Jason Settlemoir still doesn't know who was the more excited when the late Ohio harness racing driver/trainer Terry Holton moved across the road from him in August 1989. Holton relocated to his neighborhood when Settlemoir was 13. It was when he was undertaking his daily paper round.
Settlemoir had already been exposed to harness racing by his father. The Newark native (Ohio) said his Dad used to take him to meetings - 40 miles west of his home - at Scioto Downs.
“I already loved harness racing when the lady who was moving out told me Terry was moving into her house. I remember going home and telling my parents. I was so excited that a famous trainer and driver was moving so close to us.
“That’s when I really became hooked on the sport. Terry later became like a father to me. He took me to the all the county fairs and pari-mutuel race meetings, and also let me jog and train his horses. I didn’t like the barn work though - especially pitching manure,” Settlemoir told Harnesslink.
He remembers travelling home from meetings with Holton and he would commentate races to keep his driver awake.
“I was 13 at the time. Not long after I called my first race at the Hartford Independent Fair in Ohio. I kept calling throughout my school years and then landed a role under Terry Kelp as Scioto Downs.
“I then became the simulcast program manager at Scioto before Stacey Cahill hired me as the assistant racing secretary,” Settlemoir said.
The 34-year-old said he spent almost eight years at Scioto Downs before taking up a position with the United States Trotting Association(USTA) as advertising director, overseeing its website, Hoof Beats and allof the USTA's other publications.
He was only there for about half a year when Jeff Gural contacted him in 2005 to see if he would come and work at his New York racetracks – Tioga and Vernon Downs.
“It was not a good time for me to take on a new position. My grandfather had recently died and Terry (Holton) was losing his battle with pancreatic cancer. It was also the year I got married so I had to turn the job down,” Settlemoir said.
However by January 2006 Gural had convinced him to come to his racetracks, despite Holton passing away later that year.
“I haven’t missed a Little Brown Jug since 1999 and I was also simulcast director at the Delaware County Fair. I’m still in that role and am assistant caller to Roger Huston.”
From 2006-1010 Settlemoir also studied part-time for a business administration degree at the Ohio State University – a degree he hopes to finish in a couple of years.
Today he is vice president of simulcasting at both Tioga and Vernon Downs. He also heads simulcasting and sponsorship at both properties and also calls when requested.
“I am truly living the dream and I owe a lot to so many people that helped me along the way. You never stop learning in this game and I’m always open to new ideas and new concepts,” Settlemoir said.
Settlemoir’s commitment to his job has been recognised by his peers.
He is the president of the United States Harness Racing Writers Association (USHWA); he is vice president of Harness Tracks Of America; and is also a Director for the USTA.
In 2006 he was also awarded the Lew Barasch Memorial Break through Award for his initial work at Tioga and Vernon Downs. He is also on the Board Of Directors for US Racing and Entertainment – the parents company of Tioga and Vernon Downs.
And in the past year Settlemoir was inducted by Upstate USHWA into the Hall Of Fame.
And if that’s not enough Settlemoir also gives his time to local organisations.
He serves on the Tioga Chamber of Commerce; is a director on the board of the South Tier Tioga Red Cross; and is chairman of the Tioga Community United Way Board.
“I live a busy life alright but believe it or not there’s nothing I like doing more than spending time with my family. Life is so short and these are the special days of our lives. There’s nothing like have two boys and a beautiful wife,” Settlemoir said.
Settlemoir is married to Lori and they have two boys –Jeffrey (12) and Travis (3). Any spare time Settlemoir gets is spent with his three loved ones.
On the racing front, Settlemoir has also owned a few standardbreds over the years.
“I’ve got a small share in a4-year-old trotting mare named Full Tank. She’s trained by Robert Bencal at Delray Beach in Florida. She’s was a grand circuit horse who raced in the Breeder’s Crown eliminations –but has now been retired to the broodmare paddock.
“Ive also got shares in a couple of 2-year olds named Jinxy’s Delight and Gallant Major,” Settlemoir said.
Asked what his interests were outside racing, Settlemoir replied:
“Nothing really counts after family but I do enjoy watching all Ohio State sporting teams. I support the Cleveland Browns football team and the Cincinnati Reds baseball team.”
By Duane RANGER (editor)
(1) Inside Harness Racing with Jason Settlemoir:
(2) Here They Come with Jason Settlemoir:
(3) The Settlemoir Spotlight:
(4) Jason Settlemoir interviews:
(5) Jason Settlemoir – more interviews:
(6) Jason Settlemoir talks about his family: