‘I’m lucky to be alive’

Nicholas Oakes
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After recently surviving a horrible racing accident, Kingston native Mark MacDonald is looking forward to facing his brothers in the Gold Cup and Saucer final at the CDP

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald admits it nearly took his life.

On May 26, the Kingston, P.E.I., native was driving Dancers Cam at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario, when the Jody Jamieson driven If I Didnt Care fell down in front of him.

He had to make a split second decision: run into the fallen horse or take the open route and run over driver, and good friend, Jamieson.

“It was one of those decisions, you hit a downed guy or you take one on the chin yourself,” MacDonald said this week during Old Home Week harness racing at the Charlottetown Driving Park. 

“I tried to miss (If I Didnt Care) and maybe force my way in and around it, but there were horses there and I maybe would’ve caused another accident on the inside. I took the decision to take it on the chin and obviously I did. I was hoping not to get hurt that bad, but it’s just the way it works out sometimes.”

MacDonald spent two weeks in intensive care but says he is feeling much better now. 

So far in 2011, MacDonald has 81 wins from 714 starts and has banked $1,652,983 with his horses.

“I’m lucky to be alive,” he said. “I really am. They x-rayed my neck and they though I could’ve broke my neck. It ended up it wasn’t, luckily, but I broke my jaw in five places and I broke my nose in three places. I have skeletal and nerve damage in my hip and separated my right shoulder and tore ligaments in my left forearm. It was about as bad as it gets.”

MacDonald showed how much better he feels Monday night as he won Gold Cup and Saucer Trial 3 in 1:52.3 with Blissfull Breeze. 

The Dean Nixon trainee made a three-wide move up the backstretch to easily overpower his competition at the CDP.

It’s nice to beat up on your brother once in a while, though, especially when they’re older than you. I’d like to race in this race with my brothers. I think that would be kind of neat. Mark MacDonald, on racing against his brothers Anthony and James in Saturday night’s Gold Cup and Saucer final

“He looked like he had a huge kick turning home and I was hoping for a little bit of speed up front and that he would kick home good. The trainer had him ready and the trip worked out good and the horse did the rest.”

Before the trail, MacDonald was undecided if he would stay for the Gold Cup and Saucer final Saturday night.

But now that he may be racing against his older brother, Anthony, and younger brother, James, in the final, he plans on sticking around. 

James will drive Fleet Sensation, while Anthony will leave from the rail with Fire On The Water.

“Well, there is a rivalry with everybody I think in this race,” Mark laughed after being asked if there would be a sibling rivalry in the final. “It’s nice to beat up on your brother once in a while, though, especially when they’re older than you. I’d like to race in this race with my brothers. I think that would be kind of neat.”

Monday was also the birthday for the brothers’  father, and Guardian sports columnist, Fred MacDonald. 

Mark said he was happy to spend it in the Charlottetown winner’s circle but isn’t expecting an easy trip back to it in Saturday’s final.

“It’s a deep group, you know,” MacDonald said. “I wasn’t here for the first couple eliminations, but I hear (Sunday’s) trial was really good. I think it’s wide open. I don’t think you can put it on one horse.”

Geographic location: Charlottetown Driving Park, Kingston, Ontario Charlottetown

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