Kurt Hughes

Kurt Hughes

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One of the most successful and dedicated horsemen on PEI is a man by the name of Boyd MacDonald. Boyd has raced horses here on PEI, especially right here in Summerside going back as far as 1970. Before Boyd got his license to drive horses in 1973, other people did the driving. Junior Chappell would be the driver of his first horses, Post Road Sport and Happy One, and then Reg MacLure became the regular pilot of Boyd’s horses. Boyd bought so many horses and brought them here to PEI, not only for his enjoyment and fun, but to make our harness racing product better and something to be proud of. He raced his horses in both Summerside and Charlottetown but he seemed to have a lot of love for Summerside, as when I was a little boy, I can remember Boyd racing here every week. Some of the horses that Boyd campaigned over the years, (and I also should include his trainer Everett Lowther, who worked for Boyd for many many years and is quite a likeable character.) include Post Road Sport, Rhythm Girl, Happy One, Martown, Hawaii N, Rosie Joe, Seaport N, Nikey Irene, Knalman, SH Shrimp, Double Command, Scheme A, Shaleen Globe (a very good New Zealand bred mare and just one of many New Zealand breds that Boyd brought to PEI), Lucky Leita, as well as Fairly Lucky, Lindsay N, Island Gem and Brilliant Hanover N (all four of these co-owned by Doctor Erwin Howatt, another great fella), Laura Vee Haines, Millippa (another top class mare), Ad Painter and the list goes on and on.

Mastering was just that

Mastering was as good a horse as you could find way back then. He was co-owned by Boyd MacDonald and Doctor Erwin Howatt. He raced in the Governor’s Plate and finished fourth. Then he raced him in the Gold Cup and Saucer trial and won trial number one in 2:03 flat and finished a very good second to Ventall Rainbow in the Gold Cup and Saucer final at the Charlottetown Driving Park. He then went to Sackville Downs in Halifax, NS and won the 19th running of the $5000 BC Cruikshank Memorial, defeating Royal Bidder, and Skipper Glen. Amber Jack who cut out the mile faded to finish fourth, in a time of 2:04.1. Now I was told that he took some pointers on how to drive in the Cruikshank Memorial race from his co-owner Doctor Erwin Howatt. He followed the advice of the Doc right to the letter, and won it by a length and a half! The Doc told me that Boyd also set the track record at Truro Raceway with Mastering. So I did some research on that and sure enough Boyd and Mastering toured the Truro Raceway oval in the Johnny Conroy Memorial in a blistering 2:01 flat! A new track pacing record! This track record performance took place on a Thursday night and Boyd also had a win with Double Command that night in a time of 2:08.4 for a driving double!

Tragic loss

Boyd suffered a terrible loss in a fire at his barn in Crapaud in 1975. Seven horses perished in the blaze including; Hawaii N, Rhythm Girl, Nikey Irene, Ideal Major, Sudden Storm, Rosie Joe, and Martown. This loss was estimated at over $100,000 and one would have to wonder how does a person come back from something so devastating, but Boyd MacDonald certainly did, as his passion for harness racing was quite evident. I noticed that Martown actually won his last race at Summerside just 3 days before the fire.

