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Good Friday, Greater Saturday?

Published: June 16, 2015 11:41 pm ET

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"It's like asking a kid how it feels to be playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. It's super."

One month ago, Rob Fellows didn't have a dog in the fight. Now, he's got a shot at the biggest payday of his career when pacer Good Friday Three lines up against nine of the sport's top three-year-old colt pacers in the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup. This is the first start in Canada's richest harness race for the longtime trainer who hails from Rockwood, Ont.

Fellows got a call one Tuesday morning that a horse was in need of a new trainer, and asked if he was interested. That's how he first heard of Good Friday Three, a Ontario-Sired colt eligible to the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes and the North America Cup.

"That was the draw day of the Somebeachsomewhere," Fellows told Trot Insider at Tuesday's N.A. Cup draw. "So I drove out and picked him up. The owners called me, I had it all changed over and now I have him."

Fellows noted that Good Friday Three was going into the Somebeachsomewhere after fighting an illness and wasn't at 100 percent. He finished seventh, race timed in 1:52.

"So that first race, the Somebeachsomewhere, we were hoping to to get him healthy for that. He wasn't quite healthy but he seemed good the other night."

As the longest shot on the toteboard in the second N.A. Cup elim, Good Friday Three received a ground-saving trip from Tim Tetrick before exploding home with a :26.1 final quarter to edge out Revenge Shark and Dudes The Man for third in his elim. His performance -- race timed in 1:50 and just three-quarters of a length back of winner In The Arsenal -- surprised even his conditioner, who gave him about as much chance as the betting public that tabbed him at 81-1 longshot.

"I mean, he's a small horse, he hadn't raced good his previous two...we had known that he wasn't healthy and we were hoping that he was going to be healthy but you just don't know."

Calling his race "amazing", Fellows gave driver Tim Tetrick a ton of credit for helping his horse qualify for the final but was forced to look elsewhere for this coming Saturday with Tetrick committed to elim winner Wakizashi Hanover. The connections have confirmed that Brett Miller will drive Good Friday Three in the North America Cup final. In Miller's previous three appearances he finished second with We Will See in 2010, fifth with Big Bad John in 2011 and was runner-up in 2014 with Tellitlikeitis.

Before the final, Fellows noted that a light week of work is on tap for his pupil.

"He seems OK. He had a light day Sunday, jogged yesterday and today. Probably train him a little bit tomorrow, not a lot. He's a small horse and this is four, five weeks in a row. They're fit right now, it's just keeping them healthy."

Fellows is fully capable of managing the training side; what's out of his control is the post draw. When Good Friday Three's name was pulled, the remaining choices were posts 1, 8, 9 and 10. They landed the rail.

'The draw worked out the best I could have hoped for," quickly admitted Fellows. "It just shows you how important it is to have a horse that can win and pick post position. Arguably one of the best three-year-olds in North America didn't win and has a very bad post this week."

Given the magnitude of the North America Cup final, Fellows hopes that the race will be competitive and set up well for his horse.

"I'm hoping they make a horse race out of it because this is a million-dollar purse. They're not going to race easy. They will go fast, no one's going to be left alone. I don't think there's going to be a ‎second quarter in :30.1...We'll see what happens and how it turns out. If we keep up and can get out late, hopefully we can get a little bit of a run and a little bit of a lane."

Good Friday Three (Mach Three - Smileallthewayhome) is a homebred colt, owned by breeders David Serwatuk of Hamilton and Robin Watts of Burlington, Ont. William MacKay of Grimsby also owns, and this is the first N.A. Cup Final for the connections.

"I've trained so many horses for owners, breeders...these horses are their babies, it's their dream. He didn't make it to the races at two, makes it at three, started make some noise and wins some races, gets them excited, then a couple of lackluster starts due to sickness. Sometimes horses stay sick for a season.

"He went a real good race the other night and hopefully he has a few more left in him this year."

The longtime horseman who boasts nearly 1,200 wins and $12 million in career purses is also heading into his first N.A. Cup final, and he carries the same enthusiasm of his ownership group into Saturday's main event on an all-star card of harness racing.

"It's on my home track, it's exciting...and not as much pressure with a horse that really wasn't touted to be there, so we're just happy to be there. We're hoping we can get some money in there, it's a big pot. Some people are expecting to win, and I think that would be a lot more pressure on those people than us."

(Post – Horse – Driver – Morning Line)
1 – Good Friday Three – Brett Miller – 20-1
2 – Wakizashi Hanover – Tim Tetrick – 5-2
3 – Wiggle It Jiggleit – Montrell Teague – 8-5
4 – Betting Exchange – David Miller – 15-1
5 – In The Arsenal – Brian Sears – 7-2
6 – Yankee Bounty – Corey Callahan – 20-1
7 – Arque Hanover – John Campbell – 25-1
8 – Hurrikane Ali – Yannick Gingras – 25-1
9 – Penji Hanover – Chris Christoforou – 20-1
10 – Artspeak – Scott Zeron – 5-1
AE – Split The House – Randy Waples - 15-1

To view the entries for Saturday's card at Mohawk or a free program for Mohawk’s Saturday card, courtesy of TrackIT, click on one of the following links: Saturday Entries -- Saturday Program Pages.

The Pepsi North America Cup is the centerpiece of Mohawk’s fantastic Saturday card of racing that will also feature the $479,000 final of the Fan Hanover Stakes (which will showcase three-year-old pacing fillies), the $350,000 final of the Roses Are Red (pacing mares), the $272,000 final of the Armbro Flight (trotting mares), the $233,000 final of the Goodtimes Stakes (three-year-old trotting colts), the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup (invitational pacers) and the $75,000 North America Cup consolation.

TSN1 will televise the Cup final on Saturday. The race will also be featured on Sirius XM satellite radio during an edition of the ‘Saturday Night at the Races’ series. First-race post time for Mohawk’s Saturday card of racing is 6:30 p.m. The NA Cup has been slotted as Race 12 on the 15-dash card and has an approximate post time of 10:40 p.m.

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