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DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: Chasing history

Sorrie could become youngest driver to win the Governor’s Plate

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The most prestigious race is Prince County harness racing may have a historic moment during its 50th running Saturday at Red Shores at the Summerside Raceway.

The post position drawn was not kind to him, but the fact remains 18-year-old Austin Sorrie still has a legitimate shot to be the youngest driver to ever land in the winner’s circle in the $25,000 Governor’s Plate final aboard In Spades.

The Montague driver will steer the four-year-old pacing son of Bettor’s Delight from Post 7 in the Saturday evening finale in Summerside for owner Walter Simmons of Summerside, who has tried throughout his ownership career to win this race but has so far been unsuccessful. In Spades has shown speed that is unrivalled in this field by virtue of his 1:53.1 victory over Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park and a 1:52.4 win at the half-mile oval at Western Fair Raceway in London, Ont.

The greatest obstacle In Spades will see is his dependence on the front end, as his biggest wins have always been while setting the fractions. Even if he doesn’t win, the fact Sorrie will be competing in the Governor’s Plate in just his 74th career drive is an incredible accomplishment of its own.

During the post-position draw held during the Tuesday program at the Summerside Raceway Euchred gained the coveted rail position for driver Adam Merner and owner Kayla Habicht Walker of Inverness, N.S., who will both be looking for their first Governor’s Plate win. Euchred’s trainer, Terry Gallant, has won this race twice before during its 49-year running with Outlawpositivcharg in 2008 and 2009.

Gilles Barrieau has won the most Governor’s Plates in the race’s history with five victories in 1998, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Dieppe, N.B., native will drive Mr Irresistible from Post 3 for trainer Jennifer Doyle after the horse’s regular pilot, Jason Hughes, elected to drive defending Governor’s Plate champion Do Over Hanover from Post 6.

The Milton brother duo of owners Brian and William Andrew have a pair of entries in the race with Keep Coming leaving from Post 4 for driver Corey MacPherson and Cartoon Daddy from the outside Post 8 for driver Dale Spence.

Other than Barrieau, two other drivers in the field have won this race before. Kenny Arsenault has a solid chance to repeat his 2011 victory aboard Serious Damage when he drives Czar Seelster from Post 2 Saturday for trainer Todd Weatherbee, a native of Cape Breton, N.S.

Walter Cheverie won the Governor’s Plate with Barney Baron in 2000 and finds himself in the race again this year with his own Nogreatmischief leaving from Post 5.

I will work under the assumption In Spades will make front and pick him on top for the historic moment with Sorrie and select 7-1-3 for the triactor.

Nick’s Picks

Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Red Shores at the Summerside Raceway:
Race 1 – Draft Seelster

Race 2 – Painted Desert

Race 3 – Mick Dundee

Race 4 – Dustylane Kazaam

Race 5 – Zero Rate

Race 6 – Culpepper

Race 7 – Dustylanesam

Race 8 – Holy Molie Maggie

Race 9 – Sock It Away

Race 10 – Big Surf

Race 11 – Thegreatmaelstrom

Race 12 – Harbourlite Jerry

Race 13 – Rose Run Quest

Race 14 – Weekend At Nannies

Race 15 – Sodwana Bay

Race 16 – In Spades


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

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