Big night

Home­town boy Terry Gallant seeks third Gover­nor’s Plate vic­tory tonight.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STEWART dstew­art@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/DveSte­war

Terry Gallant will visit his mother Ruth’s gravesite be­fore tonight’s Gover­nor’s Plate in Summerside.

She was his big­gest sup­porter be­fore can­cer took her life a few months af­ter he won the big race with Out­law­pos­tivcharg in 2008.

“We’ll have a lit­tle chat to­gether. She’ll help calm me down a lot,’’ Gallant told The Guardian on Thurs­day.

Gallant will drive R Caan from post po­si­tion 4 in the $22,000 Gover­nor’s Plate.

“I’ve got her beads. My sis­ter al­ways puts them in my (driver’s) suit when­ever I’m in that big race. She pins them in­side my suit for luck. That is what this race means to me.’’

Gallant has been around har­ness rac­ing his whole life but says the but­ter­flies still get to him be­fore races like the Gover­nor’s Plate.

“My first one . . . I think I might have got­ten sick three or four times be­fore the face.’’

His win with Out­law­pos­i­tivcharg is a night he will never for­get.

“That was the last day my mom walked. Her last foot­steps were when she walked over to cen­tre field with me. They had to put her in a wheel­chair to take her back. She passed away three months later.’’

Out­law­pos­i­tivcharg de­fended its ti­tle the fol­low­ing year and Gallant was once again han­dling the reins. It was al­most a three-peat but PH Best­man caught Out­law­pos­i­tivcharg down the stretch to win the 2010 Gover­nor’s Plate.

Gallant also has two sec­ond­place and one third-place fin­ish in the Gover­nor’s Plate.

Gallant says he likes his chances tonight with R Caan.

“They’ll know he’s in the race be­fore it’s all over,’’ Gallant said when asked what his chances are. “This is my third re­ally good shot at win­ning it again.’’

R Caan fin­ished sec­ond in his $5,000 elim­i­na­tion race on Sun­day to Big Surf, which just hap­pened to equal the track record at Summerside Race­way, with the race go­ing in 1:53.

“I was out work­ing most of the way,’’ Gallant said of R Caan’s ef­fort on Sun­day. “He’s got a real, real, real good shot (tonight).’’

Gallant likes his post po­si­tion, ex­plain­ing that he’ll be able to put R Caan where he wants right off the start­ing gate. As for a strat­egy, Gallant says it’s not some­thing he will give a whole lot of thought to be­fore Race 13.

“That race could go a mil­lion dif­fer­ent ways. We talked a lit­tle bit of strat­egy last week be­fore the (elim­i­na­tion) went and it never hap­pened that way at all. You don’t know what a horse race is go­ing to be un­til you get be­hind the gate be­cause you’ve got seven other minds with you and ev­ery­one might have the same opin­ion you’ve got.’’

Be­sides vis­it­ing his mother’s gravesite, Gallant says he’s also look­ing for­ward to be­ing in­tro­duced by track an­nouncer Vance Cameron dur­ing the post pa­rade.

“When Vance starts talk­ing about what you did through your ca­reer . . .,’’ he says, his voice trail­ing off. “This race means a lot to me. It’s my home­town race. I can’t ex­plain the feel­ing. It’s the pres­tige of the race. You work most of your life to get a horse good enough for that race and when you get one you ap­pre­ci­ate it when you’re there.’’

JASON SIM­MONDS/TC MEDIA

Summerside na­tive Terry Gallant drives R Caan, 7, to a sec­ond-place fin­ish in the sec­ond $5,000 Gover­nor’s Plate Elim­i­na­tion In­vi­ta­tional Pace at Red Shores at Summerside Race­way on Sun­day. R Caan qual­i­fied for Satur­day’s $22,000 Gover­nor’s Plate, pre­sented by Summerside Chrysler Dodge. R Caan races along­side the Gilles Bar­rieau-driven Per­fect Es­cape, 2, while Kenny Arse­nault and Water­side Light, 1, are right be­hind.

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