view counter
 
view counter
 
 

Is This MacDonald's Year?

Published: May 25, 2016 5:48 pm ET

No Comments | Jump to Comments

Driver Mark MacDonald calls his time in London, Ont. racing at The Raceway at the Western Fair District “maybe the best time of my life.”

MacDonald, who is now based in New York and is one of the top drivers at Yonkers Raceway, will return to Western Fair on Friday to drive Sunfire Blue Chip in the $150,000 Molson Pace invitational for trainer Jimmy Takter.

“London was the first place I bought a house. It was a condo, but it was like a house. I lived in apartments before that. I actually lived 10 minutes from Western Fair,” said the 37-year-old Prince Edward Island native, who first made his name racing in Ontario from 1999 through 2011.

“I had some stoplights then, not bridge traffic. It is definitely a different atmosphere [in New York] as opposed to up there, but Western Fair was great. I had a lot of fun there. I won a lot of races. It was the first time I got to race in all the [Ontario] Sires Stakes and was kind of the go-to guy.”

What hasn’t been as much fun has been the Molson Pace. MacDonald has raced in it nine times and never won.

“It’s been my Achilles Heel. That race just keeps getting me. I almost won it a few times. Dr No, I thought I was home with him and Our Lucky Killean got me right at the wire [in 2006]. I think I still have the track record at London with Tigerama [1:50.4 in 2008]. He buzzed around there in the elimination and then drew the seven-hole and got stung past the quarter. He was kind of a speed horse. The seven-hole and a speed horse don’t really mix there in London, unless the inside wing falls off or something. Anyway, he got stung and ended up fifth.”

MacDonald last raced in the Molson Pace in 2014 and was eighth with Bandolito.

“Bandolito, I got a horrendous trip with him. I was out early and he didn’t fire. He wasn’t right then, either. He didn’t race for about five or six months after that race,” MacDonald said. “I’ve had some good horses in that race, but I’ve raced some horses that turned up sick and I’ve raced some horses that just got beat. I just never get to the wire first.”

MacDonald, a winner of nearly 5,700 career races and more than $84 million is a two-time O’Brien Award winner as Canada’s Driver of the Year. He set a record for driving wins on Canadian soil with 739 in 2006 — since surpassed by Jody Jamieson. MacDonald will be driving against his younger brother, James MacDonald, in this year’s Molson Pace. James will pilot P H Supercam from post seven.

“James is a good little driver. He’s doing a great job. I talk to him all the time and always try to help him as much as I can. But I won’t be helping him out on Friday,” Mark said, laughing. “Don’t eat yellow snow. That’s my tip for him.”

Mark said he likes his chances with Sunfire Blue Chip, especially drawing the inside post three.

“He’s a really good horse... A good half-mile horse,” Mark said of the six-year-old stallion, a son of American Ideal out of Shot Togo Blue Chip who has earned just over $1 million. “He won the Prix d’Ete as a four-year-old at Three Rivers. He’s a really fast horse, good gaited. He doesn’t wear a boot. He’s a typical Takter horse. He’s really well-mannered, a nice horse to drive. Everything about him is nice. He just won in 1:51 a couple of weeks ago in Yonkers on kind of a tiring track. It was a good mile that night.”

Sunfire Blue Chip has a record of 4-3-2 this year in 16 starts and earnings of just over $80,000.

“He was sharp in the Levy [Series at Yonkers]. He raced in every leg in the Levy and he just had horrible luck with the draw. He was, literally, outside every week... We couldn’t get a break with that horse. They actually took him out of the Levy one week and I took him to the front and he won in like :53.3... The Levy wasn’t meant to be for him this year, but he always raced well. He showed up every week.”

Now Mark MacDonald hopes Sunfire Blue Chip shows up with his best game on Friday so he can finally claim the Molson Pace in his 10th attempt.

Post positions for the Molson Pace field are as follows:

1. State Treasurer – Chris Christoforou
2. Bettor Rock On N – Jody Jamieson
3. Sunfire Blue Chip – Mark MacDonald
4. Evenin Of Pleasure – Sylvain Filion
5. Machtu N – Trevor Henry
6. Mcwicked – Randy Waples
7. P H Supercam – James MacDonald
8. All Bets Off – Matt Kakaley

The Molson Pace program will also feature the Ontario Sires Stakes for three-year-old colt pacers, a quartet of City of London Series finals, a pair of Alliance Claiming Series finals and an added-purse Junior Invitational Pace as part of the undercard. Total purses for the night will be more than $550,000.

There will be a number of promotions on the night, including Scratch and Win program prizes, OSS ‘Be A Winner Contest,’ Party on the Patio, a Molson VIP infield event and much more. The wagering menu has been bolstered to include a $5,000 guaranteed early Pick-3, $10,000 guaranteed early Pick-4, $15,000 guaranteed late Pick-4 and the addition of a third Super Hi-5 – all low 15 per cent takeout wagers.

(Western Fair District)


view counter
 
 
 

© 2020 Standardbred Canada. All rights reserved. Use of this site signifies your agreement and compliance with the legal disclaimer and privacy policy.

Firefox 3 Best with IE 7 Built with Drupal