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DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: Drivers' trophy up for grabs

Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park. Jason Malloy/The Guardian
Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park. Jason Malloy/The Guardian

The annual P.E.I. Standardbred Horse Owners’ Association Drivers Championship is upon us again and the Paul MacDonald Memorial trophy will be in play Saturday afternoon at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.

The capital oval will play host to a 12-dash card starting at 12:30 p.m. featuring eight dashes of the Horseperson’s Day driving championship with the driver earning the most points getting the MacDonald trophy.

The challenge takes statistics from Summerside and Charlottetown into consideration up to and including Sept. 31, with top dash-winning drivers Gilles Barrieau (117 wins), David Dowling (107) wins, Corey MacPherson (72 wins) and Jason Hughes (71 wins) in the first category. The next two competitors are the top two percentage drivers with over 75 drives which are Mark Bradley (.297 driving average) and Mike McGuigan (.273 average). One of the things that makes this competition special year after year is that two of the competitors must have between 40 and 75 drives which consistently brings some talented drivers with just a few starts into the fray, with some of those drivers winning the whole challenge in years past. The two drivers with the top averages between 40 and 75 starts this year are two veteran horsemen that used to be near the top of the driving standings at both Island ovals, Brian MacPhee (.217 average) and Earl Smith (.203 average).

Last year’s winner, Adam Merner, is not in the competition this year. To be eligible to compete in the championship, drivers must have their association membership paid. Which is why leading dash-winning driver Marc Campbell will not be in this year's event.

The day will also feature second chance draws for race fans as well as prizes for winning owners, trainers and grooms.

P.E.I. Scene

Wishes for a quick recovery go out to Charlottetown trainer Jamie Smith after he was involved in a training accident last Thursday at the CDP. Smith also works as a track maintenance specialist at the capital oval and is a large part of making sure the track is in top shape 12 months of the year. Hope to see him back soon.

Sophist makes her Island debut during Saturday’s driving championship with Mark Bradley getting the drive for new owner Jordan MacKay of French River. The three-year-old daughter of Up Front Charlie went through the ring at the Harrisburg Standardbred Sale last week in Pennsylvania selling for $3,000 USD. A winner of five races and $37,540 in earnings, Sophist sports a mark of 1:54.1 taken over Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland in September.

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

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Nick’s Picks

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

Race 1 – A Fiesty Xample

Race 2 – Good Luck Kathy

Race 3 – Knockout Punch

Race 4 – Noplay

Race 5 – All Out

Race 6 – Casimir Obama

Race 7 – Ic True Grit

Race 8 – Best To Hurst

Race 9 – Jens Credit

Race 10 – Sophist

Race 11 – Bayside Alexis

Race 12 – Collective Wisdom

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