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 19-1, Annapolis Hanover charts at #9 on the countdown in TROT Magazine's 2023 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book.
Annapolis Hanover was a $15,000 yearling purchase out of the 2021 Harrisburg sale. The three-year-old son of Stay Hungry - All Night Long posted a record of 7-3-1 in 11 starts in his freshman year, collecting a sum of $230,640 in earnings. With a career best of 1:50.4, the gelding finished no worse than third in his starts in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes (PASS) with a second-place finish in the $252,000 PASS final. Mitch York owns and trains Annapolis Hanover, aiming for his first Pepsi North America Cup appearance.
Trot Insider caught up with York for insight on the progress of the colt in his sophomore season.
"Dave [Brickell] and I have found some pretty nice horses, but Annapolis Hanover is the nicest one I've ever owned," said York. "He looked nice. He was kind of small, so I knew he was gonna be in my price range. When my wife and I go to the sale, we kind of buy what's in our price range and he fit."
Where did he winter and when did you start back with him?
"We have a farm [in Pennsylvania] and he was turned out after the last start in the Keystone Classic. He was turned out until the end of December. First of January, we started working again."
Have you noticed any changes from last year to this year?
"You know what, he didn't grow a whole lot. He grew a little bit wider, maybe a very little bit taller, but not a whole lot of changes. Hopples are a little bit longer, but nothing has really changed with him."
He's qualified twice, most recently on April 11 at The Meadows in 1:54.1. What will his tentative early schedule look like leading up to the Pepsi North America Cup?
"I believe the [Pennsylvania] Sire Stakes are May 6 at The Meadows...I'm having really bad luck this year with dates because May 6 my son graduates from Slippery Rock University. But the big thing is for the elimination race of North America Cup, my daughter's getting married that day.
"It's going to be kind of tough for him because he's won six pari-mutuels, so that's why we qualified him twice to try to ease him into it and see how he does."
What does his tentative schedule look like after the North America Cup?
"I staked him to the Messenger at Yonkers thinking that's a half-mile track and he's a smaller horse so hopefully he'll get around there pretty good. Staked him pretty liberally."
What's his biggest asset / strength?
"He's just a nice horse to be around. He's probably the lowest maintenance horse that we've ever had. He has a great attitude -- no matter what he's doing, he loves to work and he's just a great horse."
At what point last year did you think this horse was North America Cup material?
"Last year, actually, my father-in-law pretty much trained him down. We had a couple other decent horses that we trained with and he always just stood out from everybody. I wish I would have staked him into a little bit more [last year], but this year, we just decided that we would try to stretch out a little bit more. I mean this is all unfamiliar territory."
How does it feel to have a horse that is being talked about with the head of the class and has a shot to win one of North America's top three-year-old pacing events?
"It feels great. I think it just makes me more nervous. There's a lot of pressure bringing a horse back that did so well last year. There's a ton of pressure to me, anyways. It's all me. I just want him to do well."
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.