CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Horses with Island connections populate the finalist lists in national racing awards in Canada and south of the border.
In the O'Brien Awards, honouring the best in Canadian racing, the Ian Moore-trained duo of Percy Blue Chip and Classic Pro are both finalist. Moore, a native of Summerside, trained the two-year-old pacing filly Percy Blue Chip to five wins, more than $440,000 in earnings and a record of 1:51.2 taken while smashing the Georgian Downs track record. Her major wins include the $225,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super final and the $192,333 Eternal Camnation final, both at Mohawk Raceway in Ontario. Percy Blue Chip will be a finalist in the two-year-old pacing filly category against $450,000 winner Kendall Seelster.
In the three-year-old pacing colt division, Classic Pro is a finalist after a season where he earned $293,000, won four races and took a mark of 1:51 over Mohawk. While Classic Pro did not win any major stakes, he did finish fourth in the $1 million North America Cup final and third in both the $738,550 Meadowlands Pace final and the $300,000 Carl Milstein at Northfield Park in Ohio. Classic Pro is a finalist in the three-year-old pacing colt division against Alberta-sired Mateo.
Both Percy Blue Chip and Classic Pro are sired by Shadow Play, a former Moore-trainee who campaigned the North American Gran Circuit between 2007 and 2009.
Brett MacDonald, son of Island native Ron MacDonald, is a finalist for the future star award against Quebec native Maxime Velaye.
Marc Campbell of Winsloe is also a finalist in the horsemanship category. The winners will be announced at the O'Brien Award gala on Feb. 3 in Mississauga, Ont.
While not a directly Island-connected horse, Pure Country was announced as the winner of the Dan Patch award for aged pacing mares in the United States and is a finalist in the same category in the O'Brien Awards. The millionaire pacing mare is trained by Swedish native Jimmy Takter and owned in the U.S., but was driven the majority of the season by Kingston native Mark MacDonald. MacDonald drove the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere to wins in the $175,000 TVG mares final and $200,400 Lady Liberty final, both at The Meadowlands in New Jersey, the $158,000 Artiscape final at Tioga Downs in New York, and the $250,000 Breeder's Crown final at Hoosier Park in Indiana.
My condolences to the family of Ken MacInnis on his passing this week at his Charlottetown home.
The 86-year-old was a longtime owner in the sport with horses like 2009 Governor's Plate finalist Riccaras Sun and former top open trotter Hopedale Jive. MacInnis had a pair of horses race in 2017 with Joey Pineau campaigning Hopedale Paris and Hopedale Dora.
Live racing continues on Boxing Day at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park with a 12:30 p.m. first race post time for the 16-dash program. This will be the second last card of the calendar year with the 2017 season set to wrap up on New Year's Eve with a special evening program.
Bettim Jackie continued her dominance last week at Rideau Carleton Raceway outside Ottawa with a 1:59.4 victory for driver Guy Gagnon, trainer Matt McDonald and owners Jeff Lilley of Milton, Blair MacLauchlan of Stratford and Danny Purcell of Newport, N.S.
The daughter of Andreoli Hanover now shifts bases to central Ontario and is entered to race Friday night at Woodbine Raceway for new trainer Richard Moreau and driver Louis Philippe Roy. Bettim Jackie will leave from Post 10 in Race 9 on the card at 5-1 morning line odds with a 11:10 AST post time for that race.
Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park:
Race 1 - Wilfrid Joseph
Race 2 - Howmacs Dragonator
Race 3 - Ok Gladiator
Race 4 - Woodmere Articblue
Race 5 - Bettim Vicky
Race 6 - Hop Up
Race 7 - Yankee No More
Race 8 - Pictonian Storm
Race 9 - Drivingthedragon N
Race 10 - Political Crisis
Race 11 - Charlottes Western
Race 12 - Rose Run Quest
Race 13 - Likely To Win
Race 14 - Painted Desert
Race 15 - Forever Paradise
Race 16 - Fly With Max
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.