Brett MacDonald Steps Into The North America Cup Spotlight

Brett MacDonald Steps Into The North America Cup Spotlight

MILTON, June 13, 2024 – When he puts on his burgundy, white and black colours ahead of Saturday evening’s eleventh race at Woodbine Mohawk Park, driver Brett MacDonald will do more than just look the part.

As post time ticks down for the 41st edition of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup, the man with nearly 1,850 wins will have meticulously prepared for the task at hand.

After the walk from the drivers’ room to the paddock, MacDonald will be greeted by his father, longtime trainer Ron MacDonald, and pacer Janelle Granny, the bay colt Brett is teamed with in North America’s pre-eminent race for three-year-old pacers.

By the time the field reaches the racetrack in front of a packed house, he will already be in the zone.

Then, the realization that he is set to contest his first Cup will no doubt sink in. ​

“It is such an amazing opportunity,” said Brett, who finds himself less than $22,000 away from $13 million in lifetime purse earnings. “Not a lot of people get the chance to be in a race this big, so I’m very thankful for this chance.

“To be able to do this with dad – we are always working together – makes it that much more special.”

A prominent force and leading driver across Ontario’s “B” tracks for years, Brett has become a more familiar face at Woodbine Mohawk Park over the last year.

The 27-year-old, who calls Freelton, Ontario, home, drove his first pari-mutuel race in March of 2015, finishing third in a $3,300 race at Rideau Carleton Raceway.

A Future Star Award recipient in 2017, he reached the 1,000-win plateau in what was a career-best year in 2021.

He completed the 2022 campaign with 328 victories (fourth best in Canada) and $2.5 million in purses (10th best in the nation).

Brett, who reached the winner’s circle 277 times in 2023, is closing in on 1,850 victories. 

“I feel very fortunate to have had success so far,” said Brett, who eclipsed $10 million in career purse earnings at Flamboro Downs on January 21, 2023, when he guided Richard Moreau trainee Got Charlie to victory in the first race. “The goal is to always stay consistent and go into each race feeling confident in your abilities. And you always appreciate every trip to the winner’s circle.”

His Cup partner has some impressive credentials of his own.

Bought by Nick Clegg and owned and trained by his wife Betty Jo Clegg, Larry Miller bred the son of Fear The Dragon-Beach Granny in Ohio.

After a third in the $300,000 Ohio Sires Stakes Final last September, Janelle Granny held off a pair of foes to win the opening division of the Ohio Breeders Championship (OBC) in 1:52.2.

Sporting a record of 6-9-1 from 16 starts in 2023, the bay has fashioned a 2-2-0 mark from seven engagements this year.

Janelle Granny, who has recorded $301,379 in career purse earnings, comes into the Cup off a fourth in his elimination race last Saturday.

Purchased for the modest sum of $10,000 at the 2022 Lexington Yearling Sale, the diminutive colt has already beaten the odds.

Following the three Cup elimination races, a draw took place to decide which of the fourth-place finishers would make it to the final.

Cell phones rang and text messages, plenty of them, were exchanged by the connections after it was announced Janelle Granny’s name was drawn. ​

“He is an amazing little horse,” praised Brett. “He’s not big, but he’s a compact, great-looking horse, who is built for speed. In speaking with Nick, he said this horse can go fast and he doesn’t need a lot of space to do it.”

The pairing of Janelle Granny and her Cup driver traces its origins back to the Buckeye State.

“When I was in the U.S. a few years back, I met Nick. I stayed in touch with him after that. When we went to Ohio during the pandemic, he was shoeing for us down there. We got to see him again, so that was nice.

“He asked me about the horse – I thought he might be joking – wanting to know if we would like to have one who was eligible for the North America Cup and to race in it. I said, ‘Sure!’ But I thought he was kidding at first.”

Thankfully, for Brett and Ron, he wasn’t.

And now, they will all band together under the bright lights at Mohawk, hoping for a storybook ending.

The post-time odds will suggest Janelle Granny, saddled with the outside post 10, doesn’t have much of a shot to take all the spoils.

Whatever the odds displayed on the infield tote board are will be meaningless to the man in the race bike.

Mapping out an ideal trip for his 20-1 morning line pacer is the top priority.

“Dad and I don’t talk about driving so much. He lets me do my thing. It is a tough task from the 10-hole, but that’s where we are. If we had been inside, I could have probably got away in the middle.

“Once the wings open, we’ll just react the way we need to and then go on from there.” ​

In a race that showcases several of the sport’s top stars in the sulky, local and beyond, the one wearing burgundy, white and black won’t look out of place.

Instead, he will, as always, look right at home when the red light on the starter car flashes and Janelle Granny puts his nose on the gate.

“He’s got great qualities on and off the racetrack. He knows what his job is, and he knows how to compete. I took him around the track a couple of days ago and after we were done, he stood in the paddock like a perfect gentleman. At the barn, he likes to play. We love being around him.

“He is awesome. To be able to do this with him is so cool.”

Odds are Brett MacDonald won’t forget a second of the Cup mile.

“I am so grateful to Nick and Betty for giving my dad and me such a great horse for this race. We have a lot of people backing us and cheering us on, which means a lot. It is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications

Grace Martin
Grace Martin Communications Specialist, Woodbine Entertainment
Horse Racing - SB
About Woodbine Entertainment

Woodbine Entertainment is the largest horse racing operator in Canada, with Thoroughbred horse racing at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, and Standardbred horse racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Milton. Woodbine Entertaiment also owns and operates HPIbet, Canada’s only betting platform dedicated to horse racing. Woodbine and Mohawk Park are host to several world-class racing events including The King’s Plate, three Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races, and the Pepsi North America Cup. Run without share capital, Woodbine Entertainment has a mandate to financially invest all profit back into the horse racing industry and the 25,000 jobs it supports across Ontario.   

Woodbine Entertainment
555 Rexdale Blvd. Toronto, Ontario.