The lights at the legendary Charlottetown Driving Park oval will be turned on for the first time since February on Saturday night.
Live racing returns to the capital track at 6 p.m. with a 10-dash card lined up. A compact group of 69 entries will take to the track to contest the 10 events, including some newcomers to the racing scene.
Pres (14 wins, $81,647 in purses, mark of 1:54.3 at Flamboro Downs) is now trained by Ron Gass. The seven-year-old son of Rambaran was racing a $5,000 claimer in Ontario for trainer Lynn Privett.
My Lucky Killean (five wins, $39,522, 1:57.3 Flamboro Downs) is now owned by Mary McNiven of Nine Mile Creek and trained by Gary Chappell. The five-year-old Camluck gelding was racing a $5,000 claimer in Ontario. He is a brother to former top Canadian pacer and $1.4 million winner Our Lucky Killean.
Pleasure Girls (nine wins, $147,300, 1:56.1 Mohawk Raceway) is now owned by Shelley Gass of Cornwall and trained by father Ron Gass. The nine-year-old trotting daughter of Dr. Ronerail has not raced since October 2008, where her last start was a victory in the $60,000 Ontario Sires Stakes three-year-old trotting filly final for driver Jody Jamieson and trainer Richard Moreau.
Pleasure Girls went on to produce three foals, including a yearling son of Manofmanymissions and a four-year-old son of Striking Sahbra, who has earned $36,000 so far in his career.
Island racing will see a pair of its regular competitors move to Ontario this season.
Cornwall resident John Holmes has returned to Ontario to work for a vet supply company, where he was previously employed. Holmes, a winner of more than 1,200 races and $6.7 million in purses driving, returned to P.E.I. in 2011 and had become a regular in the drivers’ colony. He drove 26 winners to $73,257 in purses last season.
Trainer Mitchell Tierney is also leaving for Ontario. The New Haven resident is moving to the Peterborough, Ont., area to train horses on the Ontario circuit. Lifetime, Tierney has 170 wins and $291,462 in earnings. The conditioner will leave some horses behind to race on P.E.I. for the summer.
Across the continent
My condolences to the family of Glydon Willis on his recent passing in Ontario. A former trainer-driver, Willis also owned a number of top harness horses in past years. He is survived by brother Orville Willis.
Island native Mark MacDonald was in action in qualifiers Thursday morning at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania. The former O’Brien Award-winning driver was a winner with Bolt The Duer in a 1:54.1 mile. The five-year-old millionaire son of Ponder was almost exclusively MacDonald-driven in his past two seasons.
MacDonald had a pair of winners Tuesday at Pocono Downs, including former Ian Moore-trainee Malicious, while the driver visited the winner’s circle at The Meadowlands in New Jersey twice last Friday night.
MacDonald has announced his intention to be a regular driver at The Meadowlands every Friday night and is listed with eight drives tonight at the one-mile oval.
A pair of Island-owned horses were impressive in qualifiers last Friday at Southern Oaks Training Centre in Florida for trainer Dr. Ian Moore.
State Treasurer was a winner in 1:50.4 with Moore in the bike, while three-year-old Shadow Play colt Silverhill Shadow was second, pacing his own mile in 1:51.3 for driver Ron Waples.
State Treasurer, now five-years-old, is owned by Sally MacDonald of Souris and Paul MacDonald of Regina, while Silverhill Shadow is owned by Casey Gavin’s Silverhill of Tignish.
Silverhill Shadow was an impressive 1:58.2 winner last July in Summerside for trainer Thane Mann in the Callbeck stake. He is paid into a number of stakes this year, including Maritime stakes and the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup.
Nicholas Oakes’ column appears
in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com