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DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: Making their mark

Gallant, McKinnon, Shepherd having strong seasons in Ontario

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Island trainers have been making an impact recently in racing action in Central Canada.

Nicholas Oakes' column, Down The Backstretch, appears each Friday in The Guardian.
Nicholas Oakes' column, Down The Backstretch, appears each Friday in The Guardian.

Summerside resident Terry Gallant made the move to Ontario this month for the winter racing season and is sporting a record of two wins and three seconds from just six starts. Last Friday at Western Fair Raceway in London, Gallant scored two victories as Imacaroltoo was a winner in a $5,200 class and Howmac Diamond won the lion’s share of a $5,600 purse. Charlottetown native Paul MacKenzie was in the bike for both victories. Gallant’s only start out of the top two was a fifth-place finish by Governor’s Plate runner-up Euchred in a 1:52.2 mile over Woodbine Mohawk Park for a $11,000 purse with Louis Philippe Roy aboard.

After leaving Prince Edward Island in the fall of 2015 to work as an assistant trainer to world-class trainer Casie Coleman, Charlottetown native Mark McKinnon is now training a stable of his own in Ontario. The McKinnon-trained Free Proof was a 1:57 winner at Flamboro Downs in Dundas, Ont., this week. Saulsbrook Bailey was also a recent winner in her first start for trainer McKinnon, who was sent the horse by owner Reg MacPherson of Stratford. The Western Paradise three-year-old had been racing on P.E.I. all summer and had a 1:59.1 victory in a $5,200 class at Flamboro Downs in her Ontario debut. McKinnon formerly trained and catch-drove horses in Eastern Canada and is currently in the process of regaining his driving licence after losing it due to more than three-years of inactivity.

Stratford native Patrick Shepherd is in the midst of a career-defining year with 182 training wins and more than $950,000 in earnings this season as he looks for his first $1-million year. Shepherd is currently the leading trainer at Flamboro Downs and sits tied in first with Richard Moreau for wins at Western Fair. He was also crowned top trainer at Grand River Raceway in Elora, Ont., this year, was tied for first at Hanover Raceway in Hanover, Ont., and was second amongst trainers at Georgian Downs in Innisfil, Ont.
Shepherd is also racing stock from the Island as Saulsbrook Coral was a 1:58.4 winner in a $4,700 class and Island-breds Dustylanewesty and Way Over were both second-place finishers recently in their first starts for the trainer.

Who’s Hot

Windemerenightlife has been unstoppable since coming back home to P.E.I. as he has strung together four straight victories.
The son of Articulator is now owned and trained by Clair Sweet of O’Leary and has been unbeaten since relocating to P.E.I. in October and steadily moving up in class. David Dowling will drive the four-year-old again this week in Race 9 on the Sunday afternoon card at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.

Nick’s Picks

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

Race 1 – Howmac Margarita

Race 2 – Sailor Blue

Race 3 – Scottish Light

Race 4 – Harbourlite Jerry

Race 5 – Caught Me Speeding

Race 6 – Dusty Lane Jacob

Race 7 – Sports Highlights

Race 8 – Bad Silver

Race 9 – Eagle Jolt

Race 10 – The Warden

Race 11 – Rash B Havior

Race 12 – Prettyndangerous

Race 13 – Ultimatelyhandsome

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

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