Stars Out For Stakes Elims This Weekend At Mohawk

Harness racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park
Published: June 5, 2024 10:57 am EDT

There is no shortage of star power this weekend at Woodbine Mohawk Park, with eliminations for the 2024 Pepsi North America Cup, Fan Hanover, Roses Are Red, Armbro Flight and Goodtimes featuring a number of harness racing's divisional champions from 2023.

The headliners for Saturday night's card are the glamour boys, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings entered in the eliminations for the Pepsi North America Cup, vying for a spot on the gate in next week's million-dollar final. Those three $50,000 eliminations are carded as Races 3, 5 and 7 on Saturday.

With the same connections as 2022 Pepsi North America Cup winner Pebble Beach, Captain Albano (PP4, Todd McCarthy, 9-5) fronts the field of eight in the first elimination. The Noel Daley pupil, the top choice in the 2024 TROT Magazine Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book, is perfect in his sophomore season, winning Pennsylvania Sire Stakes events at Pocono Downs and Harrah's Philadelphia coming into this Saturday's test. The 2023 Dan Patch Award winner, a son of 2013 North America Cup winner Captaintreacherous out of Angelou, sports a record of 9-2-0 in 11 career appearances for Patricia Stable, L A Express Stable LLC, Sjoblom Racing Inc. and Michael E. Dolan.

His main competition includes Ohio Sires Stakes standout Clever Cody (PP3, David Miller, 6-1), 2023 Metro Pace winner Captains Quarters (PP6, Jody Jamieson, 3-1) and 2023 Breeders Crown winner Gem Quality (PP8, Dexter Dunn, 7-2).

After facing each other last week in Somebeachsomewhere Stakes action, Legendary Hanover (PP3, James MacDonald) and Funtime Bayama (PP6, Sylvain Filion, 7-2) will square off again this week in the second Pepsi North America Cup elim. 

Last week, Funtime Bayama got the best of Legendary Hanover, as Filion guided the son of Hes Watching - Tymal Sugrbabydoll to a lifetime best 1:49.1 effort in the Somebeachsomewhere. The 2023 O'Brien Award winner for his division, Legendary Hanover (Huntsville - Lillian Hanover) sports the fastest win time of his contemporaries by virtue of his 1:48.3 effort on May 18.

Also looking to play a prominent role here to advance to next week's final will be 2023 Governor's Cup winner Captain Luke (PP1, Scott Zeron, 6-1) and Mirage Hanover (PP4, Tim Tetrick, 4-1), impressive in his pair of stateside sophomore starts.

Two trainees of Anthony Beaton earned morning line favouritism as Legendary Hanover's stablemate Nijinsky (PP3, Louis-Philippe Roy, 9-5) is the horse with the target on his back in the third and final elim. A winner of just one start as a rookie, Nijinsky (Bettors Delight - Pirouette Hanover) is perfect in three 2024 appearances thus far for owners West Wins Stable, John Fielding and Mark Dumain.

Showing a similar turn of form from two to three, Total Stranger (PP9, Yannick Gingras, 7-2) is the second choice on the morning line in this elim. A full brother to 2020 Pepsi North America Cup winner Tall Dark Stranger, Total Stranger (Bettors Delight - Precocious Beauty) went winless in 11 attempts at two, but has been perfect in his pair of three-year-old appearances. It's a familiar tale as last year's 'Cup' winner, Its My Show, also came into the race without a win at two and a perfect record at three.

New Jersey Sire Stakes standout Better Is Nice (PP7, Andy McCarthy, 4-1) and 2023 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final winner Storm Shadow (PP6, Bob McClure, 6-1) aim to play the spoilers here.

The top three finishers, plus a fourth-place finisher drawn by lot, will advance to the $1 million final on Saturday, June 15 at Mohawk.

Saturday's stakes action kicks off in the second race, the first of two $35,000 eliminations for the Armbro Flight Stakes. Twelve mares were split into two six-horse elims, with the top five from each advancing to the $210,000E final.

M Ms Dream (PP1, David Miller, 6-5) delivered as the favourite in last week's Miss Versatility leg at Mohawk, and the Ron Burke pupil will look to atone for her miscue in last year's elim that took her out of contention for the 2023 edition. The five-year-old daughter of Swan For All - Trading Places has been perfect in her three 2024 appearances, aiming for four straight scores against the likes of local standouts Adare Castle (PP2, J. MacDonald, 8-1), HP Mama B (PP6, Roy, 6-1) as well as Yonkers invader Tipsy Moni (PP3, Gingras, 9-2).

