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DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: Record-setter Whitesand Artist set for final race

Jaws dropped when CDP track announcer Vance Cameron called out the mile in 1:53.4 in 2014

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Little Black Book and Charlottetown native Paul MacKenzie winning their 1993 Gold Cup and Saucer trial was an historic moment in Atlantic and Canadian harness racing.

Little Black Book set a Canadian record on a half-mile track in her 1993 Gold Cup and Saucer trial as well as rewrote the Charlottetown Driving Park (CDP) track record with a 1:54 effort. The Canadian mark was rewritten in the years that followed but the Charlottetown pacing mares track record, as well as the Atlantic Canadian pacing mares record, stood for 21 more years.

Every top pacing mare that graced Atlantic Canadian racing took a shot at the mark but always fell short. That all changed on a Tuesday night in August of 2014 during the National Driving Championship in the most unlikely of places as Ontario representative Billy Davis Jr. sent Whitesand Artist to the front in a $3,000 claiming event. The Neil Bambrick-owned and -trained pacing mare laid down reasonable fractions of a 28 second quarter and a half-mile of 57.3. It was after the five-eighths that launched her into her own world as three-quarters were reached in 1:25.2 before unleashing a 28.2 closer.

The collective jaws of everyone in attendance dropped when track announcer Vance Cameron called out the mile in 1:53.4 obliterating more than two decades of history in a single $1,200 race.

The daughter of Artiscape never went near that Atlantic Canadian record mile but her achievement can never be taken away. The winner of 33 races and $92,000 will make the final start of her career as owner-trainer Bambrick has decided to call it quits in the first start of her 13-year-old season and breed the champion mare in the spring.

Her final start will be in Race 6 on the CDP card with Gary Chappell in the bike. Also retiring in the race is the iron-tough Onehotvett, a former open mare in her own right, with $235,000 in the bank and multiple open mares victories to her credit. Onehotvett will start from Post 2 in Saturday’s contest with Wade Sorrie in the bike for trainer Austin Sorrie and owner Tammy Collings of Hazel Brook, while Whitesand Artist has Post 4.

North America Driving Championship

The second annual North America Driving Championship had some Island flavour at the event held at Miami Valley Raceway in Ohio, but no racing luck for P.E.I.’s top driver on Sunday and Monday.

Maritime dash champion Marc Campbell was at the event but suffered with poor draws in horses and post positions. Campbell finished the competition with three fourth-place finishes, three ninth-place finishes and two 10th-place finishes putting him back of contention for a spot in the championship final. Indiana driver Trace Tetrick captured the driving crown.

Nick’s Picks

Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park:

Race 1 – The Gormanizor

Race 2 – Alberta Sky

Race 3 – Dusty Lane Zendaya

Race 4 – Tempo Seelster

Race 5 – Bettim Vicky

Race 6 – Whitesand Artist

Race 7 – Forever Paradise

Race 8 – Winrlosedrnkdaboze

Race 9 – Rose Run Quest

Race 10 – Woodmere Articblue

Race 11 – Jetster

Race 12 – Eagle Jolt

Race 13 – The Big Bite


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

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