BIBLE HILL - It's the crown jewel of Atlantic Grand Circuit Week at Truro Raceway.
The Exhibition Cup is an event everybody on the Maritime harness racing scene wants to win. Just look at the horses owners are throwing into the battle, which offers a purse of $7,500, and it's plain to see these guys aren't messing around.
"It's not a lot of money for the calibre of horses," said Gulf Shore's Paul Gray, owner of Truro-based Oakmont, starting from the post position. "So obviously we want to win it or we would be racing our horses somewhere else for more money."
The race is the headline event of tonight's 12-dash card, which also features a pair of A and B Divisions for the Atlantic Sires Stakes three-year-old pacing colts. Post time is 7 p.m.
There will also be plenty of other Truro Raceway-based talent in the field with PH Bestman, owned by Shubenacadie's Jim Shive, drawing the seven spot with Todd Trites at the controls and Barb Pearl's Maritimer, teaming up with Clare MacDonald, starting from eighth.
So if it's not the cash, what is it that makes the Exhibition Cup such a desirable race to win?
"This is our home," Pearl, a 52-year-old Urbania resident said. "So it would be really nice to win but there's a lot of other horses that would like to win it too."
The fastest race of the season at the half-mile oval in Bible Hill typically brings out the largest crowds in anticipation of an exciting race that always features the possibility of a new track record being laid down.
The Truro connections are plenty capable of winning. Oakmont, 5, has a life's best 1:51 and has had success throughout the Maritimes and Ontario, including a fourth-place finish in the Governor's Plate final in Summerside earlier this month.
The seven-year-old PH Bestman's best is 1:51.2 and Maritimer, a four-year-old, won a Governor's Plate elimination this year to make the final and paced in 1:54.3 his last time out.
But they'll be up against a tough field. Gilles Barrieau will be guiding Mcapulco, this year's Governor's Plate champ who has yet to lose in three track-record runs in the Maritimes, from fourth. Other heavy hitters Firethorn, Joseph Michael, Arabica, All Turain and Aled Hanover will also be in the field.
But its common knowledge in harness racing, anything can happen once the horses leave the gate.
"Anything is possible," Shive said.
And that should make for an excellent show.
"There's a lot of good horses in that one and a lot of good drivers too," Pearl said. "It should be really exciting."