Turning for home, it was a two horse breakaway in the 55th running of the $75,000 Sobey's Gold Cup and Saucer with Bigtown Hero and driver Brad Forward battling past Wazzup Wazzup in a track and Canadian record equalling performance to close out Old Home Week at Charlottetown Driving Park on Saturday night, Aug. 16.
Scott Rocks (Jonathan Drury) fired to the lead, but trial winner and even-money favourite Aracache Hanover (Marc Campbell) was on the move early, sweeping around that foe during a :26.4 opening quarter. Take It Back Terry (Gilles Barrieau) began to advance from mid-pack with Forward rolling Bigtown Hero out three-wide as they passed the midway mark in :55.3. Meanwhile, Wazzup Wazzup (James MacDonald) swept up from third to take over the lead from Aracache Hanover.
Wazzup Wazzup raced past three-quarters in 1:23.3 with the wide-rallying Bigtown Hero advancing into second and those two took off turning for home. Bigtown Hero kept on rolling and edged by Wazzup Wazzup in deep stretch for the 1:50.4 victory over the half-mile oval. The winner's stablemate, Island Jet (Robert Shepherd), came on from the back of the pack to finish third, over seven lengths behind.
Buried inside going to the half, Forward noted, "I was in trouble. Obviously I had a lot of horse and he was on the iron. I was see-sawing him, I was just [trying to] get out and it was all him from there. [Wazzup Wazzup] was fighting me off, but as soon as I asked this horse down the lane, he just stepped on by.
"It was the most exciting win I've had in my life," said the Newfoundland native as he was hoisted up by winning trainer Rene Allard amidst a packed winner's circle. "Nothing compares to it. Nothing compares to it. This is absolutely the best race I've ever won in my life."
"I thought he could get the job done and obviously he did," said Allard of his driver choice. "He always drove for me in Ontario back when I was there and he won a ton of races for me and I thought Brad was the man for the job and I'm very happy we got it done."
In search of a horse to ship to P.E.I. for the Gold Cup & Saucer, Bigtown Hero was recently purchased by Allard Racing Inc. of Saint-Esprit, Que. and Yves Sarrazin of La Presentation, Que.
"It was a bit of a last minute thing. He raced on Sunday in Chester [Pennsylvania] and I was looking for a horse for this race and bought him on Monday just before the draw," noted the Quebec native, who had been trying to win the historic race since 2009.
"I want to say thank you to all the owners every year who send me horses and buy horses with me," said Allard, who was joined in the winner's circle by his family, including father Michel, making it just 15 minutes prior in time for the race off his flight. "And thank you to everybody who took care of my stable in the U.S. for two weeks while I was gone."
Bigtown Hero paid $17.30 to win as the 7-1 fourth choice. The six-year-old gelded son of American Ideal earned his 22nd career win and increased his bankroll over $150,000.
The complete order of finish was: Bigtown Hero, Wazzup Wazzup, Island Jet, Take It Back Terry, Scott Rocks, Aracache Hanover, the third Allard entry and trial winner Mickey Hanover (Dan Dube), and Shock It To Em (Walter Cheverie). (Standardbred Canada)