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Although the ground is white, horse people across Atlantic Canada are currently dreaming about the 2021 stakes season, and one of the mainstays of our program will have a very different look this year.
The Island Breeders Series has traditionally been comprised of two legs, one in Summerside and one in Charlottetown, along with a final, but starting in 2021 the final will be scrapped in favour of moving those funds into strengthening the preliminary legs. The P.E.I. Colt Stakes, the forbearer of the series, was established in 1934 as the first standardbred stake in Canada with the history that entails something that needs to be held onto.
The 2021 edition of the stake will see the two legs split into a gold-grassroots format on the pacing side, similar to what we see in the lady slipper stake. The exact purse levels will fluctuate depending on entries but the new stakes conditions state that the gold division will go for at least double of the grassroots divisions. For example, if the grassroots pacers race for $5,500, the gold divisions will go for around $11,000. This change will allow the top-end pacers to face each other for a higher purse while allowing the next tier of competitors to stay in with their own kind for an attractive purse.
Making the stake as competitive as possible while looking after all entrants was the main focus of the P.E.I. Standardbred Breeders Association in rewriting the conditions for the stake.
Another change is on the trot side where the divisions will be split by sex, provided there are at least three entrants in both the filly and colt divisions. A similar change has been enacted for the Maritime breeders stake on the trot side to provide sex equality. Atlantic Canada is currently the only jurisdiction in North America that makes colts and fillies race against each other in the sires stakes program. This change is a step towards seeing what solutions are possible to address that conundrum.
My condolences to the family of Rob Cobb on his recent passing. The 69-year-old Prince County horseman was a well-known and respected member of the Island harness racing community and an all-around great guy who will be sorely missed.
The Standardbred Canada board recently announced that Bruce Wood of Woodmere Farms would step in as breeder director for Atlantic Canada after the resignation of Tony Zuethoff from Nova Scotia.
2020 Foal Incentive
The P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association is putting out the final call for applications for the 2020 foal incentive program where each foal born last season will receive a $250 payout. All Island breeders who had a foal in 2020 need to fill out the form at PEIHarnessracing.ca or contact Julie Jamieson at 1-902-569-1682.
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at [email protected].