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Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #3

Published: April 11, 2019 10:40 am ET

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The countdown to the 2019 Pepsi North America Cup is on, with Trot Insider profiling the horses predicted to be the top contenders for Canadian harness racing's richest prize.

At 10-1, Captain Ahab comes in at #3 in TROT Magazine's 2019 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book.

From nine rookie outings, Captain Ahab (Captaintreacherous - Acquavella) won seven straight starts for Canadians Marvin Katz and Brad Grant, Brittany Farms LLC and the Riverview Owen Fodera VJ stable. He took his 1:50.4 lifetime mark in his Metro elim, and was favoured in the final before finishing an uncharacteristic and disappointing ninth. He then finished fourth in his International Stallion Series division at The Red Mile before being shut down and concluding his campaign with $151,556 in earnings.

Trainer Tony Alagna provided Trot Insider with an update on his second colt in the Spring Book top five.

How would you sum up the rookie season of Captain Ahab?

"He was a horse we always thought very highly of. Our concern always was, he was such a big two-year-old and he didn't have a lot of body to him...he was all leg and no body. We didn't know how far he'd go or how long he'd go. He's got one of the most efficient gaits and the highest speed of horses I've been around. He just chose a very inopportune time to let his weakness catch up to him in the Metro and that really put a damper on his year. But I'm glad that everybody got a taste of what he could do last year as an immature horse, and I think he'll be a lot of fun to race this year."

What was the reason for shutting him down after Lexington?

"Going into Lexington, we skipped the first week because we'd had such a bad go in the Metro. We came back in the second week and I actually thought the horse was back on his game, and he actually was but he got kind of a roughed-up go of it and had to press onto the front which wasn't what we were planning, it was just the way things worked out. At that point, the horse had nine starts, it was either stop or go onto the Breeders Crown and I didn't feel like we were bringing our best foot forward for the Breeders Crown so my thoughts were: let's not cheapen him up, we're already here in Lexington, I don't want to race him if he's not at his best ... it didn't make any sense to ship him home so we just turned him out and I'm just so happy that we did it because when he came in, he's a different animal in terms of his body style and everything else."

Any other noticeable changes in him from two to three?

"He's still very tall, he still has a lot of leg but he has a lot more power to him as far as his hind quarters and his shoulder and up over his back so I'm hoping that's going to carry him into the three-year-old battles.

"He was always a very willing horse."

Where did he winter?

"He wintered at Brittany Farms, that's where the majority of our horses winter and they did a tremendous job with him. He came in with all the weight and everything that he needed."

When did you start back with him?

"We didn't bring him until the first week of January and when he came in he looked like a million dollars."

Where are you at with him now?

"We trained in 1:56 in Florida [two weeks from this Saturday]. Andy McCarthy came to town and he trained him, and he trained Captain Trevor."

When will he qualify?

"It just basically depends on how they come out of the ship and how happy I am with them when I train them back to the bikes and everything.

"We'll let them tell us when they're ready but fitness-wise they're ready it's just a matter of when they get their legs back under them from the ship and everything else. He's still a couple of weeks."

What will his early schedule look like leading up to the Pepsi North America Cup?

"We really haven't decided yet, it's based on how he qualifies and everything else and what he tells us. We'll go from there, whether we decide to go to Pennsylvania, whether we decide to go right to Canada, whether we just try to get prep at The Meadowlands...he'll tell us basically where he wants to be."

At what point last year did you think this horse was North America Cup material?

"In March, he just showed that he had something extra. He wasn't necessarily able to put it all together in March because he was just like a horse running on stilts but you could just tell there was something there and he had that little bit of extra when you'd ask him to go but our concern was always how strong he would stay. So we were cautiously optimistic and we almost got him all the way through but just not quite."

What's his biggest asset/strength?

"He's very versatile, too. He can leave, he can come off the pace, if you want to put him in play you can...he's not an aggressive horse so it makes it easier for you to do his job. But his biggest asset I would think would be his gait. He's got such a strong, high-powered gait. When he gets up into gear he feels like he can stay in gear forever, which I think was his sire's greatest attribute and I think what 'Captain' has passed onto a lot of his offspring."

What similarities are you seeing in the offspring of Captaintreacherous that's allowing his sons and daughters to excel?

"I think one of the biggest things I see in these colts that 'Captain' had was their usefuleness. It's so important that a horse have great manners, to be able to do the battles they have go through at three. Because if you have a high-powered horse that's high-strung and you can't rate him, you really have to be able to wrestle these horses at three depending on who you draw in with, where you draw at what kind of racetrack so to have that kind of usefulness is so important and that's something I can see in the Captains that I have is just how useful they are."

Do you have a favourite race of Captain Ahab's from 2018 that speaks to the colt's ability?

"He always impressed me...probably the way he came out right off the bat in the first lifetime start. It was a real wake-up call that we were onto something good.

"The night Paul MacDonell won the Dream Maker [with him], he was great that night. And he's driven Somebeachsomewhere so he knows what a great horse feels like, and he was very impressed with him that night as well."

Any other NA Cup-eligibles in the barn that could make an appearance in June?

"I've got another horse that's NA Cup-eligible and he's a sleeper, a horse called Major Deception. He trained right down with these horses last year and he had a few minor issues, and he was a big colt. He won in Lexington in 1:51, first up against KYSS horses so he battled against these horses and beat them last year. He's lightly-raced, if he comes back and does what he might be able to do this year as a three-year-old, he could definitely be a player."

What would it mean to you to add another North America Cup to your trophy case?

"It's always such a great feeling going into that race, even just being eligible, making the final and having a shot. To win it was great, we almost got it done with Racing Hill, and if one of these colts could come back and win it again this's such a prestigious race and it carries so much clout for a three-year-old pacing colt to win that race. And to me, if you can get a horse to win that race and get that win right off the bat it really sets his year up for a lot of great things."

How does it feel seeing four sons of Captaintreacherous in the Spring Book top five?

"It's a great testament to the horse. We put a lot of faith in him, and he's doing the kinds of things we hoped he could when we bought him as a yearling. We bought Captaintreacherous from the first crop of Somebeachsomewhere thinking he could be a stallion, and look at what he's doing."

Previous North America Cup Spring Book Profiles:

North America Cup Spring Book - #4
North America Cup Spring Book - #5
North America Cup Spring Book - #6
North America Cup Spring Book - #7
North America Cup Spring Book - #8
North America Cup Spring Book - #9
North America Cup Spring Book - #10

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