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Barona Mercedes completed a sweep of the Alberta Sires Stakes Diamond leg for three-year-old pacing fillies with a dominate victory in the $51,300 final on Saturday afternoon at Alberta Downs. Barona Mercedes established the lead from post two and was never seriously threatened as she raced past panels of :28.2, :57.4 and 1:26 en route to the three length triumph in a new lifetime mark of 1:53.1. She was the 4-5 favourite after winning her elimination by five lengths in 1:53.4 last weekend and returned $3.70 to her backers at the betting windows. Another elimination winner and 8-5 second choice, Nighttraintovegas (Brandon Campbell), was tipped first over from third down the backstretch and chased Barona Mercedes home in second-place, with Mother Melody (Jamie Gray), also an elimination winner, closing for third. To view the rest of this story click here.

It feels like the big show has just ended at Red Shores' Charlottetown, but in less then a week another show will take centre stage. The National Driving Championship, presented by Standardbred Canada, P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Assotiation , P.E.I. 2014 inc. and Red Shores, goes on Tuesday, August 26, with eight drivers from around Canada representing their respective regions. A new twist has been added to this years NDC format. Rather than the usual format for assigning drivers, Standardbred Canada will conduct a 'draft' for the eight races, similar to a hockey pool style draft. This provides the drivers direct involvement in determining the horses they will drive when they draft their horses. Red Shores' will play host to Premiers from around Canada for the night of power packed action which includes the Founders Cup Invitational for a purse of $25, 000 and the $ 5,000 Builders Cup in recognition of Doug Hill of Charlottetown and Eric Johnston of Summerside. The winner of this year's event will have the honour of representing Canada on the world stage in Australia for the 2015 World Driving Championship. The field is made up of two drivers from the Western region, the Quebec/Eastern Ontario region, the Atlantic region and two from Ontario. Here is an in-depth look at this year's competitors. A two-time World Driving Champion, Jody Jamieson, will be back to represent the Ontario region and look to gain his fifth berth in the World Driving Championships. Jamieson was the winner of the Ontario Regional in May at The Raceway at Western Fair District. The Moffat, Ont. resident is a winner of just under 7000 races, 2014 marks his 20th year with his drivers licence and over that time he has compiled more then 39,200 drives. Along with his two World Driving Championships, Jamieson has two North American Cup victories, two in the $ 1 million Metro Pace and a Little Brown Jug to his resume. In 2009, he returned a Canadian record 796 winners back to the winner circle in a single season. The Nova Scotia native is a three-time O'Brien award winner for Driver of the Year, He has banked over $ 105 million in career purses and this season he has over 180 wins and over $3 million earned. His stablemate from Ontario is Billy Davis Jr. He was the runner up to Jamieson at the Ontario Regionals. He made his move to Ontario in May 2009 for his home in Langley, British Columbia and things have skyrocketed for the man known as 'The Rocketman' ever since. Davis recently picked up his 1700 win on August 12 at Mohawk. The son of O'Brien award winner Bill Davis has been dawning the silks for eight years and has over 11,800 trips behind a starting gate and he has just shy of $15 million in career earnings. Davis returned home to B.C. last November and picked up victories in the $ 75, 000 Mary Murphy Breeders stake and the $ 75, 000 Robert Murphy Breeders stake. Earlier that year he picked up his first Ontario Sire Stake Super Final victory. Davis Jr. will be making his first trip to Red Shores' Charlottetown as he looks to keep the streak of the Ontario region representing Canada alive. A victory in this year's NDC would not be the first time he has represented Canada on the world stage, In 2012 he represented his country in the Prix des Rencontres Internationales de Trotteur Francais in France, which he won. He has over 130 victories this season and has banked just shy of $ 1.5 million in earnings to date this season. With an Ontario region win that will mark the fourth straight year Canada has been represented by an Ontario driver. Gilles Barrieau was the last non-Ontario driver to represent Canada. Heading out west, a young man with strong Island ties, Brandon Campbell was the winner of the Western Regional Driving event at Fraser Downs in April. The son of former P.E.I. horseman Sanford Campbell, this will be Campbell's second attempt at winning the National Driving Championship, he represented the 'West' in 2011 on P.E.I. A winner of over 940 races in his career, Campbell is currently in his 12th year of driving. Campbell called Alberta home from 2003 until 2011 when he made the move to Ontario just after participating in the NDC. He returned back home late in 2012 and since