The $75,000 Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer goes tonight at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park and with a little luck from the weatherman we could see a new track record.
It is one of the most colourful and prestigious races in the world of harness racing. Listed below are the horses by post positions with comments that may help you at the pari-mutuel windows.
1. Wazzup Wazzup - Gets the rail for trainer Corey Johnson and driver James MacDonald, younger brother of Mark and Anthony. This horse rallied after a break in Trial 2 and closed into a 1:50.4 mile. A recent lifetime best of 1:49 suggests Wazzup Wazzup could be the sleeper, especially for James, who knows how to win. He is currently second in Canada in wins and close to the top in earnings with $2.7 million already banked. Johnson is the son of prominent Saint John and Montreal trainer Colin Johnson and he knows the importance of the Gold Cup and Saucer race.
2. Aracache Hanover - Leaves from post two and that’s a big advantage over his rivals. This horse was very impressive in winning Trial 1 in 1:51.4 in less than ideal conditions. He has a lifetime record of 1:48.1 and $1.7 million in earnings and those are impressive numbers. He comes out of the powerful Ron Burke Stable, North America’s most successful with $20 million banked last year. Marc Campbell, who won the Gold Cup and Saucer last year, would love nothing better than a repeat.
3. Bigtown Hero - Is aptly named for this driver since half-mile track specialist Brad Forward is a big-time harness racing hero in St. John’s, N.L. This is the first of three entries from the Rene Allard Stable and everyone knows Rene, who has had horses in this race for years, wants this one badly. He has an outside shot at taking home all the marbles.
4. Scott Rocks - Has up-and-coming driver on the Ontario circuit, Jonathan Drury handling the lines on the first of two entries from the Chris Oakes stable, one of the most successful at Pocono and in the U.S. Scott Rocks was a solid third in the track-record equalling 1:50.4 in Trial 2, and with a trip and some racing luck he could pull off an upset.
5. Island Jet - Hometown boy Robert Shepherd gets the call to drive Island Jet, the second of three entries from the Allard stable. He was fourth in his elimination, but like a few others, a trip and racing luck could get him a big piece of the $75,000 purse.
6. Take It Back Terry - A top horse that could be overlooked in here. He get’s capable Gilles Barrieau in the bike and the fact it’s a Mickey and Ron Burke trained pupil speaks volumes. This horse has been racing the best at Yonkers, a half-mile track like at Charlottetown, and he was the betting favourite in Trial 2. With racing luck and fast early fractions, he could end up in the winner’s circle.
7. Stick It To Em - Has a bad outside post and big speed inside and outside. He is the second entry from the Chris Oakes stable and the horse wouldn’t be here if the owner didn’t think he could win. Veteran driver Walter Cheverie, one of the best in the region, gets the assignment for Oakes, and a big player in our sport. The horse has a win in 1:49 and a return to that form and everything going his way could get him near the wire at the end.
8. Mickey Hanover - Came up with an outstanding victory in Trial 2 and that put a huge grin on Allard’s face. Co-owner Daniel Dube, who is as good a chauffeur as any in the game, will do the driving. Dube drove the great Gallo Blue Chip and he’s drawn bad post positions in the past and still won. This horse is not one dimensional, he’s as good off the pace or the front.
On the bases
On the baseball front, the Toronto Blue Jays have just about dropped out of the American League East pennant race as Baltimore held a seven-game lead over the Yankees and the Blue Jays going into Friday’s action.
The Jays are still in the wild card hunt, trailing Seattle by three games, as do the Yankees but their post-season chances are fading. Seattle has helped itself offensively with the addition of Kendrys Morales and Austin Jackson and it has the best pitching staff in the majors. Right now. Seattle is playoff- bound and I would advise jumping on the bandwagon right now.
Toronto has managed to stay in the playoff hunt this far without three key players — Brett Lawrie, Adam Lind and especially Edwin Encarnacion — but they have too many holes in the lineup. I cannot imagine why they sent second baseman Ryan Goins back to Triple AAA Buffalo since his recall. Goins has been playing flawless defence, hitting .275 and driving in key runs.
Around the track
In other local harness racing news, Brett Revington, who did a terrific job as director of racing at the CDP, has been appointed to the same position at Pompano Park, Fla., starting immediately.
Paul Murphy and Larry Resnitzky have a new book coming out called Horse Power, Behind The Gate, and it will be launched on the eve of the Breeders Crown weekend, Oct. 8 to 10.
They keep pouring into the Charlottetown track from all across the country, Old Home Week regulars Bomber Garabb and son Joey, one of the better harness racing officials in these parts, are here from Sydney along with Mackie MacIntyre — now that’s a real Cape Breton name. Owner and trainer Champ Gillis is AWOL.
Prominent Nova Scotia owners Wayne MacRae and Bob Skinner are here for the big show and no doubt looking at yearlings in the upcoming sales. Both owners have been to the winner’s circle already this week.
After the above line had been written, we have learned that veteran horsemen Wally MacInnis was knocked cold at one of the local farms by a spooked yearling while inspecting the babies along with Gilles Barrieau, Darryl Pierce and Wayne MacRae. Wally’s sister Donna Gallant was not amused.
Paul MacNeill, the owner of the Atlantic Post Calls, which is the Bible for Maritime harness racing fans, was at the track celebrating his best-ever 75 round at New Glasgow Hills.
Rosie Noonan, daughter of top drivers Gerald and Marsha Noonan, was here with Marie Scott all the way from Hoosier Park, Ind. Rosie and family, including local owner Rob MacMillan, were at the CDP for the Thursday night Gerald Noonan Memorial Race.
Ken Warkentin, the voice at the Meadowlands and one of the best known personalities in the game, is here all week providing intelligent commentary on many horses and on probable race outcomes.
Jaimi Fellows and Curtis MacDonald have been at the track all week making sure Rene Allard is behaving himself. Both have been doing camera work for the Atlantic Post Calls.
Carl Jamieson is here for the week with his wife Debbie. Carl is driving his monstrous trailer, which I am told took down a few city wires last year. If you are near the area of Rabs and Anita MacDonald’s spot on Edward Street, be careful.
Also in from Toronto for the week is former jockey great Lloyd Duffy and his brother Allie. They are getting tips from brother Duke Duffy.
And speaking of tips, Finance Minister Wes Sheridan’s wife Sandra has recruited this writer, aka The Sports Prophet for handicapping advice on tonight’s big Gold Cup and Saucer card. Wise lady.
One of the drivers that has been noticeably hot all week is veteran Brian Andrews of Meridian Farms who had a triple one day and a double the next. Stay hot my friend.
NHLer Adam MacQuaid presented a Boston Bruins cooler after Race 12 on the Thursday night card, the Brian Duffy Memorial. Adam stayed around signing autographs, a real class guy. Trainer Darren Trainor gave the cooler to the family, a nice gesture.
Two longtime Old Home Week participants trainer-driver Anthony MacDonald and veterianan Dr. John Hennessey are absent this year and they are missed. They’ll have to watch the Gold Cup and Saucer from Ontario.
Fred MacDonald’s column appears each
Saturday in The Guardian. He can be
reached at email@example.com.