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Cup Longshot Finding His Stride

Published: June 16, 2017 9:34 am ET

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Quebec businessman Daniel Plouffe will get his second shot at a million-dollar purse when the Sportswriter colt he co-owns, Sports Column, lines up Saturday for the North America Cup.

He's hoping for a more satisfying outcome than the first one, the 1999 Meadowlands Pace.

Plouffe went into that race with one of the three elimination winners, an emerging talent called Blissfull Hall (now 21 and newly retired from a productive career at stud on two continents).

Blissfull Hall, who skipped the North America Cup at three because trainer Ben Wallace didn't think he was quite ready, would go on to win pacing's Triple Crown -- the Cane, the Messenger and the Little Brown Jug -- and horse of the year honours in Canada in a campaign where he finished worse than third only once in 23 starts. That once was the Meadowlands Pace. Hemmed in at the rear from Post 1 right from the start, Blissfull Hall never found a way out under driver Daniel Dube and finished a bottled-up seventh behind The Panderosa.

"They kept us down there. It was very disappointing to witness, especially considering what he showed after," said Plouffe, 58. "Daniel was very discouraged too. But that`s horse racing. Sometimes you need the breaks."

Sports Column probably will need a few to hit the board Saturday from post five. He hasn't won in four starts this year and went off at 74-1 in his elimination, where he rerallied after a quick start to finish third behind Downbytheseaside.

"We've been a little disappointed by his season so far," said Plouffe. "He had a few small problems. But the elimination was his best race this year, and we hope he'll be even better this week. I'm a realist, though. The three elimination winners are all excellent horses. If they fight and we`re close in the stretch, though, who knows?"

Plouffe currently owns pieces of 20 horses, including a promising two-year-old trotting filly called Top Expectation, for which he paid $120,000 (U.S.) at Lexington last year. It's his largest horse total in more than a decade.

"I reduced my involvement in racing a bit because I was growing my business," he said. "We're up to seven supermarkets now in Quebec's Eastern Townships, but we've got a good handle on it so I felt I could once again start devoting more time to the horses, which I've always loved."

Trot Insider interviewed Sports Column's trainer and co-owner Blake MacIntosh following the 2017 Pepsi North America Cup post position draw.

The post positions for the 2017 North America Cup Final appear below.

$1 MILLION PEPSI NORTH AMERICA CUP
(Post – Horse – Driver - Trainer - Morning Line Odds)
1 – Ocean Colony – Yannick Gingras – Jimmy Takter – 10-1
2 – Downbytheseaside – Brian Sears – Brian Brown – 3-1
3 – Huntsville – Tim Tetrick – Ray Schnittker – 8-5
4 – Fear The Dragon – David Miller – Brian Brown – 2-1
5 – Sports Column – Chris Christoforou – Blake MacIntosh – 25-1
6 – Classic Pro – Trevor Henry – Dr. Ian Moore – 20-1
7 – Ozone Blue Chip – Brett Miller – Ron Coyne Jr. – 25-1
8 – Filibuster Hanover – Louis-Philippe Roy – Ron Burke – 15-1
9 – Western Hill – Doug McNair – Tony Alagna – 20-1
10 – Miso Fast – Matt Kakaley – Ron Burke – 20-1

To view the entries for Saturday's card at Mohawk or a free program, courtesy of TrackIT, click on one of the following links: Saturday Entries / Saturday Program Pages.

The Pepsi North America Cup headlines Mohawk’s mega-stakes Saturday card of harness racing that will also feature a $75,000 Cup Consolation, the $440,000 Fan Hanover Stakes (for three-year-old pacing fillies), $365,000 Roses Are Red Stakes (pacing mares), $253,000 Armbro Flight Stakes (trotting mares), $251,000 Goodtimes Stakes (three-year-old trotting colts), and $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup (invitational pacers).

First race post time is 6:30 p.m. The 34th edition of the Pepsi North America Cup will go postward at 10:40 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on TSN3 and TSN5 from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)


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