By Nicholas Oakes
CHARLOTTETOWN - The 2014 meet kicks off Saturday evening at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at The Charlottetown Driving Park with a 6 p.m. first race post time.
Lyons Horace will look to open up the season as he is favored in race 1 for driver Mark Bradley, trainer Bo Ford and owner Evan Ford of Charlottetown.
The eight-year-old son of Astreos will be making his first attempt as a free-legged pacer after he ditched the hopples before his impressive 2:02 qualifying victory by a seven-length winning margin last Saturday in Charlottetown. Lyons Horace has post 2 in the six-horse field for a purse of $1,000.
The 10-dash card is headlined by the race 9 feature for a purse of $2,000. Tempo Seelster will leave from post 4 as the morning line favorite for trainer-driver-owner Vince Poulton of Charlottetown. The four-year-old Santanna Blue Chip gelding was impressive in qualifying action earlier this week, with a 1:59.4 victory capped off with a 28.2 final quarter. It will not be a cakewalk as the pacer starts his aged career against two of the top horses last winter in Charlottetown, Cambest Kisser (Jason Hughes) and Miracle Matts (Corey MacPherson).
Miracle Matts has post 6 in the seven horse field, after racing at Woodbine Racetrack in Rexdale, Ont., after Charlottetown closed for its winter break. Cambest Kisser is shouldered with post 7 in the event that also includes General Simba (Brodie MacPhee), Every Day (Brian Andrew), Blu Meadow Willie (Bob MacInnis) and Blue Star Outlaw (Kenny Arsenault).
The $1,550 Open Trot lines up in race 4 with newcomer Pleasure Girls going up against Charlottetown's 2013 trotter-of-the-year, Abundaspin. Wayne Dunn will driver Pleasure Girls for owner Shelley Gass and trainer Ron Gass, who has three entries in the six-horse field. The nine-year-old mare has had a nearly six-year hiatus from racing but looked large in qualifying action with a monstrous 28.3 final quarter to defeat Abundaspin in the final strides. Pleasure Girls has post 5 while Abundaspin (Harold Shepherd) has post 4. Other entries include Honeymoonisover (Mark Bradley), JK Queen (Walter Cheverie), Caliban Hanover (Ron Gass) and Buckling Banbury (Corey MacPherson).
The back-up pace will go in the race 10 finale with Paphos (Marc Campbell) favored from post 2 for owner-trainer Don Milligan. Eight horses will compete in that event for a purse of $1,600.