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North America Cup Elims Complete

Published: June 13, 2015 8:15 pm ET

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Three eliminations were contested on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack to determine the starters for this year's $1 million Pepsi North America Cup.

The top three finishers in the $50,000 eliminations as well as one fourth-place finisher drawn by lot will advance to the rich final next Saturday, June 20 at Mohawk. The connections of the elimination winners will be able to select their post positions for the final at the post draw and press conference on Tuesday, June 16. Toronto Maple Leafs' Peter Holland will serve as the guest drawmaster for Canada's richest harness race.

Living up to his 1-9 expectations, undefeated Wiggle It Jiggleit was a 1:49.2 wire-to-wire in the first elimination for driver Montrell Teague, with Arque Hanover (Tim Tetrick) and Yankee Bounty (Corey Callahan) chasing him home from the outer flow. Hurrikane Ali (Yannick Gingras) finished fourth and was selected as the fourth-place finisher that will advance to the final.

Wiggle It Jiggleit chased the starting car away leaving from post five and put up a :26.2 first quarter before stealing a breather to the half in :56.3. With Arque Hanover moving first over, the Clyde Francis-trained Wiggle It Jiggleit picked up the pace en route to three-quarters in 1:23.3 and opened up six lengths down the stretch with :25.4 final quarter speed.

"I took him off the gate just in case I had to take him off and there was early speed," said Montrell Teague of his racing strategy. "I timed the gate perfectly and he strolled out of there like it was nothing.

"That's exactly how I wanted it. I didn't want to go another [1]:48 or anything like that. Wait til next week for that when the money's down."

Wiggle It Jiggleit is now undefeated in 11 career starts with $167,242 earned in purses for owner George Teague Jr., the trainer of 2006 North America Cup champion Total Truth and Wiggle It Jiggleit's millionaire sire Mr Wiggles.

"He's the best horse I've ever trained by far," stated George Teague. "He's very intelligent and has speed. I've never trained one as fast as him so that's a big plus in this game."

Driven by Brian Sears, In The Arsenal continued his perfect sophomore campaign with a 1:49.4 first over triumph in the second elimination. Penji Hanover (Chris Christoforou) was the runner-up over Good Friday Three (Tim Tetrick).

With Go Daddy Go (John Campbell) at the inside and Penji Hanover filling the pocket, the leaving Allbeef N Nobull (David Miller) found a spot in third and In The Arsenal tucked in behind him from post seven. Go Daddy Go led the field through early fractions of :26.3 and :54.4 before 4-5 favourite In The Arsenal was flushed out and applied first over pressure as they raced by three-quarters in 1:22.3. In The Arsenal eventually wore down Go Daddy Go and held on to win by half a length as Penji Hanover squeezed through for second-place over the oncoming Good Friday Three, with Revenge Shark (Scott Zeron) and Dudes The Man (Corey Callahan) coming within a length of the winner.

"He did it the hard way, he came first up, but he was a safe winner," said trainer Kelvin Harrison after the race. "He's coming [into the final] in good shape. It wasn't that hard a race for him. He seems nice and fresh when he came back so hopefully we'll be okay."

The American Ideal colt is now four-for-four in his sophomore season after winning six of his 11 starts last year. In The Arsenal's elimination victory matched his lifetime mark and lifted his career bankroll over the $600,000 mark for breeder White Birch Farm and co-owner In The Arsenal Racing.

"I think the biggest thing this year is he is a whole lot smarter than last year," noted Harrison. "If you started him up last year he was hard to stop, but now he'll race smart and he'll measure a horse. Last year in a situation like that he would have been gone."

Wakizashi Hanover and Tim Tetrick came storming home from sixth-place off the cover of 1-5 favourite Artspeak to win the third elimination in a career-best 1:49.2 for the Tri County Stable of Truro, N.S. Artspeak (Scott Zeron) finished second with Betting Exchange (David Miller) third over Split The House (Randy Waples), who was named the Also Eligible for the final.

While Wakizashi Hanover was stepping up from Pennsylvania Sires Stakes competition, Tetrick was confident in the Joann Looney-King trainee.

"I know Artspeak is a great horse and would be tough to beat, but I had a lot of confidence in my horse," he said. "He's been good all along. He's had some tough trips that hadn't always work out, but he's always right there, he's always on the ticket. He likes to finish.

