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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Look At The Upcoming North America Cup


The 32nd edition of the North America Cup is just around the corner. Last year JK Endofanera, who still stands in the shadow of his little sister, 2014 Horse of the Year JK She’salady, gave Art Major his first Cup winner. After the checks were counted for the final payment there were 47 colts still eligible. The list is topped by seven each from Rocknroll Hanover and Somebeachsomewhere, both of whom won the race. No son of Rocknroll has repeated his dad’s feat, but SBSW’s son Captaintreacherous outdid the rest in the final stages of the 2013 race. However, none of the 14 are what would be considered top tier contenders for the prize.

American Ideal, who was no factor in the 2005 Cup, which was won in dominant fashion by Rocknroll, has four still eligible, including In The Arsenal. That one edged out entry-mate Betting Exchange—also a Cup eligible—in the Rooney on Saturday. He did not outshine the opposition to the degree that Artspeak and Wiggle It Jiggleit did in their races, but he’s perfect on the year and has two-time winner, Brian Sears, sitting behind him. 

Bettor’s Delight, Cam’s Card Shark, Well Said and Dragon Again each have three eligible; all but the latter won the race. Dragon Again, who is known more for his long-lasting aged stars, and has never had a Cup or Pace winner, sends forth Wakizashi Hanover, a hometown favorite in the Maritimes.

It’s somewhat surprising that, in his first shot at the Cup, Sportswriter only has two staked to it: Casie Coleman’s Reverend Hanover, who won his division in the OSS last year, and Monty Gelrod’s Maxdaddy Blue Chip, who has only started twice, winning big in the lower condition ranks in Pennsylvania on both occasions. The Reverend won all four 2014 starts, including the OSS Super Final, but he’s winless in two condition races this year.  

Western Ideal, who was an outstanding freshman, but got hurt, is the sire of Cup winner Rocknroll. He only has two still staked to the race, but quality wins the day. Artspeak, who buried the opposition in Saturday’s $100,000 NJSS final, is still considered the favorite, while Traceur Hanover won the Breeders Crown in 2014. Western Ideal’s pair could beat just about anything on the table. The former is skipping the SBSW, while Traceur is entered.

And then there was one—Wiggle It Jiggleit. The son of Mr Wiggles, who is 10 for 10 after scoring easily in 1:49.3 over a very wet tack at Hoosier Park Saturday night, is the favorite in the eyes of many. Still, some counter that he has yet to beat a field with any heft to it. He will sit out the SBSW, as will In The Arsenal.

Mr Wiggles won an elimination for the 2009 Cup, where Well Said set a track and Canadian record for Ron Pierce in the final. To say the son of Badlands Hanover has been shunned by breeders would be understating it by half: he bred 17 mares in Indiana in 2011, 20 in Ohio the following year, and three and six the last two years in Delaware. No need to enforce the pacing stallion limit.

JK End’s win last year was the first one for an Adios line colt since 2010, when Sportswriter won. That line has only accounted for seven of the thirty-one winners which, due to the dominance of Meadow Skipper, is standard for all the major pacing stakes. Twenty Cup winners trace back to the potent son of Dale Frost. Captaintreacherous, his sire, Somebeachsomewhere, and the 1990 winner Apache Fame, who runs through Big Towner to Gene Abbe, are the three exceptions.

Twenty-four of the sires of mares that produced Cup winners go back to Hal Dale; 14 of those run through Meadow Skipper; seven go back to Adios. One, Presidential Ball’s dam I Marilyn, who is by Mountain Skipper, bypasses Meadow Skipper and goes directly to Dale Frost. Two, by Race Time, pass through Good Time to Hal Dale. The exceptions are a trio that pass through Sampson Direct on the way to Volomite; three that go to Gene Abbe and one to Tar Heel/Billy Direct.

There are some interesting crosses manifested by the Cup winners. Sunshine Beach, Sandbetweenurtoes and Southwind Roulette are all, like 2013 winner Captain T, by SBSW and out of Artsplace mares.

2009 winner Well Said, who is by Western Hanover and out of an Artsplace mare, carries the same cross as Fancy Filly, Big Bad John, If I Can Dream, Clear Vision, Thong, Strike An Attitude and Activator.

2007 winner Tell All is interesting because his dam Have No Secrets, who was 17 when he was born, was one of the last foals by Albatross. She was foaled when he was 29. Super Bird passed a few months later.

There was a similar situation in 2004, when Mantacular won. He’s by Western Hanover and out of a Bret Hanover mare. Twenty-seven years elapsed between those two sires. Ain’t No Stoppin Him, Hawaiian Cowboy and Jasmine Hanover, the dam of Little Miss Dragon and granddam of Dragon Eddy, are others.

Red River Hanover, who won in 2002, is by Western Hanover and out of a Direct Scooter mare. His full brother, Rustler Hanover, won the Confederation Cup and Burlington. Third Straight also carries this cross. And 2001 winner Bettor’s Delight is full to this year’s first look stallion, Roll With Joe.

Abercrombie and French Chef were only three years apart, but there was no connection in either direction, except for 1996 Cup winner, Arizona Jack.

The Cam Fella—BGs Bunny cross worked for 1994 winner Cam’s Card Shark and 1991 winner Precious Bunny. Armbro Romance, Armbro Operative and Cammies Lady are a few more examples.

1992 winner Safely Kept, one of three not to earn a million dollars, was by Jate Lobell and out of an Abercrombie mare. Best Of Memories, the dam of Jug winner Fake Left and Remember When, are others with that cross.

Joe FitzGerald