06/10/2017 11:59PM

Mohawk: Downbytheseaside, Huntsville, Fear The Dragon triumph in North America Cup elims

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Huntsville won the fastest of the three North America Cup eliminations Saturday night at Mohawk

Huntsville made his presence felt in a powerful 1:49 1/5 performance, capturing one of the three $50,000 North America Cup eliminations at Mohawk on Saturday night. The homebred by Somebeachsomewhere cruised for driver Tim Tetrick in a huge performance.

Sent off as a 1-20 favorite, Huntsville relaxed early as Classic Pro, Ozone Blue Chip and Normandy Beach all left with purpose, with Normandy Beach eventually clearing by the 26 3/5 first quarter. Tetrick moved Huntsville on the backstretch and quickly secured the front, hitting the half in 55 2/5.

Into the final turn Ozone Blue Chip tried to move without cover but hardly made a dent on the leader's margin as Huntsville cruised through three-quarters in 1:22 1/5 and opened ground on the field. The final quarter was cut in 27 seconds flat with the earplugs in, although Huntsville did finish his mile in the middle of the racetrack.  Classic Pro, an early leader, edged out on the final turn when Beckhams Z Tam made an untimely break and was able to rally for second, with Ozone Blue Chip a brave third and Miso Fast making up a ton of ground late to get fourth.

Huntsville, trained by Ray Schnittker who co-owns along with Ted Gewertz, Charles Iannazzo and Steven Arnold, has now won 10 of 15 lifetime starts.

"He drew into an easier field," said Schnittker following the race.

Fear The Dragon gave chalk players a huge scare in his North America Cup elimination but recovered in time to pace over the wire in 1:50 and win for the fifth time in as many starts in 2017 for driver David Miller.

Ocean Colony took quick control of the race with Hurricane Beach settling second and Fear The Dragon in third through the opening 27 2/5 quarter. Miller moved Fear The Dragon and the colt advanced to clear the lead at the 55 second half. Local favorite Hurricane Beach made a power move on the final turn to engage the winner, but he was rebuffed, with Fear The Dragon drawing clear in the stretch until he suddenly almost went to his knees inside the final sixteenth.

"Yannick's horse lost his head-number leaving," said Miller referring to Ocean Colony. "My colt tried to step over it."

After some galloping Fear The Dragon was able to catch his stride right before the wire, with his lead obviously diminished but still safely in front of a solid-closing Filibuster Hanover. Ocean Colony was third with Hurricane Beach fourth.

Emerald Highlands Fame own Fear The Dragon a son of Dragon Again.

Downbytheseaside continued his perfect season, scoring as the 1-20 choice in his $50,000 division. The Somebeachsomewhere-sired colt took a tuck in the early stages, then followed the solid brush of Lawrencetown Beach on the backstretch. Fractions of 27 and 54 4/5 were swift in the first-half and driver David Miller didn't back down, hitting three-quarters on a clear lead in 1:21 4/5.

In the stretch there were no true challengers as Western Hill rallied for second and Sports Column came along the inside for the third spot. Some Attitude finished fourth.  The 1:50 4/5 mile was capped off with a 29 second last quarter, and the driver didn't believe the wind was an issue.

"He wasn't at his best tonight," David Miller stated flatly in the winner's circle.

Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo and Diamond Creek Racing share ownership for trainer Brian Brown, who captured two of the three elims.