A stakes-laden doubleheader is in the cards today for Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park as the capital oval plays host to the 85th anniversary of Canada’s oldest stakes race.
The P.E.I Colt Stakes for pacers dots the landscape with action beginning at 12:30 p.m. featuring the two-year-old pacers on the afternoon card.
The day’s first race gets the stakes racing underway with a $7,300 two-year-old filly division. Ezra Express is the favourite for trainer-driver Marc Campbell and owner Danica Ellis of Brookfield, N.S. The daughter of Ameripan Gigolo will look to add to her $14,951 in seasonal earnings fresh off a 2:00.2 lifetime-best performance at Northside Downs in Nova Scotia.
Bettorthanbobbi has rail control as the favourite in the second rookie filly split in Race 4 as Mark Bradley will steer the four-time winner for trainer Tom Weatherbie and owner Ian Smith of Charlottetown.
Watch Me Dance will look to expand on her $19,933 in purses in Race 7 with Bradley driving the Post 3 starter for co-owner and trainer Stephen Quinn and co-owners John Quinn and Ozzie MacKay.
The final $7,300 two-year-old filly division has Saulsbrook Ocean, who has not finished worse than second, with Post 4 for driver Dale Spence and trainer Joe Baxter. The Nova Scotia ownership group of Saulsbrook Stables Inc., Jennifer Baxter and Michael MacKenzie own the daughter of Westwardho Hanover.
The P.E.I Colt Stakes for two-year-old pacing colts has its first $7,000 division in Race 2 as Harry G earns the respect of the morning line with Post 4 for trainer-driver Paul Langille and owners Arleen, Chantel Gillis of Nova Scotia and Christina Gillis of Ontario.
Hes Watching colt U Bettim Watching will attempt to knock off his competition in the second split in Race 5 with Kenny Arsenault in the bike for co-owner and trainer Jeff Lilley and co-owners Shirlene O’Brien and Blair MacLauchlan.
Tobins Rebel had his first taste of defeat in his latest start but will look to rebound in Race 8 for a $7,000 pot. Gilles Barrieau trains and drives the son of Camystic for owner Daniel Ross of Belfast.
Woodmere Rollnpop has his work cut out for him from Post 8 in the final two-year-old pacing colt division in Race 8 for trainer-driver Clare MacDonald and Nova Scotia owners Phonsie MacEachern and Morah Kerr. The leader in his division, Woodmere Rollnpop has five wins and two seconds in seven starts for more than $28,000 in prize money in his rookie campaign.
Between the programs, the P.E.I. Colt Stakes will hold a meeting for all Island standardbred breeders beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the grandstand seating area on the second level.
The P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association, of which the P.E.I. Colt Stakes is a board member, has taken the initiative of creating a breeders advisory committee, to be managed by the P.E.I. Colt Stakes, with a view to receiving input on a regular basis from the breeding industry in their efforts to move the industry forward.
The proposed breeders committee would consist of all those interested in actively participating in industry development. A chairperson will be elected and serve as the committee representative on the association’s board. A secretary to handle meetings and maintain contacts will also be required.
The stakes action continues Saturday night with a 15-dash program beginning at 6:30 p.m. with the three-year-old pacers as well as the Atlantic Aged Pacing Mares Series presented by Standardbred Canada.
A field of three-year-old pacing colt compete in a $6,800 P.E.I. Colt Stakes division in Race 1. Purple Poet is the early favourite as trainer-driver Arsenault will look for the horse’s seventh lifetime win for owner Kevin Harvey of Hammonds Plains, N.S.
Champion sophomore Notorious headlines the second colt split in Race 4 for trainer-driver Campbell and owners Darryl and Gordon MacLean of Winsloe and Nova Scotian Shirley Symes. The son of Malicious has been building on his healthy $78,000 bankroll every week this season.
The one-two punch of former pasture mates Red Dirt Rocknroll (David Dowling) and Red Dirt Boomer (Barrieau) headlines Race 8 three-year-old pacing colt division. Both bred by Lowell Balderston of North Wiltshire, the pacing colts will compete with Red Dirt Boomer putting his three-race win streak on the line from Post 5 for owner Daniel Ross.
Stakes pacing colt action comes to a close in Race 12 as the ultra-consistent Saulsbrook Lassie will leave from Post 2 as the top choice for driver Adam Merner, co-owner and trainer Jean Belliveau and co-owner Norman Leger.
The first $7,800 stakes three-year-old filly division is slated for Race 2 with Glasgow Gracie pegged as the one to beat for trainer-driver Campbell and owners Blair and Carl Hansen and Isaac Schurman of P.E.I.
Elm Grove Nellie has rail control in the second of three filly bouts for driver Spence and trainer Baxter. Owned by Jennifer Baxter and Gregory Francis, both of Nova Scotia, the daughter of Stonebridge Terror will look for her fourth win of the season.
Woodmere Oleksiak has proven untouchable in recent weeks with five straight divisional victories and will have rail control as she looks to continue that trend in the final $7,800 filly division in Race 10. Dowling drives the Earl Watts-trainee for owners Windemere Farms, Hollis Newson, Debbie Denney and Ric McNutt.
The Atlantic Aged Pacing Mares Series go in Races 5 and 7. The Race 15 finale has a hard-hitting group of preferred pacers vying for a $2,900 purse with Gold Cup and Saucer finalist Lisburn (Arsenault) the top pick from Post 5.
Fresh off the fastest win any horse shows on the program, Heartland Eclipse will cross the Confederation Bridge and try to protect the rail in the Sunday feature at Red Shores at the Summerside Raceway.
The Prince County oval will play host to 11 dashes beginning at 1 p.m.
The $2,700 preferred 2 pace has Heartland Eclipse leaving from Post 1 after smoking his foes in 1:55.2 last time out at Truro Raceway in Bible Hill, N.S. Owned by Lee Raymond of Truro, Hearland Eclipse’s trainer Don Ellis has elected to place Mike McGuigan in the driver’s seat of the six-year-old son of Armbro Baylor as he searches for his 18th career win.
Mantario has Post 6 in the field of seven with Norris Rogers picking up the catch-drive for trainer Alex Sobey and owner Walter Simmons of Summerside.
– Compiled by Nicholas Oakes for Red Shores.