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Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #1

Published: April 13, 2019 6:05 pm 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 4-1, O'Brien Award winner Stag Party comes in at #1 in TROT Magazine's 2019 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book.

The son of Bettors Delight - My Lady Day enjoyed a brilliant rookie season in 2018 that included six victories and almost $670,000 in purse earnings. The colt didn’t miss the board in any of his nine races, with his biggest win in the $890,000 Metro Pace.

Among his victories were a 10-length romp in his Nassagaweya divison and two Ontario Sires Stakes events, including a Canadian record 1:52.3 performance over Grand River Raceway's half-mile oval in August. The colt is owned by John Fielding of Toronto, Mac Nichol of Burlington, McKinlay & Fielding of Toronto and trainer Casie Coleman's West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Ont. Trot Insider caught up with Coleman for an update on the sensational sophomore.

Where did he winter?

"He wintered in Kentucky at Anvil & Lace Farm with Beth Yontz. He had to scratch him out of the elimination of the Breeders Crown and he went there after that."

What was the reason for the scratch out of the Breeders Crown?

"He had a high nail right before the Breeders Crown elim so we had to scratch him. Everything seems perfect there now."

When did you start back with him?

"He came in right around Christmas time, we shipped him back up."

Where are you at with him now?

"He trained yesterday (April 12) in 1:56 at Sunshine Meadows."

Any noticeable changes in him from two to three?

"He's grown a lot, he's a whole lot bigger. I'm not even sure how long I've got his hopples at right now but I know I've let them out a lot. I had quite a tight hopple on him last year as he had a lot of soreness issues last year -- mainly just colt soreness -- but he had a lot of different issues last year and I had a really tight hopple on him because of it and this year I've let them out a ton. I'm going to estimate about four inches.

"He's a stud colt so you have to watch him...he's not mean, for a stud he just plays and he jogs nice and calm and quiet. Pretty much the same as he's always been that way."

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

"We're shipping on Tuesday so he'll be home [in Canada] by Wednesday night, hopefully. Depending on how he comes out of the ship, hopefully he's not tired or anything, I'm kind of thinking around May 3rd. Possibly a bit sooner. He'll qualify twice, and then a week off.

"In a perfect world, I'd love to have a start under him but by the way the stakes schedule looks May 25th is the [Ontario Sires Stakes] Gold at Mohawk, and then the Somebeachsomewhere, Cup elim and Cup Final. And that's four right together, so right now I'm definitely planning to hit the Gold on the 25th, I would like to hit the Somebeachsomewhere as a prep for the Cup but I don't know about the four starts in a row just quite yet. I wish that Gold was the week before, but it's not...I'm not 100 percent sure how we'll play that yet.

"Because of the way the stakes schedule looks I didn't pay him into some of the ones right after. He's fully staked through the summer but because he's got a lot of OSS races, I skipped some so we didn't over-stake and over-race him.

What's his schedule like after the North America Cup?

"How I mapped it out is hopefully after the N.A. Cup Final he's got a week off and then on June 29th there's a Gold at Mohawk, and then he's off until July 20 for the Adios. Basically what my plan was I'd go at the start here and then when everybody else I know is going to race all these races like the Hempt and the Meadowlands Pace, I hope everyone gets good and tired for me because I have a full stakes card at the end of the year too. He'll stay home and do some Golds and then later in the season he's got the Little Brown Jug, Breeders Crown, Matron, Progress...we just wanted to kind of pick our spots and go to the right ones."

"In my mind he's 'fully-staked' but a lot of people with a colt like him would have just clicked the All button and paid everything. I own a piece of the horse too and I don't like overspending money and I definitely backed out of a few of them. I think the way that I mapped him out there are multiple times where I can give the colt two or three weeks off throughout the summer so I don't want to have him paid in, and then he's racing really good and I push him too much. I want to make it through the whole season if possible."

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

"Right from the start. From the moment I bought him, I loved him and the very first times we were training him this horse, right from the start, did nothing wrong. He had a great attitude, great gait, great disposition about him, light on his feet, anything he showed him and asked him to do, he did it so easy. He acted like he was a three-year-old when he was a baby."

What's his biggest asset/strength?

"He's got unreal wind, whenever you train him or he races he never blows out a match ... he just stands there and looks at you. Great gait and a huge heart; anyone that watched him last year, he had a lot of colt soreness. I recall I told the media I was going to scratch him out of the Metro elim because he wasn't too good warming up that night at all, then he goes out and wins the elim and final...once he got behind the gate, he'd throw that all away."

Do you have a favourite race of his from 2018?

"Every time he raced was great but obviously the Metro where he came first over and he powered away to win by five...that was impressive as hell the way he did that. And that Grand River race, I wish we didn't go as fast as we did. I was planning on winning but not in 1:52, and just the way he did it was pretty insane."

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

"It would be pretty awesome. The N.A. Cup is the biggest race we've got, it's the only million-dollar race left for a pacer and right at your home track. The first one with Sportswriter and then with Betting Line was pretty exciting, and not only that but he's a stud still so to go out and win the Cup, it's important to get that race early in the young season to have the stud farms calling."

As someone who's won this race twice but also had horses not win, what have those experiences taught you for how to prepare for this year's event?

"Being in it a couple of times, you know you can't miss anything during that week. No matter where they finish the week before you're scoping them, pulling blood, having vets look over them, dotting all your I's and crossing all your T's. It's so easy for a horse to get sick or sore, there are so many variables that can go wrong not to win the race...so just making sure you're on top of everything, hoping you have a good week and that nothing goes wrong.

"And it's extremely important to win your elimination too because you want to be able to pick your post. I've had horrible luck through the years in drawing bad posts in big races so winning the elim is extremely important."

Any other North America Cup-eligibles in your barn?

"We've got five three-year-olds in the barn and four of them are paid into the Cup. 'Stag' is my best chance, I have Blank Canvas...he's training back phenomenal, he's going to be a longshot, obviously, but he's training back really, really good and I'm quite happy with him. And I've got a horse named Flameproof Hanover, Ed James bought him at Harrisburg...Jimmy McDonald's been winter training him and he says he loves the horse so far. He'll ship up to me at the end of the month.

"And my fourth horse, a bit more of a longshot, is Quatrain Blue Chip. After I gelded him last year he won three straight. He only won maidens and non-winners of two so it probably looks pretty crazy that we paid him in...he was a $180,000 yearling and he's got a lot of talent, he just doesn't like trying a whole lot sometimes. He's training back good so far, we see what he does after he gets qualified."

Previous North America Cup Spring Book Profiles:

North America Cup Spring Book - #2
North America Cup Spring Book - #3
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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