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From P.E.I. To The Meadowlands Pace

Published: July 21, 2021 10:53 am ET

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At the age of 10, Mark MacDonald attended his first Gold Cup & Saucer in 1988. Dr. Ian Moore won that race with The Papermaker in 2:01.2 and more than 30 years later, Macdonald still remembers that night vividly.

“That was my favourite horse as a kid. After Doc won with him, I rode with him on the bike back to the paddock in the pouring rain.”

Over MacDonald’s long driving career, he hasn’t necessarily teamed regularly with his longtime friend but the opportunity came about at the perfect time for MacDonald to scratch the Meadowlands Pace off his bucket list with Moore’s pacing colt Lawless Shadow.

“He was looking for a guy who could keep up with him (Lawless Shadow). I know Doc and David Miller have a good relationship, but David had the favourite, Perfect Sting. So, he was looking for a good option that could get the job done. I’ve known Doc for over 35 years and we’re both from Prince Edward Island so that also played into it.”

Lawless Shadow and MacDonald finished second but was placed first after Charlie May was moved to ninth after causing interference. “Right after the wire, I looked up and congratulated Brett (Miller), he told me he thought he was coming down. I didn’t really know what had happened because the visibility was bad. When I got to the paddock, Doc thought I was third, but I told him that I was second and I thought Brett is coming down. After going to the paddock office, we found out we were going to be placed first.”

Winning the Meadowlands Pace feels like it should come easy for someone with MacDonald’s impressive resumé of major stakes wins. This win was far from simple. “It feels tremendous. It’s such a hard race to win. I’ve raced in it four times before and I think I’ve only gotten a cheque once. It only happens once a year and you don’t have many chances.”

With a career that now spans four decades and more than 45,000 starts, MacDonald boasts nearly 6,400 wins and purses in excess of $100,000,000 while winning nearly every major race in the sport and multiple O’Brien Awards. There is not much MacDonald has not accomplished in his driving career but there is still one trophy that is missing from his mantle.

“I have won a lot of major and big races. All these races are hard to get and the only one left on my list is the Hambletonian. Probably not this year but hopefully soon.”

The Meadowlands Pace win was extra special because of the long relationship between MacDonald and Moore. This story was 32 years in the making and it had a fairy-tale-like ending with the two friends getting the win together.

“It was really cool. That picture with Doc was over 32 years ago and he’s now training the winner of the Meadowlands Pace and I’m driving for him. We’re two guys from Prince Edward Island and we’re a long way from home. I told Doc in the winner’s circle that the last time he and I were there together it was also in the rain 32 years ago.”

Although MacDonald was the one in the muddy trenches Saturday evening, he knew who deserved the credit for this win. “Doc did such a great job and his attention to detail is amazing. The horse lost a shoe during the post parade, and he had a few premade ready just in case. Doc had the horse in tip-top shape and set him up for a big race. I was very grateful for the opportunity and the honour.”

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Trey Colbeck; Meadowlands Pace trophy photo courtesy Lisa Photo)


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