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Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #1

Published: April 17, 2018 4:03 pm ET

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The countdown to the 2018 Pepsi North America Cup is on, with Trot Magazine profiling the horses predicted to be the top contenders for Canadian harness racing's richest prize.

At 4-1, O'Brien Award winner Stay Hungry comes in at #1 in Trot Magazine's 2018 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book.

Owned by Brad Grant of Milton, Ont. and Irwin Samelman of Las Vegas, Nev., Stay Hungry won six of nine races and bankrolled in excess of $557,000 during his rookie season. Stay Hungry was victorious in a division of the Champlain Stakes, and an elimination of the Metro at Mohawk Racetrack. His crowning moment came in a sweep of the Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park where he took a nose victory in his elimination and came back one week later to score a neck victory in the final. Trot Insider caught up with trainer Tony Alagna for an update on the son of Somebeachsomewhere - My Little Dragon.

Where did he winter?

"He wintered at Olive Branch Farm with Chris Coyle...he came in looking great from Chris, he does an amazing job."

When did you start back with him?

"He came back in the middle of January."

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

"He got a little bit bigger and a little bit longer, filled out well. We put him away in good shape so naturally he came back in good shape as well."

When do you anticipate he'll qualify?

"I'd say sometime around the first part of May, just depending on how he gets up there, the weather and everything else...but we're shooting for the first part of May."

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

“Most likely the PASS at Pocono. If you go Somebeachsomewhere it adds a week onto an already-tough schedule, so we're looking probably to go PASS and then go up for the North America Cup eliminations. He is eligible to the Somebeachsomewhere in case we need that race but right now, at this stage, we're thinking PASS.”

What does his tentative schedule look like after the North America Cup?

“Much like most of most of my three-year-olds, I definitely plan it a race at a time but he's fully-staked -- he's staked to the Hempt, the Meadowlands just depending on what he's telling us as we go through that series [of races] we'll know more what we're going to do. But he's fully-staked."

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

“You never know, but we buy them with that in mind. From the time we buy them as yearlings, we're thinking that this is the type of horse that can be a North America Cup-type horse. We're not buying a horse for that much money hoping he'll just be a Sires Stakes horse.

"From the time we had this horse up in Jersey in his last training before I sent him to Canada to qualify, he really impressed me that day. He went by a really nice four-year-old training before I shipped him to Canada to baby race as a two-year-old. I said 'we've really got something here.'"

What's his biggest asset/strength?

“I think his versatility. He can leave, he can sit, he's very handy that way. I think that's a big factor in any top three-year-old; they have to be versatile. So many things change at the drop of a hat behind the gate and you have to have that ability to do whatever you want and put yourself in a position that's best for you and the horse. And if you have an aggressive horse that won't let you do that, it makes it very tough.”

Any three-year-old stablemates in the barn right now that are paid up and also looking promising?

“I actually have five. I have American History, Stay Hungry, Babes Dig Me, Odds On Lauderdale and Captain Deo -- five colts that showed me enough last year with the way they came in and the way they're training back this year I was happy to make the payment.

"They're all on the same schedule, they all shipped out of Florida on April 4 and I couldn't be more pleased with how they've come back so far this year at three...I'm very fortunate. I've got great owners that believe in what we do, and they're willing to spend the money and we all have the same goal in mind so when everybody's working together and on the same page it's a huge benefit to me."

As someone who's been in this race before and both won [with Captaintreacherous in 2013] and not won, how does it feel to once again come into the 2018 North America Cup with one of the favourites to win?

"I love racing in Canada, that's no secret...Canada's been good to us. Last time we were up there we were second with Racing Hill, Artspeak unfortunately drew the outside in the final and ended up fifth, last year we were fourth with an outsider in Western Hill. It's a race that we love and we're happy to be there to participate."

Previous Profiles:

Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #2
Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #3
Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #4
Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #5
Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #6
Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #7
Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #8
Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #9
Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #10

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