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Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #6

Published: April 7, 2019 11:15 am ET

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The countdown to the 2019 Pepsi North America Cup is on, with Trot Insider profiling the horses predicted to be the top contenders for Canadian harness racing's richest prize.

At 16-1, the wickedly-fast Hurrikane Emperor comes in at #6 in TROT Magazine's 2019 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book.

It was in 2012 that Hurrikane Kingcole turns heads with an amazing recovery in his North America Cup elimination. After making a break before the start of the race, Hurrikane Kingcole reset for driver Tim Tetrick and finished seventh -- just 1-1/4 lengths from fifth and a spot in the final. Track officials at Mohawk told trainer John McDermott that the transponder timed Hurrikane Kingcole as pacing his mile in 1:46.1.

Since retired, Hurrikane Kingcole had limited stallion production in North America before being exported to Australia for stud duty. With just nine foals, Hurrikane Kingcole has sired five starters and five race winners -- the fastest and richest of those is Hurrikane Emperor.

From nine freshman starts, Hurrikane Emperor (Hurrikane Kingcole - Hurrikane Schmumma) posted a 7-1-0-1 summary and banked $226,900 for owners Jonathan Klee Racing, Kuhen Racing LLC, Pegasis Investment Group and William Garofalo. Unbeaten in New Jersey, Hurrikane Emperor's biggest win came in the 2018 KYSS Final going wire-to-wire in 1:49.3.

Trot Insider caught up with McDermott for an update on Hurrikane Kingcole and the horse he hopes can connect for victory in a race his father could not.

Talk about the decision to breed to Hurrikane Kingcole and your thoughts on him as a stallion.

"I was comparing him the other day...he's the modern-day No Nukes. He was a disappointment on the racetrack, he showed ridiculous ability, and he just couldn't stay healthy. That was his thing. He never had a lameness issue, he just couldn't stay healthy. If you look at the two of their careers, they're about $10,000 apart in earnings, and No Nukes is the most powerful sire in the last 100 years in my opinion, and I think 'Kingcole' is going to go a great job. His foals [in Australia] have hit the ground running. They're absolutely in love with them. We had five of them. The daughter [Hurrikane Empress] made a quarter million and Emperor made $226,000 last year and won in 1:49. We took advantage of it. We had a great opportunity to breed a horse I believed in, and that's what turned out for us."

Would you consider bringing him back to North America for stud duty?

"I had a lot of different people reach out to me asking about standing him, but the one expense is you have to ship each way. We have a lease deal in Australia with Kevin Seymour. The person that would be interested in bringing him to North America, they're on the hook for $60,000 right off the bat. I explained to him that I wouldn't consider any thought of bringing him back unless somebody was putting that $60,000 up front and we'd work out a deal. It's real hard to get a fair shake of mares. You look at some of the crops, some of these sires, like Captaintreacherous. That group of mares he bred to last year, I think I could have turned out world champions if I bred to those mares. That was amazing the crop they got. I think if 'Kingcole' had a chance to get a really nice book of mares, we would have brought him back. Until somebody's going to do that for us, he's going to stand down here at Kevin's and have a great life."

Where did he winter?

"I'm in Florida every winter now. He was down there training at Pompano Park with me, and he's training back phenomenally. I think it was the middle of December I started back with him, because we were able to shut him down really early. He's dynamite. He arrived in Goshen, N.Y. last week."

Where are you at with him now?

"He could qualify tomorrow, not a problem. He's got enough miles. He's been 2:01 in the jog cart and coming vicious quarters and halves."

Any noticeable changes in him from two to three?

"The only difference is last year he was a kid and this year he's a man."

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

"The North America Cup is going to set up really, really nice for us. We'll probably qualify him once at the Meadowlands, and then I have two legs of the New Jersey Sire Stakes and the final. I'll use those as preps for him for the North America Cup, and we'll come to the North America Cup off those three races."

