Profile: Emmons Mackay
Emmons MacKay is one of the most successful and respected horsemen to ever stable their horses at Truro Raceway. The 78-year-old trainer and driver has over 2,200 driving victories, 505 training victories, and combined earnings from both of over $2.6 million.
Our own Grady Hachey had an opportunity to chat with MacKay at his barn located along the far turn of the Hubtown oval.
How long have you been in harness racing?
About 68 years.
You’re from PEI, where harness racing is very popular, so did you just naturally fall into it as a kid?
I was born in Bangor, PEI, but I moved to Nova Scotia when I was 9 or 10, and started to get tied up with horses when I was about 12, and started driving when I was 16, and have been at it ever since.
Where you’ve been at it so long and have had a lot of horses, can you pick out a favourite horse that you’ve had throughout your career?
I don’t know about a favourite horse, but Kilkerran Fury. He went undefeated as a two-year-old, and raced in the Gold Cup (& Saucer) as an aged horse. And then I had his full brother Kilkerran Ingle – I won the Gold Cup (& Saucer) with him. Both horses broke the track record in Summerside when they were three-year-olds.
Then I had a bunch of horses for the Whebby’s. I won the Barrieau-McIsaac, and the Turner, and the Stanfield. I’ve won every major race in the Maritimes.
Does the feeling of winning ever change, or is always just as sweet as the one before?
Every time you win... It feels good. No matter what kind of race it is, it always feels good.
You guys have a very nice set-up right here, with the barn just behind your house; how nice is it to be able to walk right out your backdoor and into your barn?
Well, I bought it off Max Farland. Carl McKenzie had it before that, and Frank Kennedy originally built it. And Carl McKenzie (Whom the McKenzie stake is named in honour of) used to run the racetrack. He lived right next door, so I bought both properties, and my daughter Tammy lives in Carl’s old house, and I live in the other house.
It’s the only private spot at the track. It’s a good spot, so everything works out good.
What is it like being able to do the horses every day with your daughter, Tammy?
Well, It’s good. She drives, and she teaches school. She just bought a horse here (4-year-old Pang Shui gelding – Brumby) for one of us to drive and do what she wants with it.
Anyone who’s familiar with the Maritime stake races scene would remember Brumby from the last couple of years; Is he a nice horse to be around?
Yeah, he’s a nice horse. Mike Pollard, from Charlottetown, brought him over. He has six horses going tonight (Tuesday, July 18) and they’ll race out of my barn here.
How nice is it to give them a nice spot to keep their horses here when they race?
We treat them good when they come here, and they treat us good when we go to PEI, so it works out good. As the old saying goes, “What goes around, come around.”
You yourself had a win a couple of weeks ago with Johnnywalkerdelux; the horse has been a little inconsistent, but you had him going good that day. How nice was that win?
He was Horse of The Year here two years ago, but last year he wasn’t as good. He doesn’t seem to have the speed that he once had; but he went his best race here a couple of weeks ago, but he just doesn’t seem to have that scat that he had a couple of years ago.
How many do you have in the barn right now?
Right now, there’s four. Brumby, Johnnywalkerdelux, Galleon Seelster, and Doug – a young fella who works for me, just bought one out of Ontario.
But my son Ozzie, owns twelve horses in Ontario with Blake MacIntosh. He’s doing well. Him and MacIntosh get along good. The horses have been doing pretty good.
Have you gone up to Ontario to watch any of his horses, at all lately?
No, I haven’t gone up, but Tammy has gone up to watch them twice; but no, I haven’t gone up there yet.
Respectfully, you’re getting older, but are going to do the horses for as long as you can?
I was always tease Tammy by saying that I’m going to do it until I'm 100, and then I’m going to start another business.
Interview by: Grady Hachey
Photos by: Kyle Burton