CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Paul MacDonald memorial driving challenge is set for today with a top slate of eight drivers competing for the honour at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park (CDP).
First race post time is 12:30 p.m. for the 12-dash program.
The driving championship is part of Horse Person’s Day, sponsored by the P.E.I. Standardbred Horse Owner’s Association.
The challenge pits the top four dash winners against some top percentage drivers to see who lands on top. The top dash winning drivers category includes Marc Campbell, Jason Hughes, Gilles Barrieau and Adam Merner. The championship also has the top two percentage drivers with more than 75 starts in Corey MacPherson and Kenny Arsenault, while a special part of the annual challenge has the top two percentage drivers with 40 to 75 drives thrown into the mix. That category has Don MacNeill and Earl Smithr.
The drivers will compete in Races 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 with the top point earner receiving the MacDonald Memorial trophy in honour of former dash-winning driver Paul MacDonald, who passed away in 2008.
Campbell is just three wins away from making more history with 141 wins so far this season, just shy of his record 144-win total in Charlottetown set in 2016.
The afternoon feature lines up in Race 12 for a $2,250 purse sponsored by Larry Chappell Construction.
The deep group of preferred two pacers has Likely To Win as the morning line favourite from Post 4 for driver Merner, trainer Melissa Rennie and Nova Scotia owners Blenise Young and Lester Campbell along with Alberta owner Jeffrey Campbell. The seven-year-old son of Western Terror has been rock solid all season with seven wins, including one in 1:56.1.
Silverinyourpocket is a newcomer for the Jason Hughes stable and has Post 2 in the event. Hughes will drive the three-year-old son of Badlands Hanover for new owner Robi Hughes of Stratford. The pacer was competing on the Ontario circuit, recently winning in 1:55.1 over Flamboro Downs for trainer Richard Moreau.
Weather Hanover ships in from Truro for the race, getting Post 5 for trainer Jeff Ellis and catch-driver Dale Spence.
Other entries in the top event include Nogreatmischief (Walter Cheverie), Painted Desert (MacPherson), The Big Bite (Arsenault), Zingers Laugh (Campbell) and Simon Said (Mark Bradley).
A red-hot Adkins Hanover looks to deliver another win against top tier action Sunday at the CDP.
The card kicks off at 12:30 p.m. at the capital oval with 12 races on tap.
Adkins Hanover has won three of his last four starts and does not have to face the one horse that beat him once again this week. MacPherson drives the Trevor Hicken-trainee from Post 2 in the $2,550 preferred pace for owner Perry Burke of Grosse-Ile., Que.
The eight-year-old son of Western Ideal has an impressive 13 wins already this season with more than $33,000 in the bank. His best work is off the front end and gets an inside post to work with this week.
Red Magician gets rail control with Merner in the bike while Forever Paradise has a two-race win streak on the line from Post 3 for Gilles Barrieau.
“Adkins Hanover has won three of his last four and gets a post that should provide a fairly easy path to the front,” said race analyst Les MacIsaac. “Once he gets there, there could be nothing but open road ahead.”
Other entries include Woggy Rocks (Hughes), Czar Seelster (Todd Weatherbee), Allstar Seelster (Norris Rogers) and Rose Run Quest (Campbell).
The open mares pace lines up in Race 10 in the Geraldine Watts Memorial for a $2,250 purse. Good Luck Kathy captured the event last week, but is shouldered with Post 6 on Sunday for Hughes, conditioner Jennifer Trainor and owner Danny Birt of Stratford.
Woodmere Articblue was a narrow miss in this class last week and gets Post 4 on Sunday for trainer-driver Campbell.
The class also includes Brodys Leona (MacPherson), Dusty Lane Zendaya (Cheverie), Prettyndangerous (Merner) and Itsallabouthebass (Kenny Arsenault).
Race 4 has a newcomer to Island racing with Donald Doc leaving off the rail for new owner-trainer-driver Terry Gallant.
The four-year-old son of Big Bad John has 10 lifetime wins, $48,280 in earnings and a mark of 1:54.4 taken over Dayton Raceway in Ohio. Donald Doc recently went through the Blooded Horse Sale in Ohio for $3,500 US.
– Complied by Nicholas Oakes For Red Shores.