Lt.-Gov. Frank Lewis and Premier Robert Ghiz present the Gold Cup and Saucer trophies to trainer Rene Allard and driver Brad Forward following the $75,000 Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer race Saturday night at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Rene Allard feels like he is dreaming.
The 27-year-old Quebec native found himself in the winner’s circle Saturday night with Bigtown Hero in the $75,000 Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
“I feel almost like I’m dreaming,” Allard said.
Bigtown Hero’s driver Brad Forward echoed the sentiment standing in the historic winner’s circle.
“It’s hard to explain the emotions I’m going through,” Forward said. “To be able to win this race is absolutely amazing. I just filled up past the wire, I heard people screaming and I just couldn’t believe it.”
Aracache Hanover (Marc Campbell) set the early tempo, after releasing Scott Rocks (Jonathan Drury) up the backstretch then retaking the lead in the 26.4 first quarter.
Aracache Hanover laid down a 55.2 half with eventual winner Bigtown Hero locked in fourth at the rail then pushing out three-wide at five-eighths.
The three-quarters of 1:23.3 saw Aracache Hanover under siege by the first-up Wazzup Wazzup (James MacDonald) before he relinquished the lead.
Wazzup Wazzup would lead around the turn with Bigtown Hero and driver Brad Forward reeling in the race leader through a thrilling stretch drive with a 1:50.4 final time.
“All through the race I was like I wish I had of left harder,” Forward said. “I floated him out, crossed over and got trapped. I was in trouble past the half and squeezed out and it was down the road from there. He dug in deep in the stretch.”
And how did Forward get Bigtown Hero out from his position fourth on the rail at the half-mile?
“Grease,” Forward laughed.
Wazzup Wazzup finished second, with another Allard trainee, Island Jet, finishing third.
Take It Back Terry (Gilles Barrieau) was fourth, Scott Rocks was fifth, Aracache Hanover finished sixth, Mickey Hanover (Daniel Dube) was seventh and Shock It To Em (Walter Cheverie) came in eighth.
“I knew that Bigtown Hero had the speed to do it,” Allard said in the winner’s circle. “He was tired last week. This week I changed some equipment on him, I glued some shoes on because his feet were a little sore. We’re just so happy he came to play tonight. Right now he’s going to get a little time off, there has been a lot of shipping. Turn him out a bit. After that probably race him in the Poconos until Pocono closes, then we’ll go from there.”
The Gold Cup and Saucer win means a lot to Allard, as he has brought horses to Charlottetown every August since 2009.
“Every year we keep coming back and win this race in the worst way. That’s why I bought this horse at the last minute because he won in 1:48 last Sunday (August 3) and we need a horse that is sharp right now. We took a chance when we bought him because he has never raced a half-mile in his life and he showed a lot of breaks but he shows a lot of speed. I scored this horse down twice tonight and he felt awesome so I told Brad ‘you know be a little careful the first quarter but this horse has a lot of speed, a lot of go, and he is feeling great tonight.’ I talked to number of drivers that were driving him and they said he has a second set of lungs.”
Forward, a native of Goulds, N.L., has been through some rough patches the past few years, going from one of the leading drivers in Canada to fighting off allegations of race fixing in Ontario and now finding himself back working at home in Newfoundland.
That made the call Tuesday from Allard to come sit behind Bigtown Hero all the more exciting for the driver.
“Racing always has its ups and downs in this business,” Forward said. “You can be up one minute and down the next but you stay focused. A lot of it depends on these trainers you get these drives from. I thought initially going in the eight horse, Mickey (Hanover), was the best. And looking at the rail horse he made a boo-boo and made a huge, huge move from it so I was a little scared of him. But Rene said ‘my horse has a second set of lungs so don’t be afraid to move him even first-up.’”
Forward grew up in Newfoundland dreaming about this race, and being in it before with limited luck.
“For Newfoundlanders the best way to describe it is this is the Super Bowl of harness racing. Everybody saves up all year to come here for this week and watch this race.”
Allard had three horses in the race and was worried at the eighth-pole.
“In the first turn I looked and my horses were sitting sixth, seventh and eighth basically,” Allard laughed. “I was like ‘oh my god.’’’
Allard come to P.E.I. for a vacation from his large racing stable in the U.S.
“I come here every year and this is my break. Actually this year, coming here for a break and taking three horses, claiming one and buying one I had spent all day in the barn with five horses. I was at Earl Watts’ farm, they were awesome, they helped me out. The people around here they can’t do enough for you, that’s what I love about P.E.I.”
Race summary for the $75,000 Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer race Saturday night at the CDP:
Bigtown Hero (B. Forward)
17.30 5.00 3.30
Wazzup Wazzup (J. MacDonald) 3.80 2.90
Island Jet (R. Shepherd) 7.90.
Times: 26.4, 55.2, 1:23.3, 1:50.4. Also ran: Take It Back Terry, Scott Rocks, Aracache Hanover, Mickey Hanover, Shock It To Em.
Winning horse owned by Allard Racing Inc., and Yves Sarrazin, Que. Exactor 3-1 $110.30
Triactor 3-1-5 $1034.66
Superfecta 3-1-5-6 $984.62