Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #5

Early Action winning the Governor's Cup
Published: April 14, 2022 05:10 pm EDT

With the scheduled date of the 2022 Pepsi North America Cup just over two months away, Trot Insider will profile some of the race's top contenders as horses ready to compete for one of Canadian harness racing's biggest prizes.

Early Action continues the countdown, coming in at #5 in TROT Magazine's 2022 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book assessed odds of 9-1.

Early Action was a winner right out of the starting gate but flourished in late summer, winning six stakes in a row, including back-to-back Grand Circuit events at Lexington, Kentucky where he took his mark of 1:49.4. The New York-bred gelding by Huntsville out of Fashion Kate extended his rookie campaign as he continued to show his talent late into the year. Rallying from 10th with a :26.2 final quarter over a sloppy Meadowlands track, he was top five in the Breeders Crown then posted a runner-up finish in the Kindergarten Classic before capping off his freshman campaign with his biggest victory in the $386,600 Governor’s Cup. Through 13 races, he earned eight victories and banked $442,816 for owners Val D Or Farms of Spring Lake, N.J. and Ted Gewertz of New York, N.Y.

Early Action's trainer is Joe Holloway, who is no stranger to success in Canadian harness racing's premiere pacing event.

“I was so young, I was too stupid to know I probably shouldn't have been there,” said Holloway with a smile of his win in 1992 with Safely Kept. Trot Insider caught up with Holloway, who finished second in this race a year ago with Spring Book favourite Perfect Sting, for an update on his 2022 NA Cup hopeful.

Where did Early Action winter and when did you start back with him?

“I turned him out in New Jersey, brought him back maybe late January, first of February.”

Have you noticed any changes from last year to this year?

“He is a little bit bigger, he's a little bit stronger, which that's what you hope for from two to three, but he's much better mannered on the racetrack. He's much more professional about his business right now. He's been training super and training calm and stuff like that, so that part I'm very happy with.”

Where are you at with him now?

“I trained him in [1]:59 the other day. I'll train him twice more fast and qualify him. He'll qualify the last week in April.”

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

“If I can, I'd like to get a three-year old Open and if I don't, I'll qualify him a third time. If I don't get him in a three-year-old Open here in New Jersey then the Somebeachsomewhere will be his first start. And if I do, I don't know, I might not come to Canada until the North America Cup, but I don't know that, and we'll have to see how things play out.”

What does his tentative schedule look like after the North America Cup being an New York Sire Stakes horse?

“I'm not going to catch too many of them if things go well. I'm gonna go to the Meadowlands Pace and after the Pace, there's the Cane at the Meadowlands the first week in August. We'll try for the Empire Breeders at Tioga and we have the Hempt and then after the Hempt I'll probably be ready and shoot for the Jug and then after the Jug he'll go to Lexington then back up to Canada [for the Breeders Crown].”

What would you say makes him such a good horse? 

“He likes to win. Last year, he had a little bit of soundness issues – growing pains and whatever you want to attribute it to because he's been good this year, knock on wood, he's been very good. Like Brian [Sears] said, he just wants it. The night of the Governor's Cup, he was tired, but he doesn't want to give up. Nobody instills that into them. That's either in them or not. People who think they put that into one, they're dreaming I believe.”

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

“The Sire Stakes probably at Yonkers. It was late, it was [almost] September and that's why he ended up with 13 starts. I didn't know he was a top horse in the beginning of the season. I thought he had some talent to make some money, but I didn't know he was a top horse.

"I usually don't like to race a top horse that many times, but you get to where you're trying to limit the starts and do stuff to get him through the season and I needed to get him down to Kentucky. I was in Kentucky at the time with Perfect Sting. I needed to keep him there and have him there and try to get him ready. I thought we could do some good in Kentucky and the races afterwards. But it was late, and I think we'd already had, you know, a solid half a dozen starts. And then all of a sudden, you're like 'yeah sh!t, he's better than I thought he was going to be.' Now you've got to map out a new schedule. It is [a good problem to have] but that's why he ended up having 13 starts.”

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