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Brodie MacPhee, Wade Sorrie team up to give longtime owner Walter Simmons his first Governor’s Plate win

P.E.I. Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry presents the 2020 Governor’s Plate to winning owner Walter Simmons. Bugsy Maguire won the $25,000 race, presented by Summerside Chrysler Dodge, in 1:54.1 at Red Shores at Summerside Raceway on Saturday night. Also participating in the presentation are, from left, Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart, Warren Ellis of Summerside Chrysler Dodge and winning driver Brodie MacPhee.
P.E.I. Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry presents the 2020 Governor’s Plate to winning owner Walter Simmons. Bugsy Maguire won the $25,000 race, presented by Summerside Chrysler Dodge, in 1:54.1 at Red Shores at Summerside Raceway on Saturday night. Also participating in the presentation are, from left, Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart, Warren Ellis of Summerside Chrysler Dodge and winning driver Brodie MacPhee. - Jason Simmonds/The Guardian
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

 It was a trip to the winner’s circle that was over 80 years in the making.
Although Walter Simmons did not expect to be the centre of attention late Saturday night, driver Brodie MacPhee, trainer Wade Sorrie and a horse owned by Simmons had other ideas. A hard-charging Bugsy Maguire won the 52nd running of the $25,000 Governor’s Plate, presented by Summerside Chrysler Dodge, in a time of 1:54.1. It was the first time the 95-year-old Simmons, who began his harness racing career driving as a 13-year-old, has won the Governor’s Plate.

“It’s like a big dream,” said Simmons as the Governor’s Plate and winning cooler rested on his lap. The Governor’s Plate is Prince County’s most prestigious standardbred race.

“I have driven a bit for Walter before and I know there are a lot of people who speak very, very highly of Walter Simmons,” said MacPhee. “I read the article (a feature on Simmons) in the paper (Saturday) and to be that age and put so much money into horse racing and so on, and not be able to win (the Governor’s Plate), I’m sure it’s surreal for him.
“He said to me, coming out of the winner’s circle a few minutes ago, ‘Brodie, thank you, I can die in peace now.’
“That’s incredible.”

Click here for feature story on Walter Simmons:


Finish

Order of finish in the Governor’s Plate:
(Drivers in parenthesis)

  • 1. Bugsy Maguire (Brodie MacPhee)
  • 2. Time To Dance (Adam Merner)
  • 3. Rose Run Quest (Marc Campbell)
  • 4. Avatar J (Gilles Barrieau)
  • 5. Screen Test (Corey MacPherson)
  • 6. Mantario (Kenny Arsenault)
  • 7. Simple Kinda Man (Jason Hughes)
  • 8. Hes Marvalous (Myles Heffernan Sr.)

MacPhee and Sorrie, who has trained horses for Simmons for close to 20 years, also won their first Governor’s Plate. Sorrie called it the biggest win of his career while MacPhee said this win is one of his biggest accomplishments.  
“It’s a pretty good thrill for a little trainer from Montague to win it and to have a super owner like Walter Simmons,” said Sorrie. “You can't describe it.”
Simmons, who admitted he didn’t think his horses Bugsy Maguire and sixth-place finisher Mantario had a chance of winning, was quick to deflect the attention to MacPhee and Sorrie.
“Wade Sorrie deserves a lot of credit and he’s a great care-taker,” said Simmons, who was cheered loudly by the crowd on the tarmac as he made his way to the track for the post-race celebrations. “He picked the horse out last spring and he’s a nice horse.
“It was a wonderful feeling and Brodie did a great job of driving.”

Click here for story on Governor's Plate eliminations:

MacPhee and Sorrie both shared brief special moments with Simmons, who lives just outside of Summerside in Travellers Rest.
“You can’t describe (what it means to win Governor’s Plate with Simmons),” said Sorrie. “He and I have been together for so long and he’s been nothing but great to me.”
MacPhee thanked Simmons for the opportunity and for having faith in him. MacPhee, who is from Cornwall, recently returned to driving after stepping away for the better part of six years.
“Last year, I was sitting home one night and thought, ‘Maybe it’s time I started driving again,’” said MacPhee, 34. “So I started the process and here we are.”
MacPhee admitted he never expected to be entrusted to drive a horse the calibre of Bugsy Maguire, a six-year-old bay gelding, after being off for so long. That was before a conversation with Sorrie.
“Wade reached out to me a couple of months ago and asked if I would commit to driving him,” said MacPhee. “I said, ‘Of course.’
“The trip worked out extremely well, but Wade had the horse really good (Saturday).”

Click here for story on post positions drawn for Governor's Plate:

Simple Kinda Man and driver Jason Hughes cut the opening two fractions of 26.3 and 56 seconds flat from Post 7. The Corey MacPherson-driven Screen Test hit the three-quarters mark first in 1:24.4.
“Myles (Heffernan Sr.) left hard on the rail (with Hes Marvalous) and Marc (Campbell and defending-champion Rose Run Quest) left hard (from Post 2), which I assumed they both would,” explained MacPhee. “Jason came on the outside hard and cleared.
“That made Marc have to duck in the three-hole, I let Corey in going into the first turn and used him for cover.
“Everything just fell together and I couldn’t ask for a better trip.
“Corey cleared up the backstretch and I was able to feed my horse through. I kicked the plugs at the head of the stretch and he just paced home.”
MacPhee admitted it was a very emotional and special moment as he hit the wire.
“I almost threw my shoulder out giving a fist pump I was that excited,” said MacPhee, who was joined in the winner’s circle by family members. “It’s incredible and I don’t think it’s set in yet.”

Jason.simmonds@journalpioneer.com
Twitter.com/JpsportsJason


Notes

Notes from Saturday night’s harness racing card in Summerside:

  • Marc Campbell was presented with the Basil Whelan Memorial Award for the top driver during the six-card Governor’s Plate week meet.
  • Two Campbell-trained horses, Time To Dance and Rose Run Quest, finished second and third in the Governor’s Plate. Adam Merner drove Time To Dance and Campbell was in the sulky for Rose Run Quest, the 2019 Governor’s Plate winner.
  • The top four horses in two $5,000 elimination races on July 5 qualified for the $25,000 Governor’s Plate final. Soccer Hanover won the $5,000 Governor’s Plate consolation in 1:55.2.
  • Tobins Rebel (1:56) and Windemere Ryan (1:57.1) won the two $12,500 A divisions of the Atlantic Sires Stakes for three-year-old colts. Tobins Rebel is owned by Daniel Ross of Belfast, P.E.I., and is trained and driven by Gilles Barrieau. Adam Merner drove the Melissa Rennie-trained Windemere Ryan for the High Five Racing Stable in Stanhope.
  • Lyons Jennilee, owned by Jackie Heffernan of Glace Bay, N.S., driven by Myles Heffernan Sr., and trained by Myles Heffernan Jr., won the $3,500 Governor’s Plate open mares final. The time of the mile was 1:55.2.
  • Veteran track announcer Vance Cameron has called Governor’s Plate races in six decades.
  • The total wager for the 13-dash card was $84,400.

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