Century Downs Racetrack and Casino hosted the Pacing For Charity event on Sunday afternoon (August 14) with top Canadian drivers Jody Jamieson, James MacDonald and Jack Moiseyev competing on the 10-race program and donating their earnings from the day to three different charities.
The three drivers signed autographs in front of the grandstand in a meet-and-greet session with fans before facing off against Alberta's finest horsemen on the track. Joanne Colville, Chair of the Standardbred Canada Board of Directors, also attended and served as an outrider for the race card.
Open pacer Sterling Cooper kicked off the racing action with a 1:52.2 track record-equalling performance for aged pacing geldings. Trained and driven by Brandon Campbell for owner Jeffrey Elchuk, the eight-year-old Camluck gelding fought off eventual third-place finisher Audreys Dream, the record co-holder who was riding a 10-race win streak for Ed Hensley. Sterling Cooper won by four and a quarter length over Get Thereovernight and Jamieson.
Pacing For Charity's guest drivers Jamieson, Moiseyev and MacDonald were all involved in a three-way finish in the afternoon's fifth race. Three-year-old pacing gelding Snoop De Lion (Jamieson) held off the pocket-pulling Fire Of The Dragon (Moiseyev) and first over challenger Gray Zee (MacDonald) by half a length at the wire in 1:56.2 for owner/trainer Stephen Crump. The win was one of two on the program for Jamieson, who later drove Chillinlikeavillin to victory for the Kelly Hoerdt stable. MacDonald also had a driving double, earning wins aboard Lizard King for Tyler Redwood and Iwontdothatagain for Joe Ratchford.
"It was an amazing day! All of us had a great day, it was beautiful weather and the track bent over backwards for everyone to make sure everything went smoothly," said MacDonald, the Ontario Regional Driving champion who is looking forward to the opportunity to return to Century Downs next year if he advances to the World Driving Championship.
"The track was in great shape and even Jody got along with everyone on the track today," quipped the Guelph, Ont. reinsman. "So all in all, it was a great success. We all had some luck on the track and lots of money was donated to three great charities."
Jamieson's driving fees from the card will be donated to Autism Speaks Canada, while MacDonald was racing for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Moiseyev competed for Breast Cancer Perky In Pink. The three reinsmen earned a combined $1,300 for the charities.
The event was developed by Diane Bertrand, the Chair of the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association's Owners Committee and a Director of Standardbred Canada.
"We were so pleased to bring Jody, James and Jack out here. It was a fantastic day for the charities as well as the overall morale of the horsemen and the racetrack," said Bertrand, noting that Pacing For Charity went so well that it is very likely the event will be held again.
Local horsemen also donated their driver cheques to charity while some of the owners matched the driver contributions to bring the overall charitable donations for the day in excess of $4,000.
In addition to raising money for important causes, the event raised awareness for the charities as well as the harness racing industry.
"I believe it was over $4,000 that was raised for the charities, but also a lot of awareness," added Bertrand. "We had a lot of the different groups out there as well from autism, from breast cancer and from juvenile diabetes. A lot of the people never even knew the racetrack existed because we're still so new with it being the second year open.
"We want to thank the drivers for coming out as well as thank Joanne Colville, the Standardbred Canada Chair, and Dan Gall, our President, for coming out and meeting with our people," said Bertrand.
Century Downs also hosted the eliminations for the second annual Pacing Under Saddle exhibition race, with each rider representing a charity of their choice. The top four finishers from each of the eliminations will return for the final next Saturday, August 27. Century Downs will donate $1,500 ($750, $500, $250) to the respective charities of the horses that finish in the top-three for the final. These non-wagering races featured retired Standardbreds.
The first elimination was held on Saturday and was won by Armbro Blacktie and Alina MacLeod, who is racing for Greener Pastures. Nut Brown Hare (Kelly Kay / Bear Valley Rescue), Dragonwyck (Shirley Hanna / Irricana Volunteer Fire) and MJG Phanatasie (Janice Lea / Irricana Volunteer Fire) completed the top four finishers.
Sunday's elimination was won by Rays Crown Royal and Jaline Munkholm, who is racing for the HRA Backstretch Foundation. Demons B Gone (Amber Lynn Fawcett / Cystic Fibrosis Canada), Meadowlark Appache (Kaylea Hepburn / Plunkett Ranch & Rescue) and Super Sunrise (Amanda Barron / Brody Lane Fawcett Fund) finished second through fourth and will also advance to the final.
To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Century Downs.