Hare Craft wore down the pacesetting Amazon Art to win the second $10,000 Gold Cup & Saucer Trial on Sunday afternoon at Charlottetown Driving Park.
With the inside post advantage, Firethorn (John MacDonald) took the lead off the gate ahead of even-money favourite Amazon Art (Jonathan Drury) while Piece Of The Rock (Scott Young) was parked out before settling back into the three-hole in front of Hare Craft and Aaron Byron.
As the field approached the :27.2 opening quarter mark, Amazon Art rushed up to take over command and proceeded to the half in :55.1. Down the backstretch, Byron sent Hare Craft first over ahead of the parked out Heart Of Rocknroll (Earl Smith) and moved up alongside the leader at the 1:24 third quarter mark. Hare Craft battled with Amazon Art into the stretch before drawing clear to score the 1:52.3. triumph by one and three-quarter lengths. Amazon Art stayed for second and Piece Of The Rock finished third.
"When the draw came out I knew those inside three had a lot of gate speed and I didn't know how it was going to work out, but I was just hoping they were going to push the issue," commented Byron after the victory. "I was a little worried with Earl Smith being parked out, but I was hoping I could through up the backside and it just all worked out.
"I was sitting fourth along the rail and Piece Of The Rock was in front of me and [Scott] was kind of getting after him and I was hoping to get him for second over, but he was staying down -- I guess he didn't have enough go."
Once Byron got Hare Craft up alongside the leader, he said he had to keep his mount focused.
"My guy got a little rough on the last turn, but I figured if I could keep him going through the turn and keep him close he'd kick for home."
The four-year-old Yankee Cruiser gelding is trained by 2010 Gold Cup & Saucer winner Wayne Preszcator for owners Harness Racing Canada 15 of Mississauga, Ont. and John Di Antonio of Harwich, Massachusetts.
The victory was Hare Craft's 17th lifetime and pushed his career bankroll over the $300,000 mark. He paid $15.90 to win.
"It's amazing," said Byron of Old Home Week's racing action. "This is exactly what harness racing needs is days like this."
The third trial for the 53rd edition of the Gold Cup & Saucer will take place on Monday night. The $60,000 Sobey's Gold Cup & Saucer will be held on Saturday, August 18 to wrap up the Old Home Week festivities.
To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following links: Sunday Results - Charlottetown Driving Park.