Fiddler's Facts: Harness racing leaders visit Island

Fred
Fred MacDonald
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Art and Leah Zubrod of Kentucky operate one of the most successful breeding farms in North America

Art and Leah (Cheverie) Zubrod, who operate Brittany Farms in Versailles, Ky., conclude their annual summer excursion to Prince Edward Island this weekend after taking in harness racing in both Charlottetown and Summerside.

Unless you are a harness racing fan you may not know these folks but take it from the Sports Prophet, they are big names in the harness racing world. Brittany Farms is one of the finest and most successful breeding farms in North America and stand many of the top stallions, including two of my favourites — the hugely successful American Ideal and Vintage Master.

Here’s a sampling of what Brittany Farm breds have been doing during the past two weeks.

Trot standout Father Patrick, a three-year-old, took a new record of 1:50:2 in winning the $500,000 Beal Memorial at Pocono last Saturday and in tonight’s Meadowland Pace Brittany graduates like He’s Watching, Beat The Drum and last year’s sensational freshman Luck be With You will be knocking at the winner’s circle door.

And let’s not forget P.E.I.-owned State Treasurer, who recently scored in 1:48:1 at Mohawk, was born and raised at Brittany of Kentucky.

Art is regarded as one of the best judges of horseflesh on this continent and his wife Leah is just as sharp. Leah comes by her love of harness racing honestly. Her brother Walter is one of the best drivers in the region. She also has a sister married to Dale Sobey, a top-notch, all-around horseman, and another sister married to Charlottetown’s Len McMurrer, a familiar figure at the city track.

Leah and Art’s daughter Deveau, her husband Mike Kreitzer and their young son Cam are enjoying the Island as well. Let’s not forget Art’s mom Bonnie, who appears to have found the fountain of youth here on the Island thanks in no small part to the air, water and, of course, the lobster.

Interestingly, Deveau, who is a talented rider, and Art’s two sisters operate Zubrod Stables in Prospect, Ky., specializing in show horses. If you happen to run these folks Saturday at the Charlottetown track and you want to know anything about horses, don’t be shy.

The late Colonel Dan MacKinnon, one of the original owners of the Charlottetown Driving Park, called Prince Edward Island the Kentucky of Canada back in 1940 and the tag is as relevant today as 70 years ago. This is harness racing country. It is not everyday, we have the industry leaders visit with us and take an interest in our horses. If he were alive today, old Colonel Dan would certainly enjoy the Zubrods’ visit.

Baseball

The Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Islanders are hanging tough in the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League staying around the .500 mark.

The pitching staff of Jordan Stevenson, Jake Beck and Brodie MacDonald has been impressive and when slugger Dillon Doucette gets back watch out.

Hockey

I had a chat with Glen Gaudet, the clever general manager of P.E.I.’s Canada Games hockey team, and he’s pleased with the groundwork he and head coach Luke Beck have done.

Beck is an up-and-coming coach with a bright future and an assistant coach with Gord Dwyer of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Charlottetown Islanders.

Kris MacDonald was also at the ballpark Tuesday and the ex-Bathurst regular has signed as assistant coach with his old club of the Quebec league.

MacDonald coached the highly regarded Notre Dame midget AAA team in Saskatchewan this past season and is another coach working his way up the pro coaching ladder. Connor Cameron, Dave’s son, who is also an assistant coach with the Islanders, is working at his dad’s hockey camp this week in Tignish, along with Jordan Knox, Morgan Ellis and company.

Billy McGuigan is back in Summerside, joining his wife and three kids after a great season with Regina Pats. The Pats were picked for last in their division but finished first before losing in the playoffs. Billy has fashioned a great reputation in the junior ranks winning everywhere he has been and players appear to love his work.

Former Halifax junior Canadian great Paul McWilliams and Jim Rankin, formerly of the NHL Blue Jackets, watched McGuigan’s practices when he was with the 2012 champion Summerside Western Caps and were impressed.

