A Dream Comes True For Drury

Published: August 27, 2020 10:27 am EDT

A boyhood dream will become reality for Jonathan Drury on Saturday night (Aug. 29), when he lines up behind the starting gate for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup with Moneyman Hill. And, unlike in 2016 with Betting Line -- for whom Drury was the second-call driver -- the 31-year-old reinsman is 'the guy' for the Carmen Auciello trainee.

"I'm pretty sure I would have been driving this guy regardless, because Carmen told me when he was coming up here that I was going to drive him," Drury told Trot Insider. This season's situation stands in stark contrast to four years ago, when Drury drove North America Cup winner Betting Line to victory in the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes and a trio of Ontario Sires Stakes Gold events but otherwise ceded the lines to Hall of Fame reinsman David Miller.

"I knew I wasn't driving Betting Line; I knew that was Dave's drive. He just couldn't make it up the week of the Somebeachsomewhere or whatever, so I was fortunate enough to get the chance to win that with him and some (OSS) Gold, so that was great."

Betting Line and Jonathan Drury winning at Mohawk in 2016

While driving a North America Cup winner in Betting Line was special in its own right, Drury attributes his first appearance in the big dance himself not only to a lack of American drivers shuttling in for the card, but also to a long-standing working relationship with Auciello, whose stable operates on both sides of the 49th parallel.

"I started driving for him many years ago, and I actually went down to the States and worked for him in his barn a bit, got to drive a little bit down there, and get some experience racing with those guys on a regular basis, which was great," Drury said. "You get to learn a lot from racing against people like that. Once I came back here, I've kind of been his regular driver, and I actually train a bunch of horses in the morning for him. I break a lot of his young horses and help him train some back when he needs some assistance."

After Auciello brought Moneyman Hill north from the United States after a seventh-place finish in the Cane Pace on Aug. 8, it didn't take long for Drury to gain a connection with the son of Somebeachsomewhere. In their first start together, Drury and Moneyman Hill teamed up for a 1:51 win in a $20,000 conditioned event.

"Carmen got me to warm him up that night and see what I thought of him, and I was able to keep him quiet," Drury explained. "He raced really well, and was nice and relaxed.

"Going into the elimination, I was confident that I would actually be able to sit him wherever I wanted because he had him so relaxed. Fortunately, I was able to get away and sit there as long as I could."

Moneyman Hill raced better than his 40-1 odds would have otherwise indicated, drafting in third behind 3-5 pacesetter Allywag Hanover, and -- despite a brief misstep in upper stretch -- worked through traffic late in the 1:49.3 mile to save fourth and secure a spot in the $1 million final.

"When I saw the draw and drew in what I thought was the easier division of the two, I thought that I had a very good shot to get him in the final," Drury said. "As it turns out, I think it would have been a lot closer, but when he went to come out there (at the top of the stretch), he kind of went sideways on me. I nicked Bob's wheel and I lost a lot of momentum -- I had a lot of horse there when I somewhat started through there, and I definitely slowed myself up pretty good."

Moneyman Hill will have what Drury says "looks like a great spot" from post two in Saturday's Cup final, and he feels the likelihood of a contested pace can only work to the 20-1 shot's benefit.

"I think I should be able to get away and get myself a decent trip behind whomever I want to follow. I fired him out of there last week to get around a couple inside ones, and he settled right down once he got around them, which was nice. I've got a lot of confidence that I'll be able to do whatever I please with him.

"I feel like a couple of the outside horses will be blasting, and I feel like you'll have to do a lot of work to get to the lead. If [Tall Dark Stranger] gets stretched out pretty good, it might make for a pretty wide open finish."

In addition to his drive in the North America Cup with Moneyman Hill, Drury will drive a noteworthy quartet of pacers for Casie Coleman Herlihy on the undercard, including Dean B Hanover, who has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favourite in the first $117,029 division of the Nassagaweya for juvenile pacers.

"He's a very nice colt," said Drury. "I actually think he'd be a lot better if he had a chance to chase as opposed to being on the front. I was kind of in a bad spot in the Dream Maker with the outside and it wasn't looking like there were any holes, so I just worked my way to the front. He fought them off tough, but I think he wanders a little bit on the front and I think he'd be a much better horse chasing somebody."

After having the chance to sit behind both father and son Drury remarked that, like Betting Line, Dean B Hanover "has a quick turn of foot and a desire to win." The rookie pacing colt is undefeated in three starts to date with a 1:52.4 score in the $88,500 Dream Maker final, and will start from post two in the Nassagaweya.

"It's always nice to have a horse that versatile, and I think he fits that suit. We'll just have to see what everybody else is doing and make our decisions from there."

Drury is also slated to drive Coleman Herlihy trainees Priceless, in the $400,000 Fan Hanover; Springbridge Duel, in the other Nassagaweya division; and Indra Hanover, in the Eternal Camnation for two-year-old pacing fillies.

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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