© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Fans and friends carry driver Marc Campbell to the winners circle after he drove Escape the News to a track record at the CDP to win the Sobeys Gold Cup and Saucer Race Saturday night.
The King of the Charlottetown Driving Park had his crowning moment Saturday night in the $60,000 Sobeys Gold Cup and Saucer final as Escape The News was victorious in 1:50.4.
Marc Campbell, 28, guided the four-year-old son of Artiscape to the off-the-pace victory for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable of Fredericktown, Howard Taylor of Philadelphia and Weaver Bruscemi of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania and JJK Stables LLC of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“It’s kind of surreal really,” Campbell said in the winner’s circle. “It hasn’t even had time to sink in. Pulling up on the backstretch I looked over at Anthony and all those boys were like congratulations and I said ‘I can’t even breathe yet.’”
The early tempo was set by Up The Credit (Carl Jamieson) with a 26.2 first quarter with R Caan (Jason Ryan) parked out. R Caan then cleared to the lead in the half of 53.2 and proceeded to lay down a 1:21.4 third quarter.
Campbell said the race worked out in his favour, with a fast first half, giving him an opportunity to advance from the backfield. Escape The News got away seventh at the start and fellow Burke trainee Hillbilly Hanover (Gilles Barrieau), the heavy post time favorite, was away fifth.
“My horse was on the gate a little more tonight and I wanted to get in the race a little more,” Campbell said. “I didn’t want to get away ninth. I wanted to track Hillbilly (Hanover). I wanted to know where he was. It worked out perfect. I moved at the quarter pole and Walter (Cheverie, driving Lulus Boy) said ‘there’s your cover, go get it.’ And I chased along to catch up to him. My horse, I chased him at the five-eighths and he seemed a little dead so I pulled the plugs and he got right back on the bit and I was pretty confident.”
R Caan then proceeded to lay down a 1:21.4 threequarters, with Hillbilly Hanover advancing first over with Escape The News following his cover with those two getting to R Caan past the three-quarters. Escape The News then unleashed a 28.3 final panel while three-wide around the final turn to win by a length-and-a-half over Hillbilly Hanover, with R Caan third. Up The Credit held on for fourth, with Proven Lover (John Holmes) fifth, Smokin Bear (Anthony MacDonald) sixth, Savannah Splendor (Jonathan Drury) seventh, Machs Beach Boy (James MacDonald) eighth and Lulus Boy (Walter Cheverie) ninth.
“You have to give the horse all the credit,” Campbell said. “It’s incredible to get horses like that here. They’ll probably bring more horses here next year and I hope they’re driving them.”
Mickey Burke, Ron Burke’s father, came to P.E.I. for the week from Pennsylvania with the horses.
“I have won some big races in my life but I have never seen a more enthusiastic crowd in my life,” Mickey said after the win. “Everyone on the grounds has treated us royally. One thing I can say is that we will be back and if there is three eliminations I will have three here and if there are four eliminations I’ll make sure I have four there.”
Burke Racing Stable is partly owned by Mickey’s wife, Sylvia, but no one else connected to the horse was there, as there were a number of stake races going on in Pennsylvania and New York last night. Trainer Ron Burke has a stable of 275 horses spread across the continent.
“We had some awful big horses racing tonight but this was a race we never won before,” Mickey said. “Ronnie and one of our owners tried to get flights and the connections were so bad. But I’ll tell you what I’ll do next year and you can bet on it, we’ll charter a plane. We will have 10 or 12 here of our owners.”
Hillbilly Hanover was being heralded as the favorite going into the race, but Mickey is not surprised Campbell was the victor.
“I thought Hillbilly Hanover had a little bit more scat out of the gate but this horse, it is what Marc said the other day, just keeps coming and coming and coming.”
The Gold Cup and Saucer has just a purse of $60,000, not a lot of money to truck from the U.S. for.
“There are some things you do not needing or wanting to make money,” Mickey said. “Trust me, I am well past the point of needing to make money so you do it just because you wanted to do, it’s good for the sport and it’s a race you just wanted to win. When we lay it all out I hope we just broke even.”
The win broke the CDP track record of 1:51 set by Part Shark in the 2010 Gold Cup and Saucer and tied by Eighteen in the 2012 edition.
It also tied the overall Canadian aged pacing recorid on a half-mile track set by Rare Jewel at Grand River Raceway Elora, Ont., in 2007 and tied by Tigerama and Island native Mark MacDonald at Western Fair Raceway in London, Ont., in 2008.