Fiddler says the Gold Cup and Saucer Race is shaping up to be a hotly contested affair based on the level of talent in the two trials. Trial one hits the Charlottetown Driving Park tonight.
©Guardian file photo
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - This is the one week of the year when the national harness racing spotlight shines on Charlottetown and, indeed, on all of Prince Edward Island as visitors flock to the mecca of harness racing for the Old Home Week and the Gold Cup and Saucer Race.
This year, visitors are coming from all over the world as our city is hosting the World Driving Championships, with drivers from Sweden, Norway, Finland, United States, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Germany, (represented this year by Malta), Belgium, France and Canada.
Canada will be represented by P.E.I.'s James MacDonald, a regular on the Mohawk-Woodbine circuit, and the younger brother of Mark from Yonkers, New York and of Anthony, based out of Ontario.
The first leg of the driver’s competition goes tonight in Calgary with stops next week at Mohawk, Georgian Downs, Trois Rivieres and finishes next Friday night here at Charlottetown.
The Gold Cup and Saucer is shaping up to be a hotly contested race, even before the horses go behind the gate, based on the quality in the seven horse Trial 1 and Trial 2 field.
Windsong Leo has the rail tonight and the New Brunswick-owned pacer is a legitimate contender, having recently competed in the high-level conditioned races at Mohawk Raceway. In addition, P.E.I.’s Jason Ryan will be handling the reins with this horse. Do Over Hanover, the Kensington syndicate-owned pacer, leaves from Post 2 and he’s been sharp of late. Shadow Place is co-owned by Rob Fellows and Newfoundlander Carl Stafford and has licence to finish in the top four, racing in the $22,000 class at Mohawk. Skyway Boomer and Stover leave from Posts 4 and 5, respectively, and they show miles in 1:50 and change in Ontario. The two outside horses on Saturday night are Always At My Place and Crombie A and both are razor sharp; Always At My Place was second, beaten a head in 1:51.3 last Saturday at Yonkers, New York, in their $35,000 back-up class while Crombie A is coming off a track record performance at Truro. This is an extremely tough field.
Monday night’s Trial 2 is just as competitive.
Arque Hanover has the rail and he qualified last week at Harrah’s, Philadelphia, in 1:50.4 by 18 lengths for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Dylan Davis. Good Friday Three carries the hopes of Summerside owner Walter Simmonds and he has great position with Post 2 but he’ll need it. Y’s Lotus, the defending Gold Cup and Saucer champion, won a $12,000 race over the Saratoga half-mile track in 1:51.1 last Saturday, so he’s sharp and ready. McKinney leaves from Post 4, was second in 1:50 last time out at Mohawk, and enough back class, lifetime record of 1:49.1, to make it interesting. Cape Breton-owned and Iron-sided Junebugs Baby can surprise with big efforts and if they battle early, this horse could advance to the Gold Cup and Saucer and the same can be said of Sports Lightning, co-owned by P.E.I.’s Jody Sanderson who leaves from Post 6. The outside post belongs to Sapphire City who was fifth in 1:48.4 at Pocono against top horses like Luck Be With You and Keystone Velocity. Post 7 is always a difficult hurdle on a half-mile track but this horse looks like the best, even from the outside. Nevertheless, this is a tough field as well. What this means for race fans is a terrific looking final.
Also next week, John Campbell and Wally Hennessey will help launch the “World Harness Racing’’ book which will be released in conjunction with the World Trotting Conference at Charlottetown. Publisher Larry Resnitzky has scheduled the launch for 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 16 at the CDP. The 176-page book contains stories on harness racing stars from the countries participating in the World Driving Championships.
On the ice
In the NHL hockey news, Islander Scott Harris has been named the manager of player information for the New Jersey Devils.
Scott has fashioned a great reputation for himself for the past decade in the front office of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He also provided scouting insights for the U.S. Olympic team where his work did not go unnoticed. He and his brother, Matt, who also works in pro hockey are from the Crapaud area. Scott was originally hired by Summerside’s Jim Clarke and it’s obvious Clarke’s professionalism has rubbed off on Scott. Congratulations Scott.
The local sports scene lost two top notch individuals this past week with the passing of Mark Ladner and Ross Matheson.
Ladner starred in senior basketball circles in the 1960s and still holds the record for most points in a single senior game at 76 with LePage Trotters, the top senior hoop team of the day. Ross was one of those unsung hero types, a prominent volunteer behind the scenes in Charlottetown minor hockey and senior fastball for many, many years. Two great guys that leave behind nothing but happy memories. Our condolences to all connected to these two gentlemen.
Condolences also to the family of Dianne Burgoyne who passed away last week. Her dad Maurice operated the outside canteen at the CDP for decades. Her son, Brad, is a prominent owner.
Fred MacDonald’s column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at email@example.com.