more than three-lengths. The son of Sportswriter was not paid into the Pepsi North America Cup.
"Last year he was a really nice horse and he wasn't really staked to anything when I bought him, so we had to stick to the OSS," said Sorella. "This year I kind of staked him okay, I was a little bit worried about staking him to the NA Cup, but he's been racing really good, so I'm kind of excited.
"I've spent a lot of money on staking in the past and I wish I would've staked him to it, but there is a lot of nice horses...I won't take anything away from him, but I like how he's been this year."
Jimmy Freight now has 10 wins and a career-bankroll of $264,752. He paid $5.10 to win.
The entry box for the Pepsi North America Cup eliminations closes Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m.
The second leg of the Graduate Series for four-year-old pacers and trotters also took place on Saturday's card. A group of 15 pacers were split into two $63,500 divisions, while an overflow field of 12 trotters met in a single $95,250 division.
Miso Fast returned to Mohawk Park for the first-time since last year's Pepsi North America Cup and walked away a Graduate Series pacing division winner.
The Virgil Morgan Jr. trainee and driver Tim Tetrick made a third-quarter first-up bid from fourth to confront and rush by race-favourite Lawrencetown Beach.
Miso Fast finished off his mile with a :26.3 last-quarter to win by a length and a half in 1:50.2. Lawrencetown Beach was second, while Photobombr Hanover was fourth placed third after Bags To Riches was disqualified from third for causing interference.
"I thought there was going to be a little more speed than there was really and there wasn't and I was kind of stuck first up," said Tetrick post-race.
"Going around the last turn I was watching Burke's horse (Lawrencetown Beach) on the front and he always slobs a little bit in the turn and I thought maybe my horse with his quick foot could get around him and he did."
Racing for Winchester Baye Acres LLC, Miso Fast is now two for six with $44,755 earned this season. His Graduate division triumph gives him nine wins in his career and bumps his lifetime earnings to nearly $700,000.
Miso Fast paid $8 to win.
The second pacing division was another victory for Tetrick, as he shot up the rail to win with Maroma Beach.
The Ron Burke trainee was sent to the lead by Tetrick and posted a :26.3 opener. Blood Line, the race-favorite, quickly moved third to first entering the backstretch and led through panels of :55.1 and 1:22.3.
In the stretch, Blood Line battled with Beckhams Z Tam, who had been grinding away first-up. Maroma Beach and Tetrick got an open lane up the inside to make it a three-horse battle and prevailed by a neck in 1:50.1.
Blood Line held for second over Beckhams Z Tam.
Maroma Beach's victory was a big rebound effort after a rough-mile in the Confederation Cup on May 20.
"Burke is good at that, they can get beat up one week and the next week they turn the page real quick," said Tetrick. "He's got a very good knack to getting them back on racing form and this horse he doesn't remember anything from last week and bounced back very good."
Maroma Beach is now three for eight this season with over $60,000 earned for the ownership group of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, JandT Silva Purnel & Libb and Howard Taylor. His victory Saturday gives him eight for his career and pushes him over the $100,000 earnings mark.
Maroma Beach paid $29.10 to win.
The Graduate Series trotting division saw a talented-field of 12 squaring off.
Dunbar Hall and driver Jody Jamieson rallied by rivals to win in 1:53 despite sitting 11that the half.
Ariana G made a second-quarter move to the lead and posted fractions of :55.1 and 1:25 to lead her male counterparts into the lane. The superstar trotting mare didn't have her best on Saturday and was swallowed up by rivals in the lane.
Dunbar Hall, who was eighth and fourth-over turning for home, unleashed a :26.4 final-quarter to grab his fifth win of the season. Achilles Duharas finished second, while Top Flight Angel was third and Bills Man fourth.
Trained by Stephanie Jamieson, Dunbar Hall turned the tables in the second leg of the Graduate after finish second in the opening leg on May 19 at The Meadowlands.
Jody Jamieson was confident about Saturday's start after the close call in the series opener.
"Just the turn of foot he had (at The Meadowlands), I think it was really evident on the replay and even for people at home watching him," said Jody Jamieson following the race. "I got a lot of texts and comments about how explosive his turn of foot was and I thought if I got any kind of clean trip I had a shot.
"Obviously I was a long way back and everything had to work out for him to win tonight, but he was very strong and hopefully he just continues on."
Owned by Carl Jamieson and George Harrison, Dunbar Hall is five for nine this season and has surpassed $100,000 in earnings. His career numbers now sit at 10 wins and $232,679 earned.
A $2 win ticket on Dunbar Hall returned $18.
Live racing resumes Monday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:30 p.m.
Mark McKelvie - Woodbine Communications