"Out of the nine harness blogs out there I think the Pocket-blog is easily in the top eight" began Pittsburgh's Greg Reinhart, "and I am thrilled to do the Cup Report again this year."
Thanks for the props Greg, and we are happy to have you.
The $1.5M Cup is just a month and a half away. Last year was completely different than this season as we had a huge standout and a couple of others that looked like some stock. Our final top three prediction missed the exotics, but was pretty decent as Somebeach, Art Official and Santanna Blue Chip all made the final and raced fairly well. If I were making an odds line this year, which I will soon, I do not know who I would have as chalk, and I would not at all be surprised if the winner comes from outside the contender list. There are no standouts this year thus far.
So, off to our cub reporter Greg and his first edition of the 2009 North America Cup Contender list:
With Mohawk recently opened, you know that the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup is just around the corner. This year, the event has been moved back two weeks later than it had been in the past, meaning that the eliminations will take place on June 20 and the final will be held on June 27. That has helped the nominations go way up this year, as 133 colts are still eligible. This week, we’ll take a look at my initial top ten, which will be revised as the weeks go along and these horses qualify and prep for the event.
My number one prospect is probably everyone else’s, the Breeder’s Crown champion Well Said. This son of Western Hanover-Must See is well-bred, in top hands (Steve Elliott/Ron Pierce) and seemed to only be getting better as the year went along last year, culminating in his Breeder’s Crown triumph. According to reports, he will be qualifying for the first time this week.
Coming in second is Major In Art, last year’s Woodrow Wilson and Metro Pace winner. When the son of Art Major swept those two events last year, he became only the second two-year old to do so, joining Grinfromeartoear in 1998. He danced every dance last year, picking up a third in the Governor’s Cup and a fourth in the Breeder’s Crown after those events, and is getting a new trainer this year, Noel Daley.
Third on the list is Art Colony, a son of the great Artsplace. Despite not taking to the track until September, Art Colony quickly developed and was second in both the Governor’s Cup and the Breeder’s Crown, which helped him earn over $423,000. He is trained by the always-dangerous Casie Coleman.
Ontario-sired Nebupanezzar, the only two-year old to earn over $1 million last year, comes in at number four. Nebupanezzar not only had a great year in the province, but also chased down Art Colony for the victory in the Governor’s Cup at Woodbine. He is trained by multiple O’Brien Award winner Bob McIntosh, who is looking for his first win in Canada ’s richest harness race.
Occupying the number five slot is Dial Or Nodial. A son of Western Ideal, Dial Or Nodial was last year’s New Jersey Sire Stakes champion at both the Meadowlands at Freehold, and then picked up two victories later in the year at the Red Mile to go with a third in the Breeder’s Crown and a fourth in the Governor’s Cup. He hangs his harness bag in the stable of Jim Campbell.
Sixth is Sheer Desire, who equaled Somebeachsomewhere’s world record of 1:49.3 for a two-year old pacing colt last year at the Red Mile. That was one of three wins on the year for the son of Real Desire, who is trained by the powerful Ron/Mickey Burke combination.
Number seven is Vertigo Hanover . A son of 1999 North America Cup winner The Panderosa, Vertigo Hanover was ready to roll last year early on as he won a division of the Niatross at the Meadowlands and his Woodrow Wilson elimination before coming in third in the final. He returned to action last week, with a 1:52.3 win in a conditioned event at the Meadowlands, and finished second in the Berry's Creek elim this week. He is trained by Dewey Marfisi, who sent out Dali in the Cup last year.
Straight Shooting is in eighth place on my list. This Western Terror colt was victorious in the Metro consolation and a division of the Nassagaweya Stakes at Mohawk last year and for his three-year old campaign, he has been moved to the barn of trainer Casie Coleman.
Annieswesterncard checks in at number nine on my list. This Western Hanover gelding banked $224,000 and won six times last year, including a 1:50.3 victory at Indiana Downs. He was the favourite for the Metro Pace last year, but wound up finishing third to Major In Art. He is conditioned by Joe Seekman, who sent out millionaire Art Official last year.
Tenth this week is Chasin Racin. Another son of The Panderosa, Chasin Racin has already been quite active this year, as he swept the Matt’s Scooter Series at the Meadowlands earlier this season, capping it off with a 1:51.1 performance in the final. He was given some time off after that, but qualified back in 1:53.4 on April 23 at the Meadowlands. He is trained by George Teague, who won the Cup in 2006 with Total Truth.
Some other colts just below the top ten include Teague trainee Barber Pole, a fast son of Badlands Hanover who won his first start of the year in 1:51.4 at Harrah’s Chester last week; Schoolkids, a son of I Am A Fool who won $212,000 last year at took a track record mark of 1:51 flat at Vernon Downs, and Best Dream Seeker, Cambest colt who won three times, including Grand Circuit race at The Red Mile, last year.
For more on the North America Cup, including video, interviews and more please visit Northamericacup.com.