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Summerside native in 42nd season of calling harness racing action
The harness racing community has spoken and there is no doubt where the voice of P.E.I. harness racing ranks.
Vance Cameron, who brings fans to the edge of their seats at both Red Shores Summerside and Charlottetown, was recently announced as the winner of Standardbred Canada’s Best Race Call.
“Standardbred Canada had put 48 races together in a format styled after the March Madness basketball tournament,” explained Cameron, a Summerside native.
Cameron had four calls entered in the competition and the final came down to two of his calls – the 2008 Gold Cup and Saucer in Charlottetown against the 2003 Gold Cup and Saucer. The 2008 race, won by Pownal Bay Matt and driver Earl Smith, was the winner and votes were casted from around the world.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal,” said Cameron. “Earl Smith, a very accomplished horseman, had never won the Gold Cup and Saucer and he was like 19 or 20 to 1 on the board.”
Cameron has fond memories of the race.
“What I do is when they are going to the gate in Charlottetown for the Cup and Saucer is I’ll say, ‘It’s time to get it onnnn!,’” said Cameron. “That gets the crowd up.
“I got the ‘Boom, just like that’ call and on the final turn I said, ‘It’s the greatest Gold Cup and Saucer of all time.’
“That was because there were three tiers of three deep horses and all nine of them were only separated by three or four lengths with an eighth of a mile to go.”
However, Cameron actually liked his call of Serious Damage’s win in the 2011 Governor’s Plate in Summerside better than the two finalists.
“Obviously, the people thought the ’03 and ’08 were the ones,” added Cameron. “With the 2011 call, when Kenny Arsenault won with Serious Damage, I was able to get the ‘Brouhaha’ into that one, the ‘Boom, just like that’ and I have another call when a horse is way outside I go, ‘Way, way, way outside,’ and that was in it, too.
“It was Kenny Arsenault winning the Plate for the first time. Both Earl Smith and Kenny Arsenault are accomplished horse people and great guys.”
Cameron was caught off guard when a special presentation was made to him during the recent Prince County Horsemen’s Club awards dinner in Summerside. Cameron was the master of ceremonies for the well-attended event at Credit Union Place.
“Vance, you are the best,” Summerside Mayor and harness racing supporter Basil Stewart commented. “I have a nephew who is from Charlottetown but lives in Halifax, and he comes over to Summerside for harness racing just to hear Vance call the races.”
Cameron is in his 42nd season of calling races. He called his very first race in Summerside on Oct. 28, 1977.
“I have some old tapes from when I first went to Ontario in ’82, and there is a big difference,” said Cameron, who noted his style has changed over the years.
Cameron, who has called races in every Canadian province except British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, has a number of signature calls, including one he picked up from Stompin’ Tom Connors.
“I’ve been able to throw in that old Stompin’ Tom tune, ‘To it and at it and at it and to it’ and the people have really liked that one,” said Cameron. “I said to myself, ‘You know what, when a couple of horses are battling it out they are to it and at it and at it and to it.’”
One more milestone
The 59-year-old Cameron admits there is still one more milestone he would like to achieve.
We still haven’t done that 1:49.4 thing,” he said. “Time is running out for me.
“It’s not the end of the world, but it’s probably the only thing I haven’t done since I’ve gotten into a booth.”