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DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: There's a healthy horse population on P.E.I.

Marc Campbell, left, with Yakushev and Kyle Gillis with Cade were training Wednesday morning at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park. The first races of the season go tonight.
Marc Campbell, left, with Yakushev and Kyle Gillis with Cade were training Wednesday morning at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park. The first races of the season go tonight. - Jason Malloy
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Live harness racing returned to P.E.I last week with two programs and steps up another notch this week with programs scheduled for Thursday, today and Saturday at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park (CDP).

The capital oval added the extra program to deal with a healthy horse population as horse owners look for racing opportunities in condensed 10-dash cards due to space limitations on race night to comply with physical distancing requirements. The CDP is set for the same schedule next week, but Red Shores at the Summerside Raceway could also open up for the season on Friday, June 26, pending approval from the provincial health authority.

There has been lots of talent on display on the season’s first cards with a number of top-notch three-year-olds returning to the fold as well as top-quality aged horses that have been purchased during the down season.

The open pacing ranks have seen newcomers like Avatar J, Beyondthesilence N and Silver Beast while Glider Man will look to be a major factor in the trot classes this summer.

The ranks of the open pacing mares have seen the biggest new investments with some very nice lasses to watch in Berazzled, Dreamfair Zenfire, Miss Kabana, Much Adoo and Southwind Ion. These fresh faces are sure to make for an action-packed summer of racing on the Island.

Racing resumes in Nova Scotia this week with spectators allowed on site, provided they distance themselves. The Truro Raceway gets going tonight while Northside Down in North Sydney begins on Saturday.

Alberta also announced it will begin the season this weekend.

P.E.I. scene

Driver Corey MacPherson will be looking to hit a career milestone very soon as the 31-year-old Cornwall driver was 10 wins shy of the 1,000-win plateau before the Thursday night program.

Across the continent

Royaltywestho paced into the record books Friday, June 5, at The Meadowlands in New Jersey as the Island-bred filly was a winner in 1:50.4 for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. Bred by Gary MacPherson of North Wiltshire, Royaltywestho is now the sixth fastest Maritime-bred mare ever with the group led by Elleofnxample (1:49.2). The score was win 21 of Royaltywestho’s career as her career earnings surpassed $175,000.


Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at nicholasoakes@hotmail.com.

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