then has become one of the top drivers in Alberta. Campbell has over $ 5.7 million in career earnings. This season he has 62 victories from 420 drives. A win on red soil is sure to be a special one for Campbell. His counterpart from the Western region is Jim Marino. One of the leading drivers at Fraser Downs in his hometown of Surrey, BC, Marino recently surpassed the $10 million mark for career earnings as a driver. He picked up his 1, 800 lifetime driving victory on August 17 at Alberta Downs in the $10 ,000 Alberta Marksman elimination for three-year-old colts. Marino is in his 16th season with his driving tags. This season he has returned 76 of his 467 mounts back to the winner circle. Last season Marino was named the Driver of the Year and Dash winner at the B.C. Standardbred Awards Banquet. He has many major race victories to his credit from his time spent driving in Alberta and B.C., Among that list is BC Sire Stakes finals, Ralph Klein, Mary Murphy and the Robert Millbank. Representing the Quebec/Eastern Ontario region from Gatineau, Que. is Guy Gagnon, he picked up a one point victory in his regional appearance at Hippodrome 3R in June. A winner of over 4300 races is the veteran of the field with 26 years of driving under his belt and over 24, 704 starts. From 2001 until 2012 his earnings were over $1 million each year and over his 26 years he has earned over $ 20 million. He currently sits second in Canada with a .392 UDRS, in 2011 he was nominated as one of three candidates for the O'Brien award for Horsemanship. The Quebec native calls Rideau Carleton his home track and currently sits more then 30 wins ahead at the top of the leader board. Gagnon has 113 victories this season with 102 of those coming at Rideau. His best season came in 2008 when he returned 342 winners back to the winners enclosure and banked over $1.7 million. This will be his second appearance at the NDC, he participated in the 2009 event at Fraser Downs. A runner up to Gagnon in the Quebec/Eastern Ontario region championship, Sylvain Lacaille is back for his second shot at representing Canada at the WDC, he represented Quebec in 2011 at the NDC. From Repentigny, Que, Lacaille has taken a different route to becoming a driver, he drove his first race at the age of seven aboard a pony in which he near fell out of the sulky. Lacaille earned his standardbred tags in 1993 and since than has over 720 lifetime victories and made more than $ 5.5 million in career earnings. The 2013 season was a career best, he hit the 100 win plateau and earned $ 422, 188 in earnings. The Quebec native spends his time between Rideau Carleton and Hippodrome 3R. This season he has 50 wins and has earned over $ 213, ooo from more than 375 drives. Lacaille said prior to the 2011 NDC that he would like to win the WDC representing Canada before he dies. A runner-up in the Atlantic Regional Driving Championship Ryan Ellis has quietly started to leave his mark on Maritime Racing, growing to become one of the primary drivers in the region. The rookie of the field has only been driving since 2007 and rapidly has made his mark at his home track of Truro, winning the driving title in 2011, 2012, 2013 and is well on his way to winning it again this year. He was the leading percentage driver in Canada during the 2012 season batting an astonishing .418. The Brookfield NS native has over 340 victories from 1585 starts. He has a career UDRS of .339 along with more than $ 410,486 in earnings. This season he has eclipsed his wins total from last year with over 45 victories and has earned more money with $52,765. Ellis has made appearances in the year's Gold Cup and Saucer Trial and has also won the Mike MacDonald Consolation with Rare Jewel. Known as 'The Flying Pilot' Ellis is an Air Canada pilot by day and a horsemen by night. He will look to make Nova Scotia proud in his first appearance at the NDC. The winner of the Atlantic Regional Driving Championship and the final participant in the 2014 NDC, is the hometown hero, the king of the Maritimes, Marc Campbell. His second appearance in the NDC couldn't come at a better time, at the top of his game, Campbell is currently the leading driver at both Red Shores' Charlottetown and Summerside, he has 112 wins this season from 486 drives. He started driving in 2004 and is in his 10th season as a driver. He has more than 1240 wins and over $ 2.6 million in lifetime earnings. His resume includes multiple Maritime Breeders and Breeders Crown championships, an O'Brien award for Horsemanship and his biggest moment in harness racing, living out his boyhood dream of winning the Gold Cup and Saucer, a feat he accomplished in 2013. "King Campbell" sure will be at home on Tuesday, his home track is sure to be packed with family and friends, and if that isn't enough. He holds the record for most wins in a single season in Charlottetown, during the 2012 season he notched 130 of them. From a little boy growing up in Orwell, to a young man representing his region on the National stage, Campbell said he wants nothing more than to represent his country at the 2015 World Driving Championships. by Bo Ford, for Red Shores

