06/17/2017 10:34PM

Mohawk: Fear The Dragon delivers in North America Cup

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David Miller pumps his fist in celebration as Fear The Dragon nears the finish of the North America Cup

David Miller made the right choice of horses, but that didn't mean winning the North America Cup would come easy.

"He was going all he could go early just to keep up," said Miller of race winner Fear The Dragon, who needed every ounce of strength to keep pace, and then showed incredible heart to find the finish line first in a career-best 1:48 4/5 clocking at Mohawk on Saturday.

As expected, despite the three elimination winners drawing inside, there was little fear in the rest of the field as early position seemed essential and proved hotly-contested.

Sports Column and Classic Pro darted out from the middle of the track, with Filibuster Hanover and driving sensation Louis-Philippe Roy also leaving with incredible purpose at 30-1. Classic Pro was able to secure the lead in a 25 2/5 opening quarter, but Roy instantly pulled from the three-hole to rush to command, followed quickly by Downbytheseaside as Brian Sears sailed intensely to the front before the 52 1/5 half, the fastest in Mohawk Raceway history.

Sears kept the pedal down in a major way, kicking away from rivals with a 27 2/5 blast that left pocket-sitter Filibuster Hanover gasping and eventually offstride. Tim Tetrick put 4-5 favorite Huntsville in motion past the half, but he was not gaining much on the leader during that accelerated third quarter. After Filibuster Hanover broke stride, Tetrick was able to get Huntsville behind the leader at a distance as Fear The Dragon loomed off his cover.

Into the homestretch Sears worked on Downbytheseaside, and the colt was holding extremely well as Huntsville bore down on him in the middle of the stretch, but Miller, who captured this classic a year ago with Betting Line, no longer had trouble keeping up. Instead he used his whip to urge the son of Dragon Again forward and appeared to have Huntsville collared as the pair drove as a team towards the wire. Tetrick again had trouble keeping his horse in a straight path and looked like he could be forcing the winner out, but Miller never lost his composure and Fear The Dragon never lost his momentum, going by in the final stages to victory. Huntsville was a game second with Downbytheseaside holding for third. Classic Pro and Western Hill earned the final two checks.

"This is a great feeling," said David Miller following the race. "I never felt he had a shot until the head of the stretch. He just kept fighting right to the wire."

Trainer Brian Brown captured his first North America Cup and also sent out the third-place finisher.

"I'm very proud of Downbytheseaside. He went a big mile. What can you say about Fear The Dragon. He never gives up," Brown said.

Asked about the feeling, "It's unexplainable," said Brown.

Emerald Highlands Farm purchased Armbro Cinnamon, the dam of Fear The Dragon, while she was carrying him in foal for just $15,000. With the victory Fear The Dragon is now undefeated in six 2017 starts and has career earnings in excess of $800,000.

"Great race," said Huntsville's trainer Ray Schnittker. "I thought he raced good. Maybe we would have gotten there with reverse trips if my horse was on the outside, because he runs out a little bit. Who knows?"

Schnittker suggested his horse would likely skip the Max Hempt Memorial (eliminations June 24) at Pocono with Huntsville but expects to have the horse ready for the Meadowlands Pace.

A $75,000 consolation earlier in the card was won by Ron Burke-trained Eddard Hanover (Matt Kakaley), who rallied from seventh to first in the final quarter to defeat Macs Jackpot (David Miller) by a head in a 1:51 mile.  Some Attitude (Tim Tetrick) was up for third.  Eddard Hanover, a Dragon Again gelding, is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC., JJK Stables LLC., Larry Karr, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.  This was Eddard Hanover's fourth career victory and the clocking was a new lifetime mark.