BIBLE HILL - Wentworth's Wes Patriquin couldn't have been happier as he left Truro Raceway Sunday.
The 70-year-old owner of Isleofpalms got to see her charge to a 1:58.4 victory at Truro Raceway in one of four divisions of the Frank and Beth Stanfield Memorial for the Atlantic Sires Stakes three-year-old pacing fillies. The win came with a $16,725 cheque, one of the richest on the Maritime harness racing scene. But best of all, it happened on home turf.
"It means a lot," said Patriquin, who has been involved in harness racing for the past 40 years. "It's nice to win at home where a local guy is putting up support for the program."
The races were the highlight of a 13-dash card that closed out the 30th edition of Atlantic Grand Circuit Week at the half-mile oval in Bible Hill. The festivities saw an increase in both attendance and wagering over the past several years.
Sunday's win gives Isleofpalms a perfect record in just two starts on the circuit, where horses earn points throughout the season based on where they finish. The top eight points-earners at the end of the schedule qualify for the Atlantic Breeders Crown final at Charlottetown Driving Park Oct. 6 and 7.
"We're really pleased," Patriquin said. "We've been babying her along waiting for her to step up to the plate. It just seems like she's found herself and likes racing."
The victory vaulted Isleofpalms from 15th spot in the points into a five-way tie for fourth. With two meets left, Patriquin said he hopes the horse can make the show.
Malabrigo is certainly on a mission to get there. The horse, stabled at Charlottetown and owned by Buntainwood Farm in Brackley Beach, P.E.I., took the lead in the points standings with a 1:56.4 win, giving it four victories in as many stakes starts this season.
"It's always nice to win but it's this is a really nice stake race over here," said driver and trainer Marc Campbell, a 27-year-old Winsloe resident. "It was a really nice win today."
Elm Grove Girlzone took another edition of the race in 1:59.1 while Pictonian Amanda also joined Sunday's winners club with a 1:59.2 victory.
With a large cheque on the line and a good horse pulling him along, Campbell wanted no part of a battle and put Malabrigo on the front by the opening quarter. She remained unchallenged the rest of the way.
"When you're going for bigger money you don't want to take any chances so I wanted to be a little more aggressive and be close to the front," Campbell said.
The victory gives Malabrigo 24 points while Seeyouonthebeach, the leader going into Sunday's card, lies second with 22 after scoring just two points on a fourth-place finish.
Campbell said although Malabrigo is still a young horse, the racer blows him away with its prowess on the track.
"She's teaching me every time I'm out there," he said. "She knows how to race. She'll go to the front and just sit there and if a horse comes up on the outside she'll take off. Even today, halfway down the stretch I gave her a tap with the whip and she just looked as if to say 'I've got this.'"