Three-year-old male pacers Comes Home First and Blue Eyes Cowboy, both sired by Brandons Cowboy, dominated Sunday afternoon's $10,000 eliminations for the Alberta Sires Stakes Marksman leg at Alberta Downs. Comes Home First, the second favourite in the first field, followed Sonic Spark (Travis Cullen) through fractions of :26.2, :55.3 and 1:24 before overtaking that foe in the stretch and drawing off by three and a half lengths for the 1:53.2 victory. Sonic Spark stayed for second while longshot Incognito Cowboy (Keith Clark) kicked home from the backfield to secure third place honours six lengths behind. Jim Marino drove the Brandons Cowboy-Cinderella Cam colt to his fourth win from 10 starts this year for trainer Lance Ward and the J J J Stables of Aldergrove, B.C. Comes Home First now has over $50,000 banked in purses this season thanks in large part to his Brad Gunn Stakes victory and runner-up finish in the Alberta Plainsman Final earlier this year. To view the rest of the story click here.

Three-year-old harness racing pacing fillies faced off in three $6,666 eliminations for the Alberta Sires Stakes Diamond leg on Saturday afternoon at Alberta Downs. Favourite Barona Mercedes romped to an open length victory to kick off the elimination round for trainer/driver Kelly Hoerdt. Firing from post five, Barona Mercedes set up shop on the front end and powered through quarter panels of :27.4, :56.2, 1:25 while extending her lead to five lengths en route to a personal-best 1:53.4 victory. Freesia (Gerry Hudon) and G Ts Jamie (Bill Tainsh Jr.) were the best of the rest. Hoerdt shares ownership of the Brandons Cowboy-Insurance Fee filly with Amy Henry of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. and Blair Corbeil of Beaumont, Alta. After just one pari-mutuel start as a two-year-old, Barona Mercedes boasts a career record including five wins in 11 outings and $28,897 in purses. She was also a stakes winner in the Wild Rose earlier this year and came within a head of the Alberta Princess champion Nighttraintovegas in her first Sires Stakes leg. To read the rest of this story click here.

Even-money favourite Feelin Flush pulled off the victory in the $8,400 Fillies & Mares Open Pace on Saturday afternoon at Alberta Downs as she edged out pacesetter Blue Star Beauty in the final strides. Firing from the outside post seven, Blue Star Beauty and driver Keith Clark were out to a quick two length lead before the first turn over insiders Crackers Hot Shot and Bill Tainsh Jr. They carved out panels of :29, :58.1 and 1:26.1, but Feelin Flush came charging home off a three-hole trip to prevail in 1:54.1. Crackers Hot Shot finished over six lengths behind in third. "I just snuck up the rail there and I tipped her three-quarters of the way down the lane and that's the kind of trip she likes," said winning trainer and driver Travis Cullen, who also co-owns the six-year-old As Promised mare with Ken Hanson of Strathclair, MB. "I've been getting caught first up week after week and she's raced really hard for me. I've had her now almost two years and she's raced her guts out start after start." To view the rest of this story click here. 

Two-year-old pacing fillies and colts converged at Alberta Downs to make their stakes debut in the Emerald Filly and Horizon Pace featured on back-to-back harness racing programs in Lacombe, Alta. on Sunday. Alberta Downs hosted the Sunday double-header due to heavy rain fall on Friday, which caused unsafe/heavy track conditions postponing the Saturday program. Undefeated Fire Watch and the debuting Im Just Ducky were victorious in $22,500 divisions of the Emerald Filly Stakes, co-sponsored by Standardbred Canada. Fire Watch advanced from the back of the five-horse field down the backstretch and drew two lengths clear down the lane with second over Wrapped To Go (Connie Kolthammer) chasing her to the wire. Fire Watch stopped the clock in 1:58.1 for her second and fastest pari-mutuel win. Beauty Of Nature (Gerry Hudon) finished third off a pocket trip. To view the rest of this story click here.

