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Jamieson On Shock, Devastation

Published: January 6, 2016 5:23 pm ET

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It is hard to find horsemen that are more savvy than Ben Wallace and Jody Jamieson when it comes to speaking with the media. They are impeccable. The duo has been handed the tough task of having to articulate the devastation that the Classy Lane Training Centre barn fire has left, and the emotion in their interviews has spoken volumes regarding the impact that the tragedy has had on both them and the entire harness racing community in southern Ontario.

An emotional Ben Wallace took time out of his hectic Tuesday morning to discuss the tragedy. In terms of his training business, Wallace was quoted as saying, “It’s gone. I have nothing. I have nothing. I don’t even have a stopwatch. Nothing. Anything I owned going forward, as far as my profession, is gone.” To listen to Wallace’s interview, click here.

Jamieson discussed the barn fire on Wednesday morning (January 6) on the John Oakley Show on AM 640 in Toronto.

Like Wallace, Jamieson had to fight back emotion during the interview and did his best to convey the various degrees of loss that horsepeople have been forced to accept in the wake of the tragedy, which has received a wealth of attention in virtually all aspects of the media.

“….People are left out this morning… without any realization that they might get something back financially,” Jamieson said. “People’s lives have been turned upside down here and I don’t know the best way to explain it other than it’s devastation – we’ve lost family members (the horses). If you can get through the emotions of this tragedy, you then immediately deal with the financial tragedy. It’s a really tough situation.”

“Ben owned (at least a part of) 11 horses that were in there (the fire),” said Jamieson. “He had five employees that (now) don’t have a job… I can’t even put it into words, even this morning.”

Oakley asked Jamieson about millionaire-earner Apprentice Hanover, and the O’Brien Award winning driver explained that he had just qualified the six-year-old bay hours before the tragedy struck.

“I literally sat behind Apprentice Hanover (on) Monday night (during a qualifying race at Woodbine Racetrack) and he (unfortunately) got home in time to be a part of this tragedy. It’s just something that you cringe at. I got a phone call late that night… and I just couldn’t believe it.

“I’m being a bit selfish because he was one of the best horses that perished in the fire, but there are just so many great people that have been affected by this… I’m still in a state of shock this morning, I have to be honest.”

Everybody in the horse racing industry is encouraged to donate funds to the affected horsepeople via an official GoFundMe page that has been set up by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association. For more on the COSA initiative, or to contact COSA, click here.

It took less than 24 hours for some of the major players in North American harness racing to step up and call for the industry to help support those affected by the blaze. Jeff Gural, Ron Burke, Mark Weaver, Michael Bruscemi and Tony O’Sullivan have all announced that they are doing what they can to help, and they want others to follow their lead. For complete information, click here.

Efforts have also been started to find jobs for the grooms and assistants that have been suddenly left without employment due to the situation. Additionally, an equipment / stable-supplies drive has been initiated to help affected trainers start to build their businesses back up. For complete information on the official GoFundMe account, the employment relocation efforts and the equipment drive, click here.

(With files from AM 640)

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