2023 Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #4

Published: April 25, 2023 11:59 am EDT

With the date of the 2023 Pepsi North America Cup less than 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 10-1, lightly-raced Loubet comes in at #4 on the countdown in TROT Magazine's 2023 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book. 

Loubet only made four starts last year as a freshman, but the homebred won three of those including the 2022 Kindergarten Final at The Meadowlands in 1:49.3. Owned by breeders Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Michelle Yanek and Phil Collura, the son of Sweet Lou - Atsallrite Hanover sports a summary of 3-1-0 from those four appearances with $129,237 in earnings.

"I think he's special. I really do," breeder / owner / trainer Ron Burke told Trot Insider. "He's got a different gear. You don't see babies getting home at The Meadowlands in 25 and a piece. Even there, he blew the turn, lost momentum. We knew as soon as he straightened away halfway for home it didn't matter because he was pacing up a storm. He hasn't yet shown what he's capable of."

Trot Insider caught of with the Hall of Famer to discuss the sophomore with the least amount of starts in TROT's top 10.

Let's go back to that June to September break. What happened in there that you had him ready at Gaitway and then he didn't do anything until September?

"He actually got a wing fracture of his hind coffin joint in that last qualifier, so we had to give him time off...maybe it forced us to not overrace him at two he'll come back being even better at three."

At what point did you think he was a colt that you'd be thinking about Grand Circuit races like the North America Cup as a sophomore?

"We thought all along he was our best colt. We knew he was the fastest. He'd make breaks and you'd have to be really light with his mouth. But that qualifier, 1:53 and :27 at Gaitway, that's like 1:50 at The Meadowlands. 

"Walking out of the stall he took a funny step and he just acted funny but then Yannick [Gingras] said he jogged out of it...the next day he was sore, but then he was better and we couldn't figure it out. Finally figured it out and we gave him time off and in no time he was fine."

Where did he go for his winter turnout after the Kindergarten?

"Olive Branch Farm in North Carolina."

And when did you bring him back in?

"He's been in since January."

What similarities do you see between Loubet and his sire?

"There's none. He's way more like the dam side of the family. His dam is a half-sister to Apprentice Hanover, and I think it's more that side of the family with him...more of the high speed, you know, maybe a little different to control. Sweet Lou was a total professional. This horse you have to be a little more conscious of making sure he learns the right way because I think he could learn the wrong way."

With Loubet you're not only the trainer, but you're the owner AND the breeder. How much more special does that connection make this journey?

"We love it. I never understood it with other people until we did it on our own. When it's your sire, your mare and you develop it, it's better. It's just more fun. It really is.

"The only difference is if we had our own farm and we were raising them ourselves, but they're all either raised mostly at Winterwood or Hanover. But we go and see them and you see them develop."

Loubet qualified on Saturday and he's going to qualify again. What races are on tap for him before the NA Cup?

"We'll go to the [Pennsylvania] Sire Stakes before that, that will be his biggest thing, and then we'll ship up there for the Cup elims."

No Somebeachsomewhere?

"No, you have to give up a Sire Stakes event and Sire Stakes mean too much for us to do that. Plus, they pay in American dollars." 

After the NA Cup if everything goes according to Hoyle where do you see him being pointed?

"I'm not sure if he has the Meadowlands Pace, but the big ones for us would be the Adios, the Hempt and the Little Brown Jug. Those are races that we like to win. For the amount of money you put up for the amount of money you get back it's a good margin."

He doesn't show racing on a half-mile track. Any concerns about taking him to Delaware?

"If it was Yonkers, I'd be concerned. It's just like you said, if he can get around [Harrah's Philadelphia] he can get around Delaware.

"I tell people all the time. If you've never done it, go and do [the Little Brown Jug] before you knock it. It is the most fun [race] to win. And I hope they never ever get rid of the two heats. We ruined the Adios in my opinion, and to be honest, The Hambletonian. They were better races when they were two heats. It made them special."

What do you think is Loubet's biggest asset or best strength? 

"He doesn't seem to get tired.  We have yet to find a point where he was at the end of the mile saying I've had enough. He seems like he's able to carry his speed a long way. And that truly, most great horses, that's what separates them. They're all fast now. It's just the ones that are fast for a longer period of time. It's what made Bulldog Hanover unbeatable. He was never tired. I've never seen anything like it."

Are there any stablemates to Loubet that are also NA Cup-eligible and looking promising?

"I think I have six [Cup eligibles]. I have good three-year-olds this year. Tip Top Cat, Ervin Hanover, Act Fast -- he might be the fastest of all of them, he might just be a bit more contrary than some of my other colts. Chris [Page] was thrilled with him after his second qualifier and said 'this colt is special.'

"I'm not planning on coming with a couple, I plan on coming with a bunch."

And as someone who's won this race before and someone who's planning on coming with a bunch, clearly this is one of those races that means a lot for you and your team to win.

"Listen, I love Woodbine Mohawk Park. They do it right. From the party to the racing, I love racing there. If it wasn't for the paperwork, I'd race there all the time. It's only four hours from The Meadows. We would ship there every weekend.

"But it's a great place to race — from everybody you work with from the race secretary to the people in the paddock...it's awesome."

Previous 2023 TROT Magazine Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book profiles:

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