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DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: Harness racing season is quickly approaching

The 59th running of The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer took place Sunday at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
The upcoming harness racing season is quickly approaching at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.

Qualifiers begin Saturday at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The final preparations for the 2019 summer racing season take place in the coming days as both Island tracks will hold qualifiers for opening day, May 4 at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park (CDP).

The CDP will hold qualifying sessions on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. Red Shores at the Summerside Raceway has a qualifying session set for Monday at 6 p.m. There will be a barbecue on the trackside patio for this Saturday’s qualifying session.

The first races of the season will take place on May 4 in Charlottetown and on May 20 in Summerside.
On the mainland, Truro Raceway opened up their season April 19 with Tyne Valley resident Dale Spence stealing the show with three wins from the six-dash program. Spence hit the winner’s circle with Global Seelster in 2:01 and Distinctiv Rusty in 2:02.3, both from the George Rennison stable, along with a 2:03.1 score with Elm Grove Maddy for trainer Nick White.

Canada Wide

The Shepherd brothers from Stratford are having a strong start to 2019 while racing the Ontario circuit.
Robert Shepherd sits in second place in the country for driving wins with 102 trips to the winner’s circle along with a current eighth-place standing for purse earnings at $636,000. Kingston native James MacDonald is fifth in the country for earnings with $703,000.

On the training side, Patrick Shepherd holds down second place for wins with 63, and also sits fifth for purse earnings in Canada at $400,000. Miltonvale Park native Rachel Andrew is 10th in Canada for earnings ($213,000) and training average (.333). Andrew has had a solid winter at Woodbine Mohawk Park holding down seventh place at that track for training wins.

Charlottetown’s Ronald MacDonald is sixth in the nation for training percentage with a .341 UTRS and is ninth for training wins with 30.

Kingston native Anthony MacDonald, who operates the largest training operation in the country at Thestable.ca, was involved in an accident during the qualifying session Thursday morning at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Ontario. Early reports have MacDonald sustaining injuries to his wrist and elbow. He was scheduled to compete at Miami Valley Raceway in Ohio this weekend.

The Island rookie contingent in Ontario continues to perform well.

Prince County native Ryan Desroche hit the wire first with Bravado Seelster Monday evening at Western Fair Raceway in London, Ont., with a 1:58.4 score in a $6,200 conditioned event for trainer Christina Soundy.

Montague’s Austin Sorrie has put together 13 wins and $68,000 in earnings from 103 starts so far in his inaugural Central Canadian campaign. Winsloe native Drew Neill, who is currently employed by the Cullen stable in Ontario, has garnered a respectable .240 driving average from 19 trips behind the gate in Ontario.


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

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