Comes Home First lived up to his name, kicking home off a pocket trip to win the $45,000 final of the Brad Gunn Stake for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Sunday afternoon at Alberta Downs. Driven by Jim Marino, the Brandons Cowboy-Cinderella Cam colt provided owner Rick Mowles of the J J J Stables with his first stakes win since his B.C. outfit was destroyed in a devastating barn fire on June 1. To view the rest of this story click here.

Three-year-old pacing fillies Great Desire and Rollin Deep were victorious in a pair of $10,000 eliminations for the Ralph Klein Breeders Stake as they both put forth career-best efforts on Saturday afternoon at Alberta Downs. Great Desire was an upset winner in the first elimination, prevailing at odds of 11-1 in 1:53.2 with Blake Piwniuk in the sulky for trainer Michelle Danroth. Leaving from post four, Great Desire crossed over in front of insider Triple Action (Jamie Gray) during the :27.3 first quarter. Triple Action then swept back around the roan filly during the second panel and led the field through middle splits of :57 and 1:24.3. But Great Desire had the last laugh as she kicked home in :28.3 to prevail by one length. Sweet Sugar (Jim Marino) finished third and Rummys Command (Keith Clark) was fourth. To view the rest of this story click here. 

Travis Cullen trainees Feelin Flush and Sing Like An Angel continued to dominate the Open pacing mares at Alberta Downs on Saturday, sweeping the top two spots in the afternoon's $8,400 feature race. Feelin Flush (Cullen) and Sing Like An Angel (Phil Giesbrecht) were the early trailers in the six-horse field, but began to advance after the opening quarter. Feelin Flush appeared to stall on the outside as they approached the final turn, but was resurgent in the stretch and brushed by the pacesetting Blue Star Beauty (Keith Clark) with Sing Like An Angel following into second. The top two mares both sprinted their final quarters in :28.1 with one length separating them at the wire. Feelin Flush stepped out of the shadow of her streaking stablemate to win in 1:54.1. She had been the runner-up in their three previous races. American Passion (Gerry Hudon) and Crackers Hot Shot (Bill Tainsh Jr.) came on for third and fourth while Blue Star Beauty, who set fractions of :28.3, :57.1 and 1:25.2, faded to fifth. Cullen and Ken Hanson share ownership of the winning mare. The six-year-old As Promised mare now has six victories in 14 starts this year with over $35,000 banked in purses. Lifetime, she now boasts 27 wins with her earnings climbing past the $200,000 mark. To read the rest of this story click here.

Big money and big speed were both on display during the Sunday matinee at Alberta Downs. The big money was the $51,900 up for grabs in the ABSS Plainsman Final for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, while the big speed came in the form of a record-equaling performance in the $8,400 Open Pace. Sotally Tober fended off a late challenge to take home the ABSS Plainsman Final for trainer/driver Jamie Gray, who co-owns the gelding with Diane Bertrand and Robert Gilhespy of Edmonton, Alberta. Sotally Tober left hard from Post 9, but found himself parked past the quarter pole in :27.3. He brushed past the early leader, Outlaw Last Chance, and proceeded to chop out middle panels of :56.3 and 1:25 before finding another gear and sprinting home in :28.1 to secure the win by a head over Comes Home First in 1:53.1. Pass The Port sat a ground-saving trip throughout the mile and finished third. To view the rest of this story click here.

The betting public was infatuated with Nighttraintovegas in Saturday’s $52,500 final of the Alberta Princess at Alberta Downs, and the filly dug in deep en route to delivering on the pari-mutuel promise. Brandon Campbell got away third from the rail with Nighttraintovegas while Barona Mercedes hustled the field past the quarter pole in :28.1. Campbell had his charge up and driving in the second quarter, and they cleared to the top without a tussle. They stepped through middle fractions of :56.4 and 1:26.1 before unleashing a :29.3 final frame, which was good enough to fend off the pocket-sitting Barona Mercedes by a head in 1:55.4. Mothers Melody took home third money in the rich tilt for three-year-old fillies. Nighttraintovegas, a daughter of Camystic-Midnight In Vegas, improved this year’s record to 3-0-1 from five trips to the track while lifting her seasonal earnings to $35,308 with the win. The Richard Schneider-trained homebred is now 8-for-14 in her career. The career winner of $95,822 is owned by Dick Schneider of Sherwood Park and David Halmosi of Edmonton, Alberta. To read the rest of the story click here.

