Gold Cup & Saucer is celebrating 55 years!

05:34 AM 30 Jul 2014 NZST
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8-17-13 Gold Cup Night crowd.jpg Gold Cup Logo generic (2).jpg
Miramichi Post
Sand Olls Dexter
Escape The News
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It was Friday, August 19, 1960. Six starters lined up behind the starting gate for the once two dash event.

Dee's Boy picked up the first dash victory in 2:06 for driver Lloyd MacAuley. Newport Frisco picked up the second dash victory in 2:06.3 but despite having the better summary (2-1), Dee's Boy and MacAuley were declared the first ever winner of the Gold Cup and Saucer.

The first ever Gold Cup was contested for a purse of $2, 500, now in 2014, the 55th edition of the Sobey's Gold Cup and Saucer will race for the largest purse in the race's history $75, 000.

The prestigious race isn't about the money. It's about the show. It's about the people. It's about Prince Edward Island. When the horses hit the track for post parade and they walk in front of the grandstand, the lights go dark and Kerri Wynn MacLeod sings the Island Hymn as thousands of people in attendance stand for this Island tradition.

The only thing in site is the Farris Wheel from the carnival lit up in the background. The rail horse parades down the track, whether it be Eighteen, R Js Dexter. Winner's Accolade or Kilkerran Ingle, as soon as that spot light from above picks up the first horse and the sound of track announcer's voice booms over the crowd, chills instantly spill down a person's spine.

During those 54 years of bone chilling action, there have not only been some great races but some memorable race calls as well.

In 1968 Miramichi Post became the first Maritime-bred to ever win the Gold Cup. Ten-years later two-time winner Ventall Rainbow was the first horse to make Four appearances in the Cup and Saucer. That very same year Eric and Harry Webby of Dartmouth won a record fifth Gold Cup.

In 1980, The Gold Cup trials were first introduced as well the Gold Cup and Saucer consolation debuted.

Who can forget 1986 when Phil Pinkney flipped Rev Your Engine out three wide from last just past the 5/8's hooking up with fraction setter Angels Shadow past the three quarters and they battled the whole way down the lane before Rev Your Engine landed on the line a nose in front.

How about 1993, When Little Black Book started to open up on the field up the back stretch, "Little Black Book is turning it on, look at her go! Little Black Book has them by four and she's looking for more," said track announcer Kevin 'Boomer' Gallant. She jogged in 1:54.1 just missing her own Canadian record for aged mares on a half mile track of 1:54 that she set in her Gold Cup trial. The record stood for 15 years.

1995, Mike MacDonald aboard Sandy Hanover converted off a three-wide move past the three quarters to become the winningest driver in Gold Cup and Saucer history with five victories. ( Ventall Rainbow twice, Pearl's Falcon, Winner's Accolade were his others).

In 1993, Native Born and driver Brett Robinson moved out of the two-hole approaching three quarters, drawing away from the field winning by 12 lengths in 1:53.1 closing it out in :27 flat, setting a new Canadian record for aged stallions on a half mile track at the time.

MacDonald almost had number six in 2003, Harmony P, raced in the Consolation the night before, and drew into the final after a scratch. It was a young protege of MacDonald's that nailed his on the line. Mark MacDonald had Sand Olls Dexter coming from the clouds just at wire to nail his old teacher by a nose. Sand Olls Dexter would then win it the following year in the slop giving Mark MacDonald his second of three career Cup victories.

Hall-of-Famer Wally Hennessey picked up his second victory in 2005 aboard Driven To Win, establishing a new track record of 1:51.2.

Long-time Island horsemen Earl Smith made history in 2008 aboard the longest shot on the board Pownal Bay Matt, leaving from post 8, Smith laid parked the entire mile before getting up in the final strides to become the oldest driver at 59 years of age to ever win the big event. That was also a special day as the Cup and Saucer was raced on Sunday afternoon due to the cancellation of the races on Saturday night.

Over its 54 years of winners, The Gold Cup and Saucer has played host to many 'Boom, Just like that!" calls from track announce Vance Cameron. The island would become a buzz wondering who Mike MacDonald would have coming to the big race over the years, but over the last five years the race has grown to see trainers such as Mark Ford, Jeff Gillis and the top trainer in North America make his first trip to the Gold Cup and Saucer last year, Ron Burke.

Who can forget last year's Gold Cup and Saucer.

In a race full of Cameron's famous race calls, it was arguably one of his most entertaining Gold Cup's to date. As Up The Credit and Carl Jamieson parked out R Caan and Jason Ryan, Cameron voice started to electrify.

"There's a brouhaha in the Cup and Saucer, opening quarter, Boom just like that! :26.2."

Up The Credit and R Caan slugged it out to the half before R Caan cleared around the 5/8's turn.

"Making the front now is R Caan, Up The Credit is second, WOW! :53.2," boomed Cameron.

R Caan started to draw away from Up The Credit up the back stretch before the Burke Brigade of Hillbilly Hanover (Gilles Barrieau) and Escape The News (Marc Campbell) started to eat up race track.

As they move three-wide past the three quarters with Escape The News the furthest one out, the track record was in clear sight.

"Three quarters, amazing. 1:21.4, they got a shot at the track record, they got a shot at the Canadian record," said Cameron as every member in the crowd was now cheering for the record.

As they hit the head of the lane it was a battle of the Burke Brigade. The two top drivers in the Maritimes, Campbell and Barrieau dueling it out, both with a pair of Burke horses, Escape The News paced onto the lead by the tote board.

"Marc Campbell has won the Gold Cup and Saucer, Escape The News, a driving quadruple. Hillbilly Hanover is second, R Caan is third. 1:50.4, that's a new track record for the Charlottetown Driving Park, and that is, Marc Campbell's biggest lifetime win."

So much history, so much class and so much excitement all build into one race. The Gold Cup and Saucer.

This year, the 55th running will carry it's highest purse ever of $ 75,000. Rumours are starting to float on what trainers are coming and what horses they will be bringing. One thing that can be guaranteed, No matter who comes, the Gold Cup and Saucer will still be one of the greatest shows in North American racing.

Nominations for this year's Gold Cup and Saucer are due Monday, August 4. The post position draw for the trials will be held on Tuesday, August 5, with Trial 1 scheduled to go post ward on August 9. The final for the Gold Cup and Saucer, presented by Sobeys, is held on Saturday, August 16.

by Bo Ford, for Red Shores

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