It has been such a downward spiral for the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs that this latest lowest of lows has harness racing driver Jody Jamieson contemplating switching allegiances to another NHL team. As for which team Jody might start cheering for, nothing has been decided but all of us Maple Leafs fans understand that at some point we must all move on or do we become the Chicago Cubs of the National Hockey League. "It's in my blood" says Jody, "I'm a diehard fan but this is getting out of hand." Jody's career in harness racing has been remarkable, with some comparing his success to the likes of hockey greats Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby. As flattered as Jody is by the comparison, in no way does he consider himself to be painted with the same brush as the hockey legends. "It's a lofty comparison, and it's not something I am not comfortable with" Jody notes. Admittedly, Jody feels he was able to jump start his career thanks to his father, legendary trainer Carl Jamieson. "My father is a hall of fame horseman and I had probably one of the best starts anybody could have in this business, by having him back me up." Jody says. A key piece of advice given to Jody by his dad is to always be respectful, regardless of whom that person is. It doesn't matter if it's a groom or a racing official, everyone matters. Jody Jamieson's name is up there with drivers such as Tim Tetrick, Mike Lachance, Chris Christoforou and Brian Sears and even after all the wins and accolades, Jody's focus hasn't changed. There's never a race he takes for granted and Jody admits he's human and makes mistakes, like everyone else. "I'm out to win every possible race I'm in... it's never lack of trying or being prepared but I make mistakes. Thank God there is another race right after that one where I can try and redeem myself." Jody says. With any sport, competition is extremely fierce and the guys who lead the standings are always battling between themselves and new comers. The saying goes, if you're going to win, you want to beat the best and Jody acknowledges everyone on the track wants to make a name for themselves. "That's what makes this game so fun, in one moment you're king of the castle but twenty minutes later you're knocked off." Jody adds, "It's very competitive, every twenty minutes, every night of the week." All drivers and trainers have been through dry spells, going through stretches of time without positive results. A piece of advice Jody was given is you need to learn to lose well before you learn to win well. "Don't get to high with the highs and don't get to low with the lows" is Jody's approach to keeping a level head to remain mentally grounded. "If you look at my record, I have way more losses than I do wins and I've learned to deal with it and keep it on the track as much as possible." With people having hard days or rough spells, it's amazing how well the horsemen are able to cope and still keep it classy amongst them. "I find in Canada and Ontario, it's the kind of people we are." Jody says. "We all try to get along off the track; there is no reason to be enemies off the track and not like each other. But when we go to the gate, it's on! I think that's taken for granted in other places, with people taking issue of being beat in a race." "Not only is life too short, our careers are too short to be hung up on every last thing, so you have to keep it light." Jody says. "I think I can relate to almost anybody, I enjoy busting (chops) and I can handle having my (chops) busted as well." Speaking with Jody, the biggest take away I got would be understanding how tough it is to mature in such a highly competitive sport. Yet in an odd way it can still be very easy. Yes I am aware there is a contradiction to what I have just written but the difficulties I perceive is being young with an ego. At this point I am not speaking for a driver, I am thinking of myself as a young one who is 18 or 20 and all I focus on is me and my success. If something were to come in between, I can honestly admit I would of taken issue from the get go. However, through it all in any sport, life hands you a constant wave of highs and lows and the earlier you notice these waves, the easier it is to 'ride it out' so to speak. Things can't always go your way, if they did, how would anyone learn? Over the last couple of years, Jody admits there have been some up and downs and this year he is more driven because of that. "Last year it took me until December to win a Classic race. It was the Cleveland Classic with Apprentice Hanover." Apprentice Hanover is trained by Benjamin Wallace and won the race in a time of 1:52.1 at Northfield Park. "There were big races where I came in second or third, but it wasn't the win." Jody admits. Jody is happily married to Stephanie and Jody has a daughter Hailey who is 11, a son Jett who is 2 and a baby girl on the way who is due in July. As much success as Jody's had over the years, he is now racing for his family, not just for him and this means ensuring his family can live happily. "I have a young family and I am recently married and I want to be a part of their lives to... I'm