Truro invader Doctor Royal took the CDP top class on back to back Saturdays and the opening two cards of the season at Red Shores Charlottetown, aka CDP, attracted big crowds with a healthy bet both nights. This tells us harness racing could be in for a much stronger season this time around.
Considering the miserable May weather thus far with damp, rainy weather, I like the early results at Charlottetown and Truro and in addition, Saint John has a racing schedule which is a step in the right direction. As I said in previous editions, Brett Revington is in year one as Director of Racing and I believe he’ll make things happen for the good of harness racing. Let’s take a closer look at the action on the race- tracks.
Charlottetown opened its 2019 harness racing season with a 13 dash card that attracted a big opening day crowd and they were in a festive mood, as Red Shores Charlottetown treated fans to a Kentucky Derby themed program, with a multitude of prizes up for grabs.
Fortunately early morning showers cleared and the skies were bright and cool which resulted in a fast race-track at Charlottetown unlike horse fans at Churchill Downs who were drenched as rains came off and on during the day turning the track into mud, poor race conditions for such a magnificent event. We will talk about that race a little later but let’s take care of our own racing first.
Barrieau took the $2900 top class with Truro Invader Doctor Royal in 1:56:1 winning as he pleased over local favorite Mick Dundee and six others. Gilles also won the $2100 Mares top class with Nomatterwhen in 2:00 for owner-trainer Dawn Abbott Ellis who is also the owner and trainer of Doctor Royal. Barrieau also scored in the $2500 co-feature with Er Quinn in 1:57:2 for owner-trainer Jeff Holmes and the Orwell Bay Racing Stable.
The Saturday “Kentucky Derby Day card”, May 4th Charlottetown card, aka the CDP, was a very good one, compared to opening cards of the past, and the fans turned out in great numbers which is always a great sign for horse owners and operators of the race track. The big crowd pushed $47,402 through the pari-mutual windows, one of the strongest wagers for an opening day in recent memory. The handle is an indication of the strength of the sport here in PEI and that can extend throughout the region. Let’s take a closer look at the action on the race- track.
Doctor Royal was back in the winners circle on the Saturday, May 11 top class, going gate to wire in 1:56:2 holding off a fast closing Mick Dundee, a popular locally bred and owned pacer who doesn’t look out of place against the best in the early going. It was the only win on the card for Barrieau who is likely to challenge for the wins crown with defending champ Marc Campbell who won the first three on the program. The driving colony is strong here and it showed Saturday as David Dowling won three, Adam Merner bagged two, while Corey MacPherson and Dale Spence had singles. It should make for an interesting battle for the wins crown.
In other racing news around the Maritimes, Truro’s opening Friday card saw young Dale Spence continue where he left off last season at the Bible Hill track as he won four of the eight races on the card including the $1675 top class with Distinctiv Rusty in 1:58:1 over Catch TwentyTwo. The wager was $11,501 for eight races, and in this day and age that’s liveable. Also on Kentucky Derby Day, Saint John’s Exhibition Park staged a six dash card where Father of the Year won the $1500 feature in 2:02:3 for Dr Mitch Downey over stable-mate City of the Year while Union Man Hanover won the $1300 Michael Fillmore Memorial in 2:02:3 for Dr Mitch Downey. It’s a start and they’re racing at EPR and that’s a good sign.
The change in the government here on Prince Edward Island from Red to Blue and Green will not change the future of harness racing in this province. The sport has been fortunate with solid government support whether red or blue and Premier elect Dennis King is a harness racing follower and lover. His new Cabinet has Darlene Compton as Finance Minister and Matt MacKay as Minister of Tourism and both are familiar figures at the race track, and that has horsemen on this little island smiling. In the sport of harness racing, whether in Canada, the USA, Europe, or New Zealand and Australia, government support of our great Industry is essential.
The Stable.Ca and Fractional ownership Growth
We spent the past weekend in Ontario working the Stable.Ca Open House at the Tomiko Training Centre near Campbellville, Ontario and I am encouraged with the growth of fractional ownership there but also in Atlantic Canada. The always increased costs of operating a public stable especially here in Atlantic Canada where the costs are higher than anywhere in this country suggests that trainers must encourage potential owners to go this route in order to stay in the sport that they love. I see where some of trainers like Marc Campbell and Brendon Curran are having success with fractional ownership and I can see it growing in the Maritimes. It’s certainly a way to attract new owners into our sport, so let’s keep the ball rolling.
The Kentucky Derby Dis-Qualification- Maximum Security
The uproar over the setback of Maximum Security in the recent Kentucky Derby has been the topic of sports talk shows for the last ten days and it will likely continue as the case is headed to the courts. There is no doubt that Maximum Security drifted out on the top turn and some suggest he was forced out because of interference from behind as he was pushed wide into other horses. When the horses cleared the top turn and spread out heading down the long Churchill Downs stretch, all horses had an opportunity to win yet the front running Maximum Security was clearly the best drawing away and winning easily. Considering all the factors : the mud, the rain, the big field and the noise and lights in the centre-field, I would have left Maximum Security the winner. The stewards at Churchill Downs did not file an Objection to the outcome of the race, so obviously they were content to let the result stand UNTIL the stewards got involved after an objection by one or two jockeys. What a terrible end to a race like The Kentucky Derby.