I dropped in to see Billy’s dad Len (Barney) and he looked to be almost fully recovered after major surgery.

I am disappointed the Toronto Maple Leafs did not sign goaltender Drew MacIntyre, who was Mr. Everything for the AHL Marlies. Drew has outplayed about half a dozen goaltenders in the AHL, who are now in the NHL, but hasn’t got a break. He signed this week to a nice contract with Carolina Hurricanes and he just may get a break with Ron Francis’ club.

Golf

The Domino’s team, led by Pete Richard and Jeff MacEachern, captured their second straight UPEI men’s basketball fundraiser tournament last week at Avondale.

The Connolly Financial Group finished second as standout Dave Connolly almost carried the team to top spot. The foursome should have added Steve as Posty and Paul faded in the heat.

Darren Peters, who spearheaded the successful and well-organized tournament, says there will be a new winner next year. One of the also-ran teams this year had talented Tony MacKenzie and ex-pro Errol Nicholson, but they couldn’t make enough shots even with Wally McInnis putting.

The Cavendish beach festival golf tournament went this past Thursday at the beautiful Eagles Glen course. Al Burgoyne’s team, which included MacEachern, Mike Kenny and Roger Thurbide, fired a combined 58, which sent them to the podium. Hot putting by Jim Porter and Mike MacKinnon, of the Red Shores Atlantic Lotto team, landed their team in a show photo with the Diageo team and a trimmed-down Andrew MacMillan.

Morell fundraiser

The annual Morell Sportsmens Dinner is set for July 12 at the Morell High School and it should be an interesting affair.

Kevin Devine, assistant general manager in Buffalo, plus Al MacAdam and Dave Cameron will be making comments so it should be fun. In addition, Bruce Rainnie, probably the best MCs in Canada, will keep the evening rolling.

Tickets are $100 per person or $1,000 for a table of eight, with all proceeds to a worthy cause.

For further information, contact Kip Doyle at doylekip@yahoo.com.

Local harness racing

Live harness racing continues tonight in Charlottetown. The $2,200 feature goes in Race 11 and it includes the likes of Cheyanne Ford, Astor, Machinthesand, Artist List, Eagle Jolt, Ultimate Luck, McMaverick and Sterling Seelster from the rail.

The Meadowland Pace eliminations go tonight from the Big M and there are two $50,000 eliminations. The $34,000 feature at Mohawk has State Treasurer on the outside and he’ll be tough to beat in the seven-horse field. If you’re looking for a price ticket, how about James MacDonald’s Sing For Me George from the rail. He may not win, but at 10-1 he’ll get a good piece.

Gordie Crozier has been around the race game for many years and veteran Jack Bernard has been his trainer. Both were all smiles as Ken Murphy drove Crozier’s Harry Wilder (Ameripan Gigolo) to an impressive 2:02:2 baby race score last Saturday. This big colt looked like a beast.

Bert Honkoop, the popular Montague breeder, trainer and owner keeps getting better with age as he drove his own B J Matador (Nikes Image) to a 2:13 score under wraps in a baby race trot.

My condolences to George Butch Ward, the longtime paddock judge at the CDP and his sons Tim, Mark, Mike and Paul on the passing of his wife and their mother Dottie earlier this week.

Fred MacDonald’s column appears in

The Guardian each Saturday. He can

be reached at fiddlersfacts@hotmail.com.

Organizations: Sports Prophet, American Ideal, NHL New Brunswick Senior Baseball League Canada Games Quebec Major Junior Hockey League AAA Islanders Toronto Maple Leafs Carolina Hurricanes Avondale Connolly Financial Group Red Shores Atlantic Lotto Diageo Morell High School Big M Nikes Image

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Versailles, Ky., Charlottetown North America Summerside Pocono Charlottetown Driving Park Canada Quebec Notre Dame Saskatchewan Tignish Buffalo

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