A final goodbye

Nicholas Oakes
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Charlottetown Driving Park to hold a retirement ceremony and a race in honour of Malabrigo during Saturday’s card

Saturday afternoon, Island racing fans will get to say goodbye to the brightest star of 2012.

Malabrigo, with trainer-driver Marc Campbell in tow, will make her final lap at the Charlottetown Driving Park oval in a retirement ceremony after Race 8 of the afternoon while Race 9 will be held in her honour. The first 300 fans to buy programs will receive a photograph of Malabrigo.

The pacing filly’s next stop will be Tarleton Farm in Paris, Ky., where she will be bred to North America’s leading pacing sire Somebeachsomewhere in the spring. It has been a perfect season for the three-year-old daughter of Western Paradise-Lots Abunny and owner Buntainwood Farm of Brackley Beach, going 16 for 16.

Campbell, 27, thought retiring the filly seemed like a good thing to do, considering she has went undefeated on the season.

“I’m happy she won’t ever have to sink down to the claiming ranks and race her guts out for the next three or four years,” Campbell said. “This way she gets to relax out in the field like she deserves.”

Malabrigo has banked $82,068 this season, to give her $133,876 lifetime, while her 16 wins gives her multiple places in the record books. For North America  in 2012, she has the longest undefeated streak of any horse, is tied for most wins of a three-year-old of any gait or sex and is tied for fifth for most wins of all horses. She now has the most stake wins in a season in Atlantic Canada for a filly, beating Meridian Magic’s previous record of 15 in one year, while tying Firms Phantom’s 2001 tally for the overall title of stakes wins in one season. Her $82,068 gives her the third highest earnings total for a season in Maritime history, behind Deep Finesse and Gordies Last Call.

She did all this after being foaled at Charlotte Ranch in New Brunswick, for breeder Dennis Baxter, which meant she was not eligible to the Nova Scotia stake or the Lady Slipper, limiting her racing opportunity.

It is no secret that it is not easy to put an undefeated season together and a few times Campbell thought it was coming to an end.

“She got lucky a couple of times,” said Campbell, who leads the Maritimes in dash wins. “In the Maritimer final (at Exhibition Park Raceway) she was locked in but found her way out and made up a ton of ground and won. Then in Fredericton she felt like she was all done, then I kicked the plugs and she went on and won that too. And she nearly got beat in the Breeders’ Crown and she nearly got beat last week too.”

Campbell says the filly was funny to drive as she just did what she wanted, not always what he told her to.

“She just had that will to win. She got me out of some tough spots. I gave her some bad drives and she got herself through every time.”

The bigger accomplishment for Campbell is having broke and trained down Malabrigo and the impact she has had on his stable.

“I think I gained some respect from other horseman and from other owners,” Campbell said. “You know she was good from the start right to the end.”

But the final credit has to go to the horse, he says.

“I don’t care where you’re racing. You have to be a real good horse to do what she has done.”


Island racing

The Lady Slipper stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies highlight the Saturday card at the CDP with a 1 p.m. post time.

Two $7,800 Grassroot divisions go in races 2 and 5, while $12,800 Gold Divisions line up in Races 7

and 10.

Sunday afternoon, the $8,475 Dave Rose Memorial claiming series final will line up in Race 10 with Pan Cushion (Mike McGuigan), Cam Cool (Terry Gallant), Yankee Sun (Kenny Arsenault), Bo Butler (Campbell), Nf Debutante (Norris Rogers), Schmokin Shannon A (Gary Chappell), Hueys Boy (Corey MacPherson), Bemused (Mark McKinnon) and Ultimate Faith (Brodie MacPhee) entered.

The $3,000 consolation goes in Race 10.

Kudos to Bill Andrew and Meridian Farms for sponsoring this event in the honour of a truly great horseman and a great individual. It is nice to have an event and some excitement for people with regular 1:58 to 2:00 horses.

A reminder that Saturday, Nov. 17, is Horsemen’s Day at the CDP and it will feature the annual E.F. Acorn Memorial driving challenge in eight of the afternoon’s races. The competition will have leading dash winners Campbell, Hughes, Arsenault, Chappell and Mike Stevenson, along with top percentage drivers John Holmes, Ron Matheson, Danny MacDonald and Willie Murphy.


Across the continent

The Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals are headlining the Saturday card at Woodbine Raceway in Rexdale, Ont., and Kingston native Anthony MacDonald will be busy with drives in six out of eight $300,000 events.

Younger brother James will drive in two of the rich finals.

Who’s hot

Proven Lover scorched the CDP oval Sunday winning the weekly preferred pace in 1:53.2.

It was the sixth fastest mile of the year in Charlottetown and is the fastest ever in the Maritimes in the month of November, breaking Riccarras Sun’s previous 1:55.2 standard. The son of Real Desire is owned by Casey Gavin of Tignish and trained and driven by Terry Gallant.

Nicholas Oakes’ column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at nicholasoakes@hotmail.com.

Organizations: Exhibition Park Raceway

Geographic location: Charlottetown Driving Park, Charlottetown, North America Maritime Paris, Ky. Atlantic Canada New Brunswick Nova Scotia Fredericton Rexdale Kingston Tignish

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