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Wes Delight part of deep NA Cup finalists

June 13, 2018

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Trainer Mark Harder says Saturday's Pepsi North America Cup might lack a prohibitive favorite, but it does not suffer from a lack of talent.
"Just because there's not a standout doesn't mean there's not a lot of good horses," said Harder, who will send out Wes Delight in the $1 million event for 3-year-old male pacers at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "There is probably a bunch of them that can win it. No one is running away from anybody, I don't think. It's a deep group."

Wes Delight was one of three North America Cup elimination winners last weekend, along with Lather Up and Stay Hungry. That trio has won 11 of 13 races this year, with no finishes worse than third.

In the eliminations, Wes Delight won by a neck over Nutcracker Sweet in 1:50.2, Stay Hungry won by a head over Done Well in 1:50, and Lather Up won by 2 3/4 lengths over St Lads Neptune in 1:49.2.

"He's been good all along (this year) and he was good again," Harder said about Wes Delight, who has won five of six races this season. "He's just doing his thing and racing great every week."

For his career, Wes Delight has won eight of 17 starts and earned $226,823. The son of Bettor's Delight-Maid West is owned by Rick Phillips, Deena Frost, and Harder.

"He showed a lot of talent last year at 2, but just struggled with his gait a little bit," Harder said earlier this year. As for whether the colt has fulfilled Harder's expectations this year, the trainer said, "He's been what I hoped, more than what I expected. You hope for the best and hope you don't get the worst."

The connections of the elimination winners picked their starting positions for the final and Wes Delight will leave from post No. 3 with driver Corey Callahan. Stay Hungry will start from post two and Lather Up will start from post four.

"They'll race hard; they always do when it's a million dollars," Harder said. "(Wes Delight) is so handy; he can leave, he can duck, he can sit. He's a complete racehorse. If he has a good healthy week, it's up to the driver to figure it out."

Stay Hungry, trained by Tony Alagna and driven by Doug McNair, was the O'Brien Award winner as Canada's best 2-year-old male pacer in 2017. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-My Little Dragon has won one of two races this year and seven of 11 lifetime, totaling $561,664 in purses for owners Brad Grant and the late Irwin Samelman. He was the 2017 Breeders Crown champion.

Alagna, who won the North America Cup in 2013 with Captaintreacherous, also sends out American History in the North America Cup final. American History was third in his elimination, setting the fractions from post seven before finishing three-quarters of a length behind Wes Delight. The son of American Ideal-Perfect Touch has won four of eight career races and will have Yannick Gingras in the sulky.

Lather Up, who set multiple track records in Ohio last year at age 2 before being sidelined because of illness and a near-fatal reaction to antibiotics, is a perfect 5-for-5 this season for driver Montrell Teague and trainer Clyde Francis. The homebred son of I'm Gorgeous-Pocket Comb is owned by Gary and Barbara Iles. He has won nine of 12 career races and earned $152,265.

The North America Cup field also includes Lost In Time, who was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer in the U.S., and Nutcracker Sweet, both from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter. David Miller, who has won the past two North America Cup finals, will drive Nutcracker Sweet. Scott Zeron will pilot Lost In Time, whose ownership group includes professional wrestling legend Ric Flair.

Over the past 10 years, three 2-year-old divisional champions have returned the following year and captured the North America Cup: Captaintreacherous in 2013, Sportswriter in 2010, and Somebeachsomewhere in 2008. All three received both Dan Patch and O'Brien awards at age 2.

Done Well lost for the first time in six career races when he finished behind Stay Hungry in his elimination. Brian Brown, who won last year's North America Cup with Fear The Dragon, trains Done Well. Two-time North America Cup-winner Tim Tetrick will drive the colt, who won four races last year before being sidelined by injury.

The 35th edition of Canada's richest harness race, showcasing the finest 3-year-old pacers on the continent, will go postward at 10:40 p.m. (EDT) and will be broadcast live on TSN2 from 10-11 p.m.

The North America Cup undercard features the $415,000 Fan Hanover for 3-year-old pacing fillies, $370,000 Roses Are Red for pacing mares, $250,000 Armbro Flight for trotting mares, $266,000 Goodtimes for 3-year-old trotters and the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational for older pacers.

Post time for the first of 15 races on the Pepsi North America Cup card is 6:30 p.m. (Ken Weingartner/USTA)

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