The sport of harness racing has deep roots in Prince Edward Island and has held an important place in Summerside’s history. The first Summerside Driving Park opened in 1876, east of the town in the community of Travellers Rest and moved to its current site in 1888, the first major race attracting about 6000 people. Since those early days, the track, renamed the Summerside Raceway in 1953, has undergone many changes in ownership, racing ovals, and buildings. The current facility is the result of major renovations that began in 2006 and were completed in 2014, the last project being the stables.
Harness racing has been connected with the Summerside Lobster Carnival since the inaugural year of 1956, with the exception of 2014-16. In 2017, it was reintroduced with new vigour and everyone was invited to learn about the sport through “Harness Racing 101” sessions that
Journal Pioneer, July 1979
explain the basics and give opportunities to meet the drivers and horses. The Prince County Horsemen’s Club has been the strong organization that underpins the operation of the track and works in tandem with the City and Red Shores to make the facility a valuable asset. The premier feature of the Summerside racing year for the Standardbred horses is the Governor’s Plate, which takes place the last night of the Lobster Carnival.
2018 will be the 50th running of the prestigious race, the first having taken place on Friday, July 18, 1969. According to the Journal-Pioneer of the day, it was the climax to a week of racing, and featured the top horses in the Maritimes. The race, also billed as the Maritime Circuit Pacing Derby Feature Race, was held in the evening following some entertainment, presentations, and the arrival of the official party. Lieutenant-Governor W. J. Macdonald presented the plate and a cooler following two dashes. The winning horse, Kim Ash from Halifax, set a track record in a time of 2:04.4 with driver Art Porter.
To learn more about the Governor's Plate and events at Red Shore's, click here!