Last week we looked at some of the top moments in Island harness racing in 2015. Now here is a look at my number 20 to 11 picks. This is the second part in a three-part series.
20. MacPherson’s Comeback
He battled some health issues right before the big money races were on the line but Corey MacPherson came back with a vengeance to close out 2015. The 26-year-old driver stopped racing in late September, then battled cancer before returning to the race bike in mid-November and reeled off 32 more driving wins before the end of the calendar year, including No. 500 of his career.
19. Zani, McGuigan crowned champions
Glencove Zani was unstoppable late in the year in the two-year-old trot class for owner-trainer Ted Smallwood and driver Leonard (Barney) McGuigan. The colt captured the Maritime Breeder’s final, the Island Breeder’s final and the Atlantic Breeder’s Crown final in tearful victories for the veteran driver.
18. Sires Stakes continues cash infusion
Some generous support for the Atlantic Sires Stakes trot divisions continued in 2015 from Meridian Farms. In one of many donations by the Andrew family, the purses remained healthy for the trot divisions across the Maritimes. The Meridian Farms year was capped off by being nominated for an O’Brien Award for breeder of the year.
17. Drive For Charity
The fourth annual Drive For Charity was a success for organizer Red Shores and the 12 participating drivers and sponsors. A total of $11,775 was raised for a number of Island charities.
16. Breeders Crown finals winners
Two-year-old trot – Glencove Zani
Three-year-old trot – Paymenowpaymelater
Two-year-old filly pace – Howmacscanasta
Two-year-old colt pace – Jackson K Down
Three-year-old filly pace – Dusty Lane Mcvickie
Three-year-old colt pace – Dixieland Band
15. Cheverie wins Summerside title
Walter Cheverie earned the honour of top dog in Prince County for 2015, fighting back a challenge by defending champion Jason Hughes, who fell one race short. The Borden native’s Summerside Raceway dash-winning total rested at 41 trips to the winner’s circle.
14. The Hicken factor
When the season opened up, nobody could beat Big Surf then, when the weather got colder and the year was winding down, his stablemate All Turain was the best. Trainer Trevor Hicken had a career year with both horses as well as the rest of his stable, as he had 36 wins from 115 starts with more than $70,000 in earnings with a stable of mostly all aged pacers.
13. Lily rambles all season
It was a stellar season for Ramblinglily as the aged pacing mares had 14 wins from 22 starts and put $29,828 in the bank for trainer Allan Jones, who co-owns with Norman Leger, both of New Brunswick. The Articulator mare had her biggest payday winning the $9,000 Spud Island Classic final in Charlottetown as part of a seven-race win streak.
12. Blue Knight cracks top-five
Jason Hughes had a large season in Island racing in 2015, which included finishing fifth in the nation for training wins with 104 seasonal victories. Quite a feat for a horseman, who has just 110 race dates available on the Island, compared to racing every day available to his Ontario competition.
11. Barrieau dominates colt stakes day
P.E.I. Colt Stakes day was Gilles Barrieau’s day in September as the New Brunswick horseman won 10 races between the afternoon and evening program. Barrieau scored with Jackson K Down, PL Faststrike, KD Overdrive, Ultimatelyhandsome, Dixieland Band, General Luckypercy, Braveheart De Vie, Pictonian Edge, Artners In Crime and Forever Paradise.
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com.