going to spend the best time with my family and I am not going to change anything. I'm going to be prepared as ever, more prepared than I've ever been to go on the race track every night." Jody says, "Before it was about wins and putting up big numbers, now it's about making a great living and being able to provide for my family down the road." "I had the one year where I broke the wins records in Canada. I drove right until the end of the year and then I quit for a month and just relaxed, it gets really stressful.... I had that one (great) year and I thought I want to treat myself a little bit." Jody adds, "I want to be the top guy and make enough money to enjoy life." Jody also missed some time away from the track to attend the O'Brien awards and Jody flew to Finland to be the ambassador of Canadian harness racing. To add to Jody's time away was the volcano eruption in Finland where the dust had to settle before Jody could fly back home. So at what point did Jody change his outlook? Or at what point did a light go off where Jody realized it was more than just about him? "When you're in it, running from track to track winning races and having some success, you don't think of anything until you're laying on a beach in Mexico... you don't think of it until then." Jody points out. Throughout his career, Jody has grown close to many people who have supported him and who always believe in his talents. "Mark MacDonald and I used to be thick as thieves and as best friends off the track and fierce enemies on the track." Jody continues, "We'd do anything to beat each other and Mark moved away and we haven't kept in touch as much, but definitely Mark was a huge influence in my career. He helped me learn my craft and have a better mindset on the race track for sure." Jody loves what the new Meadowlands racetrack is doing, "they're doing incredible work" he says and at one point in Jody's career, the idea to go to the big M did cross his mind, but home is where the heart is. "I'm from Moffat, Ontario, Canada and this is where my family is and this is where my family's family is. This is where I'll be unless something worse happens like what is happening with this Liberal government." "In 2011 the Standardbred industry received $176 million dollars to operate harness racing in Ontario. In 2014 harness racing will be lucky to have $70-$80 million." Jody points out. The money the racing industry received is from an agreement between the racetracks and the Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation, (OLG) which is a Government entity, based on revenues brought in from the creation of the SLOTS programs at each racetrack. With the racetracks already established, the OLG agreed to give a percentage of all revenue to the racetracks so the OLG could put in slot machines and the money given to the tracks would go towards purse money to create a higher level of competition within the province. Anthony Macdonald, who is a horseman, is running as a PC provincial candidate hoping if an election takes place, the standardbred industry will have a stronger voice at Queen's Park, (the provincial legislator). Jody is a strong advocate and supporter of Anthony and his efforts to bring more awareness to the standardbred community and Jody is willing to help anywhere he can. "Anyone who knows Anthony, you can't tune him out and I am going to campaign hard to help get him elected." Jody states. "We have 3 or 4 candidates who are pro harness racing on the Conservative side." Jody feels strongly that the Liberal government has messed up several industries outside of harness racing, such as the gas industry, the powers sector and even the teachers union. "Horses don't speak" says Jody, "they are nice to look at and people love them but they don't speak. We need to do a better job speaking for them.... The OLG's revenue was around a billion dollars and we were only getting around 20 percent, maybe less. Now the OLG is taking in the full 100 percent in revenue. We are in trouble and this money, (the $500 million/5 year proposal from the Liberals), it has kept racing open but we are on a life line and we are bleeding badly." Away from the politics and the tracks, Jody is the type of guy who likes to help others where and when he can. Jody would love to help the Toronto Maple Leafs, maybe try and get them a Stanley Cup sometime soon! "I'm so aggravated with this season, I like Randy Carlyle. He's a horse guy who started in the horse racing business before he was drafted." As you can tell, Jody is a massive hockey fan and aside from the Leafs, his favorite team is the Jamieson Jets, an adult men's hockey team. One thing to point out is Jody's son Jett was not named after the hockey team, even though some people make that connection. However if the dad who named the son said it wasn't, there's nothing to discuss. If Jody had a man cave, it would be filled with Toronto Maple Leaf paraphernalia and his entire top win photos including the North America Cup pictures, the Battle of Waterloo and Breeders Crown pictures. To date, the second heat of the 2007 Little Brown Jug is Jody's most memorable race. In that race he was driving great horse