Maple Leaf drive a dream come true for MacDonald

08:16 AM 19 Jul 2013 NZST
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James MacDonald, harness racing Knows Nothing, harness racing
James MacDonald
Photo by Michael Burns
Knows Nothing after a Maple Leaf Trot victory
Photo by New Image Media

CAMPBELLVILLE, July 18 - Just six month ago, the prospect of driver James MacDonald driving in the $543,000 Maple Leaf Trot would have been dreamed a dream, but on Saturday, that dream will be reality, at Mohawk

The Guelph resident, who was involved in a serious race accident on January 12 at Woodbine Racetrack, will steer the Jeff Gillis-trained Knows Nothing in the 61st edition of the Maple Leaf Trot.

MacDonald, 27, suffered a broken right ankle along with torn ligaments following the spill. He required surgery on January 14, which resulted in the addition of two plates and eight screws for corrective healing.

MacDonald was sidelined over two months following the accident.

“If you told me a few months ago when I was laying on the couch with a broken leg that I would have been driving in the Maple Leaf Trot, I would have said you were crazy,” MacDonald said with a chuckle. “When I heard I was driving Knows Nothing, I was just ecstatic.

MacDonald doesn’t take the opportunity for granted and is keen to be a part of Maple Leaf Trot history.

“To be in this race is really a dream come true for me,” said MacDonald. “I love driving trotters and just to be in such a prestigious race with its history is incredible. The best horses in the world have been in this race and this year is no different.”

The Cornwall, PEI native will also embark on another milestone on Saturday.

“It will be the biggest purse I’ve ever raced for,” he said. “It’s a pretty amazing feeling. I was privileged enough to drive Jet Wash in the Breeders Crown last year (purse of $492,700), also for Jeff (Gillis), and this is even sweeter. Jeff has been very good to me and it’s a privilege to drive for him and him allowing me the chance.”

Knows Nothing, who has been installed as a longshot with a 30-1 morning line, will begin from post four.

It will be the first time MacDonald has teamed up with the talented son of Kadabra.

“I have watched him (Knows Nothing) race many times he is a very nice horse and is very versatile,” said MacDonald. “He is a great horse in with a field of great horses so really anything can happen. He has gone some huge trips at Mohawk in the past, so we just need him to go the trip of his life on Saturday.”

MacDonald, who has posted 714 victories in his career along with $6,362,122 in earnings, dismisses any pressure heading into this weekend.

“I don't feel a ton of pressure,” he said. “If it is meant to be, it will be. As long as the trip works out and the horse gives a hundred percent, I'm sure we will be happy afterwards.”

Knows Nothing has banked $645,076 in his career for Gillis along with partners Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld, Gerald Stay and Mac Nichol.

The four-year-old bay has a career record of 10-4-3 from 15 career starts. His 1:51.4 speed badge was taken earlier this year at Mohawk in the Preferred Trot.

The field will line up as follow:

1) Burnin Money – Jonathan Drury
2) Mister Herbie – Jody Jamieson
3) Arch Madness – Scott Zeron
4) Knows Nothing – James MacDonald
5) Uncle Peter –David Miller
6) Wishing Stone – Jody Jamieson
7) Guccio – Ron Pierce
8) Market Share – Tim Tetrick

Also on the programme, North America’s top pacing mares will contest the $391,000 Roses Are Red final. The field will line up as follows:

1) Monkey On My Wheel – Keith Oliver
2) Bettor B Lucky – David Miller
3) Drop The Ball – Doug McNair
4) Anndrovette – Tim Tetrick
5) Economy Terror – Ron Pierce
6) Camille – Sylvain Filion
7) Rocklamation – Yannick Gingras
8) Shelliscape – Randy Waples
9) Greystone Ladylike – Scott Zeron
10) Krispy Apple – Billy Davis, Jr.

A lucrative night of racing also includes four Canadian Breeders Championship finals featuring the province’s finest three-year-olds.

Post time for the 12-race programme is slated for 7:25 p.m.

by Greg Gangle

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