The 2014 harness racing calendar gets underway today with a 13-dash program at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
The horses will compete over the CDP oval beginning at 1 p.m.
Pinner, owned by Kevin, Lillian and trainer Brian Ladner of Charlottetown, will go for his seventh win in a row in the afternoon top class in race 12. Marc Campbell will put the son of Mach Three into post five against 3-1 shot Camcun (Kenny Arsenault) while trainer Troy Murray of Clyde River lists Brodie MacPhee to drive McJestic from the four hole. The five-year-old gelding, established at 7-2 odds on the morning line, has been racing sharp with four top-three finishes in his last five outings. If Campbell decides to deploy front-end tactics with Pinner it could be over early.
The field is loaded with talent with McMaverick drawing the rail for Ken Murphy and Doll R General (Mark McKinnon) starting from post two. Stayoutofmyaffair, (Gary Chappell), PC Shockwave (Brian MacPhee) and Campbest Kisser (Jason Hughes) will manoeuvre from the outside while Panacotta (Blaine Baglole) leaves from the back tier post nine.
In other action, Zip the Lip will attempt to re-establish his winning form in the open trot for trainer Don Sweet and his co-owner Orville Willis of O’Leary.
The trotter was riding a winning streak when he made a break in his last start due to broken equipment ending the his victory run at four. Regular driver Brian MacPhee will handle the driving assignment. The race features some tough competitors with open trot specialist Abundaspin (Harold Shepherd) and Caliban Hanover (Ron Gass) gunning for their first score of the new campaign. This will be Abundaspin’s last year of racing after turning 14 on Jan. 1.
The lineup also includes Tender N Kind (Steven Shepherd), Buckling Banbury (Corey MacPherson), Honeymoonisover (Brian Andrew) and Who Took That (Michael McGuigan).
The trot challenge competition, presented by Johnston’s Salads and Keybrand Foods Inc., came to a close on New Year’s Eve. Walter Cheverie was crowned the winner with 173 points. Ron Gass was second with 160. Willie Murphy was third with 156 while Brian MacPhee moved into fourth with 152 points after his successful run with Zip the Lip put him into contention. The drivers are rated on a 10-7-5 point system with a 1-2-3 finish with trotters at Charlottetown. Cheverie will be presented with the hardware at the upcoming awards banquet by the P.E.I. Standardbred Horse Owners Association.
Compiled by Red Shores’ marketing and sales manager Lee Drake