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AT THE TRACK: Summerside’s greatest harness racing event

A look at all eight Governor's Plate 49 entries

Published on July 14, 2017

The 49th edition of Summerside’s greatest harness racing event – Governor’s Plate – will conclude Lobster Carnival Week on Saturday.

The 16-race presentation may be the greatest single night of racing in Summerside. That illusive $100,000 handle is a strong possibility. 
I would be the first to say last year’s 1:51.4 track record, set by Ys Lotus in the Governor’s Plate, was here to stay. However, after calling the two eliminations, it may not be so solid. A reminder of the early 6 p.m. post time.
Here’s a look at the field for this year’s Governor’s Plate, presented by Summerside Chrysler Dodge:

Forever Paradise
The 50-lifetime winner has drawn the coveted rail. The seven-year-old son of Western Paradise is out of a Arturo mare Mariart. He’s been one of the winningest horses on P.E.I. over the past five years, earning $150,000, and taking a race record over Charlottetown in 1:55.1.
Owned by the trio of Reg MacPherson, David and Aaron MacKenzie, he is trained by Kevin MacLean. Driver Adam Merner is quickly making a name for himself on the Maritime racing circuit.
 
Do Over Hanover
The four-year-old son of Western Ideal, Do Over Hanover, is the youngest member of Saturday’s classic. He’s a brother to former track record holder and Gold Cup and Saucer winner Driven To Win. 
Owned by Allard Racing, Red Isle Racing (11 guys who parlayed their money in partnership) and Steven MacRae. The father/son duo of Chris and Jordan MacKay care for the horse going into the Governor’s Plate. 
The 10-time winner has over $126,000 in a short career, and a 1:52.1 record on a half-mile track. Driver Marc Campbell has won more races in the Maritimes over the past five years than any of his counterparts. 
The horse is sharp right now, winning four in a row. He was stellar winning Plate Elimination 2 in 1:53.1. He will have Post 2 on the gate.

Click here for related story on Jordan MacKay:
 
Allstar Seelster
Norris Rogers is no stranger to the winner’s circle in Summerside after winning multiple driving titles at the local oval. He gets another chance at the Governor’s Plate behind No. 3 horse Allstar Seelster, owned and trained by the newest Islander in the field, Ed Harvey of Tyne Valley (actually Birch Hill). 
The six-year-old gelded son of Artistic Fella has a five-eights-mile track record of 1:52.4, with over $171,000 banked. He’s a long shot, but you never say never in a horse race.

Click here for Vance Cameron's 'Contenders and Pretenders' column on the Governor's Plate eliminations:
 
Junebugs Baby
The pride of Cape Breton Island has drawn Post 4. He’s the second 50-time winner in this field, and it takes a good horse to accomplish that feat. The eight-year-old stallion by Western Paradise spent a brief time south of the border, picking up his record of 1:54.3 at Dover Downs. 
The majority of his $109,000 in career earnings is Maritime money. Owned by Jackie Heffernan of Glace Bay, N.S., her husband, Myles, makes his Plate debut. All of Cape Breton will be in his corner.
 
Invictus Hanover
The six-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser has over $300,000 in the bank, and a record of 1:51.3 over The Meadowlands. Jason (Blue Knight) Hughes does the conditioning, and will be sulky sitting for Foxyhall Racing from Post 5.
This horse has returned to the Lasix program with better results. Going into Saturday, he wired a field of preferred pacers in Charlottetown in 1:55.2, and was a bang-up show-prize winner in his elimination.

Click here for story on Governor's Plate eliminations:
 
Good Friday Three
Walter Simmons has been racing horses in Summerside since the track opened in 1886 . . . just kidding! The veteran Summerside owner only has one race missing from his resumé – the Governor’s Plate. 
Saturday, he has the youngest trainer in the Plate history, Austin Sorrie, trying to take the title home.
Simmons purchased this horse for Governor’s Plate 49, and he hasn’t disappointed. Good Friday Three comes into the final after a solid second in his elimination. Prior to that he has won two in a row over Summerside.
This horse is a son of Mach Three, with earnings closing in on $100,000 and a Mohawk race record of 1:51.4. Kenny Arsenault will be in the sulky, and this could be his 3,000th career win. What a way to celebrate!

Click here for Joe MacIntyre's Hot Corner column:
 
Hot Deuce
One of the handiest free-legged (no hopples) pacers that I have seen on a half-mile track is Hot Deuce from Post 7. This five-year-old son of Armbro Deuce equalled his record in Plate Elimination 1 in 1:52.1. 
To say he’s been all over the country is an understatement. He must have met Hank Snow or Stompin’ Tom in his travels, because he’s been everywhere in the last two months – Buffalo to Flamboro, over to Tioga, across to Georgian Downs, and on down to Summerside. That’s a lot of road trips, and he continues to race large. 
Owner Mike McAllister will have to travel from Beaumont, Alta., to see him live. Charlottetown native Patrick Shepherd trains the speedster on the Island.
When Shepherd went looking for a driver, he found one of the very best East Coast reinsmen in Walter Cheverie. Post position means everything on a half-mile track, and No. 7 is less than ideal. After watching him in his elimination, Cheverie may have all the answers.
 
Crombie A
On the grandstand side is the senior of the Governors Plate. Crombie A is a winner of over $700,000, and a former Gold Cup and Saucer victor, which made him the fastest horse on Canada’s eastern seaboard, winning in 1:50 and change at the time. 
Owned by Allard Racing and Kapildeo Singh, he’s trained on the Island by Earl Watts. The winningest driver in the history of the Summerside Raceway, Gary Chappell, gets the catch-driving call. He’s the sleeper that might wake them up!
 
Flashback
It was the summer of 1979 and my friend Ian Moore was studying equine medicine up country, and would come home in the summers and race whatever horse he had at the time. 
In 1979, it would be a beautiful black horse called Saunders Glory. He was racing the feature in Summerside. I was at the microphone, and I can’t recall the fractions. However, after the three-quarters time was revealed, I remember one of my favourite calls of all time, “You got a shot at it Doc,” referring to the track record. 
After the dust settled, the mile of 2:02.2 was posted. Sure enough, it would become the new standard. 
“Doc” Moore would go on to have one of the most successful veterinarian and harness racing careers of all time, and it continues today.
 
Picks
A look at Saturday’s picks:
Best bets – Painted Desert in Race 3, and The Jig Is Up in Race 6.
Long shot possibilities – Brodys Leona in Race 10, and Crombie A in Race 16.

Vance Cameron is the track announcer in Summerside and Charlottetown. Comments and suggestions can be sent to jpsports@journalpioneer.com.