Down The Backstretch: Charities benefiting from Island harness races

Nicholas Oakes
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Drive for charity back for third season

Every time Mike Stevenson wins a race this summer, Tom Clark will be dipping into his pocket to support Oak Acres Children’s Camp, and is proud to do it.

The Drive For Charity kicked off Wednesday night at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park, with the top 13 drivers in Island racing pairing up with a local business to donate money to a worthy charity. The event gets underway on June 1 with each local business donating $25 every time their driver wins a race, with the event wrapping up Oct. 30. Each sponsoring business drew their driver randomly.

Clark, co-owner of Clarke Nissan in Charlottetown, is glad to be involved.

“This is our third year in it,” Clark said. “We have been fortunate enough to have been involved from the start. This is a wonderful endeavour from the folks here at Red Shores plus a former member of the horse owners’ association, Bobby Drake, who was instrumental in getting it put together.”

Each business picked a charity of their choice, with hopes of hitting last year’s total of $13,100 that went to worthy charities.

“Some of these charities are ones that aren’t always at the forefront in people’s thought processes as far as charities go. They are smaller in nature and generally involve youth. It’s wonderful,” said Clark, who selected Oak Acres Children’s Camp in Murray River for his 2014 contribution.

“It provides a wonderful spot for children in the summer, for children that might not otherwise necessarily get the opportunity or chance here on Prince Edward Island,” he said. “It’s beautiful. Just a little something for them. It’s pretty small in the grand scheme of things but hopefully it will put a smile on a few little faces.”

Lee Drake, Red Shores’ marketing and sales manager, says the campaign is a great way to bring the excitement of Island racing into the community.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Drake said. “The charities are very grateful and it’s exciting. They get a chance to come out during the campaign and cheer on their driver, and they know that with every win, the business donates $25 to the charity. It also makes for an exciting campaign and it brings new people out to the track and that’s what it is all about.”

Drake says the feedback has been overwhelming since the event started in 2012.

“This has really taken off. With the drivers competing and the business cheering them on and the charities have really gotten into it as well. At the end of the season being able to go trackside with your driver and make a cheque presentation to your charity, it’s a great feeling.”

Drive for charity teams

Business – Driver - Charity

• Clarke Nissan – Mike Stevenson – Oak Acres Children’s Camp

• D&D Lawncare and Landscaping – Corey MacPherson – P.E.I. Humane Society

• Daniel R. Ross Ltd. – Jason Hughes – Camp Gencheff

• Long Run Exploration – Mark Bradley – Hillsborough Hospital

• Ocean 100 – Marc Campbell – Olivia Ruth MacLeod Memorial Award for music performance

• Metro Building Supplies – Gilles Barrieau – P.E.I. Special Olympics

• Red Shores – Walter Cheverie - Sadie’s Place

• The Dunne Group – Gary Chappell – Habitat for Humanity

• MacRae Backhoe and Trucking   – Brodie MacPhee - IWK

• Kwik Kopy Printing – Brian MacPhee – Easter Seals

• Rodd Hotels & Resorts – Ken Murphy – Hospice P.E.I.

• Syntrak Print & Graphic Design – Kenny Arsenault – Hospice P.E.I.

• MacQuarrie Meats – Ron Matheson – P.E.I. Family Violence Prevention Services




Across the continent

Kingston native Mark MacDonald has a high-powered weekend ahead of him.

Now based in New York, the Island native will drive Bolt The Duer Saturday at The Meadowlands in New Jersey in the $50,000 TVG free-for-all pace. The field includes Golden Receiver and three entries from the Ron Burke stable with Sweet Lou, Bettor’s Edge and Clear Vision.

Sunday, MacDonald drives Daylon Magician for trainer Mark Ford in the $250,000 Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The field has the top trotters in North American racing, including Market Share.


P.E.I. Scene

Say It Again Sam is a newcomer to Island racing. Owned by Foxyhall Racing of Nova Scotia, the three-year-old son of Well Said is now trained by Jason Hughes and entered to race Saturday in Charlottetown. The $57,000 yearling purchase was trained by Tony O’Sullivan in Ontario as a two-year-old, remaining winless but being timed in 1:54.3 last August in Mohawk.

The three-year-old Maritime bred pacers are coming out of the woodwork as they prepare for the start of the Maritime stakes season on June 1 in Summerside. Canadian champion Saulsbrook Alana had a monstrous qualifier Wednesday in Charlottetown winning in 1:57.2 while overpowering a pair of nice aged mares in Dianna Santanna and Andro Madi. Marc Campbell was in the bike for trainer Kevin Maclean and owner Reg MacPherson.


Nick's picks

Saturday at 6 p.m. at the CDP:

Race 1 – Milliondollarfeeln

Race 2 – Union Dues

Race 3 – Buckling Banbury

Race 4 – Say It Again Sam

Race 5 – Balanchine

Race 6 – Prynne Hanover

Race 7 – Ufit

Race 8 – Silverhill Lucky

Race 9 – Silky Britches

Race 10 – Just A Professor

Race 11 – JK Special

Race 12 – Perfect Escape

Race 13 - Narragansett




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

Organizations: P.E.I. Humane Society, Daniel R. Ross, Hillsborough Hospital Metro inc. Dunne Group Habitat for Humanity Rodd Hotels Graphic Design The Meadowlands North American

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Charlottetown Driving Park Murray River Oak Acres Long Run New York New Jersey Philadelphia Nova Scotia Ontario Summerside

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