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Rock Diamonds Shines In Gold Cup & Saucer

Published: August 17, 2019 11:15 pm ET

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Swift early fractions poised Rock Diamonds N and 21-year-old New England native Mitchell Cushing to rip through the field and claim victory in the 60th renewal of the Guardian Gold Cup & Saucer at Charlottetown Driving Park on Saturday, Aug. 17.

The inside three starters shot for the front with Bet On Brett brushing quickest to the top. Trial-winner Sir Pugsley sat second while Bettors Fire N, driven by Mitchell’s father Ron Cushing, ducking to third. Rock Diamonds N sat sixth past a :26.3 opening quarter and glided along the cones as Bettors Fire N pulled first over into a :54.1 half.

Pacesetter Bet On Brett began to retreat up the backside. Sir Pugsley pulled pocket to take command while Bet On Brett got circled by defending champion Somewhere Fancy, with Lisburn stacked three wide and Midway Island, the other trial winner, four wide.

Sir Pugsley passed three-quarters in 1:23.2 but clung to the lead as Somewhere Fancy and Lisburn loomed closer and eventually moved to the front turning for the finish. Rock Diamonds N remained at the pylons and shot through the open stretch to power past everyone and stop the clock in 1:51.4. Somewhere Fancy finished second while Lisburn took third.

“I really thought my dad’s [horse] was going to step around Sir Pugsley, but we got a nice spot that opened up,” Cushing said after the race. “They all left out of there real hard, so I just took back and, after that, you just have to go with instinct—what you see with the other as they’re running out of gas and whatnot.”

Winning his eighth race from 16 starts this season and his 24th from 62 overall, Rock Diamonds N races for owners Kevin Sywyk, Ron Cushing and Frank Ranaldi and has earned $282,362. Mitchell Cushing, growing up driving at the fairs in Maine and now the leading driver at Plainridge Park in Massachusetts, won in his first start in the Gold Cup & Saucer.

“I thought Fryeburg Fair was pretty cool,” Cushing said, “but this is completely different. This is like what you see at a professional sports game.”

Father Ron had driven Rock Diamonds N in all his stateside starts previously, including when the six-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding finished second as the favourite to Sir Pugsley in his trial last week. Ron, siding with Bettors Fire N in the final, invited Mitchell to drive the eventual winner while Bettors Fire N finished off the board. As Ron told Trot Insider earlier this week, he was looking to create a lasting memory for his family at the Gold Cup & Saucer and it would mean more to him see his son in the winner's circle.

“We’re the biggest competitors,” Cushing said of racing against his father. “If we’re in against each other, I can’t wait to beat him because it means my paycheck is more than his. I wanted to beat him more than anybody on the racetrack tonight.”

Rock Diamonds N returned $12.80 to win.

Even-money favourite Red Dirt Boomer pounced on pacesetter Red Dirt Rocknroll to win the Cup-card co-feature—the $17,500 Joe O’Brien Memorial—in 1:56.1.

Red Dirt Rocknroll pushed for position from post 1 rounding the first turn while trainer-driver Gilles Barrieau sent Red Dirt Boomer after the early leader. Barrieau brushed the three-year-old son of Malicious to the front past a :27.3 opening quarter and soon yielded for the pocket as Red Dirt Rocknroll retook before a :56.1 half.

Mrs Browns Boy pulled first over from third heading up the backside to press the pacesetter past three-quarters in 1:26.1, but soon went off stride circling the turn. Red Dirt Boomer then had room to dash past Red Dirt Rocknroll through the stretch in progress to a length-and-three-quarter victory.

Owned by Daniel Ross, Red Dirt Boomer won his fourth race from nine starts this season and his 11th from 23 overall, earning $83,207. He paid $4.20 to win.

Bugsy Maguire followed with a first-over victory in the $10,000 Birthplace of Confederation Final, pulling an 8-1 upset in 1:53.2.

