The beauty of being able to write about any sport is the joy of meeting great people. Getting to know the true person fans don't generally get to see.
For all the hype in harenss racing, most fans tend to recognize names of those who frequent the Winner's Circle. Regardless of how many times a horsemen gets to the Winner's Circle, what can fans really say they know about him or her in terms of who they are as a person?
Between driving from Flamboro Raceway, (Hamilton, ON) to Western Fair Raceway, (London, ON) in the winter season and driving to and from numerous tracks in the summer seasonhas put more clicks on his truck than you can imagine, around 380,000 kilometers (236,000 miles).
Scott got into harness racing because his family was racing horses as long as he can remember.
"We've had horses as far back as I can remember. My dad has over 1,000 wins and I followed him along, so here I am today." For a brief moment it seemed as though Scott may have ventured away from the horse racing industry. "I went to school and studied Business Purchasing. I took a job in a factory for a short while and I realized very quickly that after working with horses outside I was very lucky" Scott says. "As soon as they locked me up inside the factory, I just wasn't the same person."
Only a couple of days before this article, Scott and his girlfriend got some wonderful news! "I had a 3D ultrasound to go to and found out we were having a girl." The happiness in Scott's voice was inspiring. "I'm really excited! I am 43 years old and never really thought I was going to have children given my type of schedule.... I couldn't be happier."
With a baby on the way, Scott took time to reflect what matters most to him. With the direction the industry is headed and with so many unknown factors everything slowed down for Scott.
"It made me take a look at things." Scott acknowledges, "When you're a harness driver, you can sacrifice the idea of family. I think I was going to do that and bypass the idea of family just to be a busy harness driver. When the rug got pulled out from under us (in reference to the Ontario government cancelling the promised slot/casino revenue), I was able to rethink (the idea of a family) and all of a sudden it didn't make sense not to have kids. So we went ahead."
Scott fondly recalls one horse in particular that he enjoyed driving in 2005, a three year old filly named Lady Dillinger. "She allowed me to make moves I normally couldn't." Scott explains. As for his favorite horse? Back in 1995 when Scott started out, he had a trotter named The Rogue, "he wasn't a superstar but when you're a young kid starting, he was a really nice trotter and he was great gaited. While I was learning he made me look pretty smart."
During the intensity of a race, Scott expresses it's always about positioning the horse to succeed. In some ways you can compare the horse racing industry to NASCAR or Formula One. The horse is the car/engine and the driver and trainer pretty much conduct themselves in a similar manner as they would in horse racing. What gets Scott going? He says "why I love driving horses is trying to have the horse I'm driving in the right spot so it can do what it does best."
"It's very much a team effort." Scott says in reference to the NASCAR analogy. "If you have a horse with a smaller engine than the horse beside you, chance is you are not going to win that race. The horses are the driving engines behind your thinking. Use their tools as best as possible."
Scott credits his easy going demeanor for allowing him to be a part of the harness industry for so long. "I'm not judge mental and I take everything with a grain of salt." Scott says.
The horse racing industry has brought some turbulent waters towards Scott. "It demands a lot of your time, not just at the tracks but traveling to and from tracks. I'm always on the road. When most people are on holidays having Thanksgiving dinner we are working. Your family gets together and you can't be there because you are working. It's something that I am just used to after so many years." Such a demanding lifestyle played a major role in Scott separating from his wife. When she had time-off, Scott was caught in the peak of the racing season.
However the present and future is much brighter for Scott and his girlfriend Danielle Shannon. Danielle is a realtor in Stoney Creek, Ontario and even though both their careers keep them busy, they have found a way to make it work. Both recognize the demands of the job for one another and this mutual respect has allowed their relationship to blossom.
"If (Danielle) is not with me while I am racing, she is almost always watching on her lap top. She'll try and keep in touch with me through text and email.... If she's at work she can watch a couple of my starts on her computer and when we get home we can talk about that." Scott appreciates that "she loves the fact that I have horses in my life and she's proud of that."
Scott never really followed hockey, but since meeting his girlfriend, (who is a Montreal Canadiens fan) he's been following the sport a bit more.
When Scott was 38, he purchased a motor cross bike. He enjoyed getting out with his buddies, but the summer time is peak racing season and it was tough to continue on with. However, he hasn't given it up, it's just on hiatus.
Scott's ideal vacation would be to take an Africanor even travel and camp in the Amazon rainforest.
Something I find refreshing is Scott's passion for music. Not in terms of what he listens to, but the fact that he plays and sings! Scott explains, "I was 19 and I have a twin brother Steven, and when karaoke first hit the scene, we started singing back then. It's something we got good at, the pair of us and we've done it ever since."
"In the last couple years I've taken up the guitar, I am taking lessons at 43 years old, but I love every minute of it." You can definitely hear the enjoyment in Scott's voice. "Lots have heard me sing in the racing industry and my brother." Scott says with a chuckle.
Scott's admiration for music blossomed at an early age when he would ride along in his father's pickup. "There was an 8 track in the truck and something was always playing, Conway Twitty, George Jones, George Strait and Merle Haggard, all those guys." Scott reminisces.
Don't be surprised the next time you see Scott in the Winner's Circle and he's belting out a tune, that is if his voice isn't to hoarse.
Currently Scott is in the middle of renovating his home and he has the perfect spot for his man cave. "It's going to be rustic wood on the walls, a pool table and a dart board on the wall. I am going to have a large screen television and in the corner I'm going to have all my recording and guitar stuff, so slash music room. If I do it right, there will be a pretty nice wet bar or Tiki bar."
By Roderick Balgobin www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova