Drivers Head West For Charity

Published: August 9, 2016 06:50 pm EDT

What started out as an idea from ASHA owners committee chair Diane Bertrand has now become a major project set for Sunday, August 14 at Century Downs.

Diane, who’s also a director of Standardbred Canada, thought it would be a great promotion to invite three drivers from Ontario to come West, challenge the Alberta drivers, and raise some money for worthy charities. Jack Moiseyev, Jody Jamieson, and James McDonald answered the call and all three are looking forward to the event.

“I’ve never been out to the west before to drive,” Moiseyev told Horse Racing Alberta's Peter Watts. Moiseyev will be bringing along his significant other, and business partner, Joanne Colville, who also happens to be the Chair of the Standardbred Canada Board of Directors. “It’ll be fun to see the country and drive some horses. And it’ll be good to raise some money for the charities. We all like to give back and all three of us will be donating whatever we make to a charity.”

Moiseyev will drive on behalf of breast cancer. Jamieson will team up with autism, and McDonald will donate whatever he earns to juvenile diabetes. All three charities will be on hand Sunday at Century Downs to be part of the festivities. The three drivers will sign autographs starting at 11:45 a.m. in front of the grandstand where the public is invited to meet and greet. Racing gets underway as usual at 1:10 p.m.

The three men have impressive credentials in the sport. Moiseyev, who grew up in New Jersey, now runs High Stakes Farm with Colville. The property, which is just north of Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont., is home to an extensive breeding operation. Moiseyev gets to train and develop the youngsters.

“I still like to compete and once in awhile it’s fun to jump in a bike and teach these youngsters how it’s done,” said Moiseyev. "The two guys who are coming with me are both pretty good.” This from a man who surpassed the 9,800 win mark this summer and whose horses have won more than $132 million at the races.

“I’ve been lucky enough to drive some really good horses,” said Moiseyev. “I won the Hambletonian with Giant Victory. And I’ve won the Little Brown Jug twice including once with Precious Bunny. Those two races probably stand out more than any others.”

At 45, Jody Jamieson is at the height of his career. He’s closing in on 7,400 wins and his horses have earned more than $116 million at the races.

“I love these kinds of challenges,” stated Jamieson. "I’ve driven a couple of times at Stampede Park. I’ve been watching some of the races from Century Downs, just to get a feel for where they start and how many laps of the track we make. None of us have ever driven on an 11/16ths mile course before. And I’m looking forward to facing Travis Cullen, who’s got some really impressive numbers as a driver and as a trainer. He was in Prince Edward Island last summer for a couple of races and he seems to win wherever he goes. So I’m hoping to stymie him a little bit. It should be fun.

“And so far as the charities are concerned, we’ve all done really well in this industry. I think when we have a chance to give back, we should. It’s a no-brainer.”

James McDonald, who’s 30, feels the same way. And his interest in coming to Century Downs is two-fold. One is to drive at a different racetrack and raise some money for juvenile diabetes. The other is that he won the Ontario Regional Driving Championship back in June. If he wins the National Driving Championship on Oct. 14 in London, he’ll represent Canada in the World Driving Championship. The first leg of that challenge is set for Century Downs a year from now.

“It’ll give me a chance to get to know the track,” said MacDonald. “Every track is a little different and the way the races go, it’s good to have a little knowledge about how to race on that track. I’ve never even heard of an 11/16ths mile track so it’ll be something to get used to. I’ve had a slow start to my season but it’s gotten a lot better lately. I guess you could say I’ve come from off the pace.”

The draw for post positions takes place on Thursday morning. It’s likely the visitors will get a bunch of drives so as to generate as much money as possible for the charities. ASHA Executive Director Fred Gillis noted that there has been good buy-in from the trainers, who traditionally list up to three options for who they want to drive their horse in a race.

(with files from Horse Racing Alberta)

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