A solid sextet in the second elim, carded as the sixth race, features 2023 Armbro Flight champ Refined (PP6, Doug McNair, 6-1) seeking a title defense against the likes of supplemental entry Chake (PP3, T. McCarthy, 8-1), seasonally-debuting 2023 Dan Patch Award winner Bond (PP1, Ake Svanstedt, 2-1), and the runner-up in last week's Miss Versatility event, Call Me Goo (PP2, Tetrick, 8-5).

Facing each other for the first time as divisional honours winners, 2023 O'Brien Award winner Pass Line (PP4, Gingras, 4-1) lines up to the inside of 2023 Dan Patch Award winner Geocentric (PP5, Tetrick, 6-5) in the first of two $35,000 Fan Hanover Stakes eliminations. 

The 19 three-year-old fillies entered in the Fan Hanover will compete in the fourth and eighth race on Saturday, with the top five advancing to the $420,000E final on June 15.

Pass Line and Geocentric have their work cut out for them, with seasonally-unbeaten Flawless (PP2, Todd McCarthy, 8-1) and Odds On Steno (PP3, Andy McCarthy, 6-1) lining up to their inside, and My Girl EJ (PP7,  Dunn, 7-2) -- last year's richest and fastest two-year-old pacer -- a few spots to their outside.

The second elimination features nine fillies, none richer this season or last than 2024 SBOA Filly Pace winner Its A Love Thing (PP9, J. MacDonald, 5-2). Her competition all drew better, but only one of the eight fillies to her inside sports a faster time than her 1:49 seasonal speed badge, and that's Sarasota Hanover (PP7, Zeron, 9-2). On May 24 at The Meadowlands, Sarasota Hanover tripped the timer in 1:48.1, making her the fastest sophomore this season regardless of sex.

Locally-campaigned Stonebridge Halo (PP2, Doug McNair, 8-1) and Odds On Platinum (PP3, Filion, 6-1) also look to factor in this split. 

Thirteen three-year-old male trotters head postward this Friday, June 7 in two $30,000 Goodtimes eliminations. Connections will hope for a top-five finish in order to advance to the $250,000E final as part of the Pepsi North America Cup undercard.

An O'Brien Award finalist in 2023, Willowtime (PP3, Bob McClure, 3-1) comes into his Friday test fresh off a third-place finish in his most recent outing against Ontario Sires Stakes rivals. Individually timed in 1:53.2 in that start, Willowtime sports the fastest best beaten time of the group. Finite (PP4, Roy, 7-2) was a length back of Willowtime in that start to trot his most recent outing in 1:53.3. Pick Pocket (PP6, J. MacDonald, 4-1) won his most recent start in 1:53.3, a conditioned event at The Meadowlands on May 24.

Griff (PP6, J. MacDonald, 4-1) is perfect in both of his 2024 sophomore starts and he'll target his third straight tally with a target on his back in the second Goodtimes elimination. His five rivals are all capable, including the impressive and untested stablemate of Willowtime, Highland Kismet (PP5, McClure, 2-1), and U.S. invader Winter Solider (PP3, Dunn, 3-1) for trainer Tony Alagna, who most recently won the 2019 edition of the Goodtimes with Pilot Discretion and the 2021 final with Fast As The Wind.

The older pacing mares entered to contest the 2024 Roses Are Red eliminations also totals 13, with top-notch fields assembled for each $35,000 split. Once again, the top five finishers punch their tickets to a final with a $305,000E total purse.

Roses Are Red elimination number one on Friday sports a contentious field of seven that includes 2024 Betsy Ross Invitational winner Twin B Joe Fresh (PP2, Dunn, 7-5), local top class heavyweights Prohibition Legal (PP3, Roy, 9-5) and Tells On A Roll (PP5, Travis Cullen, 10-1), 2023 O'Brien Award winner So Much More (PP6, J. MacDonald, 8-1) and 2023 Dan Patch Award winner Grace Hill (PP7, McNair, 3-1), the defending champion and Canadian record holder by virtue of her dominating 1:47.4 performance one year ago.

There is no shortage of star power in the second elim, carded as the eighth race, with Ontario Graduate winner Talk Curdy To Me (PP3, Dunn, 8-1) stepping up to tackle Grand Circuit foes. This field includes the likes of 2023 Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year Sylvia Hanover (PP4, McClure, 6-5) and the fastest pacing mare of 2023, multiple stakes winner Silver Label (PP6, McNair, 7-5).

To view the full fields for this Friday and Saturday at Mohawk, click one of the following links:

(Standardbred Canada)

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