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A Timely Milestone Win

Published: July 9, 2018 4:56 pm ET

Last Comment: July 9, 2018 7:44 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

To most it was probably just a nondescript result from another card of racing, but when Big Petes Style nailed the wire first on Saturday (July 7) at the Hiawatha Horse Park, it was more than a just a milestone triumph for conditioner Gord McDonnell.

That being said, the win wasn’t just any milestone victory, either. No trainer reaches the 1,000-win plateau without first paying their dues; and, secondly, persevering through the rollercoaster ride which is life in the harness racing industry is no easy task, either.

When it comes to the Standardbred game, there are highs and there are lows – but in the case of McDonnell this past weekend, there may have been a little divine intervention sprinkled in there, as well.

Some professionals tend play coy when it comes to major achievements, as many state that they are unaware of upcoming milestones. While in discussion with Trot Insider, McDonnell was straight up with it all, as he admitted that Win No. 1,000 was surely on his radar.

“I was just beat the night before at Grand River Raceway,” said McDonnell, in reference to his pupil Hayleighs Hat, who had come up just a neck short of victory at the Elora, Ont. oval on Friday (July 6).

Maybe things happen for a reason, and maybe they don’t – it all depends on who you ask. One thing is for certain, though: McDonnell’s 1,000th career win couldn’t have come at a more fitting time.

Big Petes Style was the public’s post-time choice when he left the gate to kick off Sarnia’s eighth race on Saturday. Nick Steward gave the Jeremes Jet gelding an aggressive steer, and the tactic worked, as the pair was under the wire first courtesy of a 1:56.4 mile.

“I was happy to get it over with, to be honest,” McDonnell told Trot Insider, who had trotted out some token questions about the big win.

One of those token questions was, ‘What was going through your head when you reached the milestone?’

Gord’s answer was a sincere and reflective one. “To be honest, I was thinking about the journey – and I was thinking about my dad, especially,” he explained.

The late Terry McDonnell, who passed three years ago, played a tremendous role when it came to building the foundation for Gord’s career in harness racing.

So, at a time when Gord could have played the vanity card and given himself some praise for the big accomplishment, he opted to think of his father, who, according to Gord, probably played a part in the outcome.

“Saturday was my dad’s birthday,” Gord explained to Trot Insider. “I think getting beat at Grand River happened for a reason. My dad was probably watching over that one and decided that Saturday would be a better time for it (Win No. 1,000).

“He was a big influence on me. I worked in the family barn. We had a lot of fun and I learned a lot. So, yeah, on Saturday I was just thinking of him, and the journey.

“It’s been quite a ride.”

July 9, 2018 - 7:44 pmA heartwarming account of one

Marty Adler SAID...

A heartwarming account of one of the hardest working individuals in harness racing. Born into the game by his dad Terry, a down to earth friend to many, and former race secretary at Windsor Raceway.
Gord deserves all the accolades afforded him, if not for the fact, he earned them!

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