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Drew Honoured To Represent Canada

Published: February 23, 2020 10:59 am ET

Last Comment: February 23, 2020 11:54 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

For the first time since 2008, a Canadian will take part in the biennial World Cup of Amateur Racing. And while Ontarian Dave Drew is determined for gold in the 2020 renewal of the Cup, he's just as thrilled for the experience off the track.

"I'm very honoured to be wearing the Canadian colours," said Drew, who is one of 12 drivers from four continents to participate in the World Cup, which is slated for Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 24 and 25) at Pompano Park in Florida. "We've not had a representative in it for well over 10 years, and I'm really very pleased to be a part of it and honoured to represent Canada."

Drew, who freshened up for the tournament with a lengthy holiday in central Florida, is the first Canadian representative in the Cup since Antonio Valente finished in a three-way tie for sixth in the 2008 Cup, held in the Chicago and New York metropolitan areas.

In addition to an eight-race competition which affords each driver five races across Monday and Tuesday, Drew and his 11 counterparts will take in a few of South Florida's horse racing sights leading up to the tournament.

"I got to meet [the other drivers] on Saturday and spend some time with them before we race, and a couple of events that should be really enjoyable events," explained Drew. "We're going to Gulfstream on Sunday and we're going to Sunshine Meadows on Monday. We'll have the opportunity to see the million-dollar yearling, Maverick. It'll be a nice opportunity to social with the group and get to know them."

The field also includes defending champion Leonardo Agusti of Argentina (who won the 2018 World Cup in Belgium), Warren Rich of New Zealand, Joe Pennacchio of the United States, and eight drivers from across Europe.

"Based on his bio and so on that I've read, he sounds like a very interesting person and certainly a person I want to meet," Drew said of Agusti, who has amassed over 1,300 wins in his career.

"Of course, the whole cross-section from Europe — Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Hungary, Denmark, Austria ... it's a real significant cross-section from that area as well, and I'm sure there's a number of differences [in harness racing] there," continued Drew. "I'm interested to talk to people and get some better understanding of what's good, and see if we can pick up ideas we can use here."

Dave Drew, centre, in his Canadian World Cup of Amateur Driving colours while flanked by dignitaries from Standardbred Canada and COSA

Drew — a 25-time winner in the race bike who also won the 2014 O'Brien Award with his millionaire pacer Modern Legend — has made sure to do his due diligence before the starting gate swings open in Monday's second race at Pompano, having studied program lines and race replays of the horses he's driving.

"I presume I'll have some opportunity to talk to some of the drivers who have driven these horses recently as well to get some insight," Drew added. "Of course, the trainer's input is the vital and key piece to how the horse is and how they prefer to race.

"You don't have any experience sitting behind these specific horses. You can't drive your own horses in the World Cup. Other times in amateur races, people drive their own horses, but you're not allowed to in the World Cup so everyone gets a fair and even look at the horses and their ability to drive them.

"On preliminary information and general review of race lines, it appears that they've put together as even of fields as they can do. They look like competitive races."

While the rules and the work of the race office have served to ensure as level a playing field as possible for the World Cup, Drew indicates that his American counterpart may have a slight "home track advantage," but also has nothing but praise for what he has done for the sport in the Sunshine State.

"Joe [Pennacchio] will be more familiar, perhaps, with the horses because he's at Pompano frequently and driving there," said Drew. "He's a great individual; he's done a lot for horse racing in Florida. I'm glad to see him be a part of it."

Regardless of victory, a 12th-place finish or anything in between, Drew revels in the camaraderie of his fellow amateur drivers, and is excited to add a new track to his driving résumé as well.

"It's a friendly sport; it's nice to get to know other drivers," Drew concluded. "Obviously, everyone tries to do the best they can with the horse they're driving, drive competitively and make it a fun event, but it's always an emphasis on enjoying it and driving safely and having a good time. Everyone wants to win. It's a good event; that's what I've found in my amateur experience for almost 20 years."

To view the entries for the World Cup cards, click one of the following links:

Monday Program Pages - Pompano Park
Tuesday Program Pages - Pompano Park

February 23, 2020 - 11:54 amAll the best Dave.

Jim Brown SAID...

All the best Dave.

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