Atlantic driving championship Saturday
The dust is far from settled but there appears to be a new king of the Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
Jason Hughes, 41, has overtaken Marc Campbell for top spot in the driving standings at the CDP with 35 trips to the winner’s circle this season, compared to 33 for Campbell going into Thursday’s race card. There have been 19 cards so far in the 2014 Charlottetown racing season, with 63 more to go.
Corey MacPherson sits in third place for drivers with 16 wins, followed by Kenny Arsenault and Walter Cheverie tied in fourth with 13 victories.
On the trainer’s side, Hughes leads the way with 24 wins, followed by Jonah Moase in second with 15 wins, Jackie Matheson in third with 12 victories and Arsenault and Darren Trainor tied for fourth at nine each.
The top drivers in Atlantic Canadian harness racing go head-to-head Saturday night at the Summerside Raceway for a spot in the National Driving Championship.
Nine drivers will vie for the two spots that will advance to the national event Aug. 26 at the CDP. P.E.I. is represented by Brodie MacPhee, Campbell and Hughes, while Gilles Barrieau and Todd Trites represent New Brunswick. Darren Crowe, Ryan Ellis and Ryan Campbell are from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador is represented by Kevin Dillon.
First race post time is 6:30 p.m. for the 12-dash card, with the challenge taking place in races 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11. Due to a lack of entries at the Prince County oval for the event, nine-horse fields were not attainable, so drivers will compete in nine races with eight horses in each. Every driver will start from each post position, as well as sit out one race during the night. Barrieau and Campbell are the only two drivers in the competition to have advanced to the National Driving Championship in previous years.
The top two drivers will advance to the National Driving Championship along with Brandon Campbell and Jim Marino from Western Canada, Sylvain Lacaille and Guy Gagnon from Quebec/Eastern Ontario, and Jody Jamieson and Billy Davis Jr. from Ontario.
The Summerside card also features the first leg of the Atlantic aged mares pacing series. The first $3,378 division lines up in race 9 with Mattadors Rose (Trites), Veronicavermillion (Brian MacPhee), Bunny Mach (Hughes), Prynne Hanover (Mike McGuigan), Silky Britches (Campbell) and Ramblinglily (Brodie MacPhee). The second division is in race 12 with Stayoutofmyaffair (Hughes), General Luckypercy (Barrieau), Dirt Track Momma (Campbell), Andro Madi (Dale Spence), Brodys Leona (MacPherson) and Dreaming (Trites).
Across the continent
Saturday at Mohawk Raceway, the full-brother to pacing sensation and multi-millionaire Somebeachsomewhere qualifies with Paul MacDonell in the bike for trainer Bruce MacDonald. Purchased for $155,000 at the 2013 Harrisuburg sale, the two-year-old Mach Three – Wheres The Beach colt is owned by Paradox Farms and Mardon Stables of Ontario and Daniel MacIsaac of Charlottetown. The colt lines up in the ninth qualifier on the Saturday morning session.
Ron Matheson is sitting on a career milestone. The 54-year-old driver needs just three victories to get to the 1,000-win plateau before Thursday night’s action at the capital oval.
The stars of the 2014 racing season hit the track Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at the CDP with two-year-old baby races featured. The trotters and pacers will get their first taste of the starting gate as well as get a qualifying line under their belt for their first stakes action set for Lobster Carnival Week in July in Summerside.