Blasting off the gate from the start, Midway Island and driver Travis Cullen carved out a perfect trip to hit the winner’s circle Saturday night in The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer Trial 1.
Leaving from Post 5 in the $12,500 race at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park, Midway Island left hard and struck the front before releasing race favourite – and defending champion – Somewhere Fancy (Marc Campbell) to the front at the first quarter of 28.1. Midway Island then rode the two-hole through fractions of 55.4 and 1:24.2, before powering past in the stretch to win by one-and-a-half lengths in 1:52.1.
Somewhere Fancy finished second with Bettors Fire N (Ron Cushing) third and National Debt (Gilles Barrieau) fourth to secure spots in Saturday’s big race.
Levis Day (Robert Shepherd), Doctor Royal (David Dowling) and Czar Seelster (Kenny Arsenault) finished fifth to seventh, respectively, while Make Some Luck (Jody Jamieson) made a break at the half-mile marker and was eighth. They will race in the James (Roach) MacGregor Gold Cup and Saucer consolation on Friday night.
Trained by Miltonvale Park native Rachel Andrew, Midway Island is a new acquisition for the trainer, who co-owns the horse with boyfriend Travis Cullen of Dundas, Ont. Midway Island arrived at their Ontario farm a week before the race in Charlottetown, from his former Pennsylvania home of the Ron Burke stable.
“Looking at the program, I figured I could leave out and Marc Campbell would keep coming, so that was the best trip to just make the final,” Cullen said after Saturday’s race. “We’ve only had the horse for a few days and Rachel has done a tremendous job with him. I’ve had nothing to do with him. He couldn’t get a better trip.”
When the horse arrived in Ontario, Cullen trained the horse over his half-mile farm track and Midway Island made a break in the final turn.
“I had a 62-inch hopple on because we always like letting their hopples out with a new horse but then he made a break,” the driver said. “So, I said, ‘We better not do that’. He raced tonight with a tight hopple on and was terrific, so we’re not worried about that.”
A native of Manitoba, Cullen admits the Gold Cup and Saucer is not as big of a deal to him as it is to his partner.
“It doesn’t mean as much to me as it does Rachel, but, at the same time, it does because of Brian,” Cullen said of Andrew’s late father and the master of Meridian Farms, who passed away in December. “Growing up, I always watched big races like this. I don’t have grand circuit horses so, for the horses I race, this is as top as it gets.”
Fittingly enough, Cullen was at Meridian Farms Saturday before the race and realized he forgot a long sleeve shirt to wear under his suit.
“Just wear this,” Rachel said while tossing him a sweater.
Cullen put it on and said, “Yeah, it’s OK. Where did you get this?”
“It was my dad’s,” Rachel responded.
“He was always like a second dad to me,” Cullen said during the interview Saturday night. “He was always looking out for you.”
Cullen is adamant if Midway Island finds the winner’s circle in the final it will be all because of Rachel and in memory of her father.
“I just kinda let her do her own thing,” he said. “She puts so much time into them. You couldn’t ask for someone to do a better job.”
Nicholas Oakes is covering harness racing at Old Home Week for The Guardian, culminating with the Gold Cup and Saucer on Saturday. This is his 10th year covering Old Home Week for the news outlet.
Harness racing results from Saturday night at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
Race 1 – Flash In The Pang (D. Dowling) 3.30 2.60 2.10; Ten Mile Beach (B. LeBlanc) 6.70 2.20; J K Express (J. Hughes) 2.10.
Times: 29.1, 59.3, 1:29.1, 1:58.1. Also ran: Sports Royalty, Cal Hanover, The Ironman. Winning horse owned by Hughie Murphy, Borden-Carleton. Exactor 2-5 $45.30; Triactor 2-5-6 $93; Superfecta 2-5-6-1 $36.94.
Race 2 – Heartland Eclipse (J. Jamieson) 4.50 3.20 2.50; Hemingway (A. Merner) 5.70 4.00; Rash B Havior (M. Campbell) 2.90.
Times: 28.2, 56.3, 1:27, 1:56.3. Also ran: Mayhem Man, Whim Roader, Useful Hanover, Global Seelster, Perfect Escape. Winning horse owned by Lee Raymond, Truro, N.S. Exactor 3-7 $132.60; Triactor 3-7-1 $274.70; Superfecta 3-7-1-4 $179.20; DD 2-3 $8.40.
Race 3 – Likely To Win (A. Merner) 17.80 4.60 5.00; Mando Fun (M. Campbell) 3.90 3.20; No Play (K. Murphy) 8.50.
Times: 28.2, 57.2, 1:27.1, 1:56.3. Also ran: Jeb, Noudidnt Blue Chip, Twice As Bright, Dream On Dream On, Ultimatelyhandsome. Winning horse owned by Jeffery Campbell, Alberta; Blenise Young and Lester Campbell, Nova Scotia. Exactor 5-2 $61.90; Triactor 5-2-3 $368.60.
Race 4 – J J Powerball (A. Sorrie) 6.00 3.80 3.30; Hes Marvalous (M. Heffernan) 8.50 5.20; Eagle Jolt (M. Campbell) 3.50.
