Retaking command into the backstretch, Lather Up dictated the terms rounding the final turn before sprinting home to a 1:48.1 victory in the $1,000,000 35th edition of the Pepsi North America Cup Saturday, June 16 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Driver Montrell Teague gunned the Im Gorgeous colt towards the lead, getting to the rail as Done Well reached the top heading to the quarter. Timed in :26.3, Done Well cleared the front and led shortly as Lather Up tipped outside to move back to the top. Nutcracker Sweet, parked from the quarter, began to advance uncovered through a :54.1 half and drew within a length of the lead midway around the final turn.
Lather Up continued on the front leading narrowly over Nutcracker Sweet to the outside, carrying Stay Hungry into contention second over. Done Well drafted in the pocket as Lather Up paced to three-quarters in 1:21.3 and Nutcracker Sweet stalled alongside. Teague pulled the plugs on Lather Up entering the eighth pole and the Clyde Francis-trainee accelerated clear of Done Well chasing in second. Lost In Time, from fourth over, charged down the grandstand side to take third while Stay Hungry settled for fourth.
Undefeated in six starts this season, Lather Up returned $3.20 to win. The colt from the In The Pocket mare Im Gorgeous has 10 wins to his credit from 13 starts and has amassed $667,100 in earnings for owners Gary and Barbara Illes.
“This is the one I wanted since I lost it,” Montrell Teague said after the race.
Teague and Francis, teaming up with 2015 ‘Cup’ favourite Wiggle It Jiggleit to a second-place finish, each scored their first Cup win.
“I definitely [got] redemption for 2015,” Teague said. “I looked to the right—[there] were one too many leaving except one, and I knew I could get in front of the other ones. It shook out good—Timmy [Tetrick on Done Well] kept coming; I knew he wanted a two-hole trip. Once he got by me, I pulled right back out and he let me go fairly easy and it worked out to my advantage.
“It took me about halfway through the stretch [to get to full speed] because I didn’t want to take off too fast and have Timmy pull out and beat me again. So I waited to pop the earplugs, and once I popped the earplugs, he exploded like he was supposed to. When I was doing an interview earlier I said ‘If I was getting to the front, it would take a :47, :48 mile, and it did.”
The featured race was part of a stakes-packed card of harness racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park on 2018 Pepsi North America Cup night. Check out the rest of the recaps in the 2018 North America Cup News Centre.