MacDonald Returns A Hometown Hero

2023 O'Brien Award Winners - James MacDonald
Published: February 5, 2024 05:35 pm EST

"It was an amazing night, especially seeing [my son] Griff get up there so many times and just see how excited he was to accept the awards. That's what it's all about. Harness racing is great and winning races is great, but it's great to have my family here and just to see the joy in their face seeing me and everyone have success."

James MacDonald was honoured as the Keith Waples Driver of the Year at the 2023 O'Brien Awards on Saturday, Feb. 3 in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Doug Brown, the winningest reinsman in the history of the O'Brien Awards, presented the Driver of the Year trophy to MacDonald as the P.E.I. native became the first driver to win the award for three consecutive years since Brown achieved the feat twice from 1989-1991 and 1993-1996.

"It's pretty cool, for sure, especially to have Doug on site giving out the award, that was pretty special," said MacDonald after the awards presentation. "I've been a big fan of racing since I was a little kid growing up watching my brothers, Mark and Anthony, and just to be even considered for this award is an honour, so to be able to get it done three years in a row, especially back in P.E.I., it's been a fun night and it's going to continue to be a fun night I think."

MacDonald topped the 400-win mark for the second year in a row and exceeded $10 million in seasonal purse earnings, which was the first time he’s done that in his career and the first time a Canadian-based driver has reached the plateau in more than a decade. He drove several of the 2023 O’Brien Award winners, including Adare Castle, Legendary Hanover, Righteous Resolve, So Much More and Willys Home Run. 

MacDonald also reflected on his career and spoke about the O'Brien Award-winning stars he drove in 2023, including fan favourite So Much More, as well as his driving decisions in an interview with Standardbred Canada's John Rallis and Jeff Porchak. The second in a series of post-O'Brien Awards interviews, sponsored by Horse Racing Alberta, appears below.

(Standardbred Canada)

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