The 59th edition of the Prince Edward Island classic will be contested tonight at Red Shores Charlottetown.
by Melissa Keith
Heavy and unrelenting rain Saturday forced Red Shores Charlottetown to reschedule the year’s most important card of racing. It was announced Friday night that the Saturday, Aug. 18 afternoon races would be moved to Sunday, Aug. 19, to avoid the predicted poor weather. Then, Saturday afternoon, racetrack management issued a media release stating that Saturday’s evening card featuring the Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer and its undercard, originally slated for a first post of 7 pm, would be postponed until the following evening, with a new first post time of 6 pm (Atlantic) tonight.
Red Shores management said that there will be free admission to the grounds of the historic Prince Edward Island racetrack for the rescheduled double-header. The racino parking lot will also be available to patrons attending on Sunday.
While final changes to the two programs remain to be announced, Anthony MacDonald is no longer able to drive Lincolnjames in the Gold Cup and Saucer final, due to the newly-arisen scheduling conflict with his drives in two Pennsylvania Sire Stakes events at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Lincolnjames will retain the catch drive of Gold Cup and Saucer Consolation-winning driver Ken Arsenault, who reined Czar Seelster to a 1:53 victory in Friday night’s main event at Red Shores CDP.
A racecall to remember
Every racetrack announcer looks forward to calling a marquee event such as the Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer, the most prestigious Canadian race east of Quebec. With the 59th annual final postponed until tonight due to heavy rainfall, the traditional Gold Cup and Saucer Saturday night seemed ripe for a story from, and about, two of the sport’s most recognizable racecallers.
Vance Cameron, who announced his first Gold Cup and Saucer in 1979, recalled one of the most unusual stories parallel to the race itself.
“Let me take you back to the year 2000, and Roger Huston was in Charlottetown on Gold Cup and Saucer night. I had worked with him twice before at London (at The Raceway at The Western Fair District). Next to (legendary PEI announcer) Ed Watters, Huston is ‘The Guy’, for me!”
The voice of The Meadows and the Little Brown Jug, Huston has only made one visit to the track now known as Red Shores Charlottetown. “They invited me up there for the Gold Cup and Saucer,” said Huston in a 2017 interview. “This guy, I don’t know that he was an official at Charlottetown, but I think he thought he was, said, ‘They want you to call the Gold Cup and Saucer.’ I said that would be a big thrill.”
When the Hall of Fame racecaller arrived at the PEI landmark, he was shocked to find that plans to have him call the Gold Cup and Saucer were not widely shared. “I got there and went up into the announcers’ booth and in talking with (Cameron), I realized real quick that he had no idea that they wanted me to call the Gold Cup and Saucer! Absolutely no idea,” said Huston.
Huston said he refused to accept the assignment. “So I saw this guy the next day, and I said, ‘I’m not calling that race!’ He said “Why aren’t you?’, and I said, ‘Because nobody told your current announcer! I don’t do things like that.’ I never said one word to Vance.”
He had decided, but also wanted to check in with his Charlottetown counterpart.
Gold Cup and Saucer night, Cameron and Huston compared notes. In an ironically quiet moment, the famous racecallers struck a deal, between themselves.
“Now Roger had called a lot of races that night,” recalled Cameron. “We walked across the track to go to the centerfield judges’ stand, and he mentioned, ‘If you do the post parade, I’ll do the race.’ I said, ‘You know, Roger, this will give me four separate decades of doing the Gold Cup and Saucer.’ Gentleman that he is, Roger said, ‘You know what Vance? If you don’t tell Jack Brown, I won’t tell Jack Brown.’ Jack Brown was the president of the club and he was the boss.”
Spectators remained in suspense. The voice of the Little Brown Jug had already called the Gold Cup and Saucer Consolation, plus 9 of 12 races on the Saturday night card, but the Islander was increasingly part of the Gold Cup and Saucer’s identity. “Down on the tarmac, throughout the grandstand, throughout the backstretch, there were bets on who was going to call the Cup and Saucer: Was it gonna be Huston or was it gonna be Cameron?” said the Summerside, PEI native, laughing.
The unmistakable voice of the local announcer described the action, from start through thrilling finish: “Here comes Cup and Saucer 41! Canaco Simon and Gilles Barrieau take over the deep stretch lead!”
“It ended up being Cameron,” said Cameron himself, 18 years later. “Jack Brown never said a word to me, and that’s what kind of a gracious gentleman this Roger Huston is!”
Guest announcers remain a popular feature of Old Home Week, with The Meadowlands’ Ken Warkentin sharing the microphone multiple races and calling the 2018 Gold Cup and Saucer Consolation. Nonetheless, Cameron is the safest of bets for tonight’s Gold Cup and Saucer final.