CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Preparations for the summer racing season are about to kick into high gear on Prince Edward Island and across the region.
Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park will host its first set of qualifiers on Saturday with a 1 p.m. start time in preparation for the April 28 season opener at the capital oval. Red Shores at the Summerside Raceway will hold qualifiers on Sunday at 1 p.m. while a second set of Charlottetown qualifiers are set for Tuesday at 1 p.m.
This season will see some new faces amongst the horse ranks with Island owners making new acquisitions throughout the winter months.
Stars Above is a newcomer for owner Tammy Johnston of Stratford with 19 wins, $163,166 in career earnings and a mark of 1:50.2 over Harrah’s Philadelphia to his credit. The eight-year-old son of Four Starzzz Shark last raced in a $8,500 claiming event at Flamboro Downs.
IC True Grit is actively racing in Ontario but could see red soil this year as he is now owned by Peter Lanigan of Montague. The No Pan Intended six-year-old was foaled on P.E.I. but raced the majority of his career in Ontario with 11 wins and a mark of 1:54.2 over Rideau Carleton Raceway. He was last entered in a $15,000 claiming event Thursday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Ontario for trainer Patrick Shepherd.
Fortunecookieslie is now owned by Jack MacGillivray and Joey Squires of Charlottetown along with Albert MacGillivray of Nova Scotia. The five-year-old son of Mach Three has five lifetime wins and a record of 1:56 over the half-mile oval at Monticello Raceway in New York.
Can Art is a new addition for owner Wayne Oakes of North Wiltshire with 16 wins, $125,582 earned and a record of 1:53.3 over Woodbine Raceway in Ontario. The seven-year-old daughter of Artistic Fella last raced in a $7,000 claiming event at Western Fair Raceway in London, Ont.
Hughgetthecredit is a newcomer for Milton trainer Brian Andrew with three lifetime victories, $61,956 in the bank and a record of 1:52 at Woodbine Raceway. The Up The Credit gelding last raced a $7,000 claimer at Flamboro Downs in Ontario.
While not exactly a newcomer, Malabrigo has been absent from Island racing for nearly six years after her undefeated three-year-old season in 2012. The now nine-year-old daughter of Western Paradise was purchased by trainer Marc Campbell last fall in Harrisburg, Pa., after having a quartet of foals. Malabrigo has been training back for her 2018 campaign and is a possible entry for opening day for new owners Natasha Campbell and Darryl and Gordon MacLean of Winsloe and Meghan MacDonald of Charlottetown.
The P.E.I. Standardbred Horse Owners Association annual awards banquet was held Saturday night in Charlottetown with the King of Island racing stealing the show yet again. With more than 30 awards given out on the evening, Marc Campbell, along with horses he trained, received 15 of them with his own Filly Forty Seven being named horse of the year.
Ron and Dianne Gass of Cornwall received the inaugural Arnold Weeks Memorial award, which was established to honour those who display great kindness and generosity to fellow horsemen.
Officials with the Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission are inviting horse people to the annual paddock meeting Saturday at 3 p.m. at Red Shores Charlottetown after the qualifiers, which will also include the drivers meeting this season.
Across The Continent
Saturday at Yonkers Raceway in New York, Western Fame has drawn rail control in the $532,000 George Morton Levy Final for free-for-all pacers with Kingston native Mark MacDonald at the lines. The rich final goes as Race 10 on the Yonkers program with a 10:50 p.m. AST post time. Western Fame is installed at 7-1 odds for trainer Jimmy Takter after winning a pair of preliminary legs in the series.
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.