"My horse was really grabbing on and Artspeak was kind of struggling there in the turn so I just let him rip and he circled him and paced to the wire really strong."

Rock N Roll World (Sylvain Filion) established the early lead ahead of Sicily (Yannick Gingras) before a parked out Split The House took over after the :26.3 first quarter. Meanwhile, Betting Exchange was out and rolling and he cleared to command just past the :54.2 half-mile mark. Split The House was then flushed back out as Sicily began to advance, with Artspeak following and Wakizashi Hanover on his back. Betting Exchange and Split The House battled past three-quarters in 1:22.4, but Wakizashi Hanover sprinted home in :25.3 to steal the spotlight with Artspeak following one and three-quarter lengths behind to his inside.

The Dragon Again gelding has finished first or second in 10 of his 11 career starts, including all five outings this season, and now has earnings just shy of $200,000.

"I'm really happy with the horse, he's coming into the race great," said Tetrick. "They're doing a great job, the connections. If he gets the right trip, I think he can go with just about anything out there."

The field for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup, listed in alphabetical order:

Arque Hanover
Betting Exchange
Good Friday Three
Hurrikane Ali
In The Arsenal
Penji Hanover
Wakizashi Hanover
Wiggle It Jiggleit
Yankee Bounty
AE: Split The House

Field Set For Fan Hanover Stakes

While Wiggle It Jiggleit kept his undefeated win streak rolling, the season-debuting 2014 Horse of the Year JK Shesalady suffered her first career loss as Sassa Hanover rallied off her cover to win the first of two $35,000 Fan Hanover eliminations.

"That's the the trip I was looking for," said winning driver Yannick Gingras. "You know JK Shesalady will take you where you need to go. I figured if she gets roughed up a little bit I had a chance and that's what happened."

The Show Returns (John Campbell) sprinted across the track to establish the lead from post eight into a :26.1 first quarter, but insider Bettor Be Steppin (Corey Callahan) was on the move early and took over command down the backstretch. As she reached the half in :55.3, Single Me (David Miller) came rushing by with 1-9 favourite JK Shesalady (Tim Tetrick) in pursuit. Single Me continued to lead past three-quarters in 1:22.1 with JK Shesalady looming first over, but Sassa Hanover stormed past those rivals down the stretch and held off the quick-closing Wrangler Magic (Sylvain Filion) by half a length to win in a career-best 1:49.4. Single Me finished two lengths back in third. JK Shesalady was fourth and Bettor Be Steppin was fifth. The top five finishers from each elimination advance to next Saturday's final.

Ron Burke trains Sassa Hanover, who won nine of her 13 races last year and banked $485,591 for owners Burke Racing Stable, The Panhellenic Stable Corp., Weaver Bruscemi and Lawrence Karr.

Sent postward as the 6-1 second choice, the Rock N Roll Heaven filly came into Saturday's eliminations with a victory in a New York Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs on her sophomore record and a second-place finish in the Lismore Pace at Yonkers Raceway.

"It took her a little bit of time to come back," noted Gingras. "I trained her a week before she qualified and she was just okay and the first qualifier she was okay, but then she really woke up after that. The second qualifier she was much better, and at Vernon, [driver] Andrew McCarthey told me she was very good there. At Yonkers, it was a tough track and tough trip as well, but tonight she was perfect."

Local filly Moonlit Dance prevailed in a photo finish in the second elimination with James MacDonald in the sulky for trainer Tony O'Sullivan and the David Goodrow Stable of Cambridge, Ont.

The first filly to get a call was 3-2 favourite Solar Sister (Doug McNair) as she sprinted off the gate from post eight with Deli Beach (John Campbell) leaving to her outside and tucking into the two-hole through a :26.2 opening quarter. Momas Got A Gun (David Miller) was parked out and pressed on to clear the early leader at the :54 half-mile mark while Happiness (Yannick Gingras) tipped out from third and advanced alongside. Happiness took over the lead and then had Deli Beach matching strides as they travelled by three-quarters in 1:22.1, but the backfield began to converge on those two down the stretch. Moonlit Dance, who had settled away eighth early on, came through at the inside to prevail by a neck in a career-best 1:50.4 over the late-closing Doctor Terror (Corey Callahan), with Better Said (Tim Tetrick) a length behind in between the top pair. Solar Sister finished fourth and Storm Point (Brian Sears) was fifth.

