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Canada's Best Seeks Canada's Richest

Published: August 26, 2020 8:56 pm ET

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Louis-Philippe Roy is in a rare position. The reigning two-time Canadian Driver of the Year (plus 2017 Future Star Award winner) has more national award-winning hardware than drives in Canada's richest pacing event. Looking to do more than just show up for a tally, he'll head postward in the 2020 Pepsi North America Cup with Allywag Hanover on Saturday (August 29).

The 37th Pepsi North America Cup headlines a stakes-filled card this Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The card features nine stakes races and purses totalling $2.4 million.

Roy's chances for his first North America Cup title rest with the Brett Pelling-trained Allywag Hanover. Pelling has more Cup wins than all of this year’s Cup trainers combined, winning the Cup previously with Davids Pass (1995), The Panderosa (1999) and Rocknroll Hanover (2005). Roy likes his chances of adding Allywag Hanover to that list, noting that he wasn't given any sort of instruction on driving the uniquely-gaited pacer heading into this past Saturday's elimination.

"Like anybody else, I've watched the horse race through the year so I knew a little bit about the horse just by watching him race," Roy told Trot Insider. "He looks worse when you watch him than when you're sitting behind him. He does look different; you can tell going into the turns that he runs in and they kind of let him pace the way he wants. Just by how fast he was going when he was a little bit crooked in the turns he was still pacing good even though he's not keeping his head really straight."

Allywag Hanover finished second to a hard-closing Captain Kirk in the second 2020 Pepsi North America Cup elim, pacing his own mile in 1:49.4 after cutting out all the fractions. Roy had high praise for Captain Kirk, noting that he felt it was a "two-horse race" on paper and that the front end was the place to be with the public choice. That won't necessarily be the strategy with post eight and a much deeper field this weekend.

"I actually was surprised that with the trip Captain Kirk got, he ended up winning. That was a huge effort from him," said Roy. "I felt like my horse raced good, but Captain Kirk raced awesome that night, but like you said I think my horse can do whatever -- he raced really good off the pace earlier in the season so it's not that much trouble getting the eight hole on Saturday."

Allywag Hanover, winning at The Meadowlands in July

In seven starts this year for the Allywag Stable of Wellsville, Pa., Allywag Hanover (Captaintreacherous - Anderosa Hanover) sports a summary of 4-2-1 and more than $170,000 in earnings. He took his mark of 1:48 taken at The Meadowlands in a race where he left from post eight and closed in :25.3 against conditioned rivals that included fellow Na Cup finalist Captain Barbossa. Roy also drove and qualified Captain Barbossa last Saturday, finishing fourth in a blanket finish behind Tall Dark Stranger, Capt Mdight and Odds On Osiris. With the elims in the books and the draw complete, Roy is not willing to concede anything to Team Tall Dark Stranger.

"He never disappoints, Tall Dark Stranger, and he's proven that he's the one to beat. He makes you believe you can almost beat him so I feel there's a few drivers that think they have a decent shot in the race and they'll want to get into a good spot and they don't want give [the race] easily to Tall Dark Stranger. I don't see it being an easy race for him.

"Even the horse I had, Captain Barbossa. I did have a little bit of horse left, I didn't have room. I had room for the legs of the horse, just to make sure he'd get top five. I couldn't keep driving on."

There will be nothing left to chance on Saturday in the 2020 Pepsi North America Cup Final. Roy echoed the sentiment of Peter Wrenn, co-conditioner of finalist Odds On Osiris, in that the race will feature a lot of movement and activity throughout the mile.

"Even though Tall Dark Stranger is going to be the obvious favourite, I see it being a race with a lot of movement," admitted Roy. "I think I can still manage a trip for him and get him in a good spot to give him a shot."

Roy's chance at a bucket-list win in the Pepsi North America Cup is just one of a handful of stakes contenders he'll be driving on Saturday. Among those is 2019 O'Brien Award winner Alicorn, who finished a solid second in her Fan Hanover elimination to Peaky Sneaky. It was Alicorn's first start on Lasix after two fourth-place finishes in Ontario Sires Stakes Gold competition. Roy agreed that the addition of Lasix to the regimen of the Chantal Mitchel-trained daughter of Bettors Delight - Mythical was beneficial.

"She raced pretty good, didn't get lucky with the draw but she seems like she's back to her good form."

Alicorn also drew post eight in the $400,000 Roses Are Red Final, which Roy captured in 2018 with Shower Play.

The 2020 Pepsi North America Cup headlines a stakes-filled card this Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park that also includes the $400,000 Fan Hanover, $290,000 Roses Are Red, $220,000 Armbro Flight, $234,058 Nassagaweya (two divisions) and $214,645 Eternal Camnation (three divisions) for what is surely the most star-studded card of harness racing on the Canadian calendar so far this season.

$1,000,000 Pepsi North America Cup
1. Mayhem Hanover (Randy Waples / Gregg McNair)
2. Moneyman Hill (Jonathan Drury / Carmen Auciello)
3. Captain Kirk (Jody Jamieson / Tony Alagna)
4. Tall Dark Stranger (Yannick Gingras / Nancy Takter)
5. Capt Midnight (Doug McNair / Tony Alagna)
6. Denali Seelster (Trevor Henry / Dr. Ian Moore)
7. Tattoo Artist (Bob McClure / Dr. Ian Moore)
8. Allywag Hanover (Louis-Philippe Roy / Brett Pelling)
9. Captain Barbossa (James MacDonald / Tony Alagna)
10. Odds On Osiris (Sylvain Filion / Melanie Wrenn)

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