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

"It goes North America Cup, the Hempt, the Meadowlands Pace, the Adios, the Cane Pace, hopefully the Milstein in Ohio. The only big races we don't have on the schedule are the Little Brown Jug and the Breeders Crown. Cole wasn't eligible to it, so that's why he was never staked to it. But we do have the Indiana races toward the end of the year also."

Would you consider a supplement to the Little Brown Jug if you won a race like the Cane?

"It's something I would consider throwing out to my partners. My vote would be not to go (to the Little Brown Jug). I've never been a huge fan of it. But if my partners wanted to go, we would do it. But first off, win the Cane. We've got to win the Cane to have that problem."

Is the heat racing the reason why you're against it?

"I think you go heats on a half-mile track -- no matter how great of a half-mile track it is -- it's really quite absurd that we think we can do that with our horses. I wouldn't train my horse as hard as I could two trips back to back, so I don't understand why we'd want to race him like that. Half-mile track would be super for him. He loves any track; he goes around everything. It's definitely an option. Right now, it's getting him qualified and prepped up for the Meadowlands Pace, and the first thing that's on my head is the North America Cup. Everybody remembers his dad's [North America Cup] elimination when he jumped over a line on the track and spotted them a mile and a half and put in that vicious mile. I'd like to see his son put in that kind of mile without jumping over anything.]

What's his biggest asset/strength?

"The first thing that makes him a great horse is his daddy, because his daddy gave him something most horses don't have, and that's his wicked speed. Now, he's got the cool to be able to use that speed whenever he wants, and that's what makes him so good. 'Kingcole' was a great, sound horse, and his son is a great, sound horse. It's just so nice. I know a few of those top horses have already dealt with lameness issues, and thank God we haven't.

"They were pressed really hard to get them to achieve what they achieved, and it's a great accomplishment. Our guy never had to be injected and never needed any vet work, and that's a big advantage. We really didn't get into how good he can really be."

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

"Right around January 15. I broke him in October. His sister was a real nice filly, but she would go to a knee. Her hitting her knee kind of slowed her a bit. This colt was so flawless with his gait. One partner was trying to figure out prices and values of horses. When he brought the babies up last year, I said, 'Well, you just valued the sister at $250,000. I can tell you he's way better than his sister.' He just has an air about him: he just loves his job and he does it so easily."

Which race of his from 2018 impressed you the most?

"My favourite was the race he got beat in, where Jordan Stratton drove him in the first leg of the Kentucky Sire Stakes. If you go back and watch the video and count how far back he was at the three-quarter pole, they charted him home in :25.4, I think, but it was more like :25 flat. He got carried out by the horse in front of him every step. Every time we moved, he moved, and that horse would not go forward. All he did was keep getting in our way. At the quarter pole, we were 13 lengths off. And when Jordan finally put him down the middle of the track, he was in orbit. Even though he got beat, it was just really amazing to see how he overcame it. It took nothing out of him."

After being so close in 2012, what would it mean for you and your partners to have a horse possibly qualify for and win the North America Cup?

"Between me and my partners, our big races are the North America Cup and the Meadowlands Pace. The only thing that gives the Meadowlands Pace the little edge up is that there are four of us who grew up within two miles of The Meadowlands. That's the first place I worked as a groom; one of my partners on this horse was my trainer that I worked for as a groom; one of my other partners is the brother of that trainer who introduced the trainer to me for my first job ever; the other one's my buddy who -- we've been together since 1993 -- that grew up a few blocks from there. I think the Meadowlands Pace and the North America Cup are 1 and 1A. The one thing I love about the North America Cup: I just feel you have the support of the people. I think they love racing there so much more than the States.

"The one thing about this colt: You don't find too many people who own the sire and the dam and bred him themselves and have a shot at the North America Cup."

Previous North America Cup Spring Book Profiles:
North America Cup Spring Book - #7
North America Cup Spring Book - #8
North America Cup Spring Book - #9
North America Cup Spring Book - #10

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