TROT N.A. Cup Spring Book Profile: Gem Quality

Gem Quality
Published: May 8, 2024 12:00 pm EDT

With the calendar turned 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 11-1 odds, Gem Quality was ranked at No. 5 in TROT Magazine's 2024 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book.

Gem Quality is trained by Chris Ryder for owners Let It Ride Stables Inc., Odds On Racing, Brad Grant and Enviro Stables Ltd. The sophomore son of Captain Crunch out of the Bettors Delight mare Twinkle made eight starts as a freshman, returning as a winner on four occasions in addition to a second, third, a fifth and one out of the money start. In total, he banked $442,710. His early success focused on the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes (PASS), but his most notable achievement was winning the Breeders Crown final for the two-year-old pacing males in 1:50 with Dexter Dunn on board. 

"It appears he has two moves. His racing manner is pretty spot on and he just seems to be able to step up when I want him to," said Ryder.

After making two winning qualifying appearances in 2024 at the Big M, Trot Insider caught up with trainer Chris Ryder to discuss TROT's top five ranked sophomore. Gem Quality is entered in to go at Pocono Downs on Saturday, May 11 in a $30,000 USD Pennsylvania All-Stars division. He's drawn post six in the sixth race, will have Dexter Dunn at the controls and has been assessed as the 5-2 morning line choice.

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

"He wintered in Lexington on a farm, Anvil & Lace. He's trained back here in Jersey with me and has been fine."

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

"He went out on a high, so it's really hard to really get any better from there, but he did real well [in Indiana] and got a nice trip, but finished it well as well. I'm just real pleased with him. He was always nice training last year, like from the beginning, and he's just the same now. He looks like a pretty decent type of horse. He's in good flesh and he's just come back trouble-free and we plan to keep it that way."

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

"His first stakes test is the PA-All Stars, then two more PA Sires Stakes and then we'll be up for the Cup. He does have the Somebeachsomewhere, but we'll just see how he goes." 

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

"He's got the Meadowlands Pace, the Hempt and then he just has sires stakes and Breeders Crown, Matron and Progress."

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

"As a two-year-old he was good, but we were just concentrating on the year. But, he went to The Meadows as a two-year-old and made a skip at the head of the stretch and lost two or three lengths and still won. When he did that, I thought this horse was a little special. There was no way, once you saw him bobble at the head of the stretch that he was going to win and he did. I realized you could have a top of the line horse that's right up to that."

As someone who hasn't won this race before, how does it feel to have a legit shot at the North America Cup?

"It's right up there, the NA Cup. It'd be terrific...I have come close [finishing second by a head with Metropolitan in 2004]. Close, but no cigar."

Previous Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book Profiles:

(Standardbred Canada)

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