Hidden in the noise of Old Home Week racing will be a race that not even the trainers of the top two entries know who will win Friday evening at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
The Friday evening card will feature the Lady Slipper stake for three-year-old pacing fillies as Old Home Week racing continues and trainer Jeff Lilley thinks nearly anything can happen in the race 10 Gold division for a $12,000 purse.
First race post time is 7 p.m. for the 12-dash card that ends with the $20,000 James “Roach” MacGregor Gold Cup and Saucer consolation.
Lilley will send Bettim Jackie to the gate in Lady Slipper action from Post 6 with Robert Shepherd again picking up the drive after winning Saturday afternoon in 1:55.2 with the filly in Atlantic Sires Stakes action. Bettim Jackie is installed at 5-2 morning line odds while Royaltywestho will bring her impressive record of seven wins and second-place finish from just eight starts into Post 5. Walter Cheverie will drive Royaltywestho for trainer Joe Baxter of Windsor, N.S., with the champion filly put as fourth choice on the morning lines at 4-1 odds as she looks to add to her $41,000 in earnings already this season.
“That’s just the morning line, not the finish line,” Baxter said. “Bettim Jackie beat my filly in Summerside and we weren’t at 100 per cent. I’m sure you hear that a lot but Royaltywestho wasn’t as good that night. I’m not saying my filly is better than Bettim Jackie but if we get beat I’d like it to not be on cheap terms. I’d like to see everyone at their best and for it to be a good race. I guess we’ll know when we cross the wire which one is better.”
Tobins Terror controls the rail with Marc Campbell in the bike for trainer Gary Chappell, while the fast leaving R Es Shabla has Post 3 for trainer-driver Mike McGuigan.
“I imagine McGuigan’s filly will be on or near the front,” Baxter said. “It would be nice to race our filly off the pace. The one thing about her is she is versatile. If you look at the program Royaltywestho races a lot of the time on the front but she can race out of a hole and is probably better racing out of a hole.”
Baxter cannot overstate the advantage driver Walter Cheverie gives him in finding the easies route to the winner’s circle week after week.
“She gets a lot of respect because of her record,” Baxter said of Royaltywestho’s usually easy route to the front. “Walter has done this for a long time and he knows what it takes to keep a champion going. To race a filly like this you have to get your breaks and not go to the wall every single week. To have Walter managing her has been huge.”
The favourite in the race, Bettim Jackie, is also trained by a native of Windsor, N.S. Lilley drew up a bluenoser but now calls Milton, P.E.I., home. While bettors are sure to be focusing on Bettim Jackie and Royaltywestho, Lilley picks another entry as the one he thinks will have to be defeated on the way to the winner’s circle.
“Don’t be surprised if Marc Campbell and Tobins Terror cut it out this week,” Lilley said. “Mike’s horse (Mike McGuigan driving R Es Shabla) can leave lots and Marc Campbell may try a new strategy and wants his on the lead and make Mike duck. I kind of hope to be doing the roadwork, my horse likes first-over. There will be lots leaving and when I come I hope to come with some authority. I don’t know if Bettim Jackie can take four-quarters of it but I like our chances.”
When the draw came out for the Lady Slipper divisions, Lilley was surprised to see the best fillies in Atlantic Canada all racing against each other in divisional action. Lilley says the race is sure to be a treat for everyone in attendance.
“As a race fan, and I am a race fan first and foremost, this looks like it is going to be a great race.”
Other Lady Slipper entries include Fiftyshadesofgraci (driven by Kenny Arsenault), Silverhill Misty (Jason Hughes), Woodmere Chella (Gilles Barrieau) and Elm Grove Misty (Colin Kelly).
The other $12,000 Ladu Slipper Gold division hits the track in Race 7 with a field of seven pacers.
Newbie has rail control in the Race 12 finale Gold Cup and Saucer consolation for owner-trainer Harry Landy. Also in the field is Jackson K Down (Corey MacPherson), In Spades (J Harris), Father Ofthe Year (Dr. Mitchell Downey), Paparazzi Hanover (Travis Cullen) and Czar Seelster (Kenny Arsenault).
Friday will also feature a 1 p.m. afternoon card featuring the Lady Slipper stakes grassroots divisions for three-year-old pacing fillies.