Tell All. "I could remember my heart beating the whole time."Jody says. "The half was in 56.1... I kicked the ear plugs on him around the last turn and he dug in, but he really didn't dig in like I thought. Brian Sears slipped off of David Miller's back going three wide in the stretch and I didn't know half way down the stretch if I could hang on. So I hit the wire not knowing if you have a clear cut win. It was the best ever (feeling)... I'll never forget him." "I would love to win the Hambletonian. I've been fortunate to win big races and I'd love to win them all again. Just because I won them, doesn't mean they're off my bucket list." Jody adds, "It would mean a lot to me to win any of those races again, they're special, special races." Jody enjoys interacting with fans. "I love meeting fans...they message me of Facebook and Twitter. I think its wild and I thrive on it, I love meeting with the fans and doing whatever I can to meet fans." Jody says. A few summers ago, Woodbine asked Jody to go to a Jack Astor's opening in Toronto as the restaurant was doing simulcasting. "I went in my driver suit, not a soul knew who I was, not a soul and I had my suit on and they knew what I did at the end of the day they loved it. I loved it and meeting people who want to get to know me. Like I said, horses can't talk but I can and I want this industry I love to survive and prosper." By: Roderick Balgobin www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova
From Norway, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Italy, most every state and provience in the USA and Canada, Europe to South America, names for the harness racing Standardbred filly by Somebeachsomewhere from the mare, Put On A Show, are flying in from around the world. It is not too late for anyone who has yet to enter the contest to get their name choice submitted to try and win the $2,500 cash prize in Harnesslink’s “Name the Foal Contest.” So far nearly 600 names have been submitted for the foal. Her caretakers at Hanover Shoe Farms say, “She is a bold and brassy filly who has a mind of her own. She is very playful but never strays too far from her mother’s side.” There are new photos and also a video of the filly with this story so you can check her out while coming up with the prize winning name. The prize money has been sponsored by the owners of Put On A Show, Richard and Joanne Young of Florida, along with the Somebeachsomewhere Syndicate and Hanover Shoe Farms in Hanover, PA. There is no purchase necessary to enter the contest. You must be age 18 or older and a legal resident of the country you live in. All entries must be submitted in English. Just click on the link below and fill out all the required information. The name cannot be more than 18 letters and/or spaces combined per the rules of the United States Trotting Association (USTA). Any name that has been used in the past 15 years cannot be entered. You can check on your name suggestion to make sure it has not yet been used by going to the free service at the USTA by clicking this link http://pathway.ustrotting.com/search/. Just type in the name of the horse and click. You will then see if the name is already being used. Contestants have until midnight on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 to enter the contest. Contestants are allowed to enter only one name for the foal per email address and only one winner will be allowed per household. Within one week after the deadline date, owners Richard and Joanne Young will select up to five (5) approved names for the foal. They will draw by lot to declare the official name of the foal. If there is only one person that submitted the winning name, that contestant will be declared the official prize winner and receive the entire $2,500. If there are four (4) entries or less with the same name, there will be a drawing in descending order with those entrants dividing $1,000 evenly and the final name drawn being the ultimate winner and get $1,500. If there are more than 5 entries of the same name, all those entries will be placed in a drawing and the first four (4) names drawn will receive $250.each and the final name drawn will receive $1,500. To enter the “Name the Foal Contest” click on this link. The official rules for the competition (in detail) can be obtained by clicking on this link. Please take a moment and read the official rules so you are familiar with the regulations. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Twin B Wrangler went to the front and didn’t look back en route to a narrow triumph in Monday’s $11,000 Preferred 2 for pacers at The Raceway at Western Fair District. Alfie Carroll hustled Twin B Wrangler through fractions of :27.4, :57 and 1:25.3 before using a :30.2 closing quarter to prevail by a neck over race favourite Leafs And Wings in 1:56. Ja El Pocketrocket was third. Keith Cassell of Smiths Falls, Ontario owns and Victor Puddy trains the five-year-old son of Mach Three-Stryper. To date, the pacer has managed to stash away career earnings of $120,290. Monday’s card also featured a set of Preferred-3 events – one for trotters and one for pacers. To read the rest of the story click here.
