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There are great races on the North America harness racing calendar. They include the Hambletonian, which went last week at The Meadowlands in New Jersey, and the Adios the week before, while three others (The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer, the North American Cup and The Little Brown Jug in Ohio) have yet to be contested.
The spotlight will be on the Gold Cup and Saucer here in Charlottetown on Saturday, Aug. 22, with the eliminations to determine the final eight starters in the 2020 classic going tonight and Monday with four from each trial advancing.
Here’s the Prophet’s Trial 1 notes:
- Father of the Bride – Takes a gigantic step up in class, rail helps, but a longshot to make top four.
- Time to Dance – been razor-sharp and gets the region’s top driver in Marc Campbell, a big plus, co-favourite at 2-1.
- Simple Kinda Man – Another that’s very good right now, is rested, a Yonkers, N.Y., winner with plenty of back class and owned by Don MacRae, whose been knocking at the Gold Cup and Saucer door, co-favourite at 2-1.
- Best to Hurst – I’d love to see longtime owner Neal Moase advance to Gold Cup, moves up in class but has a chance.
- Screen Test – Corey MacPherson drives this Bill Andrew-bred, a top-class pacer all summer. Corey is an up-and-coming driver and a top-4 finish is a possibility.
- Avatar J – Would like to see trainer Danny MacDonald land a horse in the big show, has Gilles Barrieau aboard and that helps, won here in 1:52:4 recently, gotta like.
- Euchred – Iron-tough eight-year-old, won last start in Cape Breton, N.S., sharp right now – a maybe.
- Freddy Bear – Very impressive winner here in 1:53:3 last outing, hard to overlook even without Marc Campbell. Adam Merner drives and he’s very good.
Trial 2 notes:
- Yankee Osborne – Any other year and all of Cape Breton would be here cheering this horse. Track-record performance at Truro Raceway in 1:52 and the rail tells me driver Ross MacInnis has a big chance at 2-1.
- Woodmere Ideal Art – Coming off a sharp win in Saint John, N.B., but this is a big jump in class – maybe top four.
- Casimir Richie P – Dr. Ian Moore is the hottest trainer in Canada, winning everywhere. A recent winner at Mohawk in 1:49 and change. Young driver Dale Spence has talent, looms as 7-5 favourite.
- Lisburn – Starting to show his best form, won here in 1:53 and change two races back. This is the toughest trial. He has Kenny Arsenault driving, a top four.
- J J Powerball – This is a Jamie MacKinley-bred with just one start under his belt and a long layoff. He drew this bunch of tigers. At his best, a maybe top-four finish.
- Mach It Again – The Sweet boys from O’Leary always have good horses. I’m glad they’re in the trial. They drew the tougher group and a bad post, with all the speed inside, big longshot.
- Rose Run Quest – Has been the best invitational pacer in the region for the past few years. Drew the outside post, but Campbell drives. A top-four finish here is very likely.
Island-owned horses in Trial 1 are: Time to Dance (Brent Campbell, Charlottetown and Matt MacDonald), Simple Kinda Man (MacRae, Vernon Bridge), Best to Hurst (Moase, North River), Screen Test (Kickin Horse Stable, York and Bill Andrew, Calgary), Avatar J (Dean Larkin and Jody Sanderson, Cornwall).
Island-owned horses in Trial 2 are: Casimir Richie P (Moore, Stanhope), J J Powerball (Austin Sorrie, Montague; and Tammy Collings, Hazelbrook), Mach It Again (David and John Sweet, O’Leary) and Rose Run Quest (Blair Hansen, Charlottetown).
Local golf courses have been blessed with great weather and appear to be hanging in there despite the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) restrictions.
Trent Birt and Co. hosted a tournament for charities last week at Fox Meadow and one would think that a team of Yousef Hashmi and son Tyler, along with Duane MacGregor and Danny McInnis, would emerge on top. The team wilted in the heat. Dr. Bill Stanish came with a stacked team of Neil MacFadyen, Gene Power and Rabs MacDonald but they too faded in the stretch.
Kent MacDonald spent most of the day giving ex-teammate Thane Hughes tips to improve his game – they couldn’t stay focused and missed the podium. Gerard (Turk) Gallant headed his team with Kevin Devine, but again the heat was the cause of this team not getting the job done. A trimmed-down Turk looked like he just stepped off the ice in his playing days, but no podium. Former Detroit goaltender Corrado Micalef played very well as did fiddle master entertainer Richard Wood. David Power and his IMP Solutions team finished at 15-under to take first place.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his staff must be discussing behind closed doors what a mess they made of the draft, which was established to balance the teams in the league. Creating equality is a simple solution. The worst team in the league gets No. 1 and so on down the line. You and I have often heard of teams tanking, which means trading players in your line-up for draft picks or prospects, which is trading a little of today for a whole lot of tomorrow. It is a way teams balance themselves without any league officials or analytical specialists.
Detroit was the worst team and there’s no doubt they need the most help but didn’t get the top pick due to the lottery.
The youthful and talented New York Rangers, 79 points in 70 games, who got lucky last year and drafted Kaapo Kakko second overall now will select Alexis LaFrenière, a franchise-type player.
Ottawa, who traded roster players for picks, now has the third and fifth overall picks while New Jersey has three first round picks. Toronto has none as the Leafs sent their pick to Carolina in the Patrick Marleau deal. Detroit was not involved in any tanking and has the fourth overall pick.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at email@example.com.