Seventeen entries were received for the 49th edition of Sobeys Gold Cup and Saucer series with trials set for Saturday night and Monday night, each carrying a purse of $12,500 at Charlottetown Driving Park Entertainment Centre.
The draw for the trial races was carried out at a news conference Tuesday with eight horses competing on Saturday night and nine starters on Monday. The top four finishers in each trial earn a berth in the $60,000 final Aug. 16, the richest and most prestigious race in the Maritimes.
Former winner Banner Yankee (2006) from the Princton, Ontario stable of Wallace native Carl Jamieson is among the Saturday starters, drawing Post 5. A runner-up to Silent Swing last year, Banner Yankee will be making his third start of the season, his last a 1:56.1 victory in the $15,000 Robert McCain Memorial at Woodstock, N.B.
Among his rivals will be Outlawpositivecharg, a four-year-old who won the Governor's Plate at Summerside and the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Cup at Truro. Terry Gallant drives and trains the Blissfull Hall pacer for owner Fred Lamont of Calgary.
Woodmere Quickpeek, a seven-year-old Island bred pacer owned by Norman Leger of Shediac and Allan Jones of Riverview drew the rail for this one.
Marymatt Hanover, a fourth-place finisher in last year's final, drew Post 4 for trainer Ronnie Matheson and co-owners Tom Clark and Hal Bevan of Charlottetown. He is the fastest record pacer in the field with a 1:49.4 mark taken at age four.
The oldest horse in this field is 10-year-old Henschke, a downunder-bred pacer who was recently acuired by David MacDonald of Halifax and who will be driven by Darren Crowe of Truro.
Other starters are outside entries Kuai Dium N, Underground King and Match Bayama.
Monday's trial has Lakota Hall leaving on the rail for Walter Cheverie and owner John Thompson of Charlottetown. He is among seven of the starters who have been racing in the Maritimes this year.
Coming in for the trials are Country Estate, a four-year-old Force Of Life pacer owned by Wes Patriquin of Debert, a recent winner in 1:53.1 at Flamboro Downs, and Mach_It Paid, a four-year-old Mach Three gelding owned and trained by Isaac Waxman of Dundas, Ont.
Country Estate, bred by Wade Waugh of Summerside, is trained by Moncton native John Louis Arsenault, who harnessed last year's winner, Silent Swing.
St Pete Star, a four-year-old Life Sign stallion owned by Paul Gray of Pugwash, drew Post 2 for Danny Romo while Astronomical, the richest horse in the field, was saddled with the outside Post 8 for trainer Ian Moore.
Pownal Bay (Post 3), Best Of Life (Post 4), Outbreak (Post 5), and Mighty And Strong (Post 9) are the other starters.