Down The Backstretch: Drivers from P.E.I. making noise on both sides of border

Nicholas Oakes
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Annual E. F. Acorn Memorial Drivers’ Challenge highlights Horsemen’s Day program at the CDP

Island natives are sitting behind some high-powered horses in North American racing action.

The MacDonald racing family was on fire this past weekend on both sides of the border.

At Yonkers Raceway in New York on Saturday, Mark MacDonald won the $415,820 Messenger stake final in 1:51.2 with Bolt The Duer. The Peter Foley trainee surpassed $1 million in lifetime earnings with the win. The move to the U.S. appears to have worked out well for the Kingston native, who now has 153 wins from 1,540 starts in 2012, along with $4,257,658 in seasonal earnings. Mark is ninth for wins among drivers at Yonkers Raceway with 112 trips to the winner’s circle.

The same night at Woodbine Raceway in Toronto, older brother Anthony won the $300,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super final for two-year-old colt pacers in 1:51.4 with Mach Pride at odds of 11-1. Anthony is ninth for wins on the Woodbine circuit with 95.

Stratford native Robert Shepherd will drive Ginger And Fred in the $200,000 Forest City Pace final for aged pacing mares. The Ron Burke trainee has over $1.7 million in lifetime earnings and has drawn Post 5 in Race 11.

On the same card, First Art Down will make his Ontario debut with Shepherd training and driving for owner Bruce Wood of Marshfield in Race 5. The Articulator colt had been racing in three-year-old Atlantic stakes action for trainer Jackie Matheson.

First race post time for the Western Fair card is 8:05 p.m. AST.


P.E.I. scene

Saturday is Horsemen’s Day at the Charlottetown Driving Park, with the annual E. F. Acorn Memorial Drivers’ Challenge.

Races 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 will all feature the challenge with drivers Ron Matheson, John Holmes, Danny MacDonald, Willie Murphy, Mike Stevenson, Gary Chappell, Marc Campbell, Jason Hughes and Kenny Arsenault in each race.

As a part of the card, the P.E.I. Standardbred Horse Owners’ Association has a second-chance draw, where you simply have to fill out your name and phone number on a unsuccessful pari-mutuel ticket for a chance to win prizes, including turkeys, merchandise and more.

My picks for the card are: Race 1 - Westedge Artist; Race 2 - MD Caseys Charm; Race 3 - CJ Bluefin; Race 4 - Milliondollarfeeln; Race 5 - Isleofpalms; Race 6 - Artners In Crime; Race 7 - Zip The Lip; Race 8 - Stimulus Bill; Race 9 - All Out; Race 10 - CL Eighty; Race 11 - There Paid For;  Race 12 - Capitalism.

Arguably the greatest Maritime-bred trotter of all time, Waiting On A Woman, has been sold to U.S. interests. He will likely be racing in New York state.


Harrisburg sale

The Harrisburg yearling and mixed sale wrapped up last week in the capital of Pennsylvania, and P.E.I.’s buyers were busy.

In the yearling portion, Shadow Play’s first crop was well received and the horse’s former trainer dipped into his wallet to take a couple home. Dr. Ian Moore purchased colts Arthur Blue Chip for $135,000 and High Flier for $37,000. Arthur Blue Chip is a brother to $1.5 million winner Kenneth J and former Island top-class horse Sombrero Blue Chip, while High Flier is a brother to millionaires Betterthancheddar and Ashlees Big Guy.

Earl Smith purchased Snoggin Hanover (Badlands Hanover-Secret Date) for $1,500, but Earl Watts ended up taking the ownership papers. Watts also picked up the filly Shadownooga (Shadow Play-High Rocktane) for $1,000.

The Collings family of Mount Stewart was busy, as Karen  bought filly Prettyprettyplease (American Ideal-Sweet Otra) for $3,000, Jason bought filly Cheyenne Kristy (Rocknroll Hanover-Cheyenne Ava) for $1,500 and Tom bought colt Motor Shark (Cams Card Shark-Motor Toy) for $2,500.

Allan Moore of Charlottetown paid $4,000 for filly Undine Hanover (Mister Big-Up Front Anastasia), while Brian MacPhee took home Muscle Mannequin (Muscle Mass-Gingerly) for $2,500. Muscle Mannequin is a sister to Island trotter Ginternal Revenue.

Reg MacPherson of Stratford shelled out $26,000 for colt Cheyenne Dunckley (Western Ideal-Pedoozle), who is a brother to 2007 Progress Pace winner Ghees House.

The Hardy Mill stable of Stratford bought colt Ulster Hanover (Yankee Cruiser-Up Front Georgia) for $23,000.

On the broodmare side, Casey Gavin of Tignish bought Always An Art (Artsplace-Always An Angel) for $12,000 and Todalu (Artsplace-Tululu) for $2,500.

Charlottetown deputy

police chief Gary McGuigan bought Spunky Gal (The Panderosa- Incredible Margie) for $3,000.

In the race horse portion, Island owners Ian Smith and David Kennedy put Major At Heart through the ring for $1,500 to Pennsylvania connections, and Ian, Peter and Hal Smith’s Waiver Hanover was bought by Maryland owners for $2,000.

Former Islander David O’Brien put his own First Rate Shark through the sale and it was bought by Joshua Green of Delaware for $32,000.


Nicholas Oakes’ column appears in

The Guardian each Friday. He can be

reached at

Organizations: North American, Bolt The Duer, Woodbine Raceway Rocknroll Hanover-Cheyenne Ava

Geographic location: Charlottetown Driving Park, New York, Stratford U.S. Kingston Toronto Ontario Harrisburg Pennsylvania Charlottetown Crime Hanover Mount Stewart Maryland

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