TORONTO, April 14 - After failing to find the winner's circle in both preliminary legs, Reasonable Force found his best stride when it counted the most as he captured this year's edition of the $36,200 Youthful Series final Monday at Woodbine. In doing so, the Doug McNair-driven sophomore returned $33.00 to his backers. McNair and Reasonable Force were in no hurry off the gate as Account Rollover (Randy Waples) cleared to the lead past the opening station in :27.1. Account Rollover, who found the wire in the first leg of the series, continued to lead his nine rivals past the half in :56 and three-quarters in 1:24.4. McNair began the first-over attack around the final turn and was within striking distance of the tempo-setter turning for home. Down the stretch, McNair asked his charge for more pace and the three-time winner responded with a two length win. Post time favourite Andreios Kardia (Steve Byron) finished second, with Dragon Seelster (Paul Macdonell) finishing third. Trained by Tony Montini for owners Doug Dunbar and Steve LeBlanc, Reasonable Force lifted his career earnings to $44,840. The son of Shadow Play now has a 2-2-1 record from eight starts this season. Also on Monday's program, the second round of the Lifetime Dream series continued with two $18,000 divisions. Rose Run Oriana (Randy Waples) kicked-off the 10-race programme with a 1:54.2 score in the first division. The daughter of Trainforthefuture enjoyed a new career best in the debut for trainer Corey Johnson. Waples led gate-to-wire with the 15-time winner through panels of :28, :57 and 1:25.3, before fending off 3/5 favourite Rockin With Dewey (Mario Baillargeon) in deep stretch to win by one and a half lengths. Samira Hanover (Paul Macdonell) finished third. Owned by Rolling Hills Racing Stables, Rose Run Oriana will look for the series sweep next week as her bankroll increased to $134,717. She paid $4.90 to win. One race later, Her Name Is Lola (Phil Hudon) enjoyed her fifth career score at odds of 3-1. The daughter of Majestic Son laid parked on the outside at the quarter in :28.2, before clearing to the lead before the half in :57.2. From there, the trotting miss led her five rivals past in 1:26.1 before fending off a late challenge from Frisky Magic (Randy Waples) to win by a nose. Standing My Ground (Sylvain Filion) finished third. Trained by Russell Bax for Baxmar Holsteins Ltd, Her Name Is Lola increased her bankroll to $85,560. She paid $8.70 to win. by Greg Gangle, for WEG
Charlottetown, PE - The qualifying session scheduled for 1pm Tuesday at Red Shores Charlottetown have been cancelled. The next scheduled qualifying session is Saturday April 19 at 1pm in Charlottetown. by Lee A. Drake, for Red Shores
London, April 14, 2014 -- Time is quickly running out to nominate to this year's City of London Series at The Raceway at Western Fair District in London. The deadline is tomorrow, Tuesday, April 15, for the event which is open to four-year-old and younger Ontario Sired trotters and pacers. The nomination fee is $200 and there will be no starting fees. Nomination forms are available here http://www.westernfairdistrict.com/uploads/file/Raceway/stakes/CityOfLondon/2014%20city%20of%20london%20series.pdf. For those mailing cheques, you are reminded that they must be postmarked no later than April 15, 2014. The City of London gets underway on Tuesday May 20 and will consist of eliminations and a final. All four finals will be raced as part of the Molson Pace program on Friday, May 30. by Greg Blanchard, for the Raceway
The drivers for the 2014 Western Regional Driving Championship have been solidified with John Chappell securing the last spot in the competition after this weekend's harness racing cards at Fraser Downs. Heading into the weekend, just two wins separated Chappell, Scott Knight and David Hudon for the third spot in the local win standings. Scoring a pair of victories on Sunday's card and pushing his meet total to 50, Chappell managed to maintain the slight edge over his rivals. With two wins of his own over the weekend, Knight pushed his total to 49. Hudon had one victory on Friday putting his total at 47. Chappell steered Soft Spoken out of traffic down the stretch to a maiden-breaking victory in Sunday's second race for trainer/owner Allan Dawn. The four-year-old gelding won by just a neck over favourite Hosisahos in 1:59.1. To read the rest of the story click here.
