MILTON, Ont., June 15, 2024 – It was a trip around the familiar Woodbine Mohawk Park racetrack that Louis-Philippe Roy will never forget.

Behind the reins of NIJINSKY (BETTORS DELIGHT), Roy was able to make a dream come true by becoming a Pepsi North America Cup winner.

“It’s crazy. In post parade, during the first couple minutes, I really enjoyed the moment,” Roy said. “I was watching that race 10 years ago when I was just starting on the fairs and I was dreaming of winning that race. That was the one race.

“[The Pepsi North America] Cup was my one race to win, and I can’t describe the feeling I had coming down the lane when I knew I was a winner. It was just crazy.”

Finishing at a lifetime-best mark of 1:48.1, the Ontario Sired NIJINSKY and Roy emerged victorious in the 41st edition of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

With NIJINSKY’s win, trainer Anthony Beaton was also able to call himself a Pepsi North America Cup winner for the first time.

“It’s kind of surreal right now, but now we’ve done it,” Beaton said after the race. “Now we’re here and it’s very emotional and it’s awesome. We’re very happy.”

NIJINSKY used his signature finishing kick down the final stretch to blow past CAPTAINS QUARTERS, who was leading by a length through the first three quarters of the race, to score a 1 ½-length win.

Roy has been NIJINSKY’s exclusive driver this year, a partnership that has now resulted in five wins in five starts, including Saturday’s big Pepsi North America Cup victory.

“[NIJINSKY’s] been perfect so far, and Louis has driven him perfect every time,” Beaton said. “Louis has all the confidence in the world with NIJINSKY and that’s a big, big thing when you’re going into some of these races.”

It’s been a big year for NIJINSKY so far. Not only is the Jeffrey Snyder (New York, N.Y.)-bred bay colt been perfect, he’s been perfect just a year after he only managed to score one win in 10 starts as a two-year-old.

“He was a great horse as a two-year-old, he just didn’t have very good manners,” said Casie Coleman of West Wins Stable (Wellington, Fla.), one of NIJINSKY’s owners along with John Fielding (Scarborough, Ont.) and Mark Dumain (Pine Bush, N.Y.). “We had to really manage him, we had to be careful with him, you had to get off the gate with him because he would make a break or put in steps.

“This year, training back, he’s got manners now and he’s grown up now. He’s not a kid anymore, he’s a man now and he’s got a lot better manners and he’s easier to handle and now the drivers can drive him how they want.”

This was Coleman’s third Pepsi North America Cup victory, but first as an owner. She won two previously as a trainer with SPORTSWRITER in 2010 and the Ontario Sired BETTING LINE (BETTORS DELIGHT) in 2016.

“Unbelievable, awesome,” said Coleman of winning Saturday’s big race. “I’ve been here twice before. This is my first one as just an owner and third one total. Winning the [Pepsi North America Cup] for $1 million, the biggest race in Canada, is amazing.”

CAPTAINS QUARTERS ended up settling for second and Ontario Sired gelding FUNTIME BAYAMA (HES WATCHING), captured third in the race.

FUNTIME BAYAMA was driven by Sylvain Filion, was trained by Richard Moreau and was bred and is currently owned by Bayama Farms Inc. (Saint-Andre-D’Argenteuil, Que.).

STORM SHADOW (BETTORS DELIGHT) and TOTAL STRANGER (BETTORS DELIGHT) were the two other Ontario Sired horses in the Pepsi North America Cup field Saturday, finishing seventh and 10th, respectively.

In other action Saturday, the Ontario Sired ITS A LOVE THING (BETTORS DELIGHT) won the $425,000 Fan Hanover final in a stakes, track and Canadian record-tying time of 1:48.2, that was established originally by AMERICAN JEWEL in 2012 and SYLVIA HANOVER just last year.

“This is my first track record and I’m really proud of that,” said ITS A LOVE THING driver James MacDonald. “I see my brother Mark’s name in the program a lot with track records, but first one for me and it’s pretty special. [ITS A LOVE THING’s] a special horse and I said after my first qualifier this year to my wife, ‘She’s the one.’

“She’s such a good horse, she tries her guts out and she’s just got a real will to win.”

ITS A LOVE THING is trained by David Menary, is owned by Eric Good (Davidsonville, Md.), Thomas Biederman (Lexington, Ky.), Joshua Green, (Midway, Ky.) and Rich Lombardo Racing LLC (Solon, Ohio), and was bred by Marvin and Lynn Katz (Toronto, Ont.) and Al Libfeld (Pickering, Ont.).

The victory was one of three wins on the evening for three-time defending Lampman Cup winner MacDonald. He also found himself in the winner’s circle Saturday with Ontario Sired gelding TROPHY TAKER (ALL BETS OFF) in a $21,000 pace for five-year-olds and younger who have at least won two but not more than five races previously, and with LINEDRIVE HANOVER in the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup.

MacDonald drove LEGENDARY HANOVER in the Pepsi North America Cup, but the night would ultimately belong to the colt’s stablemate NIJINSKY and Roy.

“It was the best trip we could’ve had out there,” Roy said.

FEATURE IMAGE: NIJINSKY and driver Louis-Philippe Roy winning the 41st Pepsi North America Cup on June 15, 2024 at Woodbine Mohawk Park (Photo credit New Image Media)

IN-LINE PHOTO: ITS A LOVE THING and Driver James MacDonald winning the Fan Hanover Final on June 15, 2024 at Woodbine Mohawk Park (Photo credit: New Image Media)