Bugsy Maguire is sentimental favourite
Myles Heffernan Sr. fully understands he will be driving the sentimental favourite in the 51st Governor’s Plate on Saturday.
Heffernan will leave from Post 2 with five-year-old bay gelding Bugsy Maguire for longtime Summerside horseman Walter Simmons and trainer Wade Sorrie in Prince County’s most prestigious standardbred race at Red Shores at Summerside Raceway.
“I’d love to win it for Walter,” said Heffernan, who is also looking to win his first Governor’s Plate. “He’s been in it a long time and has paid a lot of money for horses.
“I think he may have a real good shot at getting there this year. I'm hoping so anyway.”
Heffernan said it would mean a lot to win the race for Simmons.
“He’s getting up there now in age and he’s such a nice man,” added Heffernan. “I never really met him until this year.”
Veteran driver Walter Cheverie, who will catch-drive Down On My Luck, agreed with Heffernan.
“Mr. Simmons, Walter, has bought a very nice horse,” said Cheverie. “Walter’s getting up there in years and he hasn’t won the (Governor’s Plate).
“It’s nice to see him take a shot and that’s a real nice horse he bought, Bugsy Maguire. It’s nice to see people’s interest still high in the race.”
What You Need To Know
- What you need to know about the Governor’s Plate:
- The Governor’s Plate is Prince County’s most prestigious standardbred race.
- The 51st edition of the one-mile race will take place at Red Shores at Summerside Raceway on Saturday night.
- The eight-horse field will battle for a $25,000 purse.
- The Governor’s Plate is scheduled to go to post at 11:40 p.m. It will be the finale of a 16-dash card, which begins at 6:30 p.m.
- A live broadcast of the entire card can be viewed at www.redshores.ca.
- The Governor’s Place is presented by Township Chevrolet Buick GMC and Noonan Petroleum.
The top-four finishers in two $5,000 eliminations on Sunday afternoon qualified for the Plate final. Rose Run Quest won the second elimination on Sunday in 1:54.1 while defending-champion Czar Seelster took the first in 1:54.3.
“I’ve raced against these horses all year and know what they are like, what they can or can’t do,” said Kenny Arsenault, who will drive Czar Seelster from Post 7. “You have good drivers and everybody is going to be fearless going into that first turn.”
Czar Seelster, a 10-year-old bay horse, is the oldest entry in the field, which Cheverie describes as pretty even.
“The better horses in the race drew outside and that changes the complexion of the race,” said Cheverie. “There is a nice horse leaving (from the rail), too, and Bugsy (Maguire) is a nice horse.”
Gilles Barrieau, who will drive four-year-old bay gelding Burn Out Hanover from Post 3, provided a very honest assessment.
“As you can tell, I am 12-1 (odds) and am not going to be a big factor,” said Barrieau. “He’s a nice horse, but he’s just a step behind those guys, I think.
“But you never know, it’s a horse race and I’ll race to win, but if he gets a cheque (top-five finishers) I’m sure the connections will be happy, I’ll be happy.”
Jason Hughes qualified two horses and will drive 2017 Plate winner Do Over Hanover, a six-year-old bay gelding, from Post 4.
“Do Over Hanover can get off the gate pretty good and it’s a pretty good position to have to get off the gate,” said Hughes, who also qualified Down On Your Luck. “I like the one-hole and the four-hole and he’s drawn the four-hole. I think it will be an advantage for him.”
Corey MacPherson and Screen Test will leave from the five-hole. Screen Test is a four-year-old bay gelding.
“Other years going into it there may not have been a clear-cut winner, but one that had a better shot than most,” said MacPherson. “This year, Rose Run Quest is coming into it strong. Czar Seelster is tough as whalebone and coming into it well and Bugsy Maguire is a good horse.”
Marc Campbell will drive seven-year-old bay gelding Rose Run Quest from Post 6.
“It’s better than eight,” said Campbell in reacting to his post position. “I’m OK with it.
“He’s a pretty handy little guy. The thing with him is he can race pretty well anyway and he can race from anywhere.
“He doesn’t really need a special kind of trip. Six isn’t that bad, really.”
Arsenault, who left from Post 2 in the 2018 Governor’s Plate, is looking to make the best of the unfavourable seven-hole.
“There’s too much early speed to take a chance of getting parked,” said Arsenault. “If they go good fractions up front, then I might be able to do some work the last half of the race.