1000 wins for Boyd

Boyd MacDonald did something in the sulky that not very many other drivers can say they have done and that is win 1000 races driving mostly your own horses. I’m going strictly on memory here, but I believe I can remember that Boyd got his 1000th win with his tough little mare Miss Tambo. Boyd had some real top flight horses in the 1980’s and one that really stands out for me is Worthy Gift. I can remember being a kid with a set of reins tied around a pole in my basement and an old tire leaning against it. I’d sit on a bucket with my father’s driving suit on and his helmet and whip and I’d announce the races while I was driving. I drove in every race and I always pretended that I was driving for different people, and especially Boyd MacDonald’s horses. Worthy Gift was one of my favorite horses, and I’d win with him every time that I (pretended) I drove him!! In later years I had the privilege of warming up Boyd’s horses every week in Charlottetown! Spike It Hot was another great horse that Boyd brought to PEI. He raced him in the Governor’s Plate in 1987 finishing fifth in the 1:58.4 new track record mile by Steve B Down. Then he raced him in the Gold Cup and Saucer in Charlottetown and finished fourth but was placed third in the first Trial. Worthy Gift raced in the consolation that year and finished a good third. Boyd finished last in the Gold Cup and Saucer final that year, but I expect that it was really special going under that spotlight! (Although I know it wasn’t the first time that Boyd was in the Gold Cup and Saucer as I mentioned above.) Newports Glory, Prairie Granite (co-owned with Keith Coles), Kawartha Tarpon, Glengyle Promise and Glengyle Minbar were a few dandys that Boyd raced. Daddy Wil a horse that I believe Boyd purchased from Eric Johnston of Summerside, turned out to be a nice little horse for Boyd. I was looking over the double header programs from July 1st 1987 and Boyd reined three winners on the day. He had a win in the afternoon with Daddy Wil and two winners on the evening program, scoring with Miss Tambo, and the feature race, sponsored by Moosehead Breweries with Worthy Gift in 2:02.2! Boyd raced many horses as I mentioned above and bought horses that raced in different classes all over the Maritimes, but mainly right here at home on PEI. Horses like ; Brent Hanover, Scat Ki Ken, Key Minbar (co-owned with Tom Cobb), Pine Glenn, Warrenga Road (whom I remember my father racing against with Mountain Impulse), Apaches Girl, Justinontario, Full Flight, Hard Rock Lad, the nice race mare Susan Shea (who would turn out to be a dandy brood mare and is the mother of the great Mr. Domi who was raised by Eldred Nicholson Boyd also raced horses such as the two good trotters Ostsee and Tuff Tuck, Regal Treatment, Rapid Chuck, Rick Gambler, Sunset Colin, and Special Star. In more recent years Boyd has teamed up with another potato farmer, Daniel R. Ross and they have had some pretty nice colts and fillies over the past few years. Horses such as; Tobin’s Terror, Tobin’s Choice, Tobins Fusion (co-owned by Daniel Ross and Charles Seymour), Never Fear a trot colt co-owned by Boyd and Daniel Ross and Devin MacDonald, whom I believe is Boyd’s grandchild! Time Warp and Mary Leah a couple of stakes trotters that he co-owned with Daniel Ross, and Bill and Brian Andrew. I know that Boyd had a few other nice stake horses in the care of Mike Stevenson and Gilles Barrieau including; Sail Through, War Dancer and Woodmere Ultimate, to name a few.

Boyd used different catch drivers over the years on his horses as well.

Drivers such as Junior Chappell (whom he would put on to drive his first horse, possibly Post Road Sport), Reg MacLure, Francis McIsaac, Paul MacKenzie, Gary Chappell, Shane Bernard, Jody Hennessey, Danny MacDonald, Gary MacDonald, Gilles Barrieau, Mike Stevenson, and Corey MacPherson to name just a few.

Still loves coming to Summerside

I had the privilege of chatting with Boyd on Canada Day at the races and he told me that he still loves coming to Summerside. He and his wife Claire recently celebrated 63 years of marriage! That is truly remarkable and sweet. I believe that they have 3 children, all girls! His daughter Kathy Carragher has worked in the race office in Charlottetown for at least 30 plus years and is very good at her job. Daughter Cindy is married to a great horsemen Eddie Doucette and recently started a position at the Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission. Tammy is married to well known Charlottetown horseman Danny MacDonald. In closing I just want to say that the idea for this article popped in to my head this morning as I was waking up , and so I dug out some scrap books and score cards and made a few phone calls and texts and I came up with this. I think it covers a lot of Boyd’s fantastic racing career, but certainly not all of it and not all of his horses were mentioned in here, as he raced a lot of horses over the years. Boyd and Claire and family, I hope you enjoyed the article.

Until next time, I hope you’re all in good health and I’ll see you at the track!

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