Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday: Road to the North America Cup

Each Friday I have enlisted the help of the Harness Edge's (and's) Greg to help us with the Road to the Cup. Greg is a huge fan and follows the sport as close as anyone I know.

Andrew Cohen on his blog recently mentioned he loved seeing updates on Cup horses and who is making noise, who looks like a contender, a pretender and champ. I do too. As I have mentioned before, everyone knows the Florida Derby, the Wood, the Blue Grass. They are watched, analyzed and talked about. We need this in harness racing. The Cup website put out by Woodbine is good, and there are other resources out there. But we simply do not push this concept. On this website, through people like Greg, myself and all other fans I would like to do this for all major stakes. We will have a Road to the Meadowlands Pace, the Hambo, the Jug. I think it's fun.

Anyway, each Friday we will enlist Greg to give us an update on horses, preps and whatever else we can find.

The "big horse" Somebeachsomewhere is still number one. Muhammad Ali in 1975 did not drop as title holder because he took a few months off. This horse is a monster, and will remain number one until he gets knocked off. I have a soft spot for this horse as well. He is owned by a small stable, and they are absolutely electrified in having a shot at greatness. This is in no way a knock of the big stables; they are great for the game and deserve to play and have success - we'll save the class warfare for TV commercials in the US election in the fall. But there is something about a small town in Nova Scotia pulling for a horse that to me is harness racing. I wish them very well.

Here is Greg's Friday report. Thanks for doing it Greg, and great job:

With every passing day, the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup, which will once again be raced at Mohawk, draws closer. Some North America Cup horses have already hit the track for races while others are qualifying or getting ready to.

Our top rated horse, Somebeachsomewhere, arrived in Ontario to a great deal of fanfare, and then went a big training trip on Friday morning. Nothing’s changed, he’s still the one to beat.

A pair of talented Duane Marfisi trainees, the 2007 Woodrow Wilson winner Dali, and his partner On The Brink, will be back qualifying within the next couple of weeks at Mohawk after spending the winter in New Jersey with Marfisi shuttling back and forth to take care of his pair of stars.

There is nothing new on the Duneside Perch or Moon Beam fronts or the Carl Jamieson/Santanna Blue Chip front. As was already posted, Carl’s horse Roberts Rage is battling for his life after falling ill. I’d like to wish all the best to the connections of that talented horse.

The George Teague barn has been sending a bunch of NA Cup horses to the gate recently. Idle Hour captured the final of the Robert J. Suslow at the Meadowlands despite stalled cover. Badlands Nitro, who is somewhat of an unknown coming into the season, but showed immense talent in Delaware last year, qualified in 1:52.2 with a last quarter in 26.4 on Thursday at The Meadowlands.

Fellow NA Cup eligible Deuce Seelster (trained by Darren McCall) was fifth in that qualifier that Badlands Nitro was the winner of, and our final top ten horse, Sand Shooter, is entered to qualify on Saturday morning at Scioto Downs.

Now, as far as some others you may not know or we don’t have rated, Anderlecht (trainer Therese Vrablic) was an impressive winner at Woodbine on Monday night, scoring in 1:51.4 with a last quarter in 25.3 and a back-half in the 52 second range. A couple of others, Real Tough (trainer Trevor Warwick) and Blue Claw (trainer Mark Ford) battled in a non-winners of two event on Thursday night at The Meadowlands, with Real Tough coming out the winner in 1:51.4 with a last quarter in 25.4.

Finally, a couple more NA Cup horses are in the Diplomat Series opener at Woodbine on Friday night. Lisfinny (trainer Bob McIntosh), who has seen his stock rise and then fall after a poor showing in the Youthful Series, won a non-winners of two event after that and is looking for better things in this series. Shadow Play (trainer Ian Moore) is coming in from the Maritimes off a 13-length victory at the Charlottetown Driving Park and Entertainment Centre.

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