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DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: Rock Diamonds N gets precision trip in Gold Cup and Saucer victory

Rock Diamonds N, with Mitch Cushing doing the driving, won the 60th edition of The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer just after midnight Sunday at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
Rock Diamonds N, with Mitch Cushing doing the driving, won the 60th edition of The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer just after midnight Sunday at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park. - Jason Malloy
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Another Old Home Week is in the books and the finale was one to remember.

The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer saw Mitchell Cushing give Rock Diamonds N an unbelievably perfect drive splattered with all kinds of luck. Cushing got away near the back of the pack but never had to move three-wide at any point in the race to find his way to the winner’s circle in the $60,000 race.

Cushing said if his horse had of ran in one step or out one step at any point in the mile, he would not have been able to do what he did. Watching the replay, it is not hard to see he’s right on the money.

The Maine driver’s finesse trip will be one talked about for years to come, as the 21-year-old will look to build on his career with the win in Eastern Canada’s most prestigious race.

Overall, Old Home Week has to be called another resounding success.

Horse supply seemed like an issue but incredibly this year’s Old Home Week fielded the exact same amount of races as in 2018. The wager was up $59,701 at the track as well as $87,329 from off-track sources like HPI Bet and simulcast locations for a total increase of $147,030 in total wager.

Two of the unheralded heroes of Old Home Week were both females and that doesn’t include Heidi Gibbs, who become the first woman in the 60-year history of the Gold Cup and Saucer to train the winning horse.

Bettim Vicky was one of those who flew under the radar with three wins from as many starts during this year’s Old Home Week celebrations. The Jeff Lilley-trained pacing mares won in 1:58.4 on the opening Friday, came back to win in 1:58 on Monday night then was a 1:56 victor on Gold Cup and Saucer night to be crowned the mare of the week.

The Melissa Rennie stable based out of Dusty Lane Farms in Cornwall had eight wins on the week, including a very rare two-year-old dead-heat victory with Windemere Ryan in a $13,080 A division of the Atlantic Sires Stakes for rookie pacing colts against Harry G (Paul Langille).

U.S. Scene

After being listed for sale online, Hysteria went to a new home from his Charlottetown base and made his first start a winning one at Yonkers Raceway in New York. Hysteria was a 1:52.3 open-length winner at Yonkers in line to Joe Bongiorno for new trainer Jen Bongiorno. U.S. interests purchased the colt, but former owner Billy MacKinnon of Stratford retained a share in the three-year-old son of Shadow Play.

Nick’s Picks

Saturday at 6 p.m. at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park:
Race 1 – Five Run Homer

Race 2 – Beechwood Tiger

Race 3 – Woodmere Soul

Race 4 – Rest Assured

Race 5 – Santanna Sass

Race 6 – Cal Hanover

Race 7 – Mayhem Man

Race 8 – Sodwana Bay

Race 9 – At The Helm

Race 10 – Mick Dundee

Race 11 – Painted Pony

Race 12 – Rose Run Quest

Race 13 – Hes Marvalous


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

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