MILTON, June 10, 2023 – Christchurch, Fulton, Its My Show and Confederate will arrive at next Saturday’s $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for 3-year-old male pacers at Woodbine Mohawk Park in winning form after taking their respective $50,000 eliminations on Saturday night.
If the quartet of eliminations are any indication of what’s in store for the Cup final, it will certainly be a night to remember.
In the curtain-raising Cup elimination, there was drama soon after the start when 1-2 Voukefalas took some awkward steps around the first turn before settling back into stride. Moment Is Here assumed command through an opening panel in :27.1 before Ervin Hanover struck front and took his seven rivals through a half in :55.0, as Dexter Dunn, in rein to Christchurch, sat a patient third. Rounding the turn for home, Christchurch loomed a major threat to the pacesetters and dashed by them in early stretch to take the lead. Voukefalas, with Jordan Stratton in the bike, came calling with a powerful late brush, but had to settle for second, a head back. Moment Is Here was third and Koipi Luwak fourth.
The final time was 1:48.4.
“I trained his mother (Darlinonthebeach),” said winning trainer Nancy Takter. “She was one of my favourite horses that I’ve ever trained so there were a lot of high hopes when he came into my barn. I actually watched him foal on their foal cam, so he’s always had a special place in my heart. You see how big he is, he’s huge. Last year, we just took our time with him, taught him how to race a little bit. He has a great set of lungs, a great gait, so he has all the tools to be great.”
Christchurch paid $9.50 for the win.
Owned by Diamond Creek Racing, Farhi Standardbreds Corp, and Spreydon Racing, the son of Always B Miki is now 4-1-0 from nine starts.
In the second elimination, Fulton, with Dexter Dunn calling the shots, blasted off the gate and took the lead with ease, as Ammo settled into second, followed by Annapolis Hanover and Redwood Hanover.
Reaching the opening quarter in a snappy :25.4, Fulton was still full of himself after a half-mile timed in :53.4 as it remained status quo for the top four. Redwood Hanover, saddled with post nine, was tipped out by James MacDonald and took aim at the pacesetter ahead of the final turn for home.
Down the lane, Fulton remained in full control, going on to notch a 1 ¼-length triumph in a 1:48.2. Ammo also secured a spot in next week’s final with his runner-up performance. Redwood Hanover was third and El Rey rallied to finish fourth.
“He hasn’t been racing bad,” offered Dunn. “His last couple starts, he hasn’t been 100 percent, but tonight he was really good. Linda (trainer, Toscano) changed his bridle, and he was sharp and ran right to the line.”
The bay son of Heston Blue Chip, bred by Best Bet Stables (Florida) and owned by Let It Ride Stables and Bottom Line Racing LLC, is now 9-2-2 from 13 starts, including a 3-1-0 mark in four 2023 starts.
Fulton paid $5.30 for the victory.
In the third elimination, it was showtime for Its My Show.
Sent off as the slight 6-5 choice, the Linda Toscano trainee came into his latest engagement sporting a perfect four-for-four mark in his sophomore campaign.
In perhaps his most impressive performance to date, Its My Show, leaving from post one, was directed to the front by Scott Zeron quickly after the starter car sped away, as 8-5 Stockade Seelster followed in second with third choice, 4-1 Save America sitting third.
After early opening splits of :26.4 and :55.0, Its My Show was still travelling well, ahead by 1 ¼ lengths through three-quarters in 1:21.3.
Seven Colors came calling to the outside while Stockade Seelster and Save America were each asked for their best, but midway down the lane the race was for second spot as Its My Show powered away with ease.
The son of Sweet Lou crossed the line a 2 ¼-length winner, earning a new speed badge of 1:48.0 in the process.
“The good thing about my horse is he’s probably the easiest horse I’ve ever had to drive,” lauded Zeron. “He’s very robotic, anything I want him to do, slow down, speed up. He’s super quick and he’s got some big lungs.”
Its My Show paid $4.70 for the win.
Bred and owned by Richard and Joanne Young, the bay gelding is now 5-2-1 from 13 lifetime starts.
In the final elimination, Confederate lived up to his 1-9 odds with a powerhouse performance to propel him into the Cup final.
It was longshot Stormalong who stormed off the gate to cross over and take the lead, but it was short lived as Tim Tetrick called on Confederate to be the pacesetter.
The son of Sweet Lou, bred and owned by Diamond Creek, took his seven contemporaries through early fractions of :26.4 and :54.4, going on to hold a 1 ¼-length advantage through three-quarters in 1:22.1.
A trio of longshots picked up the chase down the lane with 24-1 Lyons Surfing getting the coveted runner-up prize to move on to the seven-figure final. Hungry Angel Boy and Just Bet It All finished third and fourth, respectively.
The final time of 1:48.4 was a personal-best for the brown colt.
“He was very, very good,” said Tetrick. “Nobody was really leaving so I thought I’d take control. I don’t like doing it, but I didn’t want him to have to work too hard on the second half chasing somebody, so it worked out good.”
Now 7-1-1 from nine starts, Confederate, trained by Brett Pelling, will go after his biggest win to date on a stakes-laden Saturday card on June 17 at Mohawk.
“He’s a cool little guy, he does his job, he likes to work,” said Tetrick. “He’s always out there playing, goofing off. He likes to win races, so I’m really liking him.”
Confederate paid $2.10 for the win.
Following the eliminations, a draw was held to determine which two third-place finishers would complete the field for the $1 million final. From the random draw, Moment Is Here and Redwood Hanover advanced. Hungry Angel Boy will be the also eligible.
The draw for the Pepsi North America Cup final will take place at a press conference on Tuesday.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms