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'Wakizashi' Wins North America Cup

Published: June 20, 2015 10:56 pm ET

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Wakizashi Hanover defeated the 2-5 favourite Wiggle It Jiggleit to win the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on Saturday, June 20 at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont.

Wakizashi Hanover converted off a perfect pocket trip to prevail over world champion and previously undefeated Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) in a career-best time of 1:48 flat while Betting Exchange (David Miller) finished third.

Tim Tetrick drove the Dragon Again-Western Gesture gelding for trainer Joann Looney-King and the Tri County Stable of Truro, N.S.

Leaving from post three, Wiggle It Jiggleit crossed over in front of fellow elimination winner and post two starter Wakizashi Hanover through a :25.1 stakes record tying first quarter. Meanwhile, Penji Hanover (Chris Christoforou) and the reigning divisional champion Artspeak (Scott Zeron) remained parked out after leaving from their assigned outside posts. Wiggle It Jiggleit continued to lead the field past the half in :53.3 and three-quarters in 1:21 while Artspeak fanned wide off fading cover. As the field turned for home, Wakizashi Hanover tipped out from the two-hole at the top of the stretch and wore down Wiggle It Jiggleit for the three-quarter-length victory with a :26.4 final frame.

The 1:48 clocking came within one-fifth of a second of the track and Canadian record for three-year-olds while establishing a new gelding record.

“It worked out perfect,” said Tetrick of his winning trip. “I got to follow a really good horse and the horse did the rest. My horse tipped and we got the job done. He’s a nice colt. The connections have done a great job with him. I appreciate them letting me drive the horse. He’s versatile. He’s a good horse and he’s got tons of speed.”

"Well, I feel like we're the new Sheriff in town!" beamed an emotional Looney-King in the winner's circle. "And you know, everybody said we weren't good's just overwhelming to show people that this is the good horse that we thought he was."

Wakizashi Hanover had earned five wins and four seconds in 10 career starts competing solely in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes program before tackling the sport's top three-year-olds male pacers in the North America Cup eliminations and final.

Bred by Hanover Shoe Farms, Wakizashi Hanover was purchased for $23,000 at the Harrisburg sale as a yearling by his Maritimes ownership group consisting of Percy Bonnell, Scott Bowen, David Bugden, Wayne Burley, David Chabassol, and Bruce Kennedy. After working with trainer Gordon Corey in Pinehurst, North Carolina, the gelding joined Looney-King's stable.

"As a two-year-old, we knew he was okay. We knew right from the start he was okay," said Looney-King, who operates a stable out of Harrington, Delaware with her husband Jim King Jr. "He was lightly raced as a two-year-old and we knew when he came back as a three-year-old he was going to be good. We knew it, he was just a good horse."

Wakizashi Hanover provided Tetrick with his second driving victory in the North America Cup over the past three years. He also won the prestigious race in 2013 with Captaintreacherous.

"When Tim came to Delaware and he came to Harrington, we became very good friends with Tim and love Tim like a son," said Looney-King. "He is the best driver, we feel, on planet earth. He's the best and he's been a big, big force in this horse's success."

Sent postward as the 5-1 third choice on the toteboard, Wakizashi Hanover paid $13.40 to win. The complete order of finish was: Wakizashi Hanover, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Betting Exchange, the other elimination winner In The Arsenal, Artspeak, Hurrikane Ali, Arque Hanover, Yankee Bounty, Penji Hanover and Good Friday Three.

"It's the best thing that's ever happened in my life, bar none!" exclaimed Looney-King.

“Lots of supporters calling, sending messages in the last two days, it’s just been phenomenal,” said Kennedy. “We’re living a dream. Three of the six people are brand new owners, never owned a horse before. What a way to start a career. Now they’re hooked, I hope.

“We’ve got a great trainer in Joann Looney-King and her husband, Jim, and we have a great relationship. We’re all small time operators. I don’t know how you get Tim Tetrick as a driver, but we did. We had the package coming in.”

Click here for complete coverage of the Pepsi North America Cup undercard consisting of the $75,000 North America Cup Consolation, the $479,000 Fan Hanover Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies, the $233,000 Goodtimes Trot for three-year-olds, the $272,000 Armbro Flight Stakes for older trotting mares, the $350,000 Roses Are Red Stakes for older pacing mares, $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational Pace, and a pair of Preferred events.

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