06/22/2015 11:52AM

Bergman: Final thoughts from NA Cup night

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Wakizashi Hanover is a gelding, meaning we'll be seeing him race for many years.

The build up and execution of Mohawk’s North America Cup night was a thing of beauty for anyone that loves the sport. When large amounts of money are on the line our stars, both equine and human, rise to the task and the results are thrilling whether cashing or ripping up tickets.

In style and substance, the North America Cup final, the lone $1 million race for standardbreds north of the border had it all. In the end the winning streak of Wiggle It Jiggleit went by the board and a new star in Wakizashi Hanover emerged. Not lost to many was the fact that the one-two finishers are both geldings, leading to the obvious conclusion that new rules need not be written to guarantee we get to see great horses for an extended period of time.

In Wakizashi Hanover we find another son of Dragon Again with charisma and one that indeed has gotten much better with one year of racing under his belt. The team of Jim and Joann Looney-King made the most of a brief 2-year-old season and brought a much more racy horse back to the races this year. That couldn’t have been more obvious to anyone that watched the race. Tim Tetrick showed the ultimate confidence pushing the first quarter and favored Wiggle It Jiggleit to maximum acceleration speed of 25 1/5. The quarter could have taken the starch out of either horse, but in the end it proved the undoing of one and the mettle of the other.

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What’s great about this sport is that one race doesn’t determine a champion. Though none of these horses will ever race for that much money again, the top five finishers in the North America Cup are all nominated for the Max Hempt, with eliminations slated Saturday (June 27) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

While we don’t know how many of those horses will wish to come back and race another two consecutive weeks over the five-eighths mile oval, there’s one that we think may benefit greatly from a losing effort.

In The Arsenal had been carefully handled by trainer Kelvin Harrison and driver Brian Sears in his four starts prior to Saturday’s North America Cup final. Unlike the first two finishers, In The Arsenal had managed to race from off the pace under control or on the pace under control while winning each time. On Saturday Sears made the exact right move leaving quickly for position right behind the race winner. The difference for the son of American Ideal this week was he was heavily vested in the hot opening quarter and then needed to maintain high speed right through the wicked 1:21 three quarters. The fact that he was outkicked in the stretch would say to some that he’s not as good a horse as the top pair. While that may prove to be true at some point, the feeling here is that it may have been the kind of mile the horse needed to be sharp enough to win the big ones.

Eliminations may prove necessary for the Ben Franklin for aged pacers this Saturday as well and State Treasurer certainly stamped himself among the leaders in the division with an authoritative mile in the Mohawk Gold Cup. Dr. Ian Moore does an outstanding job with his stable and has the 6-year-old razor sharp. Hopefully another meeting with Foiled Again will be in the offing. Vegas Vacation is another aged performer that appears to be rounding into form at the right time of the year.

If one was smart enough to predict that both Canepa Hanover and French Laundry would break in the Goodtimes final, could they have come up with the John Bax-trained Hemi Seelster to capture the $233,000 event? The altered son of Holiday Road chased Canepa Hanover around the track in a distant pocket in the elimination races and tired for his effort. This time around he showed grit fending off the shoeless The Bank and Jimmy Takter for the major upset.

Canepa Hanover won’t get the chance to atone for this loss in the Earl Beal at Pocono since he wasn’t made eligible. Team Takter does have a large number of quality colts eligible for the event including Pinkman, Uncle Lasse and Walter White.

The Beal may prove to be Crazy Wow’s Hambletonian since the newly minted Empire Breeders Classic winner on Sunday afternoon at Vernon is not eligible for the big dance on August 8 at the Meadowlands. Crazy Wow did in fact wow the crowd at Vernon with his 1:51 1/5 blowout in the race restricted for New York-bred sophomore trotters. Had that time flashed at Pocono last year, calls would be made for the track to be re-measured. The 1:47 3/5 effort by Fireyourguns shaded two-fifths off his personal best, also taken at Vernon last June and also with Jim Morrill Jr. pretty much driving an identical race.

Crazy Wow certainly helps give sire Crazed the credit (he’s a son of Credit Winner) he clearly deserves. The 4-year-old son of Crazed, JL Cruze cemented his ranking as the top aged trotter currently racing with his second straight victory over Father Patrick in Friday’s Graduate event at the Meadowlands. Driver John Campbell spoke volumes of how racing through the winter and winning all of those races gave the trotter the confidence he was obviously lacking a year ago. JL Cruze was twice checked in the stretch as he looked for room behind Father Patrick.

While Father Patrick has lost twice he is far from being disgraced on the racetrack. One has to believe given the dual role of stallion and racehorse over the winter that he just may need some time and more seasoning to show what he’s really made of. Now that Sebastian K has resurfaced for Ake Svanstedt, the aged trotting division is likely to get a bit more interesting.

We are into the summer racing season and what appears to be the reality is that new faces are stepping forward and rivalries are developing. It’s a great time for fans and bettors alike.