The 2015 harness racing season is coming to a close making it time to look back at the top stories in Island racing this season. This is the first of a three-part review.
30. Andro Madi blows up the tote board
The biggest upset of the season occurred on Jan. 10, in Charlottetown. Andro Madi scored a 109-1 victory with Mike McGuigan in the bike for trainer Jonah Moase.
29. Award’s banquets
The annual horse owner’s swards banquets were held in April in Summerside and Charlottetown. Dixieland Band was crowned horse of the year at the P.E.I. Standardbred Horse Owner’s Association awards in Charlottetown after the two-year-old pacing colt had eight wins from 11 starts and $50,952 in earnings in 2014. He would be a major factor in the three-year-old ranks in 2015. The Prince County Horsemen’s Club selected Carrera Angel as horse of the year after scoring five wins from 25 starts the previous season with $7,726 in purses.
28. Opening day king
The 2015 summer meet opened May 2 at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park (CDP) and Brian Andrew established himself as the top opening day driver of the last five years with two victories on the Saturday afternoon card. Andrew has visited the winner’s circle six times when the meet starts since opening day 2011, more than any other driver in Island racing.
27. World to P.E.I. in 2017
It was announced the World Driving Championship would have a leg in Charlottetown in August 2017. The championship features a representative from each major harness racing nation and was last held in Canada in 2003, which also featured a CDP leg.
26. No resolution in New Brunswick
In Aril it was confirmed there would be no Atlantic Sires Stakes events in New Brunswick in 2015. 2013 was the last year the province participated in the program, which was originally founded as a joint venture by the three Maritime provinces.
25. Clic K
A group of Island owners purchased Clic K, who was racing a $15,000 claimer in Ontario, in August and had quite a ride. The seven-year-old won his first five starts for owners PLO Stables of Donagh and trainer Jackie Matheson. The streak included defeating Matheson stable star D Gs Camme in a pair of invitational events in Nova Scotia.
24. 12:30 post time
After viewing a trend that our early afternoon races were our best bet, Red Shores management moved the January afternoon post times back 30 minutes to 12:30 p.m. This put our dashes in a time slot with less competition, a forward-thinking decision that was beneficial to the wager.
23. Smallwood, big season
For a small operation, Joe Smallwood had a monstrous 2015 as his group won 22 races from 54 starts, putting $60,670 in the bank. Smallwood success included High Bid, who was undefeated in eight season starts, and JK Blaze, who was part of a large rivalry in the three-year-old trot divisions with Paymenowpaymelater, among others.
22. Rich piece of ‘Paradise’
The hottest overnight horse of 2015 on the East Coast was Forever Paradise. The Western Paradise five-year-old scored 16 wins from 35 seasonal starts and put $25,904 in the bank without paying a starting fee. Kevin MacLean trains the pacer for owner Reg MacPherson and David and Aaron MacKenzie.
21. Short entries for Gold Cup and Saucer
The 2015 Gold Cup and Saucer trials were sparse events with just 12 horses entered to compete for spots in the $60,000 final. A variety of factors, from the strong U.S. dollar to the racing situation in Ontario, contributed to the situation but the fact is the event will have some soul searching to do in the coming years.
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com.