© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Fans and friends carry driver Marc Campbell to the winners circle after he drove Escape the News to a track record at the CDP to win the Sobeys Gold Cup and Saucer Race IN 2013.
The $75,000 Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer final lines up at midnight tonight at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park and driver Robert Shepherd said it best: Daniel Dube is not coming all the way from New Jersey to take Mickey Hanover back from the eight- hole.
The newly minted CDP track record co-holder has been assigned the dreaded Post 8 but driver Daniel Dube thinks he still has a solid chance with the Rene Allard trainee, who he co-owns with Allard Racing and Yves Sarrazin, both of Quebec.
“I saw the race and he raced really good,” Dube said of Mickey Hanover’s 1:50.4 Trial 2 victory. “We drew bad and we’ll need some racing luck. They will be leaving hard and we will see what happens. From the eight-hole, I don’t know about that track, but I know at Yonkers it is pretty hard to leave the eight-hole.”
Dube is excited to come to P.E.I. today as the Quebec native will make the trek from New Jersey where the world-class driver has made most of his $94 million in earnings.
“Mark MacDonald said it is a lot of fun over there and that you have to go.”
The rail position belongs to Wazzup Wazzup, who finished fourth in Trial 1 after making a break at the five-eighths for driver James MacDonald, trainer Corey Johnson and owner Rolling Hills Racing Stable of Ontario.
“I think he has a big shot,” MacDonald said. “They made a couple little adjustments on him, he was running in pretty bad in the trial. I don’t know if I beat Marc in the trial if I have a clear shot at him, but it would have been interesting anyway.”
MacDonald booked off drives in some $70,000 to 90,000 stakes events at Mohawk Raceway in Ontario to come drive Wazzup Wazzup.
“I wasn’t going to go because I had a couple big stakes at Mohawk. But I called Mark (MacDonald, his older brother) and he said to go. It would mean everything to win. I’m booking off a lot of stakes and a lot of money just to have a shot at winning it.”
MacDonald is looking out for five other horses in the final, not picking any real race favourite.
“It’s half-mile racing so the front is the best place to be obviously. But he’s pretty versatile, if I want him to leave off the gate he will. If I have to race him off the pace he will. I think there is going to be a big duel and we’ll see what happens. I don’t think Dube is booking off stakes races to go there and go around. He’s going there to try and win. I think Aracache Hanover will be leaving out of there and Scott Rocks will be better and then there is Mickey Hanover. Anyone could win it.”
Aracache Hanover has Post 2 for driver Marc Campbell, trainer Ron Burke and owners William Switala and James Martin of New York. The millionaire pacer won Trial 1 in a front-end 1:51.4 score.
Post 3 belongs to Bigtown Hero, who finished second in Trial 1 for trainer Allard, who has three horses in the race. Brad Forward will come from Newfoundland to drive the pacer for Quebec owners Allard Racing Inc and Yves Sarrazin.
Scott Rocks will leave from Post 4 for driver Jonathan Drury, Pennsylvania owners Susan Oakes and Chuck Pompey and trainer Chris Oakes.
The four-year-old finished third in Trial 2.
“I think we’re going to push off and either head for the front or maybe sit in the two-hole,” Oakes said of Scott Rocks. “I think Aracache Hanover is going to push out of there hard and it will line up (Aracache Hanover then Scott Rocks) and someone is going to be left out there for a long time.”
The horse had solid form all season but finished a badly beaten seventh at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania the start before coming to P.E.I.
“He threw in a clunker the week before he came here. He cleared the lead and he got roughed up getting there but that normally isn’t a problem. He’s been roughed up before and raced well but that day he was a little bit sick. I almost didn’t bring him. We took it a little easy on him last week and just tried to get him healthy, but this week we’re going for the win. We’re definitely going all out.”
Oakes says having Stratford native Johnny MacKenzie working in his stable was the deciding factor in him coming for the Gold Cup and Saucer, as he also sends out Post 7 starter Shock It To Em with Walter Cheverie in the bike.
“I met (MacKenzie’s) parents and his grandfather Reg (MacPherson) and I had dinner with them. When they came to visit Johnny in the Poconos that night sealed it for me. It’s a prestigious race and the people just have passion for horses here. It’s a big deal. You just don’t see that anymore. I’ve been in big races and I have won big races and it was just not a big deal.”
Island Jet has Post 5 for driver Robert Shepherd and owners Kapildeo Singh of New York, Howard Taylor of Pennsylvania and Quebecers Allard Racing Inc., and Maurice Lemieux. He is the final entry from trainer Allard.
“I’m going to try and work out a trip and hope they battle on the front,” Shepherd said of the fourth-place Trial 1 finisher. “He’s a nice horse and I actually blew a tire in the first turn so he did well just to get in it.”
Shepherd wouldn’t be surprised to see Aracache Hanover head for the front and Mickey Hanover to get into the thick of the action early.
“Dube isn’t coming here to take back from the eight hole. He wants to win it.”
Post 6 has Take It Back Terry with Gilles Barrieau in the bike for trainer Ron Burke and Pennsylvania owners Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., and Phillip Collura as well as Lawrence Karr of New Jersey. Take It Back Terry finished second in Trial 2.