Looking for a repeat victory in the Sobey's Gold Cup & Saucer, 2013 winning connections, driver Marc Campbell and trainer Ron Burke, teamed up to take this year's first $12,500 trial, which closed out a Saturday double-header at Charlottetown Driving Park.
Aracache Hanover was a dominant 1:51.4 winner in the first of two trials for the 2014 Gold Cup & Saucer.
Campbell fired the seven-year-old son of Dragon Again off the gate and raced three-wide into the first turn before clearing over insiders Astor (Jason Hughes) and Shock It To Em (Walter Cheverie) during the :27.1 opening quarter. Aracache Hanover proceeded to lead the field through middle splits of :55.2 and 1:23.1 before drawing away down the stretch for the four and a half length victory. Bigtown Hero (Gilles Barrieau) came on for second with Shock It To Em finishing third and Island Jet (Robert Shepherd) fourth.
"I was really happy to get the call on a horse like this. He's so classy and he was just a Cadillac tonight," said Campbell, who won last year's Gold Cup & Saucer with the Burke-trained Escape The News in a 1:50.4 track record mile. "That's a huge mile over this track tonight. He was just excellent, I can't really say anything more. He was just awesome."
"It was a good trip for him, but it's a good tightener too because he's had a couple of rough trips the last couple of times and this was a good one for him for next Saturday," said assistant trainer Mickey Burke. "It is great to be here. This is something everybody should do."
Aracache Hanover is a 32-time winner with over $1.7 million banked in purses. He is owned by William Switala and James Martin of Clarence Center, New York.
Sent postward as the 4-5 favourite, Aracache Hanover paid $3.70 to win.
The second Gold Cup & Saucer trial will be held on Monday night's harness racing card, which begins at 7 p.m.
In other Saturday night racing action, repeat winner Russian Kisses posted another big winning margin in the second leg of the Spud Island Classic later-closer for Open mares, prevailing by six and a half lengths victory in 1:56.3 for the driver/trainer duo of Steve and Harold Shepherd. Robert Shepherd, Joseph Travis and Forrest Bartlett share ownership.
For All We Know won the fastest $2,250 division in a season's-best 1:56.2 with Gilles Barrieau driving for trainer Jackie Matheson and owner Bruce Wood. Barrieau and Matheson also joined forces for a victory with General Luckypercy, who stopped the clock in 1:57.1 for owners Jodi Lynn Matheson and Jack Brown. Both Matheson trainees were runner-ups in the opening leg of the series.
Barrieau also drove Keith Campbell's Mcmaverick to a 1:55.2 career-best victory in Saturday night's $2,650 Preferred 2 Pace.
Elm Grove Inarush continued to dominate the Atlantic Sires Stakes three-year-old pacing fillies with a 1:55.3 career-best equalling performance in the first of three $9,500 "A" divisions featured on Saturday afternoon's card.
Driven by Mark Bradley, the Coastocoast Yankee-Seawind Alpha filly grabbed the lead from post two with insider Woodmere Trulyblue (Brodie MacPhee) breaking stride and carved out fractions of :29.1, :58.3 and 1:27.1 en route to her fourth straight stakes win. Elm Grove Inarush's 1:55.3 winning time matched her mark taken last weekend's Sires Stakes leg in an Inverness Raceway track record mile and was just two-fifths of a second off Charlottetown's divisional track record. Sail Through (Mike Stevenson) followed the winner three and a half lengths behind from the pocket while Lovineveryminute (Todd Trites) advanced first over to show.
Elm Grove Inarush now boasts six wins in nine starts this year (four-for-five in ATSS) with earnings of $35,348 for trainer Eddy Doucette and his co-owners Blaine Thibeau, Gordon MacLeod and Grant Mann.
Saulsbrook Alana also turned in back-to-back ATSS victories with a season's best 1:56.2 effort in her "A" division. She prevailed by one and three-quarter lengths over Absolootly Hot (Kenny Arsenault) and Fleurje (Jason Hughes). Campbell drove the popular Western Paradise-Atlanta Girl filly for trainer Kevin MacLean and owner Reginald MacPherson.
In the other "A" division, Bettim Jenny and Robert Shepherd defeated favourite Pictonian Sareta (Mike Stevenson) by three lengths for her first stakes victory in 1:58.1, with Charlottes Style (Kenny Arsenault) finishing third. Trainer Jeff Lilley shares ownership of the Largo-Bettim Amanda filly with Danny Purcell.
A trio of $2,500 "B" divisions were won by Angus MacInnis' homebred Emily Annabel Mac (Western Paradise-Bonnie G Mac) and trainer/driver Clare MacDonald in 2:01.3; the Philip Desroches-owned and trained filly Babies Gigolo (Ameripan Gigolo-Baby Boots) in 2:00 with Jason Hughes aboard; and the maiden-breaking Tobins Beauty (Coastocoast Yankee-So Particular) in rein to Brian MacPhee in 2:01.3 for trainer Clair Sweet, who co-owns with Robert Henderson.
To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following links: Afternoon / Night.