Mississauga, ON — Swift early fractions poised Rock Diamonds N and 21-year-old New England native Mitchell Cushing to rip through the field and claim victory in the 60th renewal of the Guardian Gold Cup & Saucer at Charlottetown Driving Park on Saturday (Aug. 17).
The inside three starters shot for the front with Bet On Brett brushing quickest to the top. Trial-winner Sir Pugsley sat second while Bettors Fire N, driven by Mitchell’s father Ron Cushing, ducking to third. Rock Diamonds N sat sixth past a :26.3 opening quarter and glided along the cones as Bettors Fire N pulled first over into a :54.1 half.
Pacesetter Bet On Brett began to retreat up the backside. Sir Pugsley pulled pocket to take command while Bet On Brett got circled by defending champion Somewhere Fancy, with Lisburn stacked three wide and Midway Island, the other trial winner, four wide.
Sir Pugsley passed three-quarters in 1:23.2 but clung to the lead as Somewhere Fancy and Lisburn loomed closer and eventually moved to the front turning for the finish. Rock Diamonds N remained at the pylons and shot through the open stretch to power past everyone and stop the clock in 1:51.4. Somewhere Fancy finished second while Lisburn took third.
“I really thought my dad’s [horse] was going to step around Sir Pugsley, but we got a nice spot that opened up,” Cushing said after the race. “They all left out of there real hard, so I just took back and, after that, you just have to go with instinct—what you see with the other as they’re running out of gas and whatnot.”
Winning his eighth race from 16 starts this season and his 24th from 62 overall, Rock Diamonds N races for owners Kevin Sywyk, Ron Cushing and Frank Ranaldi and has earned $282,362. Mitchell Cushing, growing up driving at the fairs in Maine and now the leading driver at Plainridge Park in Massachusetts, won in his first start in the Gold Cup & Saucer.
“I thought Fryeburg Fair was pretty cool,” Cushing said, “but this is completely different. This is like what you see at a professional sports game.”
Father Ron had driven Rock Diamonds N in all his stateside starts previously, including when the six-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding finished second as the favorite to Sir Pugsley in his trial last week. Ron, siding with Bettors Fire N in the final, invited Mitchell to drive the eventual winner while Bettors Fire N finished off the board. As Ron told Trot Insider earlier this week, he was looking to create a lasting memory for his family at the Gold Cup & Saucer and it would mean more to him see his son in the winner’s circle.
“We’re the biggest competitors,” Cushing said of racing against his father. “If we’re in against each other, I can’t wait to beat him because it means my paycheck is more than his. I wanted to beat him more than anybody on the racetrack tonight.”
Rock Diamonds N returned $12.80 to win.
*Video replay courtesy of Red Shores Racetrack and Casino can be found here.