The Alberta Sires Stakes spotlight shifted to the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Sunday afternoon at Alberta Downs as they faced off in three $6,667 eliminations of the Alberta Plainsman. In the first elimination, favourite Outlaw Last Chance ($3.30) overcame the outside post seven starting spot and cruised wire-to-wire to score his first win of the season by open lengths in a career-best 1:55.3 with Brandon Campbell aboard. Get Thereovernight and Donttelldaddy finished second and third. The grey Brandons Cowboy-Red Star Muffin colt is trained by Joe Ratchford for owners Gordon Baxter and Miranda Logan. Jamie Gray's Sotally Tober ($3.50) released the parked outsider Oh Yeah after a speedy :26.4 opening panel before moving back out for the retake in the second elimination. The favourite then took a second quarter breather before beginning to draw away from the field with Comes Home First chasing him to the wire in 1:54.2, matching his lifetime mark. Regina Beach finished back in third. Gray co-owns the As Promised-Rain Drop Hanover gelding, who has now earned back-to-back victories, with Diane Bertrand and Robert Gilhespy. To read the rest of the story click here. 

The Travis Cullen Stable was a force to be reckoned with on Sunday afternoon at Alberta Downs, winning multiple times on the harness racing program and sweeping the top two spots in a big 1:51.1 mile in the $8,400 Open Pace. Cullen's crew was led by Who Doesnt, who romped to the two length victory in the Open Pace with stablemate Playbook and Philip Giesbrecht coming from last to place. The 1:51.1 mile was a new lifetime mark for the winner and just one-fifth of a second off the track record for aged pacers. A winner in his last Open start two weeks ago, favourite Who Doesnt and Cullen fired off the gate from post four and carved out fractions of :26.4, :56.3 and 1:23.3 before kicking home in :27.3. Runner-up Playbook sprinted his final quarter in :26.3, with his own mile timed in 1:51.3. The closest non-Cullen competitor was Blue Star Admiral, who finished eight and a half lengths behind in third. To read the rest of the story click here.

Three-year-old pacing fillies were in the spotlight on Saturday afternoon at Alberta Downs as they faced off in three Wild Rose Stakes divisions. Barona Mercedes circled a field of seven to win the first $13,333 division in a career-best 1:56.1 clocking by four lengths for trainer/driver Kelly Hoerdt and his partners Amy Henry of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. and Blair Corbeil of Beaumont, Alta. Favourite Rummys Command (Keith Clark) battled three-wide early on for the lead before carving out fractions of :28, :58.3 and 1:27. Meanwhile, second choice Barona Mercedes advanced from the back of the pack and ducked into the pocket around the final turn before re-emerging to wear down the pacesetter in the stretch. Triple Action (Jamie Gray) finished nearly nine lengths back in third. To read the rest of this story click here.

Travis Cullen, Canada's 2013 Future Star Award winner, was the Sunday star at Alberta Downs as he won five of the afternoon's 11 races, including the featured $8,400 Open Pace with Who Doesnt. Firing off the gate from post five in the top class, 6-5 favourite Who Doesnt was the first to get a call, but a parked out Blue Star Admiral drove on to take over the lead just before hitting the first quarter mark in :28.1. Blue Star Admiral continued to front the field past the half in :57.4 and three-quarters in 1:25.1 while Cullen pulled Who Doesnt from the pocket around the final turn. To read the rest of the story click here.

It may be the beginning of May but don't tell that to the officials from Alberta Downs as they were forced to cancel Sunday's matinee harness racing program due to heavy snowfall in the area. Harness racing is scheduled to return to Alberta Downs next Saturday, May 10 with first race post time at 1:15 p.m. From Alberta Downs Publicity Department

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