North America Cup Rewind: Somebeachsomewhere

Somebeachsomewhere winning the 2008 North America Cup
Published: June 12, 2023 11:36 am EDT

"He’s big, he’s strong, and he has got it going on." Ken Middleton’s famous call of Somebeachsomewhere winning the Pepsi North America Cup helped cement the 2008 edition as one of the all-time great moments in Canadian harness racing.

It was the first time an undefeated horse won the Pepsi North America Cup and just the second win by an Ontario Sired horse. Heady achievements considering ‘Beach’ was the lone horse in trainer Brent MacGrath’s barn.

“It was unbelievable for us to be competing with one horse against these big stables. This is their profession,” said MacGrath. “We’re a car dealer from Nova Scotia that happened to grab the right halter at the sale.”

Somebeachsomewhere winning the the 2008 North America Cup

The story of Somebeachsomewhere is ingrained in modern harness racing lore. He was purchased for $40,000 as a yearling at the 2006 Lexington Select Yearling Sale by MacGrath and his partners at Schooner Stable.

He set a Canadian seasonal record in his debut start as a two-year-old, an elimination for the Battle of Waterloo, and won his remaining five juvenile starts, all stakes, the Battle of Waterloo final, Metro Pace elimination and final, and divisions of the Champlain and Nassaweyaga.

With as much hype behind him as it’s possible for a horse to have entering a sophomore season, he started by being scratched from an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold leg, and was still wearing a bar shoe to protect a bruised foot in the Burlington (now renamed the Somebeachsomewhere), the week before the Pepsi North America Cup eliminations.

“It was nerve-wracking because we were used to racing him when he was healthy and expecting to win,” said MacGrath. “Now, coming into the biggest race of his life, he wasn’t fully himself. But he won the Burlington and actually lost the shoe during the race. Then on elimination night, he wasn’t perfect warming up, so I was a little nervous, but away he went, and the rest is history.”

On the night of the Cup, MacGrath followed his usual routine, despite the night being anything but normal. The race was going for $1.5 million. Prior to Somebeachsomewhere earning more than $800,000 as a two-year-old, MacGrath’s total earnings a trainer were under $10,000.

It was the brightest stage, with the spotlight directly on the Truro, N.S. trainer.

Brent MacGrath and Paul MacDonnell with the North America Cup trophy

“I always went to the grandstand at Mohawk because you can walk up right around the corner from the paddock. So, I stood by myself up in the grandstand,” said MacGrath “I wanted to watch him race and not stand there answering questions and talking.”

With MacGrath in the grandstand, when the wings rolled in the 25th Pepsi North America Cup, Paul MacDonnell and Somebeachsomewhere left from their chosen post two, a reward for winning the elimination.

“We took the two-hole, and I remember leaving off the gate and a hole opening up, and Paul not going in it and sitting in the turn,” said MacGrath. “[Randy Waples] was driving Keystone Horatio and he grabbed up and went in behind, and when he did, Paul just went in for a second, and as soon as the smoke cleared, he headed on to the front and before the quarter he was making his way to the front.”

MacDonnell and Somebeachsomehwere made the front by the half-mile in :54.4 and the 2-5 favourite proved he was worthy of all the hype, rolling to a two-length win in 1:49.

“Paul got to the front at a good clip, so I was confident, and [Somebeachsomewhere] did what he did most nights when you put him on the gate and that was show up and race,” said MacGrath. “It was just an unbelievable feeling to win that kind of race and have that kind of horse no matter what race you were in.”

The winner’s circle that night is a famous scene, with all the partners of Schooner Stable, and the public sharing in the historic moment.

“'Beach' would swing his head sometimes after and if he ever hit a kid trying to get a picture, it would have turned a beautiful night into a disaster,” said MacGrath. “But to have families there and all the owners, on the biggest stage, biggest night and biggest purse, it was unbelievable. I trained young horses my whole life, but never anything like him, and of course, not many have ever been like him.”

Looking back on the career of Somebeachsomewhere and how it changed his life, MacGrath doesn’t focus on the purse money, or the wins, as memorable as those are, but something that money can’t buy.

“The people we met and the doors that owning and training 'Beach' opened for us is what was the biggest for us,” said MacGrath. “The people that we’ve met and become friends with because of 'Beach' is incredible. We never would have met these people without him, and friends that I have now, I met a lot of them because of 'Beach.'”


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