With the date of the 2023 Pepsi North America Cup just 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.
At 20-1, Save America begins the countdown at #10 in TROT Magazine's 2023 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book.
A $300,000 yearling and sibling to millionaire Stag Party, Save America posted a summary of 4-2-1 in 11 freshman starts with $440,000 in earnings and a mark of 1:49.4 — which he won in twice, including the win time for his 2022 Metro Pace elim. Other victories for the son of Captaintreacherous - My Lady Day included a leg of the Kindergarten and divisions of the Nassagaweya and Champlain. Two-time North America Cup winner Nancy Takter trains Save America for 3 Brothers Stables of New York, N.Y. and Caviart Farms of Vienna, Va.
Trot Insider caught up with Takter for an update as the talented colt is prepared for his sophomore season.
"He had a good two-year-old season; he paced under 1:50 twice," said Takter when asked to assess the colt's rookie year. "Maybe he went a little fast a little early for his size, which maybe didn't play to his advantage towards the end of the year; maybe he was a little tired. He had a tough beginning half of the season but, you know, he was ready when he was racing. So it's hard to stall their progress when they're ready to go 1:49 in their second lifetime start.
"Overall he had a good season. He's a big horse and he had enough starts, learned how to race and did well for himself."
Where did he winter and when did you start back with him?
"He wintered at Hogan Equine, and we started back with him in the beginning of January."
Have you noticed any changes from last year to this year?
"He's huge!," said Takter with a laugh. "I mean, he was a big boy last year and [now] he's 1,164 lbs."
Does he differ much from his brother Stag Party in that respect?
"I think Stag Party (a son of Bettors Delight) is a much smaller horse than Save America. If nothing else, Stag Party is a lighter horse."
When will he qualify?
"If I'm happy with him, he'll probably qualify this weekend."
What will his early schedule look like leading up to the Pepsi North America Cup?
"Probably go to the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and PA All-Stars prior to the North America Cup. I probably only want to have to start to have two starts and two qualifiers into him before we go to Canada at the most."
What does his tentative schedule look like after the Pepsi North America Cup?
"After the North America Cup I'm sure that we'll be pointing him towards the Meadowlands Pace next. He's not eligible to the Messenger, so we won't be going to that...whatever needs to be done to aim him for the big races is where we'll go and we'll hit those targets in between.
"There's way too much on the plate of a three-year-old, which is why I've always advocated that some of the three-year-old races should be made four-year-old races."
What's his biggest asset / strength?
"I think he's very good-gaited horse and he's a handy horse. I think those are probably his two best attributes."
At what point last year did you think this horse was North America Cup material?
"Early. Before we even baby raced him. I mean, he showed that he's that caliber for horse to pace in 1:49 in his second lifetime start. He was very nice, you know, training down all along."
As someone who's won this race before, how does it feel to have another legit shot at the North America Cup?
"It feels great, and hopefully he's not my only shot. I've got a couple other ones too, you know, that I think could have a license to participate. And I mean, obviously these are the races that we strive to be a part of. We're doing all the hard work, so, you've just got to keep them happy and healthy and sound for a few more months and then we'll be ready to ready to play ball."
That leads me to my next question. Any three-year-old stablemates in the barn right now that are paid up and also looking promising?
"Ants Marching, Christchurch and Cannibal are also North America Cup-bound, hopefully."
This year’s Pepsi North America Cup, scheduled for Saturday, June 17 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, will mark the 40th edition of Canada’s most prestigious pacing event.