06/04/2014 9:59PM

Mohawk: Always B Miki primed for North America Cup

Derick Giwner
Trainer Joe Holloway will send out Always B Miki, Somwherovrarainbow and Shebestingin (pictured) at Mohawk this weekend.

If you had asked Joe Holloway when he was training Always B Miki over the winter where the sophomore would be racing in June, he probably would have told you Indiana.

“He really didn’t impress me training back,” said Holloway about one of the leading contenders for this year’s North America Cup. Three $50,000 eliminations are carded on Saturday evening at Mohawk with the top three horses in each guaranteed a spot in the $1 million final on June 14.

“He’s coming into the race very sharp,” said Holloway. “I trained him an easy trip yesterday (Tuesday) and he was strong.”

Always B Miki shuttled between New Jersey and Indiana last year. Thought to be a precocious two-year-old in baby races at the Meadowlands, for one reason or another the son of Always A Virgin didn’t make a major impact.

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Things have been radically different this year at three. Since returning, Always B Miki has shown explosive speed and other attributes that have Holloway extremely excited about the next two weeks.

“I think the edge he may have here is that he’s versatile,” said Holloway.

Over the course of the season, Always B Miki has looked solid on the front end, as he was last week with a 1:50 performance in his division of the Somebeachsomewhere at Mohawk.

After capturing his first two races as a sophomore impressively at the Meadowlands, Always B Miki went to Harrah’s Philadelphia for a bit more seasoning. That adventurous journey on May 8 gave Holloway his first indication that perhaps the horse was something special.

“He jumped a shadow on the turn,” said Holloway, “If the race was earlier in the day it probably wouldn’t have happened. You don’t see horses closing that kind of ground in the stretch at Harrah’s, and Corey (driver Callahan) didn’t even tip him until they came off the bend.”

The 1:52 3/5 effort was nullified when the horse was disqualified after the race, but while the money was gone, the hope of a trip north to Ontario as opposed to west to Indiana was becoming more realistic.

“I wanted Corey to test him in his next start,” said Holloway, referring to an overnight against some quality aged horses on May 17 at the Meadowlands.

What the trainer got was a bit more than that as Always B Miki was parked from the start and raced uncovered through fractions of :26 2/5, :53  2/5 and 1:21 2/5 before taking over into the stretch. The colt gamely fought to the wire, just getting nipped in a 1:48 4/5 mile.

“He was running in a little in the stretch and Corey had to straighten him out a couple of times,” said Holloway, believing his horse may have actually won the race instead of losing by a lip.

After the Meadowlands, Always B Miki was fitted with a headpole and proved straight as an arrow last week and primed for better things.

Always B Miki landed post seven in the second elimination field and will meet Let’s Drink On It (post four) along with six others.

J K Endofanera looks to remain unbeaten in 2014 in the first $50,000 elimination heat, race three. Brian Sears will guide the homebred by Art Major from the pole position and could receive his first test of the year with Western Vintage (post three), Limelight Beach (post four), and Lyonssomewhere (post six) in the field.

Perhaps the most contentious of the elims will be race nine where He’s Watching (post one) will meet last year’s Breeders Crown champion Luck Be Withyou (post two) as well as Pa. Sire Stakes winner Tellitlikeitis (post three), and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Doo Wop Hanover (post six).

Of the competition, Holloway fears J K Endofanera most off his impressive Somebeachsomewhere score.

On the mare front, Holloway will send out his top performers in two $35,000 Roses Are Red eliminations listed as races eight and 11 on the Mohawk program.

“I think Shebestingin will be better. She’s not a very good training horse and needs races to get sharp. I was disappointed in her last start. I thought she would have been better, but I expect her to race well on Saturday,” Holloway said of his entry in race eight.

“Somwherovrarainbow is a different horse. When she trains well you can be sure she’ll race well,” said Holloway. The top pacing mare in the sport this year landed post three in the 11th race.

First post time is 7:25 p.m. for the Mohawk 13-race program.