My Man Charley scored a wire-to-wire victory in Sunday's featured Preferred 3 Pace at Flamboro Downs for Canada's current 2014 win leaders, Alfie Carroll and Victor Puddy. Carroll and Puddy teamed up to take the evening's eighth race as favourite My Man Charley ($3.20) kept first over challenger Hoboken Hanover at bay to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:55.3. Astute finished two and three-quarter lengths behind off a pocket trip. To read the rest of the story click here.
TORONTO, April 12 - Dragon Seelster, a three-year-old son of Dragon Again, will seek his second career tally in Monday's $36,200 Youthful Series final at Woodbine. Trained and driven by Paul Macdonell, Dragon Seelster has had a credible to season to date in six appearances. The bay has crafted a 1-2-3 record this year along with $21,750 in earnings. "He's certainly been racing very well and most important is that he's been consistent," said MacDonell. "He's a beautiful horse to be around and he seems to be making a good showing of himself." The bay was a $19,000 yearling purchase for owner Dave Hudson along with former NHLer and head coach of the London Knights, Dale Hunter. Dallas Seelster, bred in Ontario by Seelster Farms, went winless as a rookie for previous trainer Charlie Norris while racing in Pennsylvania. He capped off his freshman campaign with $11,410 in earnings from five starts. This season, however, has been the turning point for the youngster. "I got him in February and to be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from him," the Guelph resident said. "He's not the biggest horse and I wasn't sure how much speed was there. What I can say is that what he lacks in size, he makes up in determination. He's a gutsy horse and there's no quit in him." Heading into the final of the Youthful Series, MacDonell has his eye on a specific route for his pupil. "He's a trip kind of horse," he said. "He's better following horses and that's likely what's going to happen in the final. Post eight doesn't help us much either. Last week I put him on the front and he got a little lost." Following the Youthful Series, MacDonell will be getting his student ready for another up and coming series at the Rexdale oval. "The Diplomat begins in a couple of weeks, so that is What's Next for him," said MacDonell, the 2008 O'Brien Award winner as Driver of the Year. "I'm not sure what the plan is with him long term, but for now we'll take it week by week. He continues to improve and developing into a very useful racehorse." The Youthful Series final is slated as Race 7 on Monday's 10-race card. First post time is set for 7:25 p.m. The field will line up as follows: 1. Reasonable Force 2. Highland Tartan 3. Royal Reception 4. Andreios Kardia 5. Kuchar 6. Glory Beach 7. Regal Son 8. Dragon Seelster 9. Twomickeytrip 10. Account Rollover by Greg Gangle, for WEG
They say behind every good man there is a better woman. In horse racing it’s no different. Behind every great equine athlete there is a great groom. The groom has put blood, sweat, and tears into making sure the horse(s) they look after are in tip-top shape and perform to the best of their best ability. Not to mention the numerous hours, days, and months of hard work that go into making a champion. The long days they put in, even if that means being up before the sun, and getting back to the barn long after the 12th race is over, they don’t mind doing it. Why? They do it out of love, it’s their passion. To the grooms, the horses they look after are like their kids. If the kid causes trouble, you scold them by saying “quit” or “no, don’t do that.” And just like any parent would, when your child has a basketball game, or a dance recital, you do your best to be there. For the grooms every time their kid races they’re there. And every time they will always be the one cheering the loudest. No matter how their baby finishes, the groom is still proud, they never see their kids’ imperfections; to them the only thing that matters is their heart. They never get angry about how their kid did. It is simply another challenge and experience that only strengthens the bond between horse and groom. When one of their horses gets injured or sick the first one to notice and the first one to be concerned is the groom, it is because they can empathize, and