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DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: Biggest week of the year

Gold Cup and Saucer ambassador Haley Thomson, the daughter of Arron and Michelle Thomson of Charlottetown, places the card of Rockin In Heaven on the board to set the order of Trial 1 Tuesday in Charlottetown. Rockin In Heaven is owned by Douglas E. Polley of Amherst, N.S., and Gordon E. McComb of Fall River, N.S.
Gold Cup and Saucer ambassador Haley Thomson, the daughter of Arron and Michelle Thomson of Charlottetown, places the card of Rockin In Heaven on the board to set the order of Trial 1 Tuesday in Charlottetown. Rockin In Heaven is owned by Douglas E. Polley of Amherst, N.S., and Gordon E. McComb of Fall River, N.S. - Dave Stewart

Old Home Week racing begins Friday afternoon at Charlottetown Driving Park after rain pushed back Thursday's card

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. –  Rain has always had a way of messing with Old Home Week in the midst of summer on Prince Edward Island and 2018 will prove to be no exception.

The Thursday evening program at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park is the unofficial kick off for Old Home Week with the Alpine $5,000 claiming series, but that program has been cancelled and moved to Friday at 1 p.m. due to torrential rain showers Thursday afternoon that created unsafe track conditions.

This week is no easy task for management at Red Shores in a constant juggling act but kudos to all the team to put the safety of the horses and horsepeople first and create an extra doubleheader during this legendary week of Canadian racing.

Old Home Week 2018 will see 14 entries in trials for the 59th edition of The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer, including a record number of entries by female trainers. Out of the total entries, five horses are trained by four different female trainers. In a sport traditionally dominated by men, it is refreshing to see some diversity in Atlantic Canada's biggest horse race.

Ellen Stevenson of Fredericton, N.B., ships into Trial 1 on Saturday evening with Father Ofthe Year with nephew Mitchell Downey in the race bike. The pacing horse had been racing at Exhibition Park Raceway in Saint John, N.B., and Bangor Raceway in Maine with three wins from 10 seasonal starts.

Rockin In Heaven is another female trained entry in Trial 1 for Teesha Symes, a native of Springhill, N.S., who is racing in Ontario. The six-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven has been racing the tough Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit in Ontario and won the $34,000 preferred pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park in his latest outing in 1:49.4 with a dazzling 25.1 closing quarter. Nova Scotians Doug Polley of Amherst and Gordon McComb of Fall River own the winner of more than $700,000.

Paparazzi Hanover completes the female-trained contingent in Trial 1 with rail control for Jodie Cullen of Ontario, mother of former Gold Cup and Saucer finalist driver Travis Cullen. Paparazzi Hanover is the lone horse in the field of 14 that has already raced in the Gold Cup and Saucer, finishing sixth in the 2016 edition. The son of Well Said shows three straight miles in 1:51 and change.

Also in Trial 1 are Fool Me Once (Robert Shepherd), Somewhere Fancy (Simon Allard), Rose Run Quest (Marc Campbell) and Jackson K Down (Corey MacPherson).

In Trial 2, Stephanie Jamieson of Ontario will be on the scene for Old Home Week with her own Asap Hanover, who has two straight 1:50-and-change miles under his belt. Jody Jamieson drives the winner of $228,000 from Post 4 in the second $12,500 trial, scheduled for Monday evening.

Cullen also will race Always N The Money in Trial 2, again with rail control and with son Travis in the race bike. With three wins and $35,000 in earnings this season, Always N The Money sports a best of 1:51 over Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Other Trial 2 entries are Bet on Brett (Louis Philippe Roy), Lincolnjames (Anthony MacDonald), Newbie (Harry Landy), In Spades (J Harris) and Czar Seelster (Kenny Arsenault).

Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at nicholasoakes@hotmail.com.

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