All about the speed
The field is set for the Gold Cup and Saucer trials
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.
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.