‘He has a big top speed’

Al­ways At My Place wins Gold Cup and Saucer Trial 1

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS OAKES Ni­cholas Oakes is cov­er­ing har­ness racing at Old Home Week for The Guardian, cul­mi­nat­ing with the Gold Cup and Saucer Race, Aug. 19.

A rain-filled day and an off track was no ob­sta­cle for Al­ways At My Place as he dom­i­nated the field in Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer Trial 1 at the Char­lot­te­town Driv­ing Park.

Marc Campbell was at the lines of the six-year-old pacer as he scored an eight-length vic­tory in 1:51.1 over a track rated one se­cond off due to muddy con­di­tions.

The one-se­cond vari­ant puts Satur­day’s mile in the same realm as Ys Lo­tus’ 1:50.1 track record set in the 2016 Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer fi­nal. Ron Burke trains Al­ways At My Place for Penn­syl­va­nia own­ers Burke Racing Sta­ble Llc of Fred­er­ick­town, Phillip Col­lura of Moun­tain Top and Weaver Br­uscemi of Canons­burg, along with Lawrence Karr of Ran­dolph, New Jersey.

Post 1 starter Wind­song Leo left hard through the turn in Satur­day’s $12,500 trial for driver Ja­son Ryan to con­trol the lead but made a break in stride to al­low Do Over Hanover and

Ja­son Hughes take the front and in­sist upon the lead through a 27.1 first quar­ter. Heavy favourite Al­ways At My Place was un­able to clear Do Over Hanover at that first sta­tion and took back to sit se­cond through a half-mile of 54.2 but Campbell was un­con­cerned with how the race was shap­ing up.

“That’s racing,” Campbell said of be­ing forced to take the two­hole. “(Do Over Hanover) drew in­side of me and that horse has been sharp, he has a bunch of wins and I drove the horse so I know he’s a nice horse. I was tug­ging on (Al­ways At My Place) pretty good through a half in 54.2 then I popped him out in the back­stretch and pulled the (ear) plugs. He has a big top speed.”

Once Al­ways At My Place moved out of the two-hole be­fore the three-quar­ters of 1:23.1, he kicked clear to vic­tory. Shadow Place (Gilles Bar­rieau) ral­lied for se­cond with Do Over Hanover hang­ing in for third and Crom­bie A (Gary Chap­pell) fin­ish­ing fourth to earn him­self the fi­nal spot in next Satur­day’s $60,000 Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer fi­nal.

The fi­nal three fin­ish­ers, Stover (Bob McClure), Wind­song Leo and Sky­way Boomer (Brett Mac­Don­ald), re­spec­tively, will have the op­tion to race in Fri­day night’s $20,000 James (Roach) MacGre­gor Gold Cup and Saucer con­so­la­tion.

Campbell and Burke teamed up to win the 2013 and 2015 edi­tions of the Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer giv­ing Campbell some first hand ex­pe­ri­ence in what is need to win the East Coast clas­sic.

“Trip is al­ways key,” he said. “It doesn’t mat­ter how good your horse is you need a trip but this is a real nice horse.”

Burke sta­ble as­sis­tant trainer Mickey Burke Jr., brother of trainer Ron Burke, is on the Is­land to care for Al­ways At My Place and Trial 2 starter Sap­phire City.

“We’re re­ally pleased with how he raced,” Burke said. “The first quar­ter they were step­ping and even at the half they were still mov­ing. They gave (the track) a one-se­cond vari­ant and I think it is even more than that. I think we’re going to see some­thing spe­cial next week if we have a good track.”

It is the first time on P.E.I. for Burke, who was told by his fa­ther, Mickey Burke Sr., who did not come this year, that Old Home Week was a must see.

“We are pur­posely try­ing to eat our way through the Is­land,” Burke joked.

“And we were at the beach yes­ter­day so we’re hav­ing a ball. It is beautiful. My dad loved it here so it’s nice to see it for my­self.”

PHOTO SPE­CIAL TO THE GUARDIAN BY GAIL MAC­DON­ALD

Al­ways At My Place crosses the finish line first in 1:51.1 in Gold Cup and Saucer Trial 1.

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