CAMPBELLVILLE, Ont. — Todd McCarthy and Pebble Beach made it look easy Saturday night.
The Australian driver took Pebble Beach to the lead at the halfway point, then they cruised to victory in the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Pebble Beach came off the final turn leading Beach Glass by two lengths and increased that to three — the final winning margin — by deep stretch, crossing the finish line in 1:50.0 to secure the $500,000 winner's share.
Beach Glass, driven by Yannick Gingras of Sorel, Que., was second, finishing ahead of Frozen Hanover and Louis-Philippe Roy of Mont-Joli, Que.
McCarthy enjoyed a stellar North America Cup debut in just his third season racing in North America.
"It's so surreal, I'm speechless," McCarthy said. "I can't thank Noel (trainer Noel Daley) enough for what he's done for me since I've come over here.
"He was a large part in helping me come over and to win this race with him has just been unbelievable. I was lucky enough to pick up this horse early on and he's just been an absolute pleasure."
The win was Pebble Beach's third in four starts this season and 10th in 15 career races. The horse has finished no worse than third so far in his career (second three times, third twice).
McCarthy had Pebble Beach third through the opening quarter behind Frozen Hanover and Beach Glass. But he moved Pebble Beach to the lead by the half-mile mark, which was reached in 55 seconds.
"I would have liked the idea of being able to get in early and make the decision to move," McCarthy said. "But our hand got forced there and I had to keep pressing.
"Fifty-five, I was pretty happy with that. I just sort of had to look after him from there and I knew he would have a big last quarter for me. He was terrific."
Pebble Beach and Beach Glass won their respective elimination races last weekend.
McCarthy and Pebble Beach also made Daley a winner in his North America Cup debut.
"It wasn't where I thought we were going to be, but they were going easy fractions," Daley said. "I left it (up) to Todd to make his decision there and he did the right thing.
"He showed now he's got a bit of versatility — he can do it in front or behind. He's got a wicked turn of speed, so I just said that as long as you're in the first half swinging in, I'd be happy."
Daley didn't mince words regarding just how big Saturday's victory was.
"It's probably our biggest win," he said. "I've never won a big race with a pacer like this."
Beach Glass was looking to secure the Cup win Saturday and follow in the footsteps of his legendary father.
Beach Glass's sire is none other than the incomparable Somebeachsomewhere, who won 20-of-21 career races and more than $3.3 million in earnings. Among Somebeachsomewhere's titles was the '08 Pepsi North America Cup.
Upon retirement, Somebeachsomewhere became a top stallion before dying of cancer in 2018 at the age of 13.
Beach Glass's trainer, Brent MacGrath, was Somebeachsomewhere's conditioner at the '08 Cup and part of the six-member Schooner Stable ownership group. Beach Glass races for the same connections.
Also on Saturday night's card, Treacherous Dragon and Wickedly Innocent gave trainer Brett Pelling a 1-2 finish in the $401,000 Fan Hanover final. Treacherous Dragon, driven by Tim Tetrick, held off late-charging stablemate, Wickedly Innocent, to win in 1:50.1.
Treacherous Dragon improved to 5-0 this season and boosted her career earnings past $575,000.
"Brett has done a great job with this filly, he’s brought her along slow," Tetrick said. "He is great at what he does and setting them up for the three-year-old year.
"He's got this mare in form, and hopefully he gets to keep her that way for the next weeks.”
Added Pelling: “They’re both really strong fillies, they’re very efficient. (Treacherous Dragon) is very calm and stoic, nothing fazes her too much.”
Ontario-bred fillies Prohibition Legal and Silver Label, both Millar Farms homebreds trained by Nick Gallucci, were third and fourth, respectively.
Dexter Dunn drove Fast As The Wind to victory in the $251,000 Goodtimes Stakes. Fast As The Wind, the 2-5 favourite, posted a lifetime best time of 1:52.2 to finish 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Twin B Archie with Pretender finishing third.
Coming around the final turn, Looks Like Moni, driven by McCarthy, broke stride. That left Twin B Archie, Pretender and a surging Fast As The Wind to make a push for the victory.
Another Pelling-conditioned horse was victorious Saturday. Test Of Faith, last year's horse of the year south of the border, captured the $315,000 Roses Are Red Final for older pacing mares.
Test of Faith, driven by American David Miller, finished in 1:50.1 for her third win in five tries this season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2022.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press