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No Need For Concern

Published: June 15, 2012 9:25 am ET

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“What will be will be, if he’s the champion horse I think he is he’ll overcome the eight hole – that’s just what champions and world champion horses do.”

Clearly, the road to the 2012 North America Cup isn’t how Carl Jamieson planned. Just over a month ago, O’Brien Award winner Warrawee Needy made headlines with a 1:49.2 qualifier under wraps at Mohawk Racetrack on May 10. The harness racing world eagerly anticipated the impressive colt’s seasonal debut at Georgian Downs nine days later. Word spread like wildfire that the likely winner of the Upper Canada Cup was scratched sick from his elimination.

Two weeks later, the Somebeachsomewhwere Stake was drawn for Mohawk. In the eyes of many that race serves as the prep and barometer for the North America Cup. When the entries were posted, Warrawee Needy was no-warrawee to be found. Not ready to go with these colts after the bout of sickness, said trainer/owner Jamieson.

On Tuesday, June 4, 19 colts were dropped into the box for North America Cup 29. Warrawee Needy drew into the second division, set to make his first sophomore start. Lining up to his inside, the Breeders Crown champion from 2011 and U.S. divisional award winner, Sweet Lou. The stage was set for the type of showdown that fans dream of, a first time meeting of two divisional heavyweights.

In his first start of the year, Warrawee Needy finished an extremely strong second to Sweet Lou in a track and Canadian record 1:47.4. His individual time of 1:48.1 would have won or equalled any other North America Cup final.

“He was sick and I couldn’t train him, I could only train him last week a little bit,” stated trainer Carl Jamieson at the North America Cup draw this past Tuesday. “He’s just an awesome horse. He went the best trip of his life, looked really good doing it and came out of the race good. I think he’ll be alright.”

One thing that Jamieson knows about Warrawee Needy, work isn’t an issue. The O’Brien Award winning trainer found out last year that the son of E Dees Cam can bounce back from a rest and look no worse for wear.

“It’s funny about this horse, last year he won the [Ontario Sires Stakes] Gold final and waited a whole month later for the Super Final. I mean, a month’s a long time and he couldn’t get a start, and he still comes back and wins in 50 and change off a month,” noted Jamieson with a tone of incredulity. “I don’t think he’s the type of horse that needs a lot of work. He’s just a big, strong horse with big lungs and I think he’s better that way.”

With a second place elim finish, Warrawee Needy was at the mercy of the post position gods. Interestingly, the two favoured horses in the morning line – Sweet Lou and Warrawee Needy – each line up from posts that have yet to win Canadian harness racing’s richest prize since moving from Greenwood Raceway. While Sweet Lou’s connections chose post 4, Warrawee Needy drew the eight hole.

“Mike Hamilton told me that the eight-horse has never won. The four-horse hasn’t won either but I’d just as soon have the four than the eight,” said Jamieson with a laugh.

After prepping the horse for his biggest test to date, Jamieson will pass the lines on Saturday night over to his son, Jody, Canada’s defending driver of the year and 2011 World Driving Champion. The father-son team clicked to win this race one year ago with pacing colt Up The Credit. Carl notes Jody’s preparation as a key factor is what makes him such a smart driver.

“Jody does a lot of thinking about the race, I think he has the race partly figured out before he goes there but he can change his mind in a race and does a great job at it and puts the horses in the right places,” stated Carl. “All he has to do is have the horse in his hands in the stretch. Things have to work out right, it doesn’t matter who you are. I think we have the best driver in the world on him.”

While timing and strategy help make a good driver, one thing that Carl feels sets Jody apart is his appreciation and respect for the horse.

“Jody really likes the horse and knows what kind of class he is. You don’t see too many drivers finish the mile, take the horse and jog him for half a mile afterwards, just to unwind them a bit after a big mile like that.

“I thought when he pulled in the stretch we were going to go by, but I didn’t know we were going to go in 47 and 4. He moved him out, didn’t quite have the fire to go by so he put him back and let him coast home. That was a good thing to do.”

Perhaps it’s credit to Carl’s meticulous nature that Jody would take extra care to ensure the horse was properly cooled out. If there’s one key to the Jamieson Stable’s success, according to Carl it’s attention to detail. While he’s not feeling any pressure to defend the North America Cup title, Jamieson is especially careful that the job Warrawee Needy’s owners – Toronto’s Tom Kyron, breeder Dr. Michael Wilson of Rockwood and Floyd Marshall of Jarvis - have entrusted to him is done right.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself just making sure the details are taken care of. I’m on my help all the time, especially with a horse like this here, you can’t neglect and you have to be on top of everything,” stressed the Princeton, Ont. resident. “You have to fix it before it gets broke. People don’t understand, they say I’m hard to work for but details are the thing.”

Jamieson understands not only what it takes to win this race, but what a win for an Ontario-sired colt can do for the province’s breeding and harness racing industry. At a time when the future of races like the North America Cup are in turmoil after the bombshell announcement by the Liberal government earlier this year to cancel the slots-at-racetracks program, a win for Warrawee Needy would be in the minds of many a win for Ontario.

“This is a really great thing for the breeders in Ontario, to have an Ontario-sired horse – not only to race in the North America Cup but to win it? To pace the way he’s been pacing and the time he’s been going? That’s just amazing, and they need that. The breeders need that,” noted Jamieson. “They all hope ‘Needy’ wins. They don’t really care if I win, as long as he wins. They’re already breeding horses, and [it shows] we can be competitive with the States.

“Somebody started this fairytale that all our big money’s going to the States. I won it last year, I had an American-bred horse but all the money stayed in Canada. We have a really good breeding program and it’s getting better and better over time, and if the government keeps on doing what it’s doing to us it will put us all out of business. The breeders, the hay man, the guy who sells trucks and trailers, the whole thing. It just boggles my mind why they’re doing this.”

The gravity of Ontario’s situation isn’t lost on the seasoned veteran Jamieson, who wondered whether or not this might be his last shot at a race with such a lucrative purse.

“Winning the North America Cup, it’s a special race and the biggest race in Canada to win. If I finish second or third I get a good piece of it but too, but I’m going for #1. It would be nice to win it two years in a row, it might be the last time we ever race in it.”

The Pepsi North America Cup will be part of a special one and a half hour national broadcast on The Score Television Network this Saturday evening from 8:30 to 10:00 p.m.

Mohawk's stellar Saturday program will also feature the $642,000 Fan Hanover Stakes, $530,000 Elegantimage Stakes, $376,000 Armbro Flight Stakes, $351,000 Goodtimes Stakes and the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup.

$1.5 Million Pepsi North America Cup
Post Position - Horse - Driver - Morning Line Odds

1 - Bettors Edge - Tim Tetrick - 30-1
2 - Dapper Dude - John Campbell - 8-1
3 - Time To Roll - Andy Miller - 12-1
4 - Sweet Lou - Dave Palone - 3-5
5 - Thinking Out Loud - Randy Waples - 12-1
6 - State Treasurer - David Miller - 20-1
7 - A Rocknroll Dance - Yannick Gingras - 10-1
8 - Warrawee Needy - Jody Jamieson - 9-2
9 - Pet Rock - Brian Sears - 15-1
10 - Simply Business - Ron Pierce - 25-1
AE1 - Easy Again – TBA

To view the full entries for Saturday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Saturday Entries - Mohawk Racetrack.

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