Friday was a big day for standardbred racing in Yorkton as Cornerstone Raceway hosted the 2013 edition of the Prairie Lily Pace and Standardbred Canada’s ‘Bring a Friend Night’.
The Prairie Lily Pace, for Canadian-sired aged pacing mares, sponsored by Standardbred Canada and the Saskatchewan Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association, is the premier race of the season for mares and fillies.
Twenty-two mares were nominated for this year’s Prairie Lily with 14 going to the gate in a pair of races, each for a purse of $3,000.
The first half of the Prairie Lily was an all Manitoba affair at the finish line as Darryl Mason piloted Carleigh Cheyenne to top spot over Dallas McGee and Barbera and Cory Manning with Gottaluckydeal.
“It was good,” Mason said of the big win. “That horse is good right now. He’s been racing strong in Manitoba.”
Mason said Carleigh Cheyenne’s experience on Manitoba tracks translated well to Yorkton, which has a similar half-mile track. He added the biggest question going into the race was the 4.5 hours in a trailer from Killarney, MB.
“You’re never sure what that might take out of her,” he said.
That said, Mason said he was expecting a good race from his mare.
“I thought they (his horses) all had a chance. I wouldn’t drive 4.5 hours if I didn’t think they had a chance to win,” he said.
Mason said he wanted to take Carleigh Cheyenne near the front from the start.
“I just wanted to give her a chance,” he said, adding once on the front end “… she was strong.”
Mason had earlier in the evening captured the Cornerstone Credit Union with Ignite The Spark over Garett Isman with HF Nancys Babygirl, and Donald Tracey with Starlite Diva.
Veteran Yorkton driver/trainer Brian Gray topped the second half of the Prairie Lily Pace with Ms Julia Rose, with Manning in for place with Smileforthepicture, with Mason taking show money with Justabitfaster.
Gray said coming from the four spot he just wanted to get into a good spot.
“My biggest concern was not to get caught in,” he said.
Gray said he was able to get in a good spot, and when the rest of the field didn’t push things he took the opening “to get to the front.”
Once on the front, Ms Julia Rose took control and cruised to the win over the field.
Gray also captured the Canadian Tire Pace with Rain Gauge. The six-year-old gelding paced a new lifetime best time of 2:00.3. Clayton Braybrook with Bling Kaching was second, followed by McGee with Red Riverboat.
Gray said the win, coming with a brisk new lifetime mark for Rain Gauge, was unexpected. He said Rain Gauge had shown little interest in coming from behind over the summer, so Friday he took her to the front off the gate.
“Getting to the front she was a whole different horse,” he said. “She was in the harness and more interested.”
On a night of all feature races, The Postman took Richard Remillard to the winner’s circle in the opening Alpine Holdings Pace, over Braybrook and Freedom Forever and Tracey with Shyloh Shae.
Ronald Cullen and Lualas Diyak took the Soloninko Farms Pace. Remillard with Merlins Magicmaker was in for second, followed by Isman and Dancing Terror.
Cullen also finished the night in the winner’s circle after taking the Farrell Agencies Ltd. Pace in the seventh. Isman and Oblivious Boy and Cullen and Outlaw I See Red rounded out the top-three.