Art I Special ends Junebugs' reign in thrilling final race
If you were blind and listening to Warren MacKinnon call the final race Sunday at Inverness Raceway, you would swear you missed seeing the greatest race ever.
Art I Special stretches to the finish line for driver Joe Campbell as Greg Sparling looks on to finish second with Junebugs Baby in a memorable running of the $2,650 Dr. Jim MacLean Remembrance pace at Inverness Raceway on Sunday.
Well, it was just as exciting for the harness racing fans who heard and saw Art I Special and Junebugs Baby duke it out in a virtual match race for the $2,650 Dr. Jim MacLean Remembrance pace.
It was the final race of the final race card of the live harness racing season, and it didn’t disappoint.
Fraser Turnbull’s Junebugs Baby, with Greg Sparling holding the reins, has reigned supreme in recent weeks in the local Winners-Over division, winning both legs of the Inverness Invitational the past two Sundays.
Art I Special, owned by Randy Copley and trained by Redmond Doucet Jr., was second in both of those $3,750 races with Doucet in the bike. However, work commitments didn’t allow Doucet to be there Sunday, and Copley sought the driving services of veteran reinsman Joe Campbell.
In Sunday’s showdown, Art I Special drew the rail while Junebugs Baby went to the outside second after leaving from post four. From then on it was a dogfight.
Twice Sparling tried getting around Campbell and each time Sparling was forced to yield but refused to take the pocket.
Cutting blistering fractions of 27.3, 57.1 and 1:26.4, the two speedsters soon had five lengths on the rest of the field. As they rounded the seven-eighths turn, Sparling made another attack on the stretch and briefly took the lead. But calm, cool Campbell gave Art I Special the reins and the six-year-old Artsplace progeny took the lead back to win by a head in 1:57.2.
It was the fourth win of the day for Campbell, who smiled and waved to an appreciative crowd as he returned to the winner’s circle with Art I Special.
It was the eighth win of the season for Randy Copley’s horse, topping $10,000 in earnings this year.
He has 41 wins lifetime and earnings of more than $150,000.
Another highlight of Sunday’s final card was the announcement that there would be no more executions at Inverness Raceway – JGs Hangman was taking an early retirement.
Three years short of his mandatory retirement, owner Gussie MacLean, who also bred and trained the horse by Justice Denied and his prize brood mare JGs Goldie, figured it was time for the feisty Hangman to join Abby Best at his Port Hood pasture.
JGs Hangman pronounced sentence on many offenders over the years, picking up 58 lifetime wins for earnings of $102,744.
His lifetime mark of 1:56 was set in Inverness, though he raced at all Maritime tracks as well as Flamboro and Sudbury. When he raced in 2004 as a two-year-old he posted 10 wins in his first 10 starts.
JGs Hangman was always a part of everyone’s ticket and will be missed at Inverness Raceway.
Anthony Beaton’s Schooner won the Sandy MacIsaac Memorial pace in race five on Sunday. Alex MacQuarrie had him to the finish in 2:00 flat.
And Joe Campbell’s third win of the day came in race eight aboard Perfect Xample to win the Malcolm, Janet and Stanley MacQuarrie Memorial pace in 2:02.4.
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