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R Caan Wins MacGregor Memorial

Published: August 21, 2015 10:49 pm ET

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Driver Brad Forward sent the Rene Allard trainee R Caan three-wide down the backstretch and swept to command to win the $20,000 James 'Roach' MacGregor Memorial on the eve of the Sobeys Gold Cup & Saucer at Red Shores at Charlottetown Driving Park.

His winning move at the five-eighths mark wasn't part of the original plan, but as Forward noted, "There's always Plan B."

Hoping to leave, Forward was forced change his strategy and settled R Caan in fourth-place as insider Big Surf fired off the gate with the Allard-trained Meirs Hanover moving into second and Modern Xhibit getting away third. Big Surf led the way through fractions of :27.1 and :55.2 with Modern Xhibit advancing first over and R Caan picking up the cover. Down the backstretch, Forward tipped R Caan wide into a three-way battle for the lead and took over by three-quarters in 1:24 while Modern Xhibit took second and Meirs Hanover advanced outside in third. R Caan opened up a couple lengths on top at the head of the stretch and cruised home for the 1:52.2 triumph with Meirs Hanover closing in for second-place and finishing one and a quarter length behind his stablemate. Modern Xhibit finished third.

"The Plan A was trying to leave, but everybody was leaving," said Allard amidst a packed winner's circle. "That's the thing about Brad, he went to Plan B real quick and got the job done."

"He raced real good. He raced larger than I thought," said Forward of the six-year-old Four Starzzz Shark gelding. "Rene was really confident in him, so always when the trainers are confident like that it gives you lots of confidence to drive them. Rene was big on him, so he said leave out. We were hoping we'd get the front, but it didn't work out that way, so his big thing was don't get caught in because you have a lot of horse."

"He was really good last week," said Allard. "He's had some health issues and he was real good last week and then this week he came here and we trained him with Crombie A and they both trained really good together. I thought he would be really sharp tonight."

The victory in the race named for James 'Roach' MacGregor had special meaning for Forward.

"Roach has been such an ambassador to this sport let alone the people here and to grow up watching him as a small child and to race in this, it's exciting for me," said the reinsman, who is hoping his winning momentum will carry over into Saturday's racing action.

Forward and Allard will team up tomorrow night in hopes of a repeat victory in the $60,000 Sobeys Gold Cup & Saucer. Forward will drive Crombie A, who set a 1:50.3 track record in his trial. Allard will have another shot for glory with his brother Simon driving Sparky Mark, a runner-up to the other trial winner Take It Back Terry.

Friday night's card also included a pair of $12,000 Lady Slipper Gold divisions for three-year-old pacing fillies. Woodmere Dancenart turned back a challenge from favourite Woodmere Articblue and then held off Jann Down by a head to win the first division in 1:58 for trainer/driver Clare MacDonald. Party Rock finished half a length back in third. The win was the second in a row for the Articulator filly, who is owned by Nova Scotia's Morah Kerr and Phonsie MacEachern.

Trained and driven by Kenny Arsenault, Elm Grove Joanette overcame an early interference break and battled past Miss Oromocto to take a new lifetime mark of 1:59.1 while favourite Three Pink Bows finished a quarter-length behind in second. The Driven To Win filly is owned by Islanders Peter Smith, Larry Chappell, and Gerald Morrissey.

The afternoon's $6,000 Grassroots divisions were won by Tobins Lady and trainer/driver/co-owner Jason Hughes in 2:00; Terrence Affleck's Lyndale Jenn and driver Gary Chappell in 2:00.3; and Jays Little Spark in a career-best 1:59.3 with Gilles Barrieau catch-driving for trainer Greg MacInnis.

Caliban Hanover won Friday evening's $1,800 Open Trot as he nosed out Diamond Mine at the wire in 2:02.1 for trainer/driver Ronnie Gass.

To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following links: Afternoon Results / Evening Results.

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