MILTON, June 17, 2023 – Showcasing one of the deepest fields in its storied history, the 40th edition of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup produced an instant classic on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Featuring several horses coming into the premier North American pacing event for three-year-old pacers on top of their respective games, the stage was set for a compelling showdown under the lights on a picture-perfect night. The eventual star of the show, Its My Show, would use a combination of grit and gumption to get the job done in front of a loud and appreciative crowd.
It was Save America, with Yannick Gingras in the bike, who crossed over from post nine to take an early lead as Scott Zeron, at the controls of Its My Show, settled into second spot, followed by Cup elimination winners Christchurch and Fulton.
After marching the field through a brisk opening panel in :25.4, Save America was overtaken by Its My Show who reached the half in :54.0.
“Well, the thing is my horse can leave faster than anything I’ve ever drove, and then at the same time I can calm him down if I ask him to,” said Zeron. “I was confident that I could start him up as hard as I did and was able to seat a bunch of horses. I knew Yannick would be leaving from a better angle from out there and honestly, to get away second was best case scenario for me. So, to be able to remove and control from there was great for me.”
Ahead by a 1 ¼ lengths through three-quarters in 1:20.4, Its My Show, also a Cup elimination victor the previous Saturday, looked to power away from the pack as a host of hopefuls soon set their sights on the pacesetter.
Zeron called upon the son of Sweet Lou for his best as Fulton attempted to reel in the leader, while fellow elimination winner and slight choice on the tote board Confederate began to make headway to the far outside.
Its My Show, trained by Linda Toscano, was able to repel the fast-closing Confederate by a head in a personal-best 1:47.2 and in the process, pushed his record to a perfect six-for-six in 2023. Fulton held third. Voukefalas was fourth.
“Fulton was giving me a hell of a run in the last turn, and I figured Timmy [Tetrick, driving Confederate] had to be right behind him with how great Confederate is. I knew it was going to come right down to the finish.”
Toscano, celebrating her first North America Cup crown, was ecstatic with the performance of her bay gelding, who went winless in eight starts as a two-year-old.
“He’s an amazing horse,” started Toscano. “He disappointed me so much last year and at the end of the year, let’s castrate him. I can’t be this wrong about this horse and he’s come back, and he’s been nothing less than perfect. When you can win these kinds of races, this is what you do it for.”
Zeron, who teamed with Captain Crunch to win the 2019 edition of the Cup, was thrilled to add another piece of hardware to his trophy case.
"This is my favourite race. It always has been.”
Bred and owned by Richard and Joanne Young, Its My Show is now 6-2-1 from 14 starts.
“It means a lot,” said Richard. “I’m a Canadian, you may not know that, and I’ve been in the business for 30 some-odd years. His brother [Best In Show] won the Meadowlands Pace four years ago and he was in the North America Cup and finished sixth, I think. I haven’t had a horse between them, so coming back and winning this one is almost like back-to-back. So, it feels really cool.”
Its My Show, sent off as the third choice, paid $8.50 for the win.
Saturday evening’s Pepsi North America Cup card generated a handle of $5,259,044.
The Cup race did a handle of $653,718, up 13 per cent from last year.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms