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00 colts and geldings on the eligibility list have now been whittled down to 72, and with two weeks to go to the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk racetrack (Saturday, June 27), a clearer picture of the serious contenders is finally starting to emerge.


This coming Saturday, Mohawk will present four $100,000(C) divisions of the Burlington Stakes, the Woodbine Entertainment Group’s final prep race before the big event. Thirty-nine sophomore pacers will be going postward, some of them meeting for the first time.


Trainers Brenda Teague, Tracy Brainard, and Ben Wallace all have at least one entry in each of the four divisions, while Carl Jamieson will harness colts in three of the four contests, and Erv Miller, Jack Darling, Steve Elliott, and Casie Coleman each have two entries.


Racing fans will catch the first north-of-the-border glimpse of Elliott’s lightly-raced Well Said, since the colt misfired in the $820,000 final of the Governor’s Cup at Woodbine last October. The highly-regarded son of Western Hanover already has a Breeders Crown in his trophy collection, and earnings of over $600,000, but he has only made one start as a sophomore, winning an $11,000 condition event at Harrah’s Chester on June 3. That makes him a bit of an unknown going into the Burlington, but having veteran linesman Ron Pierce in the bike on Saturday night can only help.


Well Said, who will be leaving from post seven in the second of the four Burlington splits, will be up against Maritime wunderkind, Keep It Real, who is now undefeated in five lifetime starts for trainer Joey Shea and owner Wayne Whebby, who sent out Feelin Friskie to be second in the NA Cup in 2006, and Watta Hotshot who was third in 2007. He’ll also be facing recent Upper Canada Cup winner, Stonebridge Terror, as well as Hoosier Cup winner, Mr.Wiggles, one of four entries from the shedrow of brother-and-sister team, George and Brenda Teague, who leaves from post 10 with Corey Callahan at the lines.


"Mr Wiggles has done everything we’ve asked him to do," commented George Teague. "He had some trouble breathing early on this year and had a throat operation a couple of months ago, but he bounced back fast from that and he’s 100 percent."


Mr.Wiggles is not the only powerhouse coming to Mohawk from the Teague’s Delaware base. Respect must also be given to Johnny Z, who was victorious in the $300,000 final of the Hempt Memorial stakes on May 23, and to Chasin Racin, second to his stablemate in the Hoosier Cup and winner of the Matt' Scooter final at the Meadowlands back in March.


Both are sons of The Panderosa co-owned by George Teague and Elmer Fannin, as is Mr.Wiggles (who is by Badlands Hanover).


Johnny Z will leave from post two in the first of the four Burlington divisions with Jack Moiseyev to guide him, while Chasin Racin has drawn into the third of the four elims and will have the services of John Campbell at the lines.


The fourth Teague entry is a bit of a dark horse compared to his stablemates, but Teague has faith in Bunkmeister, a third The Panderosa offspring who thus far has earned $60,000 and scored four wins in 10 lifetime starts. "He’s got the potential to pick it up. He’s had some bad racing luck, but I think he’s got it in him. Whether we see it on Saturday, I don’t know--he didn’t draw that well so he’s leaving from the nine hole," said Teague. "We’ll see if he answers the call."


Campbellville trainer Ben Wallace has entered no fewer than five colts for Saturday night. On paper, the most impressive of these is Suprizemeagain, a jet black son of Western Hero who belied his $5,700 yearling purchase price and had a stellar freshman season, winning 10 of 12 starts and placing second in the remaining two. A recent addition to the Wallace stable, Suprizemeagain will have 2008 NA Cup winning driver, Paul MacDonell, as his pilot in the third of the four Burlington splits.


Also worth watching is Surrealist, by Ontario sire Modern Art out of the Run The Table mare, Keeping Secrets. He has earned over $162,000 in 10 starts thus far, and although he has yet to visit the winner’s circle in 2009, he closed out his freshman year with an Ontario Sire Stakes Gold ginal win at Kawartha Downs. He’ll be leaving from post 10 in the first of the four Burlington splits on Saturday night.


With so many outstanding young pacers to watch, the Burlington Stakes--carded as races 4,5, 8, and 11--should be one of the most exciting events yet at Mohawk. Don’t forget that this extraordinary night of racing will also feature four finals for the Classic series for mature trotters and pacers. (WEG)