The week we have all been waiting for is finally here.
Old Home Week 2017 officially kicks off Friday evening during the 7 p.m. card of racing with 13 cards being held over 10 days, culminating with the 58th running of the Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer Saturday, Aug. 19 at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
The week of racing has evening cards every day at 7 p.m., excluding Sunday, along with 1 p.m. afternoon cards to accompany the night programs on both Saturdays and on Monday, Thursday and Friday.
The field of 14 world-class pacers for the Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer trials was announced at the Tuesday morning press conference and it includes all kinds of Island flavour.
The trio of Sports Lightning, Stover and Skyway Boomer are owned by Island natives Jody Sanderson and Dean Larkin, along with Cape Breton native Jamie Sopley, who trains the pacers. Sanderson is a native of York Point but now resides in Doha, Qatar, where he works as a banker, while Larkin is originally from New Glasgow but works as a police officer in Kanata, Ont.
Do Over Hanover is owned by the Island brigade of Steven MacRae of Vernon Bridge and Red Isle Racing of North Granville, along with trainer Rene Allard of Pennsylvania. Allard also has defending champion and CDP track record holder Ys Lotus in the second trial with driver Louis Phillippe-Roy returning to drive the pacer. Friday at 7 p.m. at the CDP: Race 1 – Haybartender Race 2 – Flash In The Pang Race 3 – Twomacsoneshadow Race 4 – Fly With Max Race 5 – Jetster
Charlottetown native Jason Ryan picks up the drive on Windsong Leo in Trial 1 for trainer Danny O’Brian, formerly of New Brunswick and McKinney in Trial 2 for trainer Kyle Fellows. The pride of Summerville, P.E.I., Junebugs Baby is in Trial 2 for Myles Heffernan while Good Friday Three is also in that race for trainer Austin Sorrie and owner Walter Simmons of Summerside.
Dylan Davis is a name unfamiliar to many Island race fans as he sends Arque Hanover to the gate in Trial 2 but the Delaware based conditioner has bought a number of Island horses to take to Dover Downs to race over the years including Atlantic Breeder’s Crown champion R Es Mary.
As has been the norm in recent events, CDP leading driver Marc Campbell picks up the drive on the Ron Burke entry of Always At My Place and Sapphire City.
The traditional open pacing mares series failed to fill this year but officials at Red Shores made some tweaks and have the 16 best pacing mares on the East Coast competing in Races 8 and 11 for $2,500 purses. The top four from each race will get an invite to a Mares Invitational
World Driving Championship
The World Driving Championship kicks off Saturday evening at Century Downs in Calgary, Alta., as Kingston native James MacDonald represents Canada. A book commemorating the event being held in Canada, named World Harness Racing, will be launched Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at the CDP with special guests in Hall of Famers Wally Hennessey and John Campbell. The book contains stories across the globe with 17 countries contributing to help the publication get put together in P.E.I. Every delegate and official observer at the launch will get a complimentary copy.