Tim Tetrick will head to Saturday’s $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers at Woodbine Mohawk Park with morning-line favourite Confederate, and a win would make him only the third driver to capture the race at least three times as well as increase his total number of victories in million-dollar races to nine.
Of course, nine foes stand in the way of Confederate and Tetrick. Among them is Christchurch and Todd McCarthy, who with a triumph would become the first driver to win the Cup in his first two appearances in the race while also becoming only the third driver ever to hoist the trophy in consecutive years.
The North America Cup is race 11 on Mohawk’s stakes-loaded card, with an approximate post time of 10:48 p.m. (EDT). Saturday’s races also include the Fan Hanover for three-year-old female pacers, Roses Are Red for older female pacers, Goodtimes for three-year-old male trotters and Armbro Flight for older female trotters.
Tetrick leads all active drivers in wins in million-dollar races. He is fourth all-time, trailing only John Campbell (23), Ron Pierce (13) and Mike Lachance (10). Campbell and Lachance are the only drivers with more than two wins in the North America Cup, with six and three, respectively.
“It’s definitely special,” said Tetrick, whose million-dollar wins include two of his five Meadowlands Pace victories, his two previous North America Cups and a Hambletonian, Canadian Trotting Classic, Art Rooney Pace and Mohawk Million. “It would be awesome [to win another]. These are the biggest races in our sport. Getting to compete in them is great, and hopefully we can do some good on Saturday.”
Confederate, a son of Sweet Lou-Geothermal trained by Brett Pelling and owned by Diamond Creek Racing, will start the Cup final from post five and is the 5-2 morning-line favourite. He won his elimination last week by 2-1/4 lengths over Lyons Surfing in 1:48.4. He is two-for-two this season after winning five of seven races in 2022, and came into 2023 as TROT Magazine's 2023 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book favourite
His victories last year included the Kentucky Championship Series final and an elimination of the Breeders Crown. He was second in the Crown final.
“So far, he’s done everything right,” said Tetrick. “He raced against older horses at The Meadowlands [on May 27] and swooped the lane. Then, I put him on the lead [in his Cup elim] and he just jogged around there with the plugs in. It’s funny, he goes cruising around in :48 and you feel like you’re just training one. He had plenty left.”
The second choice on the morning line is Its My Show at 3-1, followed by Fulton at 9-2, Voukefalas at 5-1 and Christchurch at 6-1. The remainder of the field is 12-1 or higher. Its My Show, Fulton and Christchurch joined Confederate as elimination winners and were guaranteed starting spots in posts two through six.
Its My Show, with Scott Zeron driving for trainer Linda Toscano, has post two. Fulton (driver Dexter Dunn, trainer Toscano) has post four, Voukefalas (Jordan Stratton, Mike Russo) post six, and Christchurch (McCarthy, Nancy Takter) post three.
“I think it’s a very wide-open race,” said Tetrick. “I wouldn’t be surprised if any horse won it. I feel confident. My horse is coming into the race very good. It’s no easy task, but I feel like I have the best, or one of the best, horses in the race.
“There should be a lot of speed. They’ll be racing. [Confederate] loves to pass horses and he’s super, super fast. He’s so quick. He can come off a helmet and really catch high gears. It gives me more options. You don’t always have to be in the right spot all the time. If the trip doesn’t work out, he can still pace home really fast.”
Tetrick’s previous North America Cup wins were with Captaintreacherous in 2013 and Wakizashi Hanover in 2015.
McCarthy, who won last year’s North America Cup with Pebble Beach, is among nine drivers to capture the race in their first try. McCarthy got the drive Saturday with Christchurch after Dexter Dunn, who drove him in his elim, committed to another of his regular horses, Fulton, for the final.
“He’s a very nice pickup,” said McCarthy, who drove Christchurch five times as a two-year-old. “He’s going really well at the moment, Nancy has him in great form, so hopefully we can continue that this weekend.”
Christchurch won two of seven races last year and is two-for-two this season. The son of Always B Miki-Darlinonthebeach is owned by Diamond Creek Racing, Farhi Standardbreds Corp and Spreydon Racing. Christchurch’s dam, grandam and great-grandam were all millionaires: Darlinonthebeach, Darlins Delight and Town Pro.
“He’s definitely matured since last year,” said McCarthy. “I know he’s a horse that’s been a bit of a project to get him to learn to race. They’ve definitely done a good job with that. He looks to fit in this race well on Saturday.
“To me, it looks like an even sort of field. I think it’s going to be a great race to watch. There are a bunch of horses that have a shot, it’ll just be the way the race plays out. Hopefully, we’re in front when it matters.”
Among other drivers in the Cup, David Miller also will be trying for his third victory in the event. Miller will drive Ammo, the 2022 Breeders Crown champ from post nine at Mohawk, from post 10. No horse has won the North America Cup from post 10 since 1994 when the race was moved to a seven-eighths-mile track.
Other previous Cup-winning drivers in the field are Dan Dube, who drives Moment Is Here; Scott Zeron, who drives Its My Show; and Yannick Gingras, who drives Save America.
Jordan Stratton, who drives Voukefalas, is making his Cup debut.
Racing fans across Canada will be able to watch all the excitement of Saturday’s $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on TSN.
The 40th edition of Canada’s most prestigious harness race will air nationally on TSN3 from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. The show will feature hosts Laura Diakun, Greg Blanchard and Mark McKelvie live from Woodbine Mohawk Park.
First post time for Saturday’s card is 6:30 p.m. To view Saturday’s harness racing entries, click one of the following links: Pepsi North America Cup Night -- Saturday Entries || North America Cup Card Program Pages (courtesy TrackIT).
(USTA / Woodbine)