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North America Cup Starters Set

Published: June 11, 2016 9:38 pm ET

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The starters for next weekend's $1 million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack were determined on Saturday night (June 11) following a pair of eliminations, which were won by early top-ranked contenders.

Betting Line turned in a career-best performance of 1:49.1 as he captured the first of two $50,000 eliminations for driver David Miller and trainer Casie Coleman.

When the starting gate sped away, Racing Hill (Brett Miller) crossed to command from the far outside over mid-pack leaver Lyons Snyder (Sylvain Filion), but those two traded places at the :27.4 first quarter mark.

After Lyons Snyder looped Racing Hill, he carved out middle splits of :55.2 and 1:22.2 while David Miller sent 8-5 second choice Betting Line first over from fifth and 7-5 favourite Control The Moment (Randy Waples) followed his cover.

Lyons Snyder continued to lead into the stretch with Betting Line closing outside and a rough-gaited Racing Hill coming through along the pylons. In the end, Betting Line prevailed over Lyons Snyder in 1:49.1 while Racing Hill finished third. Control The Moment was fourth and Beast Mode (Trevor Henry) edged out Check Six (Yannick Gingras) for fifth.

Following the race, Miller expressed how impressed he was after driving Betting Line for the first time.

"He went an awesome first over trip and never gave up until he got to the wire there," said the U.S. Hall of Fame reinsman. "I definitely didn't like our trip, I thought maybe I might be able to pick up some cover, but he felt strong the whole way and he kept digging through the stretch.

"I've been going after this [race] for a long time and it looks like I got a good shot here."

Betting Line is now three-for-four to start his sophomore campaign. Following a victory in last week's Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, Coleman noted that she still had some improvements to make with the Bettors Delight-Heathers Western colt, including a shoeing change from aluminum to steel up front.

"He has one major problem: he's got a splint that's bothered him ever since he was a baby and I put the aluminum up front and I just think it was stinging him more than anything," she explained. "Normally, you want aluminum on this track, but this horse needs steel. Sportswriter won this race in steel shoes so we're going to try to do it again."

Betting Line went over $600,000 in earnings with his ninth career win from 16 starts for his Ontario connections, including West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Christine Calhoun of Chatham, and Mac Nichol of Burlington.

Betting Line was ranked as the 8-1 third choice in Trot Magazine's 2016 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book pre-season predictions.

In the second elimination, Boston Red Rocks equalled his lifetime-best mark of 1:50.3 with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Steve Elliott.

At the start of the race, Nvestment Bluechip (Jody Jamieson) established the lead from post four, but American Passport (Scott Zeron) fired from the eight-hole and drove on to take over command past the :26.4 first quarter mark. His lead was short-lived though as Nocturnal Bluechip (Paul MacDonell) rushed from third to first before the :54.4 half.

Meanwhile, Tim Tetrick sent 3-5 favourite Boston Red Rocks underway from fourth, leading the outer flow down the backstretch that included Big Top Hanover (Yannick Gingras), Michaels Victory (Sylvain Filion) and Manhattan Beach (David Miller).

Boston Red Rocks applied first over pressure to Nocturnal Bluechip past three-quarters in 1:22.4 before overtaking that rival down the stretch. He then held off the outside closers for the half-length victory in 1:50.3. Big Top Hanover, Michaels Victory and a from-last Magnum J (Doug McNair) spread across the track to finish second through fourth while Manhattan Beach was fifth.

Boston Red Rocks entered the eliminations off a trio of close top-three finishes in the New Jersey Sires Stakes. Tonight's win was his second from four sophomore starts following a top rookie campaign in which he won the Breeders Crown.

"I'm a firm believer in this horse," said Tetrick. "I know he's a nice horse. Every time he got beat, he got beat by a head, a nose. I mean he got beat, but he raced good enough to win. You know, just horses sitting in the pocket beat him. He's a little lazy and he kind of loses focus sometimes and you've got to stay after him, but he got the job done. He finds ways to win so that's what I like about him.

"I was really trying to get a trip out of there [tonight], but I just couldn't work it out. When I had to be first up, I was hoping I could get some cover, but it didn't work out. You know, he toughed it out and made me look good."

Owned by Florida's Peter Blood and Rick Berks, Boston Red Rocks now boasts six wins in 13 career starts and earnings over $735,000.

He was the 5-1 second pick in Trot's Spring Book rankings.

The Pepsi North America Cup post position draw will be held during a press conference on Tuesday, June 14 at Mohawk, with Mitch Marner, the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Player of the Year and Toronto Maple Leafs top prospect, serving as the guest drawmaster. The $1 million final will headline a super Saturday stakes program on June 18.

Fillies Face Off In Fan Hanover Eliminations

SBOA Stakes champion Good Will Hanover returned to winning form for trainer Dr. Ian Moore as she collared 2-5 favourite Pure Country in 1:50.2 in the first of two $35,000 Fan Hanover eliminations.

After making a break at the start of last week's Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event, 3-1 second choice Good Will Hanover minded her manners in her Fan Hanover elimination as she left for the lead from post five.

"She was getting a little too aggressive behind the gate [last week] and she can be very difficult at times," noted driver Chris Christoforou. "It's a hard job with her, but Doc Moore's got her where we can race her properly, hopefully from now on and we'll keep going."