“It’s the only shot I figure because there is too much speed inside of him.”
Euchred, a seven-year-old brown gelding and second-place finisher in 2018, will leave from the grandstand side for the second time in a week after moving up from Post 8 to finish third in the first elimination.
“You won’t really know (what’s going to happen) until the gate goes,” said Euchred driver David Dowling. “I would imagine there’s going to be a lot of speed inside and you are at their mercy.
“If they go a big half, things might work out. . . I’m hoping they get a little speed battle up front and we can pick up the pieces at the end.”
- Drivers comment on how they'll approach the Governor’s Plate:
- Walter Cheverie (Down On My Luck, Post 1): “It depends a lot on what the track will be like. Marc (Campbell) will be leaving (with Rose Run Quest) and Jason (Hughes) will be leaving with Do Over Hanover. It’s a big race and there will be lots leaving.”
- Myles Heffernan (Bugsy Maguire, Post 2): “I’m going to get on the gate, look over and see what’s going on.”
- Gilles Barrieau (Burn Out Hanover, Post 3): “He’s a nice horse and is only a four-year-old and it’s a lot to ask of a four-year-old to race against these horses. I’ve only driven him a handful of times really, but every time I have driven him he’s given 100 per cent. He’s not a big leaver either, so that will handicap him some because we will be sitting at the back, where it’s not favourable. But you never know, if there’s a speed duel he could be a sleeper and come up and hit the top three. I’ve seen upsets before and it could happen again.”
- Jason Hughes (Do Over Hanover, Post 4): “I think the one and four horse will probably be headed to the front and there’s going to be a lot of traffic behind. There are three better horses leaving six, seven, eight. I’m thinking myself, Do Over Hanover, and Down On My Luck will probably be sitting one, two (off the start).”
- Corey MacPherson (Screen Test, Post 5): “The draw really changed things up. The kind of morning-line early favourites drew six, seven and eight. Drawing the middle of the pack, I will just sit, wait and see what happens.”
- Marc Campbell (Rose Run Quest, Post 6): “I don’t have a laid-out game plan. Hopefully, leave out and try to beat a few of them out and see where we are sitting at the quarter pole. I have a feeling we are going to have to probably be on the move pretty early and end up being first-up, but I’m OK with that, too.”
- Kenny Arsenault (Czar Seelster, Post 7): “It all starts behind the gate. Your plan could go right out the window once you get behind the gate.”
- David Dowling (Euchred, Post 8): “I don’t really try to make any plans. I have an idea, but anything can happen and I just go by how the horse feels behind the gate and go from there.”
Significance of race
- Drivers comment on the opportunity to race in Governor’s Plate:
- Walter Cheverie: “It’s always fun to drive in a big race. It’s nice to see an even field. There are no big layovers and there are no horses coming in from away, winning in 1:51 and that.”
- Myles Heffernan: “I’m very appreciative to drive this horse (Bugsy Maguire) and he’s probably one of the better horses I have ever sat behind.”
- Gilles Barrieau: “I’ve won a few of them and have had some great horses to drive over the years.”
- Jason Hughes: “I’ve been going to this race since I’ve been able to go as a kid. Anyone from around here wants to win the Governor’s Plate and the Gold Cup and Saucer (in Charlottetown). It would make me pretty happy to be able to win it.”
- Corey MacPherson: “It would be great (to win it), especially this year. It’s a horse that I kind of look after day-to-day. It’s more special when it’s a horse you are hands-on with all the time.”
- Marc Campbell: “I’ve always liked this race. It’s a fun night. Any time you have a crowd like that around and the buzz in the air, it kind of amps it up a bit. That’s why we do this, for the bigger nights and for the crowd. The people on the backstretch have the barbecues going and everything. It should be a good night and hopefully, the track is good, the weather is good and we should see a pretty good race because it’s a pretty competitive field.”
- Kenny Arsenault: “It's a big race. I’ve been going to Summerside for 30 years driving horses and know a lot of people up there. It’s almost like my second home track. The owners are from Cape Breton and they have been here a couple of years and one of the biggest races they won last year was that race.”
- David Dowling: “It’s a pretty good feeling (to be driving in the Governor’s Plate). The eight-hole kind of put a little damper on it, but that’s only where you have to start. It’s only a number.”