by Karen Briggs, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent
Campbellville, ON — A warm summer evening, perfect track conditions, and a packed house at Mohawk made for a splendid 30th anniversary night for the Pepsi North America Cup and while all eyes might have been on the glamour boys, there was plenty of excitement on the undercard, too.
Favorites prevailed in the three distaff dashes featured prior to the main event.
First up was the Armbro Flight, the C$271,470 marquee event for trotting fillies and mares. Bettors gave major respect to Maven, the 4-year-old Glidemaster-M Stewart daughter sent out by owner William Donovan and trainer Jonas Czernyson, and she did not disappoint.
Early leader China Pearls (Randy Waples) survived an early and perhaps too aggressive challenge from Ron Pierce and Cedar Dove, and Maven picked up the pieces in the stretch, charging from the far outside to best Cedar Dove by two lengths in 1:52.4. Bax Of Life, a 70-1 shot, rushed up from last to take the show spot.
“I got here where I wanted to be early. I didn’t want too much traffic,” explained linesman Yannick Gingras. “Pierce moved earlier than I expected him to. (Maven) got me to the top of the stretch and I just let her do it her way from there.”
The win propelled Maven, who is four-for-four this year, to millionaire status.
The C$364,266 Elegantimage final for 3-year-old trotting fillies belonged to Bee A Magician (Kadabra–Beehive, by Balanced Image), who made it five in a row for for owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee, trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman and driver Rick Zeron — but only by the slimmest of margins.
She prevailed by a head in 1:53, a new lifetime mark, over a strong-charging Angies Lucky Star (Sylvain Filion). Longshot Mistery Woman (David Miller) grabbed third.
“That’s the toughest battle Bee A Magician ever had,” remarked Zeron. “Sylvain actually had me beat at one point, and she had to dig in deep and find out where she’s really from to get the job done tonight.
“If you were coming to the races to see a catfight, you just witnessed the best catfight of all.”
As expected, 4-5 choice I Luv The Nitelife (Rocknroll Hanover–Lisjune, by Camluck) crushed the field in the C$391,882 Fan Hanover final for 3-year-old pacing fillies.
While second favorite Jerseylicious and Corey Callahan controlled the early fractions, I Luv The Nitelife, with Tim Tetrick in the bike, blasted past at the half and never looked back. By the time she tripped the timer in a new career best of 1:49.1, she was 5-3/4 lengths to the good over second-placed Belle Boyd (Jody Jamieson). Jerseylicious came in third.
Chris Ryder trains I Luv The Nitelife for Richard and Joanne Young of Coconut Creek, Florida.
“Obviously she won her elim, and we were happy with her, but deep down I had a feeling I was looking for her to be a little better,” said Ryder. “She really showed up tonight with all guns firing. We’re really excited about her. She couldn’t have done any more than she did tonight; she’s as good as a filly can be.”
Owner Richard Young, who has taken home a fistful of trophies from Mohawk in recent years, remarked, “This filly loves this place. This is my favorite track by a country mile, and apparently my horses like it too.”
- Favorites fade in Goodtimes and Gold Cup (Saturday, June 15, 2013)
The final two stakes on the 2013 North America Cup undercard at Mohawk Racetrack strayed from the bias of the evening in that the favorites didn’t deliver.