After a :27.2 opening panel, Pure Country (Brett Miller) accelerated from an early four-hole and took over command at the :54.4 half-mile mark. She then turned back first over challenger Mayhem Seelster (Jack Moiseyev) after a third quarter duel to the 1:23 mark, but Christoforou pulled Good Will Hanover from the pocket down the stretch and the Big Jim-Go For Best filly prevailed by a neck over Pure Country in 1:50.2. Mayhem Seelster held for third over Bad As Leader (Trevor Henry) while Lay Lady Lay (Doug McNair) finished fifth.

"[Pure Country is] going to take you right to the wire so I had no problem letting him [Brett Miller] go and sitting behind that mare," said Christoforou. "She's a real good mare. So she carried me where I wanted to go and I was fortunate enough to have enough horse left to get there."

Assessing his chances in the final, Christoforou said, "It's a horse race, that's for sure, but I wouldn't want to be driving any other one."

Good Will Hanover has now won seven of her 12 career starts and over $280,000 in purses for owner Glb Stable of Lakeview, N.S.

Darlinonthebeach continued her winning streak in the second elimination with her first victory on Canadian soil for trainer Nancy Johansson.

After a :26.3 contested opening quarter, driver David Miller sent 3-5 favourite Darlinonthebeach from fourth to first and reached the half in :54. The Somebeachsomewhere-Darlins Delight filly, who was a runner-up in the Shes A Great Lady last year at Mohawk, began to open up three lengths on top en route to the third quarter mark in 1:21.3 and cruised home to score the one-length triumph in 1:50.2 with 7-2 second choice L A Delight (Randy Waples) chasing her home in second from first over. Newborn Sassy (Tim Tetrick) and Lindwood Beachgirl (James Macdonald) closed outside off cover to finish third and fourth, respectively, while Penpal (Pat Lachance) rallied from the back of the pack to earn the last spot in the final.

"My planning going into the race was just let everybody settle and move her back," said Miller after the race. "I had to go a little hard to get to the lead, but the third quarter really surprised me. I thought I was backing her down, I didn't expect to be going that much, but she held strong."

White Birch Farm's homebred filly has now won three races in a row, including a pair of Pennsylvania stakes events -- her most recent in a big 1:49.4 mile over The Meadows. Lifetime, she has seven wins from 16 career starts and boasts a bankroll of nearly $340,000.

"I've got a lot of confidence in her," said Miller. "She's a good, solid horse. She's pretty manageable and usually gives a good effort."

The field for the $438,000 Fan Hanover Stakes is listed below in post position order.

1. Lindwood Beachgirl
2. Darlinonthebeach
3. Good Will Hanover
4. Newborn Sassy
5. Penpal
6. L A Delight
7. Pure Country
8. Lay Lady Lay
9. Mayhem Seelster
10. Bad As Leader
AE: Party In Rome

Field Set For Roses Are Red Stakes

Anndrovette, a three-time winner of the Roses Are Red, was able to get up in the final strides to prevail in a win photo over Sandbetweenurtoes (Jody Jamieson) in the first of three $35,000 eliminations for the older pacing mares. The Jeff Bamond Jr. trainee stopped the clock in 1:49.4 with driver Tim Tetrick handling the lines. Waasmula (Trevor Henry), the early leader and race favourite, finished three lengths behind in third.

The elimination victory was the first win this season for the nine-year-old Riverboat King-Easy Miss mare and her 45th overall. Anndrovette is owned by Bamond Racing LLC and Joseph Davino.

In the second split, Lady Shadow made a second-quarter move to the lead and never looked back en route to a 1:50.2 victory. Driven by Doug McNair, the five-year-old daughter of Shadow Play and Lady Camella picked up her second win in eight seasonal outings. The Ron Adams trainee hit the wire three and a quarter lengths ahead of Yagonnakissmeornot (Jody Jamieson) and Wrangler Magic (Sylvain Filion).

Lady Shadow will be aiming to defend her title in the Roses Are Red final next Saturday for owners David Kryway, Carl Atley, Edwin Gold and the Bfj Stable.

McNair was right back in the winner’s circle after the final elimination with Solar Sister. Trained by his father Gregg McNair, Solar Sister went gate-to-wire to score a 1:51 victory. The four-year-old Mach Three-Cabrini Hanover mare finished a length and a half ahead of Katie Said (Brett Miller) and two lengths in front of Ms Mac N Cheese (Sylvain Filion).

Solar Sister now has two wins from five starts this season for owners David Willmot of King City, Ont., and Toronto's Clay Harland Horner.

Devil Child, driven by Brett Miller, was the fourth-place finisher (from the first elimination) drawn by lot to qualify for next weekend’s final.

The field for the $370,000 Roses Are Red Stakes is listed below.

1. Waasmula
2. Solar Sister
3. Lady Shadow
4. Anndrovette
5. Sandbetweenurtoes
6. Devil Child
7. Ms Mac N Cheese
8. Wrangler Magic
9. Yagonnakissmeornot
10. Katie Said
AE: Empress Deo

(With files from WEG)

Evenin Of Pleasure Prevails In Preferred

After being looped by Nickle Bag (Trevor Henry) early on, Evenin Of Pleasure (Sylvain Filion) came back along the pylons to defeat that foe at the wire in the weekly $34,000 Preferred Pace for trainer Richard Moreau and Montreal owner Gestion J Y Blais Inc. The six-year-old son of Dragon Again out of Armbro Amour prevailed by half a length in 1:49.4, earning his first victory since the Molson Pace at odds of 7-1. State Treasurer (Chris Christoforou), the 4-5 favourite, advanced first over to finish third.

To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Mohawk Racetrack.

(Photos by New Image Media)

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