The defending champion is returning to Prince County’s most prestigious standardbred race.
Czar Seelster won the first of two $5,000 elimination races at Red Shores at Summerside Raceway on Sunday afternoon.
“I was very lucky and got into the four-hole on the first turn, which made it closer to the front and the fractions were pretty good up front,” said Kenny Arsenault, who drove Czar Seelster to a 1:54.3 win in Race 11. “I got ahead of Euchred, who I thought was the horse to beat, and got ahead of Mike McGuigan (All Artist) down the backstretch, got back in the front and it worked out great.”
The top four horses in each elimination have advanced to Saturday night’s 51st running of the $25,000 Governor’s Plate, presented by Township Chev and Noonan Petroleum.
“Eliminations are tougher than the final because you have to get into the final,” said Arsenault. “Just bad luck or bad positioning and you can end up finishing fifth.”
Marc Campbell steered Rose Run Quest to a wire-to-wire 1:54.1 victory in the second elimination.
“We had a great post (No. 5) and he made front pretty easy,” said Campbell, who also trains the seven-year-old bay gelding for owner Blair Hansen of Charlottetown. “I kind of let him go to the quarter so everyone would get settled in behind me.
“I really wanted to control it, we got a really good second quarter and even the third quarter wasn’t that bad. Then he rolled down the lane pretty good.
“He’s a beautiful little horse.”
Czar Seelster, trained by Greg Weatherbee for owner Tammy Johnston of Stratford, took over the lead about halfway up the backstretch second time around after Down On My Luck, driven by Jason Hughes, cut fractions of 27.1 and 56.1.
“I just couldn’t clear Jason,” said Arsenault, who drove Czar Seelster to a 1:53.2 victory in the 2018 Governor’s Plate. “I didn’t want to push him in the turn because he would get tired on me, but I asked him in the stretch and he responded.”
Overall, Arsenault was pleased with how the 10-year-old bay horse by Stonebridge-Regal-Cmon Mama Cass-Threefold raced in just his third start of the season.
“He raced good last week and better this week,” said Arsenault.
Down On My Luck was second, Euchred overcame Post 8 to finish in the show position and Burn Out Hanover moved up from Post 7 to finish fourth to advance to the Governor’s Plate.
Rose Run Quest did not disappoint, setting fractions of 27.4, 57.1 and 1:26.2.
“He’s been leaving better this year, which is awesome and makes him a little handier,” said Campbell. “He just tries. It doesn’t matter what kind of a trip he has, he is always going to give you an effort.”
Do Over Hanover placed, Bugsy Maguire was third and rail-sitting Screen Test finished fourth to qualify for Plate 51.
Campbell said the race went as he expected.
“I thought Bugsy would be first up and I think Todd (Trites and Doctor Royal from Post 7) must have got parked,” said Campbell. “That probably helped out a little bit and kept Bugsy back a little farther, but Do Over Hanover was on my back and I figured he would be really good.
“That’s why I wanted to get a little jump on them around the last turn. I won the Plate with that horse before (in 2017) and he’s just getting back and primed up.”
- Field Governor’s Plate in Summerside on Saturday:
- Czar Seelster
- Rose Run Quest
- Down On My Luck
- Do Over Hanover
- Bugsy Maguire
- Burn Out Hanover
- Screen Test
- NOTE: The draw for the Governor’s Plate will take place following Race 3 of Tuesday’s harness racing program at Red Shores at Summerside Raceway. Post time is 6:30 p.m.