All about the speed

The field is set for the Gold Cup and Saucer tri­als

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY CHARLES REID TEN­NIS charles.reid@the­guardian.pe.ca

If there are things link­ing to P.E.I. many of the horses re­vealed Tues­day in Char­lot­te­town vy­ing for the 59th Sobeys Gold Cup and Saucer har­ness race, then Adam Walsh has a pretty good idea what they are.

“Speed and Is­land con­nec­tions. If you’re from the Is­land, it’s (the Gold Cup and Saucer) on your bucket list to win it or par­tic­i­pate in it,” said Walsh, rac­ing man­ager at Red Shores at the Char­lot­te­town Driv­ing Park. “It’s the most I’ve seen in many years.”

The race, which goes Satur­day, Aug. 19, at mid­night, is the crowning glory of the Mar­itime har­ness rac­ing scene and its fire­works cap the an­nual Old Home Week cel­e­bra­tion in Char­lot­te­town.

This year, sev­eral cur­rent and for­mer Is­landers are in­volved in some way when Trial 1 goes Satur­day and Trial 2 runs Mon­day, Aug. 14. Both cards start at 7 p.m.

Sum­mer­side res­i­dent Wal­ter Sim­mons en­tered Good Fri­day Three, who has 10 ca­reer wins and a 1:51.4 best, while Is­landers Jody San­der­son and Dean Larkin have three horses, Sky­way Boomer, Sports Light­ning and Stover, in the race from their in­volve­ment with Co­p­ley Sta­bles in Ken­more, Ont.

Do Over Hanover, the 2017 Gover­nor’s Plate win­ner, has Red Isle Rac­ing in North Granville and Steven MacRae from Ver­non Bridge in his own­er­ship group. Juneb­ugs Baby, though owned by Jackie Hef­fer­nan in Glace Bay, N.S., is Is­land trained and Wind­song Leo uses the train­ing serves of Danny O’Brien.

But while the Is­land tie-ins are a nice touch, what mat­ters most is the field. And it’s a fast one, led by de­fend­ing champ Ys Lo­tus, who has a ca­reer best of 1:49.3.

He set the new CDP track record

last year of 1:50.1, break­ing a 2013-15 trend of horses equalling a pre­vi­ous track-best of 1:50.4.

Amer­i­can horse Al­ways At My Place leads the field with a blis­ter­ing 1:47.2 best. Shadow Place’s and McKin­ney’s top marks of 1:49.1 aren’t far be­hind. Sap­phire City owns a speedy 1:49.3 best, while Arque Hanover maxed out so far at 1:49.4.

Crom­bie A, which set a trial record in 2015 at 1:50.3, counts a 1:50.1 time as his best.

For Walsh, Ys Lo­tus is the one to beat but it won’t be easy.

“It’s great to set Ys Lo­tus back to de­fend his ti­tle. He’ll be the favourite,” said Walsh. “(But) Al­ways At My Place, Arque Hanover and Sap­phire City com­ing out of the United States will pack a punch.”

Also on tap is the fi­nal leg of the World Driv­ing Cham­pi­onship Fri­day, Aug. 18. Post time is 7 p.m.

Char­lot­te­town na­tive James

Mac­Don­ald is driv­ing for Canada in the bi-an­nual event that pits 11 of world’s top har­ness rac­ing driv­ers against each other over five races to de­ter­mine who’s best in the sulky.

Dex­ter Dunn of New Zealand re­turns to de­fend his WDC ti­tle.

CHARLES REID/THE GUARDIAN

Gold Cup and Saucer am­bas­sador Juli MacMil­lan, 19, places the card of Good Fri­day Three, her rep­re­sen­ta­tive horse, on the board set­ting the or­der in the tri­als for the Mar­itimes top har­ness rac­ing prize on Tues­day in Char­lot­te­town. Good Fri­day Three is owned by 95-year-old Sum­mer­side res­i­dent Wal­ter Sim­mons.

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