CAMPBELLVILLE, Ontario — Wakizashi Hanover, driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Jo Ann Looney King of Harrington, Delaware, sat a perfect two-hole trip behind the pacesetting heavy favourite and previously unbeaten Wiggle It Jiggleit, before charging by the leader in deep stretch and take the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup, the richest pacing event in the world, Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack, by three-quarters of a length in 1:48.
The final time was just a fifth of a second off the stakes record at Mohawk set by Thinking Out Loud in 2012. It also marked the 18th time that an elim winner had also won the final.
Named for a ceremonial Japanese sword, “Wakizashi” had come into the final off a blazing 1:49.2 elim win, when he threw down a :25.3 final quarter while upsetting last year’s division champion Artspeak.
The 32nd edition of the Cup brought together the finest three-year-old pacers on the continent, including the undefeated Wiggle It Jiggleit, a perfect 11-for-11, including his elim in 1:49.2 and Wakizashi Hanover, who tipped his hand last week as well.
For Tetrick, it was his second Cup win, following a victory with favoured Captaintreacherous in 2013.
Wakizashi Hanover, purchased for only $23,000 at the Harrisburg Sale in 2013, is owned by a group of Nova Scotians.
The Cup was his fifth and biggest win in six starts this year, after taking two of six last year.
But the gelded son of Dragon Again-Western Gesture, bred by Hanover Shoe Farms, has only been worse than second once.
“It worked out perfect,” said Tetrick. “I got to follow a really good horse (Wiggle It Jiggleit) and the horse did the rest. My horse tipped and we got the job done. He’s a nice colt. The connections have done a great job with him. I appreciate them letting me drive the horse. He’s versatile. He’s a good horse and he’s got tons of speed.”
As expected, Wiggle It Jiggleit, driven by 24-year-old Montrell Teague for his father, owner George Teague of Houston, Del., went immediately to the front, laying down fractions of :25.1 (equalling the fastest Cup first-quarter), 53.3 for the half and 1:21 for three-quarters. But right on his tail throughout was Wakizashi Hanover, who was then angled out in mid-stretch and wore down the leader for the mild surprise.
“Lots of supporters calling, sending messages in the last two days, it’s just been phenomenal,” said co-owner Bruce Kennedy, who along with his partners, races under the Tri County Stable banner.
“We’re living a dream. Three of the six people are brand new owners, never owned a horse before. What a way to start a career. Now they’re hooked, I hope.
“We’ve got a great trainer in Jo Ann Looney-King and her husband, Jim, and we have a great relationship. We’re all small time operators. I don’t know how you get Tim Tetrick as a driver but we did. We had the package coming in.”
Wakizashi Hanover earned $500,000 for the prestigious win, pushing his career bankroll to almost $700,000. Sent postward the 5-1 third choice, he paid $13.40, $4 and $3.20, combining with Wiggle It Jiggleit ($2.50, $2.20) for a $30.60 (2-3) exactor. A 2-3-4 (Betting Exchange, $8.40) triactor came back $235.10, while a $1 Superfecta [2-3-4-5 (In The Arsenal)] was worth $410.45.