Times: 28.3, 58.2, 1:27.1, 1:57.2. Also ran: Zero Rate, Casimir Obama, Lively Freddie, Painted Pony, Emperor. Winning horse owned by Austin Sorrie, Montague; and Tammy Collings, Hazel Brook. Exactor 4-7 $48.60; Triactor 4-7-5 $102.20; 4-7-5-6 $304.
Race 5 – Good Friday Three (J. Jamieson) 5.40 5.20 2.80; Dividend Day (K. Murphy) 6.10 2.60; Tipperbackjack (R. Doucet) 2.30.
Times: 29.1, 59.1, 128.3, 158.3. Also ran: Souverain, Lincoln Seelster, Dreamfair Van Dam, Disctinctiv Rusty, J K Cowboy. Winning horse owned by Dawn Ellis Abbott, Truro, N.S. Exactor 4-1 $15.10; Triactor 4-1-3 $44; Superfecta 4-1-3-5 $50.02.
Race 6 – Bank Of Dad (D. Dowling) 16.80 4.80 2.80; Too Much Duncan (J. Jamieson) 2.20 2.10; Starcastic (G. Barrieau) 2.40.
Times: 29.1, 58.4, 128.2, 157.2. Also ran: Painted Desert, Best To Hurst, At The Helm, Jds Double Dose, Sanchez Blue Chip. Winning horse owned by Trevor and Aiden Hicken, P.E.I. Exactor 2-1 $28.80; Triactor 2-1-4 $121.60; Superfecta 2-1-4-8 $217.49.
Race 7 – Do Over Hanover (J. Hughes) 3.70 2.40 2.10; Rollwithitharry (G. Barrieau) 2.20 2.10; Woodmere Ideal Art (T. Trites) 2.30.
Times: 28.3, 56.4, 126.1, 155. Also ran: Mantario, Nogreatmischief, Adkins Hanover, Mick Dundee. Winning horse owned by Donald MacRae, P.E.I.; Allard Racing Inc., Quebec; and Don MacNeill Jr., Alberta. Exactor 6-3 $7.80; Triactor 6-3-2 $23.20; Superfecta 6-3-2-5 $28.85.
Race 8 – Ramset (D. Dowling) 6.10 4.30 2.80; Big Surf (A. Merner) 3.20 3.70; Confident Fella (M. Campbell) 2.30.
Times: 28.1, 58.4, 1:29.2, 1:58.1. Also ran: Twin B Shadow, Salmonier Storm, Rising Fella, Electric Syl, Jetta Flys. Winning horse owned by Ryan and Everett MacLeod, Souris. Exactor 1-5 $29.90; Triactor 1-5-2 $53.80; Superfecta 1-5-2-8 $98.85.
Race 9 – I C True Grit (M. McGuigan) 6.10 4.40 2.50; Pictonian Storm (A. Sorrie) 4.10 2.80; Heaven For Sure (J. Jamieson) 2.70.
Times: 28.1, 57.1, 127.1, 157.4. Also ran: Stature Seelster, Harbourlite Jerry, Melanies Magic, Er Quinn, Give Em Heck. Winning horse owned by Joey Gallant and Ingham Jenkins, P.E.I. Exactor 4-1 $13; Triactor 4-1-7 $79.80; Superfecta 4-1-7-3 $100.15.
Race 10 – Traces Of Purple (Ma. Campbell) 13.40 4.80 3.20; Sodwana Bay (G. Barrieau) 4.50 2.20; Ramblinglily (T. Trites) 5.20.
Times: 28.2, 59.1, 128.3, 157.1. Also ran: Innocent Kiss, Jordies Hope, Julep Hanover, Rocknrolls Image, Collective Wisdom. Winning horse owned by Robert Phillips, Belfast. Exactor 3-8 $61.10; triactor 3-8-4 $589; Superfecta 3-8-4-5 $560.80.
Race 11 – Brandon’s Glory (G. Barrieau) 24.90 6.80 4.00; Euchred (R. Campbell) 8.60 4.40; Bugsy Maguire (A. Sorrie) 2.50.
Times: 27.2, 56.3, 126.2, 155.3. Also ran: Down On My Luck, Burn Out Hanover, Soccer Hanover. Winning horse owned by Cindy Gunn, Saint John, N.B. Exactor 6-7 $244.10; Triactor 6-7-4 $1,556.50; Superfecta 6-7-4-1 $185.82.
Race 12 – Midway Island (T. Cullen) 7.60 4.40 3.00; Somewhere Fancy (Ma. Campbell) 3.30 2.10; Bettors Fire N (R. Cushing) 2.80.
Times: 28.1, 55.4, 124.2, 152.1. Also ran: National Debt, Levis Day, Doctor Royal, Czar Seelster, Make Some Luck. Winning horse owned by Rachel Andrew and Travis Cullen, Dundas, Ont. Exactor 5-2 $18.80; Triactor 5-2-8 $74.50; Superfecta 5-2-8-4 $157.90; DD 6-5 $145.80.
Wager – $82,740.