06/27/2015 10:26PM

Pocono: Top NA Cup performers dominate Hempt elims

Curtis Salonick
Artspeak (6) dug down deep to hold off In The Arsenal in their Hempt elimination.

The rematch of the North America Cup has been set for The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on July 4. That was assured on Saturday night when three elimination races were contested for the Max C. Hempt Memorial, with the top five finishers from the C$1 million event all qualifying for the $500,000 final. Leading the pack were race winner Wakizashi Hanover and runner-up Wiggle It Jiggleit while fifth-place finisher Artspeak rebounded as well, capturing the other elimination.

Wakizashi Hanover was handled superbly by Tim Tetrick, rating out of the gate and then stepping on the accelerator to grab the top after a 26 4/5 opening quarter. Tetrick kindly released second choice Lost For Words at the half in 55 1/5 and then towed in behind the formerly unbeaten colt into the stretch. With room along the inside, the altered son of Dragon Again burst through for a 1:50 4/5 victory over the rain-soaked sloppy surface. Lost For Words held well for second with longshot The Bettor Hat getting third.

[DRF HARNESS EYE: Digital Harness Eye is now available for purchase--PPs, Analysis, Charts, and more!]

Wiggle It Jiggleit showed a new wrinkle to his impressive resume, coming from off the pace with a brisk third quarter move to win in-hand in 1:50 1/5. It was the 12th career victory in just 13 starts and a wicked effort for the gelding that defeated 65-1 shot National Seelster by open lengths. Betting Exchange, recently third in the North America Cup, settled for third after a pacesetting effort.

Artspeak was sent right to the front for Scott Zeron in the other $25,000 Hempt elimination and rated the pace kindly. He was put under extreme pressure by Pierce Hanover and driver Brett Miller on the final turn, but fought gamely for the 1:50 score. In The Arsenal had the pocket trip behind the winner but couldn’t go by late. The top three from each elimination return for Saturday’s final.

On the 3-year-old pacing filly front, three divisions of the James Lynch Memorial were contested and all were identically timed in 1:51 3/5. Leading the way to victory lane were New Jersey Sire Stakes final winner and runner-up The Show Returns and Stacia Hanover. The Show Returns was in with last year’s Horse of the Year JK She’salady and Sassa Hanover, but overpowered that pair for driver John Campbell. Sassa Hanover settled for second with Single Me coming up the inside for third. JK She’salady made a quarter-move to the front and then was put to some pressure by Sassa Hanover before fading to fifth.

Stacia Hanover had been a confirmed closer before her Lynch trial, but Scott Zeron put her on the lead and she stayed there, easily besting Bettor Be Steppin and Wicked Little Minx in the process.

Momas Got A Gun surprised some scoring at 6-1 in the final $20,000 Lynch elimination field for driver Brett Miller. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere roughed it without cover but proved strongest in the stretch, edging past favored Divine Caroline near the wire.