Island racing is gearing up for opening day with qualifiers slated this coming week.
Horses will line up behind the starting gate Saturday and Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park. A total of 45 horses are entered in nine qualifying dashes Saturday with some newcomers to Island racing in the ranks preparing for the first card of racing on the evening of April 26.
Warden Woodie (36 wins, $201,001 earned in lifetime purses, mark of 1:54.4 at Saratoga Raceway) is a new addition for owner William Andrew of Calgary and trainer Ron Gass. The nine-year-old daughter of Allies Western was pacing in 1:59-2:00 in claiming races at Freehold Raceway in New Jersey this past winter.
High Bar (12 wins, $104,463, 1:51.4 Mohawk Raceway) is now owned and trained by Jonah Moase of Warren Grove. The seven-year-old son of Royal Mattjesty was formerly a competitive $30,000 claimer in the U.S. and made his last start at Kawartha Downs in Peterborough, Ont., in January 2013.
There are also a number of new horses on the Island that will surely emerge in the coming weeks. Here is a look at some of them.
Judge Jon (13 wins, $112,089, 1:53.1 Moahwk) was claimed for $10,000 at Flamboro Downs in January by Noreen Stymest of Nova Scotia. The Stymests operate a training centre in Mount Herbert. The Camluck six-year-old gelding shows miles in 1:54-1:55 over half-mile tracks in Ontario and was a winner his last time out in 1:56.3 at Flamboro Downs on March 16 for trainer Ken Oliver.
R Sonoflife (12 wins, $110,667, 1:52.2 Woodbine) was claimed by Barry Doyle of Earnscliffe for $10,000 on Jan. 27 at Woodbine from trainer Anthony Montini. The six-year-old son of Life Sign has done most of his racing on a five-eighths track but was on P.E.I. early last year for a third-place finish in the Charlottetown preferred to Pang Shui for trainer Moase.
Darren Trainor will train R Sonoflife, as well as new addition Panda Bear (19 wins, $324,671, 1:50 Mohawk), who is now owned by Jenn Trainor. The nine-year-old Jate Lobell gelding was a third-place finisher in the 2010 Gold Cup and Saucer final to Part Shark. Anthony MacDonald drove Panda Bear that day for trainer Carmen Auciello. The horse last raced in an $8,000 claimer at Woodbine in February.
A Fiesty X Ample (four wins, $28,010, 1:53.4 Pocono Downs) is now part of the Mitch Tierney stable of New Haven. The four-year-old daughter of Dragon Again has only 19 lifetime starts but shows multiple 1:53-1:54 miles on Pennsylvania five-eighths tracks.
Another addition to the Tierney stable is Jersey Joe (19 wins, $124,683, 1:51 Mohawk) who had been racing low-end claimers in Ontario. The seven-year-old son of Matts Scooter was previously trained on P.E.I. in 2009 by Lenny Myers in Charlottetown.
Presto Pegasus (18 wins, $124,933, 1:57 Kawartha Downs) also resides in the Tierney stable. The nine-year-old trotting son of Pegasus Spur had been racing a $12,000 claimer in Ontario.
J Rs Hurricane (13 wins, $92,108, 1:55.1 Flamboro Downs) was claimed for $5,000 in March at Flamboro Downs by Paul Holmes of Warren Grove. The five-year-old Mach Three gelding may not make it back to P.E.I., as he is racing in an $8,000 claimer every week for trainer Joe Pereira. Any horse claimed in Ontario must wait 60 days before racing outside of the province.
Modern Xhibit (11 wins, $160,791, 1:51.2 Mohawk) is being trained by Moase. The five-year-old Modern Art gelding raced in the Gold Cup and Saucer trials and consolation last year before suffering an injury in September.
Perfect Escape (nine wins, $54,936, 1:51.4 Mohawk) is now owned by Jack Keenan of Stratford and Joseph Dahl of Ontario. The five-year-old McArdle gelding was racing a $7,500 claimer in Ontario, where he shows a 1:55.2 mile at Flamboro in December. Jackie Matheson will train the horse on P.E.I.
Regalistic is now trained by Shane Doyle in Charlottetown. The maiden three-year-old son of Stonebridge Regal paced in 1:58.2 as a two-year-old over the half-mile oval in Hanover, Ont., for trainer Jack Harris.
Jason Hughes has a number of new additions to his Charlottetown stable.
Astor (nine wins, $114,956, 1:49.4 Mohawk) is now owned by Foxyhall Racing of Nova Scotia. The gelded five-year-old Camluck last raced in a $40,000 claimer at Yonkers Raceway in New York, and was a winner in 1:54.2 at Flamboro Downs in December for trainer Tony O’Sullivan.
Jeramaya (two wins, $9,328, 1:58 Georgian Downs) is now owned by Robi Hughes of Stratford. The four-year-old Jeremes Jet mare is a half-sister to Maritime champion Malabrigo. Jeramaya last raced in November in Ontario for trainer Patrick Shepherd.
Beckenbauer (nine wins, $43,355, 1:54.4 Kawartha Downs) is now owned by brothers Robi and Kurt Hughes. The six-year-old son of The Panderosa was a winner his second-last-start in 1:54.4 at Rideau Carleton Raceway for trainer Patrick Shepherd but has not raced since August.
My condolences to the family of late horseman Rollie Larkin, who passed away this past week. The New Glasgow horseman had a number of top horses over the years including free-for-all pacer Bub, who was second to Tigerbird in the 1990 Gold Cup and Saucer final. Larkin was a true gentleman of the sport and will be missed by all.
The P.E.I. Horse Owner’s Association Curling event was held Saturday at the Charlottetown Curling Club with the team of Brian and Connor MacPhee, Brent Campbell and David Morrison coming out victorious. The Doug MacGregor rink kept its bridesmaid status, finishing second in the event for another year.
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.