Moonlit Dance was the 7-1 fifth choice on the toteboard following a pair of runner-up finishes in Mohawk's Blossom and Princess series and a New York Sire Stakes victory at Vernon Downs this season.

After the race, O'Sullivan noted that the win was a special one for the homebred Art Major filly, who was developed by the late Mark Austin.

"Mark and Julie trained her as a two-year-old and we got her as a three-year-old," said O'Sullivan. "She's not easy to handle as you can see on the track. They dealt with it last year and it's an elimination, but it's just really nice to win for them."

The field for the $479,000 Fan Hanover Stakes:

1. Better Said
2. Moonlit Hanover
3. Sassa Hanover
4. Doctor Terror
5. JK Shesalady
6. Solar Sister
7. Wrangler Magic
8. Storm Point
9. Single Me
10. Bettor Be Steppin
AE: The Show Returns

Mares Ready To Battle In Roses Are Red Stakes

Lady Shadow and Colors A Virgin were victors in their respective $35,000 Roses Are Red Stakes eliminations for older pacing mares on Saturday night's action-packed card of harness racing.

With Doug McNair in the bike, 8-1 shot Lady Shadow won the first elimination in front-stepping fashion.

As soon as the starting gate’s wings closed, Lady Shadow brushed to the lead from the outside post seven and that is where she remained, putting up fractions of :25.4, :54 and 1:21.3 before stopping the clock in a new lifetime mark of 1:48.3. Yagonnakissmeornot (Jody Jamieson) rallied home in :25.4 from the backfield, but came up a neck short and finished second while Anndrovette (Tim Tetrick), a three-time Rose Are Red Final winner, was third off the pocket trip. Even-money favourite Weeper (Yannick Gingras) was fourth and Waasmula (Trevor Henry) finished fifth.

“She has made almost $500,000 as a two and three-year-old,” said McNair. “She has always been a nice mare and she’ll go a big trip once in a while on the front end. Tonight I was just planning on racing her from off the pace and I had seen a couple that I thought were going to leave decided they were taking off so I just let her roll and the rest is history.”

The Ron Adams trainee notched her second triumph of the season from four starts for new owners David Kryway, Carl Atley, Edwin Gold and Richard Lombardo. The four-year-old daughter of Shadow Play is now a 13-time career winner and has earnings of $517,679.

In the second elimination, Colors A Virgin and driver Trace Tetrick finished second, but inherited the victory after first-place finisher Venus Delight (Tim Tetrick) caused interference to Katie Said (Yannick Gingras) in the stretch and was placed eighth, according to Ontario Racing Commission judges.

Krispy Apple (Corey Callahan) put up fractions of :26.4, :55.1 and 1:22.2 with Colors A Virgin applying first over pressure before 8-5 favourite Venus Delight angled out from along the pylons in the stretch to get to the wire first in 1:49. Colors A Virgin finished second at odds of 8-1 and was placed first, with her mile clocked in a career-best 1:49.2. Sandbetweenurtoes (David Miller) finished third off the pocket trip and was placed second. Table Talk (Scott Zeron) inherited third while Skippin By (Brian Sears) and Krispy Apple were bumped up to fourth and fifth, respectively.

The Brian Brown trainee notched her fourth win of the season from seven outings. The four-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin is now a 22-time career winner with earnings approaching $800,000 for owner Emerald Highlands Farm.

The $350,000 Roses Are Red Stakes will be drawn on Tuesday.

(With files from WEG)

Shamballa Repeats In Preferred

In regular racing action, Shamballa earned his second straight win in Mohawk's weekly $34,000 Preferred Pace, closing from second over with a wicked :25.2 final kicker to equal his lifetime mark of 1:49 flat.

Spinfiniti (Yannick Gingras) took the lead from the inside post while 8-5 favourite Vegas Vacation (Brian Sears) tucked into the two-hole after getting rough-gaited leaving in the center of the track. Spinfiniti carved out the fractions of :27, :55.3 and 1:23 with Thinking Out Loud (John Campbell) moving up to challenge into the final turn. Down the stretch, Vegas Vacation shot up the pylons while Shamballa closed off cover and drew one and three-quarters lengths clear for the victory. Vegas Vacation was second and Bettorever (Corey Callahan) came on for third.

Rick Zeron trains and drives the five-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding and also shares ownership with Tao Racing.

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

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