The very best in Island racing will face off against the top reinsmen in the other Atlantic provinces on Saturday, June 28, at Red Shores at the Summerside Raceway.
The Atlantic Regional Driving Championship includes the top three drivers from Prince Edward Island, the top three from Nova Scotia, the top two from New Brunswick and the runner-up in the 2013 Newfoundland season.
P.E.I. will be represented by Jason Hughes, Marc Campbell and Brodie MacPhee in the field of nine participants.
Campbell, the perennial leading driver in Island and Maritime racing, has 1,167 lifetime wins and $2.5 million in purse earnings. The Winsloe resident, who is currently the leading driver in Charlottetown, had his 2013 highlighted with winning the $60,000 Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer with Escape The News in track-record time.
MacPhee, a winner of 505 lifetime races and $946,791 in purses, is tied for sixth for drivers in Charlottetown for the 2014 season but was second on the Island for wins in 2013. The Clyde River resident’s 2013 highlights include a seven-race win streak with All Turain and Breeder’s Crown and Maritime Breeder’s victories with three-year-old pacing filly Ramblinglily.
Hughes, a winner of 715 lifetime races and $1.2 million in purses, is only two races back of Campbell for wins in Charlottetown before Thursday’s card. The Stratford-based driver also trains a stable of 20 horses at the Charlottetown Driving Park and had a solid 2013 with horses like Cambest Kisser, Stayoutofmyaffair, Blue Star Outlaw and Greatheart Hanover.
New Brunswick will send Gilles Barrieau and Todd Trites to the competition. Barrieau has 3,818 wins and $6.9 million in purses to his credit and led all New Brunswick drivers in 2013. Trites, the leading driver in Maritime racing in 2008, just hit 2,000 lifetime wins and sports $3 million in purse money.
Nova Scotia will send Ryan Ellis, Ryan Campbell and Darren Crowe to the competition. Ryan Campbell, of New Waterford in Cape Breton, has 464 wins in his career and $352,625 in purse earnings and was the leading driver in Nova Scotia in 2013. Crowe, a resident of Truro, has 1,004 lifetime driving wins and $1.6 million earned, while Ellis sports 303 lifetime wins and $364,449 in earnings.
Newfoundland is represented by Kevin Dillon of Goulds, who is now in his third year of driving with 15 lifetime wins and $6,944 in earnings from the short Newfoundland season. Shane Forward was the leading driver in 2013 Newfoundland racing, but declined the invitation for the driving championship, at which time the second-place Dillon was offered.
The top-two drivers in the competition will advance to the National Driving Championship on Aug. 26 in Charlottetown.
Across the continent
Last Friday at Western Fair Raceway in London, Ont., State Treasurer captured the $150,000 Molson Pace final in 1:51.4 over Apprentice Hanover (Jody Jamieson) and Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras).
Chris Christoforou drove State Treasurer for trainer Dr. Ian Moore and owners Sally MacDonald of Souris and Paul MacDonald of Regina. State Treasurer, who is now riding a four-race win streak, also captured the 2013 edition of the Molson Pace.
Saturday at Mohawk Raceway in Campbellville, Ont., Island-owned Silverhill Shadow will compete in a elimination for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup. Silverhill Shadow, owned by Casey Gavin’s SIlverhill of Tignish, is trained by Moore and will be driven by Christoforou. The three-year-old Shadow Play colt was third in his $75,000 Somebeachsomewhere division last week at Mohawk and has drawn Post 5 in the Race 9 elimination. Jamieson is the regular pilot but has elected to drive Hes Watching, the favourite to win the North America Cup, for trainer Dave Menary.
The Charlottetown versus Truro driving challenge gets underway at Truro Raceway tonight.
The challenge is hosted by Truro and will take place tonight and June 20 with two young guns and two veterans on each team.
Team Charlottetown has Steven Shepherd, Jack Panting, Hughes and Campbell, while team Truro has Paul Langille, Adam Merner, Crowe and Ellis. The drivers will compete in four races tonight with points tallied by team. First-race post time is 6 p.m.
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.