Captain Crunch delivered a stunning Canadian Record 1:47.2 performance to win the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Trained by Nancy Johansson, Captain Crunch and driver Scott Zeron blasted off the wings of the gate from post-eight and claimed the top spot through a :26 opening-quarter. Bettors Wish overtook the lead quickly entering the backstretch before Workin Ona Mystery, the 7/5 favourite, surged up to take control at the half in :52.4.
Captain Crunch was removed by Zeron going into the far turn and confronted Workin Ona Mystery at three-quarters in 1:20.
In the stretch, Captain Crunch powered by to take the lead and held off a late push from Bettors Wish to win by three-quarters of a length in a Track and Canadian Record 1:47.2. Workin Ona Mystery finished third. Aflame Hanover, the longest shot in the race at 136-1, finished fourth.
"It feels unbelievable,” said Zeron following his first Pepsi North America Cup victory. “This has been the end-all, be-all for me. It's completed my entire bucket list.
“We've got a lot of racing left to do, but I can't say enough about how amazing this animal is. I didn't want to be in that spot I was in in that race but at the same time he overcame it with just his greatness.”
A son of 2013 Cup winner Captaintreacherous, Captain Crunch came into the final off a break in his elimination. The sophomore pacer broke in the first-turn after jumping a shadow, forcing him to grind out a fifth-place finish.
Trainer Johansson had last year’s Breeders Crown champion prepped perfectly for owners 3 Brothers Stable, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables and Caviart Farms.
"It was just one of those things that happens last week in the elimination,” said Johansson. “I knew that the horse raced really well just to make it to the final so I really wasn't worried. I don't want to sound cocky or anything but I knew he was the best horse going into it and it was just up to him to show everybody.”
"The last eighth of a mile I must screamed his name like 30 times. My hands actually hurt but it was exciting to watch the race. Obviously he didn't get anything for free. He's just an amazing animal.
Johansson is the daughter of trainer Jimmy Takter and captures her first Cup in her first try. The Cup is one of only a few marquee races that Takter did not capture in his Hall of Fame career.
"The last eighth of a mile I must screamed his name like 30 times,” said Johansson. “My hands actually hurt but it was exciting to watch the race. Obviously he didn't get anything for free. He's just an amazing animal.”
Captain Crunch now has three wins in four starts this season and has won nine of 14 career outings. The Johansson trainee, who captured last year’s Breeders Crown and Governor’s Cup, sports impressive career earnings of $1,188,960.
The clocking of 1:47.2 smashed the previous mark of 1:47.4, set by Cup winners Thinking Out Loud (2012) and Betting Line (2016).
Captain Crunch went off at odds of 4/1 and returned $10.30, $5.10 and $3.30. A $2 Exacta with Bettors Wish paid $41.90. The $1 Trifecta with Workin Ona Mystery in the third-slot returned $59.70, while the $1 Superfecta completed by Aflame Hanover paid $721.80.