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Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #1

Published: April 19, 2015 2:05 pm ET

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"I think his best attribute is his ability to change gears, and you don't even feel him getting in gear. I think that's a true test of a great horse: they accelerate, you don't feel acceleration."

Two years ago, trainer Tony Alagna won his first Pepsi North America Cup with Trot Spring Book favourite Captaintreacherous. This year, he's back the top-rated horse again...just like The Captain two years ago, the horse that swept divisional honours in Canada and the U.S.

At 3-1, Artspeak comes in at #1 in Trot Magazine's 2015 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book. The son of Western Ideal - The Art Museum won eight on 10 freshman starts, banked more than $800,000 and took his 1:50.2 lifetime mark in the 2014 Metro Final at Mohawk. Alagna provided Trot Insider with an update late last week.

Where did he winter and how long was he turned out?

"He wintered at Brittany Farm in Lexington, Ky., and he came in right after the new year. He came [into training] in phenomenal shape, they did a great job with him."

Where are you at with him right now?

"He's been a mile in 1:56. He's going to the Meadowlands [on Saturday, April 18] to train and we're looking to qualify him within the next couple of weeks."

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

"He was always a good horse mentally, he had a great mindset last year -- even as a two-year-old -- so that didn't change much. He definitely grew and filled out a lot ... bigger over the hips and I'm really happy with how he looks.

"I thought if he grew a little bit it would be enough and he grew even more than I anticipated, so I was pleasantly surprised that he had grown as much as he did."

When will he qualify and what's his early schedule looking like leading up to the Pepsi NA Cup?

"We're aiming for the New Jersey Sire Stakes, that's a great place for him to start racing: here at home. We're still tentative on the Somebeachsomewhere, we're definitely taking it one race at a time.

What is he staked to past the NA Cup?

"He's staked all the way through, he's eligible to every dance. Our next focus of course would be the Meadowlands Pace. We have the Hempt in there as well, depending on how everything goes."

Is it fair to compare Artspeak to 2013 North America Cup champ Captaintreacherous?

"I think they had similar resumes at two; their style is completely different. 'Captain' was a horse that once he got into gear he could carry his speed a very long way. Artspeak, in the Metro elim last year when he got parked the last half mile and accelerated off in the stretch, I think he showed that same trait but I think they're two different styles: Captain was a big strong horse and this horse is more like a race car. You step on the accelerator and he's gone.

"I can remember Tim [Tetrick] talking about Captain and saying 'I've never had a horse go three-quarters in 1:20 and have to be chasing him because he's lazy'."

What makes Scott Zeron such a good fit for Artspeak?

"He put a lot of time in last year, so he deserves the rewards. He was coming down to the farm and training horses and getting a feel for them....that paid off for him in the long run, because he knows the horses' in and outs -- especially Artspeak's -- as good as I do.

"Going into this year, he's just got that much more confidence in the horse...the best thing a driver can have is confidence [in a horse]."

Trot's 2015 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book Top 10

#1 - Artspeak
#2 - Reverend Hanover
#3 - In The Arsenal
#4 - Wiggle It Jiggleit
#5 - Go Daddy Go
#6 - Traceur Hanover
#7 - Yankee Bounty
#8 - Lyons Levi Lewis
#9 - Pierce Hanover
#10 - Lyons Again

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