Two Island horses are tied for most wins in the nation in 2016 heading into Saturday afternoon’s final card of racing at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park (CDP).
Best Risque has been dominant in the open mares ranks in January, winning all four of her starts for trainer and co-owner Brian Ladner with co-owners Kevin and Lillian Ladner, all of Charlottetown. Brian knows who to name to get results, as he enlists the services of CDP-leading driver Corey MacPherson for all her 2016 victories.
Her Canadian leading counterpart is Idealic Life from the Trevor Hicken stable for owners Perry, Luke and Robin Burke and Kent Livingston. MacPherson also does the driving on the 12-year-old gelding, who is undefeated in his four starts in 2016 and is not entered to compete in Saturday’s season-ending program.
Idealic Life has helped to propel Hicken and MacPherson onto the national leaderboard as Hicken is tied for eighth in Canada for wins with Rick Zeron at six victories each. MacPherson is the leading percentage driver in Canada with a sparkling .500 driving average and his 15 wins from 40 starts this month puts the 26-year-old in a four-way-tie for sixth spot in Canada for dash wins as of the first of the week. He shares a roster spot with Island native Paul MacKenzie, Western Fair regular Nick Steward and O’Brien award winner Sylvain Filion in that tie.
Also making the list for percentage drivers is Marc Campbell in fourth spot in Canada fresh off his 1,500 career win and Ken Murphy in 10th place.
A field of pacing mares will convene Saturday at the CDP in Race 10 with a 12:30 p.m. first race post time.
Best Risque will be the heavy favourite and understandably so even with Post 8 in the field of eight. Also in the $2,350 open mares contest is newcomer Ideal Space with Ken Murphy in the bike for owner Jack MacGillivray and trainer Joey Squires. Ideal Space was racing the Ontario circuit with all but one of her 11 lifetime wins coming in 2015, where she took a mark of 1:57.2 at Western Fair Raceway. Other top entries include Outrageous Spirit (Gordie Hennessey) and A Littlegirlsdream (Wade Sorrie).
The top class on the day has a five-horse field with Likely To Win (Murphy), Smiley Bayama (Ron Gass), Painted Desert (MacPherson), Eagle Jolt (Campbell) and Oh To Be Me (Gary Chappell).
Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park:
Race 1 – Montana Ben
Race 2 – Hog Aufray
Race 3 – Lucky Journal
Race 4 – MD Caseys Charm
Race 5 – Sinners In Heaven
Race 6 – Barrett Jackson
Race 7 – Pictonian Storm
Race 8 – Ideal Lifestyle
Race 9 – Putnams Power
Race 10 – Best Risque
Race 11 – Painted Desert
Race 12 – Red Magician
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.