Horseplay welcome here!
Come visit our matinee tracks, where kids are encouraged and horses whinny a welcome. No purses, no betting, just an inexpensive afternoon of fresh air and fun for the whole family, up-close and personal to a fair-like amateur racing tradition that hasn’t changed for a hundred years.
Visit our tracks in O’Leary, Alberton, Kensington, Tyne Valley and Pinette. Just call and we’ll be happy to give you directions, times, race days and maybe you’ll catch some of our unbridled enthusiasm for these unique PEI events.
SPOTLIGHT ON PINETTE
Located on Highway 1, just a scenic 35 minute drive east of Charlottetown, Pinette Raceway should definitely be on your list of places to visit. Enter the village of Pinette, cross the two bridges and halfway up the hill on your left you’ll see the racetrack sign for the Home of the Kilted Pace. The last day of the Lord Selkirk Park Highland Games on August 5th, the Kilted Pace is a show of Highland pride that you don’t want to miss. All race drivers must wear kilts to compete.
Like all of the matinee tracks on the Island, the small gate fee and 50/50 draws are important to help with maintenance. Everything is done by volunteers and equipment is expensive, so compromises must be made. The old fire truck makes a perfect water truck to keep the dust down on the track, with a few modifications. The starting gate used to lead the charge of horses at Summerside Raceway, before it got too old for them. Luckily, as at all of the matinee tracks, nobody begrudges their time to keep things running.
Every harness race in North America starts with the horses behind the gate, but did you ever wonder how the horses get used to it? The horses trailing the starting gate above are 2-year-olds, and they’re participating in what is called a schooling race. The gate starts to move in the backstretch and keeps a comfortable pace for three-quarters of a mile. Once the “babies” get used to the sight and the noise, the drivers move them closer and closer, never pushing them past their comfort zone. Standardbreds are smart and usually level-headed horses and it doesn’t usually take long for them to feel comfortable putting their heads right on the gate.
Horses entered in matinee races might be older or slower horses, past their usefulness at the “big” tracks; they could be young horses gaining valuable experience and courage away from the strong competition at Charlottetown or Summerside tracks, or they could be racehorses that aren’t getting in to race every week getting a good “brush” to keep them sharp. The drivers range from enthusiastic amateurs to young people not old enough to race anywhere else to professionals. Some very notable drivers have started their careers at the matinee tracks, long before they were old enough to get a driver’s licence. Come and play at our tracks!