Stakes and Pick-5 analysis for loaded Pepsi North America Cup card

by Brett Sturman

As part of seven consecutive stake races over the Woodbine Mohawk Park oval, the 41st Pepsi North America Cup anchors the final leg of the $100,000 guaranteed Pick-5 pool. That race, along with many others look wide open in a tough to figure card. Here is how I see the races shaping up.


M-M’s Dream and Call Me Goo dominated the wagering two back when they met here in the Miss Versatility and it could be more of the same to kick off the stakes portion of the card in the Armbro Flight final. In that race two weeks ago, M-M’s Dream needed every bit of the Woodbine Mohawk Park stretch to reach Call Me Goo but she did so as the heavy favorite and then delivered once again last week when similarly backed as Miller always had her on cruise control. Call Me Goo had a tougher go of it in her elimination when she needed a lot of Tetrick encouragement to last against a host of others after putting up a big time third quarter panel on the lead. Refined didn’t miss by much in that elimination to Call Me Goo and she upset this race in a similar spot last year against Bella Bellini; goes second start back over the track. Tipsy Money couldn’t go with M-M’s Dream last out despite the pocket trip; she was easily second best in that race but now goes to post 10.


What’s the verdict on Clever Cody in here? He broke last week before the start of the race on a good-rated track and the last time he was here prior there were equipment issues. Sandwiched in between was an easy win from the rail in an Ohio Sire Stakes at Northfield, but it looks like he’s now up to his fourth different driver in as many races; tough call. Zeron is going back on Number Cruncher and he was well positioned last week in his elimination as a 35-1 longshot but wasn’t quite as fast late as some of the best ones; this field seems more to his liking. Like Number Cruncher, Mirage Hanover had the misfortune of trying to close into a slower :55.3 half mile and he had to do it first-over as well; his prior two races from The Meadowlands were excellent. It’s Saturday Night took a run at Total Stranger last week and looked for most of the stretch that he was going to go by him and at least make the final, but he hung. Shows good lines against Captain Albano in PA and was second to McCrunch at The Meadowlands at the end of April.


$0.20 Pick 5 ticket: 6,9 / 2,3,8 / 5,6 / 3,4 / 2,3,4,5,9 Cost: $24

Highland Kismet didn’t even start his career until just last month and he’s come a long way in a short time. He handled the step up impressively last week when he confidently came first over and went by all his rivals in the stretch. That came after being taken off the gate and being leisurely handled throughout the first half of the race and then marched by everyone when asked and lived up to the hype. In the other Goodtimes elimination, Shermont drove onto the lead after passing up an early 3-hole, cut his own mile and did well to nearly stave off the pocket sitting Top Past and the elimination winner Pick Pocket who surged late after a nice, tracking trip from the rail. Pick Pocket won two back at The Meadowlands when he split through five horses to win in 1:53.3 and now makes his second start in these parts. In his elimination, Private Access tried to follow the winning move of Highland Kismet and did well to get second. Griff led early in that race and wasn’t bad late after earlier having to yield to a couple but now moves to post 10; Winter Soldier is another forced to move outside.


There’re a couple of intriguing newcomers to the pacing free for all division and one of those is Oakwood Ardan IR who invades for Cleary. A monster at The Meadowlands this year who has won all but one of his eight starts this season, he was relentless last out when coming from well out of it to motor past everyone with a :26.1 quarter to reach in 1:48.3. His win prior came in 1:48; enters here in raging career form. The Sweet Lous are coming from everywhere and in addition to Oakwood Ardan out of Ireland is Bonniprinclouis N out of New Zealand. He won at first asking last out at The Meadows in 1:50.1 for Burke and he gobbled up a ton of ground in the stretch to win going away and that was after being pretty far away even on the final turn. Abuckabett Hanover was a huge overlay last out when winning the preferred handicap here at odds of over 8-1. He was used many times in that second race back and won in good fashion. Things didn’t work out for Linedrive Hanover in that unusually slow Battle of Lake Erie but it’s now back to the big track and he was a 1:47 winner here last year. Allywag Hanover can never be discounted but this is a tough spot. Blue Hunt was a 1:47.4 winner here three back and Coaches Corner has outraced his odds of late. Taurasi has owned this track all year, but this is an entirely new ballgame as it started to be last week. What a race upcoming.


My Girl EJ was used about four different times last week and what a statement mile she went to hold off Geocentric and win. Despite winning and being guaranteed to draw a post from 2 through 6, she still managed to land outside of Geocentric in here from post 6. If “EJ” is that good again she should win, but she has finished runner-up on a couple of different occasions as the odds-on favorite. Geocentric just missed last week after sitting a mostly friendly 4-hole trip and not having to be used until the stretch; both of her career defeats have come in races My Girl EJ has won. Pass Line completed the trifecta from that elimination and was used herself a couple of times in that race but was beaten a few lengths by the top two in the end. Canigetalouploup won the other Fan Hanover elimination and that’s now two straight absurd win payouts for the Burke trainee. This was a talented filly last year at 2 mind you, and two back at The Meadowlands she paid nearly 50-1 with a stand in driver, but then still paid 30-1 last week on the change to Dunn and a clear inside lane the entire length of the stretch; amazing. Looks like Dave Miller will get the call now and a win against these would keep the miracle payouts coming. Its A Love Thing took the wider route last week and was still right there with “Louploup.” Caviart Belle had really great second over cover in her elimination and probably should have been a little better.


Always B Naughty delivered last week with one of the best performances I’ve seen from her. She was insistent on the lead early and pocketed up Silver Label, and then later in the mile when Sylvia Hanover came calling, that rival couldn’t really get to within a length at best and then Always B Naughty turned it on from there en route to a 1:49.3 win. That came on the driver change to Roy and it’s hard to see her being anywhere but on the front once again. Hard to believe that Sylvia Hanover is 0-for-3 early in her 4-year-old season but is just one semblance of a favorable trip away from posting a big mile. Twin B Joe Fresh was wicked last week and actually had to take back and wait after starting to brush to the lead earlier in the mile and then it was all over in a hurry once she made the front. Sylvia Hanover has traditionally gotten the best of “Joe Fresh” but she looks poised now to turn the tables. So Much More and Tells On A Roll both came on late to pick up the pieces as others in their elimination were spent by that point.


You could make a realistic case for nearly everyone in here and I’ll start with the subject of last week’s column, Captain Luke. Zeron was nearly prophetic in stating how a 2-hole trip could turn out to not be good and that was almost the case with Captain Luke who was locked in for most of the stretch and was just able to ensure his spot in the final. He seems just as talented as anyone else and a 15-1 morning line in a wide-open field suggests he’ll offer value. Captain Albano didn’t have to vacate the cones in his elimination until nearing three-quarters when he came out from third, when Captains Quarters quickly latched onto that cover and got up late when it counted in the fastest elimination of 1:49.1. Ivy Park who left and sat second, came around a tiring Gem Quality in the stretch and wasn’t bad to close for third. Funtime Bayama capitalized off a 2-hole trip and beat Legendary Hanover in a hard-fought late duel; it was the second straight week he bested that rival. Nijinsky ran his seasonal unbeaten streak to four last week and it came off a perfect second over trip; no real reason to knock otherwise. Total Stranger handled the step up pretty well considering he was able to be game for third after blazing the way through an early :25.4 opening panel. Storm Shadow moves all the way inside after a couple of post 10’s this year, he had a lot of pace last week when taking the inside route to just miss against Nijinsky.