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Meet The Western Driving Reps

Published: October 2, 2016 11:06 am ET

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Brandon Campbell of Calgary, Alberta and Jim Marino of Surrey, British Columbia are the Western Regional driving representatives in this year’s National Driving Championship (NDC), scheduled for Friday, October 14 at The Raceway at the Western Fair District.

Trot Insider caught up with them to talk about the 2016 season and NDC.

BRANDON CAMPBELL – COULD THE THIRD TIME BE A CHARM?

Brandon Campbell is not new to the National Driving Championship. The now 33-year-old Calgary, Alberta trainer/driver has been involved with harness racing for more than half of his life. He has driven 1,263 winners and horses to over $7 million in purse earnings during his 14 seasons of driving. The 2016 NDC will mark his third appearance at a National Driving Championship competition.

Campbell had his first shot at the NDC title back in 2011 when he was the youngest competitor in the event at age 27. He finished seventh while Jody Jamieson took the title and went on to represent Canada and win the World Driving Championship hosted in the U.S.

“This is my third year in a row and like I have said a million times, Jody (Jamieson) isn’t in it and I’m comfortable with the whole situation from my past experiences.” said Campbell, “I am so excited for it you wouldn’t believe. In 2014, I was a bridesmaid in every race which placed me third overall. I am hoping to win this time. I don’t care what anyone says or what they think, I am going in it to win it.”

Campbell is one of the top drivers at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino and has 93 wins and over $520,000 in earnings from 540 drives this year. He currently sits in third spot for number of wins with 58 to his credit, but in the past 20 days has increased his win rate to 27% with 38 wins from 139 drives.

On the training side, he currently conditions a stable of 24 horses at Century Downs and is very satisfied with the success he’s recently had.

“The phone has been ringing off the hook,” said Brandon. “Things have been picking up lately and I am looking forward to what it brings.”

JIM MARINO – BACK ON TRACK

On January 23, 2015, Jim Marino experienced every driver’s worst nightmare when he was involved in a very serious spill at Fraser Downs. Mood Light, the horse he was driving, broke stride and made a very abrupt deceleration and the horse behind them couldn’t change course in time and hit Jim’s bike. Jim suffered a torn left ACL, broke his left femur and broke both bones in his left wrist. In the days after the accident, after multiple surgeries to put him back together, Jim said that there wasn’t one piece of him that didn’t hurt.

After months in a hospital bed, significant time and energy in physio, he made his comeback on June 26 at Century Downs. Thanks to all of the help from friends and the harness racing community, he had people to take care of and race his horses during his recovery. He still managed to put together decent numbers despite missing four entire months of racing. He ended 2015 with 72 wins and over $804,000 in earnings from 586 races.

The 2016 season is turning out to be another solid one for Marino, and thankfully, accident free. He hit a major career milestone when he drove his 2,000th winner this past July at Running Aces in Minnesota, where he competed for most of the summer with the exception of the Western Regional Driving Championship on June 26. But when asked about one of the best milestones or most memorable things that has happened to him during his racing career, he’s quick to answer that it was the support he received from the racing community and friends during his rehab from that major accident in 2015.

“People took care of me and took care of my horses! Justin Currie and Brandon Campbell gave me a lot of help and support. That really meant a lot. I was just overwhelmed at everything that everyone did for me.”

Marino is now back in B.C., gearing up for the fall meet at Fraser Downs and currently manages a 19-horse stable -- “the largest stable I’ve ever had,” he explains.“I want to slow down a bit with the catch driving and focus on my horses.”

So far this year, he has 78 wins and over $540,000 in earnings from driving in 586 races.

This marks Marino’s second crack at the national title; the first was in 2014 when he finished in seventh spot. He admits he’s more relaxed this time around.

“I give Trevor Henry the edge because of how much he’s driven there but I’m going in relaxed and hope to improve my position from the last NDC and enjoy the entire experience!”


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