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DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: Maritimers shine at O’Brien awards

Marc Campbell with his wife Natasha received the O’Brien award for horsemanship Saturday in Mississauga, Ont. Iron Horse Photo
Marc Campbell with his wife Natasha received the O’Brien award for horsemanship Saturday in Mississauga, Ont. Iron Horse Photo - Submitted

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – It was a good time to be a Maritimer Saturday night at the O’Brien awards.

The ‘King’ of Island racing received his second O’Brien award for horsemanship. Winsloe resident Marc Campbell was honoured for his champion season, where he broke record left and right.

Summerside native Dr. Ian Moore had two of his horses win O’Brien awards. Percy Blue Chip was named two-year-old pacing filly award winner while Classic Pro was honoured as three-year-old pacing colt of the year.

Brett MacDonald, son of Island native Ron MacDonald, was given the future star award. MacDonald has developed into one of the top reinsman at Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ottawa.

Nova Scotia’s Kyle Burton was awarded the media excellence award for outstanding photography, while fellow Truro, N.S., resident Chantel Gillis was given the outstanding groom award.

P.E.I. Scene

Double J farms in Cornwall has a new addition to their stallion roster with Tobago Cays announced into the mix for proprietor Jamie MacKinley. The 11-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover is out of the immortal triple millionaire pacing mare Bunny Lake.

Tobago Cays has 31 lifetime wins and $818,772 in career earnings with a 1:50 mark taken at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania. The pacer was a divisional player against a tough group of three-year-old pacing colts in 2010, including Rocknroll Heaven, One More Laugh and Delmarvalous.

Canada Wide

Despite a valiant effort in last Friday’s $39,400 Blizzard final, Island owned and bred Bettim Jackie had to settle for second at Woodbine Raceway in Ontario. The Richard Moreau-trainee was on front for part of the mile in the stakes final for three- and four-year-old pacing fillies and mares, but was bested by a rival one year her senior in a mile time of 1:54.4.

The three-year-old Bettim Jackie is co-owned by Jeff Lilley of Milton, Blair MacLauchlan of Stratford and Nova Scotia’s Danny Purcell. The daughter of Andreoli Hanover is entered to race again tonight in Race 8 with a 10:30 p.m. Atlantic post time.

Expect to see Bettim Jackie home on the East Coast for sophomore pacing filly action this summer.

The new year has been exceptionally kind to the brother act of Patrick and Robert Shepherd, who hail from Stratford. Robert had six winners on Sunday’s Flamboro Downs program in Ontario for four different trainers. The profitable weekend plunked him into second place amongst drivers for wins in Canada this season with 34 victories at the start of the week. Younger brother Patrick is also sitting second in Canada for training wins with 23 victories at this early point of the year. The pair also make the top 10 for wins and percentages in the nation.

Tuesday at Western Fair Raceway in London, Ont., Drivingthedragon N makes her central Canadian debut for owner Donald MacRae of Vernon Bridge, who has entrusted the top Atlantic pacing mare to trainer Isabelle Darveau. The nine-year-old will compete in Race 9 on the program for a $6,800 purse with Robert Shepherd at the lines.

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

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