they want their baby to feel better as soon as possible. That is why we call them caretakers. If in order to take care of their child it requires them to stay up late at the barn, or change the daily routine of that specific horse they always will; without any hesitation. The grooms have a very thorough understanding of the horse(s) they care for. They know everything from their horse’s lifetime mark or their fastest last quarter, right down to their horse’s favorite treat. Someone once told a friend of mine “if you get too emotionally involved with a horse, you won’t make it in this business.” But I think that is why some get into it and make it a business and the reason why they are so successful is because of the love. The understanding and everlasting friendship that a horse and groom share is remarkable. In the eyes of a groom it doesn’t matter to them whether the horse(s) they care for are destined for greatness or not. They’re all champions. If a groom and horse go their separate ways, that groom will always remember that horse as a friend, co-worker and an athlete, and will always be their biggest fan. Some grooms have that one special horse; sometimes they will even go to great lengths to get them back. No matter how long it takes them, they will get them back. Why, because they will always have that special bond with one horse that will always be close to their heart. And no distance can ever separate the love between a groom and a horse. A horse never forgets their groom(s). The one that gave them spa treatments, the one that set out their feed and always made sure there was a healthy supply of treats. The one that gave them a nice soapy bubble bath after they ran all around the paddock, and maybe even rolled in the mud. When people that visit the races for something to do on Saturday night, they don’t see all the hard work of a groom, the person behind the scenes, making sure their horse is ready to shine. So here is to all the grooms out there. The ones that make our sport what it is. The ones who get up every morning, in rain, snow or sleet, no matter what day it is; even if it’s a holiday. Thank you for all you do, without you doing what you do, and having the passion and love you have, our sport would be totally different. Sydney Weaver is 13 years old and resides in Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, grooms horses, jogs them on the track, co-owns a racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy, but has never let her disablity hold her back from achieving her goals.
Rose Valley, last year’s three-year-old pacing filly sensation trained by Mike Campbell, was named the 2013 Fredericton Raceway Horse of the Year in ceremonies held Saturday evening at the Fredericton Horsemen’s Association annual awards banquet. Rose Valley, who is owned by Dawn and Ted Bremner of Jemseg, N.B., was also given the award for top sophomore filly after completing one of the best seasons ever by a Fredericton-based mare. The daughter of Brandons Cowboy was a multiple stakes winner last year, winning seven races and earning over $40,000 on the circuit, the highlight being a record-setting 1:56 mile in Charlottetown during their Old Home Week. Rose Valley won both of her starts in Fredericton, including a division of the Bill Quigg Memorial Stake during FREX 2013. Rose Valley, being named Horse of the Year, capped off a phenomenal evening for Campbell, who also took home training honours for American Captain, who was recognized as the top four-year-old. Campbell was also inducted into the Fredericton Raceway Wall of Fame, celebrating a 45-year horse racing career that began at the downtown oval in 1969. He joined Mike Downey, Fredericton Raceway’s all-time dash winning and money earning driver, owner Ashley Sloat and distinguished equines Knightly Glib and Northern Raucous, on the Wall. Other award winners during the evening included Queens Or Better (Aged Mare), Flying Cowboy (Three-Year-Old Colt), Lanny (Most Improved), Manraysonjo (Aged Horse) and Seven Signs (Unsung Hero). Chantall Basson was named Groom of the Year and veteran horseman Chester Eatmon Jr. was given the Pioneer Award for his many years in horse racing at Fredericton. Brian Embleton was the top trainer and Gilles Barrieau was the top driver. From the Federicton Horsemen's Association