Optimism For Odds On Equuleus

Published: June 14, 2013 01:33 pm EDT

When plans go awry for scheduling starts heading into big races, good horses have the ability to overcome the odds and still perform. That's why, despite a less than stellar seasonal debut and unpopular post position, the oddsmakers could not discount Odds On Equuleus heading into Saturday night's $1 million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack.

Big things were expected from Odds On Equuleus after a sensational freshman season with five wins from nine starts and a lone finish out of the top three stemming from a controversial judges' decision at The Red Mile. The son of Art Major was to debut in the New York Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs on May 24, but those plans were derailed when the track was shut due to an outbreak of equine herpes.

Plan B for trainer Robin Schadt and owners Odds On Racing was to qualify 'Equuleus' for a third time at the Meadowlands and then ship to Canada for the Somebeachsomewhere on June 1. As the public choice, Odds On Equuleus finished out of the money for the first time in his career. The pressure was on for a better performance in the North America Cup elimination, and the colt rebounded with authority. With regular driver John Campbell at the lines, Odds On Equuleus showed the kind of effort that many expected the week before: he finished second by a length and a half to Vegas Vacation and paced his mile in 1:49.1.

"I was thrilled with his effort last week," Schadt told Trot Insider at the North America Cup draw. "We did have a tough week going into the Somebeachsomewhere, which we had hoped obviously would be a better performance but he rebounded spectacular. We still have this week to get him 100 percent on his game. He's a tough colt, he'll be OK."

There was an announced shoeing change between the Somebeachsomewhere and the Cup elim, but that was only part of the equation that prompted Odds On Equuleus' form reversal.

"He just had a few little things bugging him here and there, nothing glaring," noted Schadt. "He scoped a little sick, and maybe the ship [was a factor]...we made the shoeing change, and he had a slight abscess in the foot so we had some things to work on. He came around much better."

"[John] was very pleased, he was much much better obviously than he was the week before, almost back to his old self and I'm looking forward to Saturday."

Odds On Equuleus was assessed odds of 8-1 heading into Saturday's 30th edition of the North America Cup. Schadt stated that the plans for Odds On Equuleus heading into Saturday's lucrative pacing event involved just some light work at Classy Lane Training Centre during the week.

"He bounced back great, he ate everything - which is what we all hope for as a trainer - he had a great Sunday, Monday and he was good again today (Tuesday)," said Schadt. "We'll take him for a light training mile mid-week."

One way in which the odds are against Schadt & Co. come from the post draw. Since the North America Cup has moved to the seven-eighths mile track size, three post positions have yet to produce a winner: Post 4, Post 8 and Post 10. Odds On Equuleus leaves from Post 8.

"It's a little tough sledding from out there but it's really a very talented field, much deeper than may have been initially anticipated going into the race. He's going to be OK from where he is. I think it's going to be exciting for the fans."

If Schadt needs some good news to counter those statistics, consider this: since moving to the seven-eighths mile at Woodbine and Mohawk, only three horses have won from outside Post 6: Arizona Jack in 1996 (Post 7), Straight Path in 1998 (Post 7) and The Panderosa in 1999 (Post 9). Arizona Jack and The Panderosa were both guided to victory by the driver of Odds On Equuleus, the winningest driver in North America Cup history, John Campbell.

"I think it's exciting to have someone as talented as John Campbell on, and he's won this race six times. I'm game for him to get number 7," said Schadt with a smile. "My colt is versatile, he can do what he needs to do to get into position. John's very good at finding a nice trip and hopefully we get one."

To view the harness racing entries for Saturday at Mohawk, click the following link: Saturday Entries - Mohawk Racetrack.

For free, printable program pages for Pepsi North America Cup Night courtesy of TrackIT, click here.

First-race post time for Saturday's card is 7:05 p.m. The $1-million Pepsi North America Cup has been carded as Race 7.

The Woodbine Entertainment Group has signed a deal with Sportsnet to air the NA Cup on The Score. The one-hour broadcast, a joint production between WEG and Sportsnet, is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. (EDT). It will be the first time that a standardbred race will be shot and aired live in high-definition (HD) in Canada.

Pepsi North America Cup night will not only feature some of, if not the best harness racing in Canada this year, but also loads of contests, draws, music and entertainment for fans on track at Mohawk.

Every customer can register on site for a free $2 bet. There will be free commemorative NA Cup posters given away and you can have it signed at the driver’s autograph session from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

There will be a draw for the Pepsi Best Seats at the Track and you can take the Pepsi Taste Challenge for a chance to win a BBQ set valued at $2,000.

Visit Labatt’s Beerville to play great games and win cool prizes.

There will be a $100,000 guaranteed Early Pick 4, and HPI members will receive four times the HPI points when you wager on Mohawk at Mohawk on Pepsi NA Cup night.

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