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The lure of The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer brings North America fans to P.E.I.
The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer draw was held Tuesday evening with more horses with Island connections competing in The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer than any time in the 60-year history of this great race.
It was great to see the Rachel Andrew and Travis Cullen-owned Midway Island win Trial 1 and when the dust had cleared from Trial 2, hometown fans had even more to smile about as the Patrick Shepherd-trained and Jason Hughes-driven Sir Pugsley proudly stood in the winner’s circle spotlight.
Add National Debt for trainer Jack Matheson and driver Gilles Barrieau, Bet on Brett, co-owned by Don MacRae and Matt MacKay; and Lisburn for owner Kevin Harvey and driven by Ken Arsenault to Saturday night’s Gold Cup and Saucer cast and this track will be rocking.
Sir Pugsley and Bettors Fire N drew Posts 1 and 2, respectively, for Saturday and defending champ Somewhere Fancy has Post 4, which could set the stage for a very fast mile in the big race. We’ll go into greater detail in Saturday’s column, so today we’ll look at who’s back again for Old Home Week.
A year ago we were talking with Maritime great and Flamboro legend Callie Rankin and earlier this week we gathered in the winner’s circle here in Charlottetown for the Callie Rankin Memorial. It was great to see such a big crowd on hand for the Rankin memorial and a great many came from out of town.
Wally Hennessey, who raced against Callie at Exhibition Park in Saint John, N.B., in the early 1980s was here to celebrate his life as was Saratoga driving star Mark Beckwith.
There was a big Saint John contingent including driver Charlie Price, starter Dave Nicholson and his brothers Neil (Eastern Canada scout for the New York Rangers) and Blair Nicholson (Eastern Canada scout for the St. Louis Blues).
Darryl Pierce, a major owner in the glory days of Saint John, is here helping brother-in-law Gilles Barrieau. Darryl was a prominent fixture in New England in the 1990s when he and Ed Hart campaigned the likes of Space Shuttle, Four Starz Shark and Village Jolt. The Dooley brothers, Sean and Kieran, are here along with Larry Damon, Bruce Maxwell and Brian (Pilot) Morrell, who have been coming to Old Home Week every year even before Scotch Gauman gave the Port City their first Gold Cup and Saucer winner in 1974.
Up-country horsemen also were on hand for the Rankin pace, including Paul MacKenzie, Phil Hudon, Garry MacDonald, Jody Jamieson and trainer Vic Puddy – all Ontario regulars who raced against Rankin – as well as Doug Williams Jr., son of the standout Tyne Valley defenceman Doug Williams, who starred with Summerside and Charlottetown senior teams of the mid-1960s .
Rene Allard took time out from his hectic schedule to not only support Old Home Week and the Gold Cup and Saucer but to join in the Callie Rankin cooler presentation.
Horsemen from all over the region continue pouring into the Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park grounds during the past few days.
Don Gaudet, one of the best referees ever in the region is here for the week as well as Rick Gaudet, son of former Chicago Blackhawks’ right-winger Oscar Gaudet, and longtime owner Walter MacLean from Moncton. Ozzie MacKay and his sister Tammy are here from Bible Hill, N.S., and both are heavily involved in the game. Bob and Jean Skinner prominent Truro, N.S., owners are here along with Doug Walsh, who was 2-for-2 with Victory Creed in the 1971 Gold Cup and Saucer and who won the 1971 Walter Dale with the same horse when I was general manager and race secretary.
Wayne MacRae from Fall River, N.S., is enjoying a banner year as an owner and is taking in all the sights and sounds, including the open house Tuesday at HowMac Farms.
Allard’s dad Michel and wife Danielle from Quebec are here, and his brother Simon will be arriving from Pocono to drive Somewhere Fancy. It is great to see all the Allard family who have been major contributors towards Maritime racing for the past decade.
Although I haven’t seen him yet, prominent Nova Scotia owner David MacDonald of RFM Refrigeration, who has spent $100,000 out of his own pocket promoting harness racing will certainly be here unless he’s kidnapped.
Paul Taylor from Winnipeg is back again and, let’s not forget, he’s Charlottetown’s first great (and only) soccer star from the late 1950s. George Rogers is here for the week from Calgary with his partner Kathy and playing lots of golf. George and Jim MacPhail are also prominent horse owners while among the crowd, and in from the west, is Frank Pineau, the owner of popular Frank’s pool hall in the centre of the city where the Sportsman’s Club is now.
Bruce MacDonald, the former play-by-play hockey announcer from Grand Falls, N.L., is here for the harness racing and the Queens Square School Reunion set for Friday from 4-7 p.m. at Ray Murphy’s rec centre. Shane Ryan, the Atlantic Post Calls scribe and race announcer, heads a big Cape Breton contingent that includes former NHLer Paul (Jigger) Andrea and Bomber Garabb’s boy Joey Garabb, a top race official, aka Judge Judy, along with Erland Campbell, D.F. Beaton and Todd Moore and representatives of clans MacNeill, McIsaac, MacLennans, MacDonalds and MacDonnells.
Inverness scribe Ann Copley and company are here for the week and after Intended Royalty’s impressive 1:55 victory here Tuesday night, I’d expect Randy, Ed and the Copley clan here for the remainder of the week.
Politicians from all political stripes were out and about and harness racing lovers like Premier Dennis King showed just how approachable he really is, visiting the simulcast room and talking horse with the best of them. Cabinet ministers Darlene Compton, Matt MacKay and James Aylward have been here frequently as has Opposition MLA Robert Mitchell. Many joined in the first premier’s breakfast on Tuesday and it is certain to be a regular feature of Old Home Week.
Jimmy Whelan, who has done more for horsemen and the horse game in Ontario than anyone in the past 30 years, is here with his wife Angie. A decade or so ago, Jim rescued then citizen King (now the premier) and his entourage of Murray Murphy, Shawn McIsaac and Pat Dorsey, who were stranded in Ontario with a flight cancellation and certain to miss the Little Brown Jug. Whelan found room for the boys in his luxury travel home and landed them in Ohio a day before the Jug. I think the boys remember, right Jim?
I am certain there will be others arriving Friday and early Saturday and hopefully we’ll touch base and mention them in future columns. Don’t forget the 60th Gold Cup and Saucer reunion is set for Friday evening. See you on Saturday.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. This is a special column he writes annually about Old Home Week. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.