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Forever Paradise Wins Burnett Memorial

Published: August 5, 2016 8:40 pm ET

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Prince Edward Island invaders Forever Paradise and driver Mike McGuigan went wire-to-wire to win the featured $6,000 Kelti Burnett Memorial, sponsored by Corey Ford & McCain Foods, on Friday evening (August 5) at Connell Park in Woodstock, N.B.

Forever Paradise and McGuigan fired out to the lead off the gate from post two into a quick :27.2 first quarter and then carved out middle splits of :58.2 and 1:27.4 en route to a two-length victory in 1:56.1. Along the way, they rebuffed a challenge from fellow Islanders Jeb and Jason Hughes, who advanced first over from the back of the five-horse field and threatened at the half. Top New Brunswick pacer Fall Bliss and Dr. Mitchell Downey shook loose from the pocket down the stretch and finished second while City Of The Year and Michael Downey finished third.

A top competitor at the Red Shores racetracks, Forever Paradise now boasts 12 top-three finishes from 14 starts this year, including six wins. Kevin MacLean trains the six-year-old pacer, who is now a 44-time career winner with earnings totalling $139,984.

"Both of the Island horses are great horses and the New Brunswick horses proved themselves," said Winsloe, P.E.I.'s Aaron MacKenzie, who shares ownership of the Western Paradise gelding with Reginald MacPherson and David MacKenzie of Stratford, P.E.I. "I'd like to thank everybody at Woodstock for having us here and certainly the driver and trainer of our horse. Thank you very much."

Another P.E.I. pacer, Spirit Of America, crushed the competition in the $2,000 Eagles Nest Junior Invitational Pace with an eight-length victory for trainer/driver Jason Hughes.

Hughes took advantage of his inside post position with Spirit Of America and had the rest of the field lined up in program order through a lively :28.4 opening quarter. Stare Down (Mitchell Downey) moved first over from fourth as the field headed in front of the fans during the first lap of the race, however, Spirit Of America hit the half in :58.3 and then began to draw away from his rivals to three-quarters in 1:28.1. Spirit Of America and Hughes built up a five-length lead down the backstretch and were home free by the time they turned into the stretch.

The four-year-old Artistic Fella gelding, who is owned by Hughes' brother Robi, took a new lifetime mark of 1:57.2 while notching his 10th career win. Stare Down held on for second-place while Ideal Ticket (Todd Trites) edged out Wave That Banner (Mark Haig) for third.

Earlier on the card in the $1,200 Mares Handicap Pace, Andrew Bustard earned his first career driving win. Bustard drove Momara to a 2:00.1 dead-heat victory with Bettim Jenny and Jeff Lilley. The five-year-old Lis Mara mare is trained by Ed Harvey and owned by Ralph Harvey.

Although Bustard had to share the top honours in the race, Lilley generously allowed the 20-year-old reinsman to take home the winner's cooler as a milestone souvenir after the blanket presentations were completed. The Elmwood, N.B. resident had driven in just 12 prior races in which he had recorded five top-three finishes before his picking up his first lifetime win on Friday.

To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Woodstock Raceway NB

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