06/14/2013 3:36PM

Mohawk: Pierce feeling good about his chances in North America Cup, Armbro Flight

USTA Photo
Horses driven by Ron Pierce have earned over $195 million, ranking him second on the all time driver leaderboard.

Few drivers have the résumé of Ron Pierce. The 56-year-old has won every Triple Crown race – multiple times. He has ranked in the top 10 in earnings for 16 of the previous 17 years and is second all time with his horses banking $195,154,921 (that’s a bit more than $9.7 million in driver commission).

On Saturday at Mohawk, Pierce will look for his third North America Cup victory with Wake Up Peter (post 6). Although the 8-1 morning line odds rank his charge as an outsider, Pierce was feeling good about his chances when reached on Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m very, very happy with where Wake Up Peter drew in the North America Cup Final,” said Pierce confidently. “It is an ideal spot for the horse with where we’ll be coming from . . . most likely off the pace.”

“I don’t think there is one horse in there that can out-kick my horse if they are used a bit early,” said Pierce.

[DRF HARNESS: Watch + wager on the Saturday North America Cup card at Mohawk]

Although he finished second in his elimination, Wake Up Peter actually paced the co-second fastest elimination mile (1:48 3/5) of any of the finalists; faster than winners Captaintreacherous (1:48 4/5) and Vegas Vacation (1:49). Wake Up Peter also kicked home with the co-fastest final quarter of 26 1/5 despite Pierce clearly having some issues urging him home as he adjusted  to the Canadian whipping rules, which require drivers to keep both hands in the handholds at all times during the race.

“The way they make you drive a horse, watch the drivers, they are just throwing the lines at the horse. That is so dangerous,” said Pierce. “I’m just not used to driving like that. In the States we are used to keeping the bit in the horse’s mouth so we can control them.”

With a night of “practice” under his belt, Pierce felt confident he could overcome the handicap.

Only the individual drivers know what they plan to do when the gate will open, but Pierce offered up his thoughts on the field. The veteran driver felt that the inside four of Apprentice Hanover, Vegas Vacation, Fool Me Once and Captaintreacherous would all be aggressive early in the mile. He was expecting Twilight Bonfire to be driven patiently and hoped he could get away in mid-pack with Wake Up Peter. He singled out Sunshine Beach as a possible longshot who could be more involved than many people think. Pierce anticipates Odds On Equuleus racing from off the pace and wasn’t sure about Martini Hanover’s tactics.

Pierce’s most interesting comments were on Captive Audience, who gave Captaintreacherous a run for his money in last Saturday’s elimination.

“It is hard to know what Randy (Waples) will do,” chuckled Pierce. “I don’t think he will go in with a game plan. He will probably go by feel.”

Strategy aside, Pierce is just happy to be racing in the North America Cup.

“It’s going to be a great race and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Pierce, who admitted he would be rooting for Captaintreacherous if he can’t win himself. “He’s my stablemate, so I hope he does, but there are no favors on the track racing for $1,000,000.”

Pierce, who was originally scheduled to drive five horses on the Saturday card, took the time to give comments on each horse.

Race 2 – Cedar Dove

“I didn’t want Cedar Dove to be stretched out too much last week. She’s a sweetie pie; I really love that horse. I expect her to be even better this week”

Race 5 – Nikki Beach

“She’s going to have to show me a bit more than she has. She is going to have to wake up, but (trainer) Tony (Alagna) is good at getting them to wake up in a hurry.”

Race 6 – All Speed Hanover

“That was a big effort at the Meadowlands (in his last start). They say he came out of the race good and sound.”

Race 11 – Fred And Ginger

“I think these guys will have their hands full if “Freddy” is as good as he has been.”