Travis drives horses at both the Western Fair Raceway, (London, ON) and at Flamboro Downs, (Hamilton, ON) and due to extreme weather many race cards were cancelled at Flamboro Downs due to unsafe track conditions. Travis says his drives have been cut down to 15 a week from 30 a week compared to this time last year.
The harshest part is how the year began for Travis, with the passing of his father. Paul was well known and very well respected within the harness racing industry and one could only imagine what Travis has been dealing with.
"I have uncles who have done their best to help me out" Travis explains. "I have great friends and family who help me out. I keep going on and do the best I can."
Travis is forever grateful for everything his dad taught and told him, to help encourage him to be the best. "I always know he wanted the best for me and I want to do the best for him." When Travis' dad Paul, was training horses Travis would focus his time and energy on driving. "He always told me if I want to be a driver, always watch the best drivers."
As expected with anyone, losing a parent is difficult, to put it lightly. Travis is dealing with the loss but in his own words, he feels the new reality hasn't taken over yet. "I don't think the full effect has hit me just yet, because he was away the last two years in Florida. I am used to him being away but I would always call him and ask him 'what should I do?' if I was driving or looking to get a horse."
"It's tough, I can't make that call anymore and I have to rely on friends and family, when I can't make that call anymore." It is hard and heart wrenching to know how important it was to Travis to speak with his dad regularly. To have the person who helped guide you suddenly disappear is unimaginable. These feelings cannot be put into words and the only way to relate is to have sadly gone through what Travis is experiencing.
Travis thanks his girlfriend Maddie for being there for him during this time of need and tries to spend as much time with her possible. Travis, 25, does have a plan to succeed in harness racing. Yes his drives have been reduced, but Travis has expanded his talents by training horses. Currently Travis has 8 horses in his care.
"As things started to get slow, I started looking to get horses and got a couple owners together to get some horses and (the owners) have all been really good..." says Travis. "I planned for this because I knew what was going to happen. I don't think it got as bad as everybody thought it was going to be... nobody knows what the future will be. I was actually planning on moving to Buffalo when all this (meaning the cut back by the Ontario Government), happened. Things kind of worked out for me and I ended up staying."
With the plan the Liberals have today, it does sound positive but Travis has an interesting opinion about racetrack owners. Expressing racetracks should be owned and run by people who have their roots from horse racing. "...they understand the business. I drive at Georgian (located in Innisfil, ON), a lot. I see the grandstand is full with people, but if they want to bring their kids, there is nothing for the kids to do."
"Grand River is owned by a horse person." Travis says. "They do stuff for family and kids between races. The grandstand is always full and that's how it should be."
Some racetracks in Travis' opinion only care about the slot machines and the revenue generated from the slots. If the track owners had a choice, Travis feels they would give up on horse racing and only focus on the casino money, especially at the smaller racetracks.
Looking forward Travis is working to have a strong and successful stable as well becoming more successful when driving at the races. In Travis' stable he has "one 3 year old, two 4 year olds and the rest are aged horses."
Out of all his horses, Travis really likes Shesbadtothebone and believes this is the horse of highest caliber in his barn and has her set to race in a week or two.
When Travis isn't working with horses or at home, he enjoys going the Ranch, which is a bar in Guelph but admits he doesn't get out too much anymore due to time constraints. "It is still the one bar we all go to if we are going out" says Travis.
Travis follows hockey and says the Washington Capitals are the team he cheers on and his favorite player is 'Ovie' also know as Alexander Ovechkin. "I'm a big Ovie fan and I get bugged about it all the time" Travis says. Prior to cheering for the Capitals, Travis was a big fan of the Colorado Avalanche dynasty which starred players like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Ray Bourque and Patrick Roy to name a few.
One day, with all his hard work, Travis may have a dynamic stable and all he learnt from his dad and uncles will shine bright like the morning sun.
By: Roderick Balgobin, www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova