A big crowd turned out for the $5500 Cecil Ladner Memorial last Saturday night at Red Shores Charlottetown, aka the CDP, and they weren’t disappointed as Yonkers invader Bugsy Maguire was out from the half onwards yet prevailed in 1:55:2 against a very strong Invitational type field. Owned by veteran horseman Walter Simmons of Summerside, Bugsy had been racing against the $40,000 claimers at Yonkers, New York half-mile track and that showed on Saturday as the Bettors Delight five year old pressured front runner Rose Run Quest throughout to win over that rival and last week’s winner Euchred. All Artist who had won recently at Scarborough, Maine and also had won last week at Truro in a sizzling 1:53:4 for trainer Toby MacDonald was a close 4th with Ontario invader Down On My Luck 5th in the field of eight. Mugsy Maguire was driven by driver Myles Heffernan for trainer Wade Sorrie.
It was a great night for the Ladner family as Jordies Hope handled by Corey MacPherson went wire to wire the $2800 Open Mares in a close three way photo over Woodmere Finesse and West River Ambyr in 1:57:1. Jordies Hope is owned by Lillian Ladner, Kevin Ladner and by Brian Ladner who also does the training on the seven year old Astronomical. (See more on Kurt Hughes column inside)
Driver Corey MacPherson sent Soccer Hanover out to challenge pace-setter Hes Marvalous (Myles Heffernan) in the $3000 Jr Invitational and the strategy worked as the Leith Waite owned Soccer Hanover (by Dragon Again) drew off in the stretch to stop the timers in 1:56:3 on this windy and damp evening. Marvalous held for the deuce followed by Burn Out Hanover, Half Cut and JJ Powerball who finished 3-4-5 in the eight horse field.
The card also produced two dead-heats for win, a very rare occurrence at any track let alone Charlottetown. In race three, Hysteria (Corey MacPherson) and Fox Valley Riviera (Jason Hughes) arrived at the wire at the same time in 2:00 while in race five Give Em Heck (Gilles Barrieau) and Windsun Rebel (Dale Spence) hit the wire each in 2:01:2. I can’t recall that ever happening on the Island.
Baby Races at Truro and Charlottetown
Baby Race cards were contested at Truro on Sunday afternoon and at Charlottetown on Monday with good crowds at both events. At Truro a big crowd turned out for the Baby Races as interest is high at that track with the new fractional ownership group, the Hubtown Ownership Group, and a great deal of community support.
As for the baby races, Harry G (Rollwithitharry) won the opener at Truro in 2:05, last half in a 1:00, in a close one over Fern Hill Encore (Westwardho Hanover), while It Took a Village (by Carnivore) won the filly race in 2:07. Other winners were: Chania Twain (by Rollwithitharry) in 2;07, Machaholic (Mach Three Boy) in 2:04 and Wind Blown (Mach Three) in 2:02:2. (See more inside on Truro Report).
The Annual Baby Races at Red Shores Charlottetown was rescheduled from Saturday to Monday, June 24 but the change didn’t hurt the crowd that turned out for the Monday 6:00 pm eight race card where patrons were treated to hot dogs and beverages. Last year there were only five baby races and 20 horses participating while this year the card attracted 29 two year olds which is significant increase. The purse increases and the upbeat atmosphere are healthy signs as we head into the busy part of the Maritime harness racing schedule. (See Kurt Hughes story on page 15)
Recognition for caretakers, the unsung heroes of harness racing
The best caretakers in the world of harness racing love the horses under their care and it’s great to see Standardbred Canada and the individual racetracks honor those men and women who toil in the background very early in the morning and late at night after the lights have gone out at the race tracks.
I have had the privilege of watching the now retired Wally McInnis who worked for Francis McIsaac and Marcel Barrieau and the late Richard Bradley who worked for Roach MacGregor and Stanley Dancer and they were top of the line. Wally never had a sick day in fifty years and Bradley who the great Stanley Dancer loved both nursed many a horse back to the races and kept a great many more racing through hours of “rubbing and tubbing”; these are the type of people that Standardbred Canada are recognizing and we do know there is a great shortage of this type of talent in this day and age. I believe Standardbred Canada is doing a real service to the industry in recognizing the caretakers and it may encourage those that love the horses to think about a career as a caretaker.
Red Shores Charlottetown will honor caretakers on the Saturday, July 20th card and Summerside on Sunday, July 21st. On the mainland, Truro will pay tribute to caretakers on Friday, July 19th card, Northside Downs on Saturday, July 20th and Inverness on Sunday, July 21st. National Caretaker Appreciation Day is scheduled for July 19—21 and for those racetracks that are not racing at that time, they will select a date in the Fall. Awards for caretakers of winning horses and assorted gifts were part of last year’s appreciation day and it will be interesting how this day at each track plays out.