Day At The Track

Road to the Pepsi North America Cup

05:24 AM 30 Jul 2020 NZST
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MILTON, ON - July 28, 2020 - The 'Road to the Pepsi North America Cup' has changed drastically following the unfortunate injury to top harness racing contender Papi Rob Hanover.

Ranked number two each week, Papi Rob Hanover has suffered a hairline fracture to a coffin bone in his front left leg and will be sidelined for the remainder of 2020. The Brett Pelling trainee went out a winner, recording a stunning 1:47.1 World Record win in an elimination of the Adios last Saturday at The Meadows.

The season and potentially career-ending injury to 'Papi Rob' brings a close on the incredible rivalry between he and Tall Dark Stranger. The Pelling and Nancy Takter trainees slugged it out at age two and that carried over to this season, including the memorable stretch battle in the Meadowlands Pace.

The removal of Papi Rob Hanover from the 'Road to the Pepsi North America Cup' shakes things up. Tall Dark Stranger remains at the top, while the three horses directly behind 'Papi Rob' all move up a spot.

Tall Dark Stranger is entered to race this Saturday in the Geers Stakes at The Meadowlands, while three others on the Top-10 will compete in Saturday's Adios Final at The Meadows.

Here is this week's 'Road to the Pepsi North America Cup' rankings.

Mark McKelvie's Road to the Pepsi North America Cup - Week 3 Rankings

1. Tall Dark Stranger (Last Week: 1)

Owner(s): Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms & Howard Taylor
Trainer: Nancy Takter
Driver: Yannick Gingras

With his rival now out of the picture, Tall Dark Stranger could be poised to have one of the most successful three-year-old campaigns in recent memory. The Takter trainee will start from Post 10 in Saturday's Geers Stakes at The Meadowlands.

2. Tattoo Artist (Last Week: 3)
Owner(s): Frank Cannon & Let It Ride Stables
Trainer: Dr. Ian Moore
Driver: Louis Philippe Roy

Made it four wins in a row on Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park, but did get a late scare. Making his first start in three-weeks, It wasn't as dominant a performance as we've seen, but ultimately you get paid the same no matter how many lengths you win by.

3. Allywag Hanover (Last Week: 4)
Owner(s): Allywag Stable
Trainer: Brett Pelling
Driver: Tim Tetrick

All of the sudden more eyes are on Allywag Hanover with his star stablemate done for the year. He's been spectacular this season and will have another crack at Tall Dark Stranger in Saturday's Geers.

4. Beaumond Hanover (Last Week: 5)
Owner(s): Jack Darling Stables
Trainer: Jack Darling
Driver: Jody Jamieson

Continued his winning ways with an OSS Gold win on Saturday at Mohawk Park. That's now three in a row for the Darling student and four wins in six starts on the season. All four wins have come in sub-1:50 fashion.

5. The Greek Freak (Last Week: 9)
Owner(s): Burke Racing, Piatt Racing, JandT Silva Purnel & Libb
Trainer: Ron Burke
Driver: Matt Kakaley

The Ron Burke trainee extended his current win streak to four with a victory in an Adios elimination last Saturday. He's quietly becoming a major player and continues his rise on our rankings. The removal of 'Papi Rob' gives him a major chance to win Saturday's Adios final.

6. Catch The Fire (Last Week: Honourable Mention)
Owner(s): Ct Stables
Trainer: John Ackley
Driver: Mike Wilder

Posted a career-best victory of 1:49.3 in an Adios elimination last Saturday. Just like the horse above him, he's got a great shot now in Saturday's rich final. We mentioned a few weeks back that Catch The Fire would likely be the horse to dance all the big dances and hold his own. Now the conversation isn't about holding his own, but rather winning the whole thing.

7. Capt Midnight (Last Week: Honourable Mention)
Owner(s): Marvin Katz, Kenneth Jacobs, Brad Grant & Capt Midnight Racing
Trainer: Tony Alagna
Driver: Andrew McCarthy

A solid bounce back performance in his Adios elimination has the Tony Alagna trainee back in the Top-10 this week. We said last week not to count him out and he showed up. Looking for him to build off last week's race.

8. Groovy Joe (Last Week: 10)
Owner(s): Hutt Racing Stable, Blake MacIntosh, Ozzie MacKay & Hoofbid Racing
Trainer: Blake MacIntosh
Driver: Matt Kakaley

Some weeks not racing can hurt your ranking and some weeks it can help. This week not having a race moved Groovy Joe up a couple spots based on what other eligible horses did. He's set to return to action on Tuesday evening in a New York Sires Stakes contest at Yonkers. (Editor Note: This week's rankings were published prior to Tuesday's race. Groovy Joe was finished second placed third.)

9. Beach Blanket Book (Last Week: Honourable Mention)
Owner(s): Hutt Racing Stable & Mac and Heim Stables
Trainer: Blake MacIntosh
Driver: Doug McNair

He just kept on coming Saturday night at Mohawk Park, coming up just a neck short of upsetting Tattoo Artist in an OSS Gold division. The MacIntosh trainee has yet to have a bad race this season and has earned a spot in the rankings. He's got three wins and two seconds in six starts this season. Like we said before, he's a battler and looking forward to seeing what's next.

10. Indictable Hanover (Last Week: 6)
Owner(s): West Wins Stable, John Fielding & Mac Nichol
Trainer: Casie Coleman-Herlihy
Driver: Bob McClure

Didn't turn in the performance many expected on Saturday, finishing third in an OSS Gold event. He didn't look like the horse that posted a career-best victory just a week prior. Despite that, he's four for six on the season and has never missed the top-three. We'll see how he bounces back.

HONOURABLE MENTION:

Captain Barbossa (Last Week: 8)
Owner(s): Alagnafrankinthegym Stabl, Robert LeBlanc & David Anderson
Trainer: Tony Alagna
Driver: Andrew McCarthy/Brian Sears

The scratch of Papi Rob Hanover gives Captain Barbossa a second crack at the Adios after finishing fourth in last Saturday's elimination. That finish wasn't good enough to originally earn a spot, but he draws in as the Also Eligible.

Captain Kirk (Last Week: 7)
Owner(s): Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Brad Grant & Captain Kirk Racing
Trainer: Tony Alagna
Driver: Dexter Dunn/Joe Bongiorno

Had a week off following a seventh-place finish in the Meadowlands Pace. The Alagna trainee returns to action Saturday in the Geers at The Meadowlands and only got a slight improvement in post position as he goes from the eight-hole compared to the ten-hole he had in the Pace.

Elver Hanover
Owner(s): Burke Racing Stable, Bridgette Jablonsky, Jason Melillo, JandT Silva Purnel & Libb
Trainer: Ron Burke
Driver: Chris Page

No longer undefeated, Elver Hanover suffered his second loss in Saturday's Adios elimination, but did bring a good effort. The Burke trainee finished third and qualified for Saturday's final.

by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment

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