TROT N.A. Cup Spring Book Profile: Funtime Bayama

Funtime Bayama
Published: May 2, 2024 11:20 am EDT

As the calendar turns to May, the horses set to compete for the 2024 Pepsi North America Cup will start to ramp up activity in advance of eliminations for Canadian harness racing's richest pacing prize. Trot Insider will profile some of the race's top ranked contenders as they gear up for those eliminations on Saturday, June 8 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Coming in at 13-1 odds, Funtime Bayama was ranked at No. 7 in TROT Magazine's 2024 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book.

Funtime Bayama looks at lucky number seven with just seven starts on his young resume. His career record of four wins, two seconds and one third as a freshman amassed $246,720 in earnings with a successful stint in the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS). Owned by breeder Bayama Farms Inc., the sophomore gelded son of Hes Watching-Tymal Sugarbabydoll earned his 1:50.1 lifetime mark in an OSS Gold leg at Woodbine Mohawk Park for his Ontario handler, Richard Moreau. Three of his wins came in OSS Gold legs and one in the $93,700 Nassagaweya Stakes with a third-place finish in the $300,000 OSS Super Final.

"He's a great horse. He's something special," breeder / owner / developer Yves Filion told Trot Insider. "I'm the one who has been training him all along, I broke him myself, and every day I jog and train him, then qualified him. It's not how fast he went, it's how he did it. Rideau in 1:56.3, I never turned him loose. I did that gradually. I think that really helped him, but I knew I had something there."

Trot Insider caught up with the Hall of Famer to discuss the sophomore with the least amount of starts in TROT's top 10, set to make his sophomore debut on Saturday, May 4 in an elimination of the SBOA Stakes at Mohawk.

Where did he winter and when did you start back with him?

"I quit with him after his last start at Mohawk, the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final of the Ontario Sires Gold. I started back with him in the beginning of January."

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

"Mentally, he was perfect. Soundness, he wasn't that sound. He had a problem behind in one leg, then we got that fixed. Now he looks like 100 per cent. I believe if he stays the way he is, he should be a good contender."

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

"I'm looking for his first race to be on May 4.... I'm looking to start him easy, then the Somebeachsomewhere and then the North America Cup."

So in terms of races before and stakes events, you're keeping him sort of central to Ontario, did you stake him to anything big in the States?

"At the Meadowlands, the Meadowlands Pace."

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

"Last year after I qualified him at Rideau Carleton. We won the qualifier in 1:56.3 then I knew we had something. I knew there was something. When we started, I didn't push him that much. I just wanted to be careful. After that, he was super. I just started slowly with him. I drove him the first two starts."

As someone who's won this race before, how does it feel to have another legit shot at the North America Cup?

"One thing, he is similar to [1988 Cup winner] Runnymede Lobell. He is a super horse to me. As a two-year-old, I think he is the best one I've ever had. He's the one that really gives me chills."

(Standardbred Canada)

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