Euchred pushed for position from the pylons while Brandons Glory surged from the center of the gate towards the top nearing a :27.2 opening quarter. Euchred retook the lead while Bugsy Maguire sat behind the top two in third, but driver Austin Sorrie edged the five-year-old Bettors Delight gelding from the pegs to race uncovered into a :55.2 half.

Bugsy Maguire stuck along the pacesetter’s wheel coming to three-quarters in 1:24.2 and cut into the leader’s margin rounding the final turn. The Wade Sorrie trainee surged to a two-length advantage through the lane to win with Euchred holding second from Woodmere Ideal Art racing second over into third.

Winning his sixth race from 25 starts this season and his 21st from 103 overall, Bugsy Maguire has earned $206,671. Walter Simmons owns the $19.10 winner.

Burn Out Hanover took the $5,000 Birth of Confederation Consolation going first over in 1:55.1. The four-year-old Well Said gelding sat last of the quartet passing a :28.1 opening quarter before driver Travis Cullen sent the Jeff Holmes trainee off the pylons heading to a :57 half. Burn Out Hanover then drew alongside race-leader Adkins Hanover passing three-quarters in 1:26.1 and collared the favourite turning into the stretch to win. Pocket-sitter Nogreatmischief snagged second while Adkins Hanover settled for third.

Owned by Orwell Bay Stable, Burn Out Hanover won his fourth race from 16 starts this season and his 14th from 47 overall, earning $80,612. He paid $4.30 to win.

Craven The Beach left for the top from the pylon post to take the $5,900 Alpine Claiming Series Final going wire to wire in 1:57.1. The nine-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding faced mild first-over pressure from Seethelightsngo through fractions of :27.2, :55.3 and 1:25.4 as that one parked the mile. Craven The Beach then scooted away from faltering competition while Shiftyn Georgie rallied to finish second, one-and-a-quarter lengths behind, with Leaving A Legacy looping from last for third.

Owned and trained by Neal Moase, Craven The Beach won his sixth race from 20 starts this season and his 31st from 194 overall, earning $176,226. He paid $5.50 to win.

Interference past the quarter forced the disqualification of odds-on favourite Freddie, placing Majian Tango first in the $3,500 Open Trot. Trainer-driver James Ripley placed the five-year-old Tad The Stud gelding last to a :29 first quarter and edged first over moving to a :59 half. He stalled passing three-quarters in 1:29 and overtook tiring horses through the stretch to finish five lengths behind Freddie in second while pocket-sitter Star Photo finished third, placed second.

A homebred for Marylea Ripley, Majian Tango won his third race from 11 starts this season and his 16th from 46 overall, earning $45,812.

Sodwana Bay went coast to coast in the $6,250 Fillies and Mares Open Pace, pacing a 1:55.2 mile as the 2-5 favourite. Trainer-driver Gilles Barrieau brushed the six-year-old No Pan Intended mare to the top past a :28.1 opening quarter and led through splits of :58.2 and 1:26.4. Innocent Kiss applied first-over pressure past the half but faltered into the turn while Sodwana Bay strolled to a length-and-a-quarter win with Traces Of Purple second and West River Ambyr third.

Owned by Wayne MacRae and Howmac Farms Ltd., Sodwana Bay won her eighth race from 12 starts this season and her 30th from 92 overall, earning $182,189. She paid $2.60 to win.

The Sorries teamed to take the $2,900 Preferred 2 Pace with J J Powerball in 1:53.2. The four-year-old Image Of Dawn gelding—co-owned by her driver Austin Sorrie with Tammy Collings and trained by Wade Sorrie—sat third past a :28 opening quarter before circling to the top. From there he set a clip of :57.1 and 1:25.3 in progress to a five-and-a-quarter length win over Red Magician and Atlantis.

Winning his third race from 21 starts this season and his 11th from 50 overall, J J Powerball has earned $55,753 and returned $10.70 to win.

To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Charlottetown Driving Park.

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