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First Win For Well-Travelled Canadian

Published: September 10, 2018 2:58 pm ET

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Jeremy Morrison expected to make his career driving debut with a single assignment for trainer Jim Campbell at Harrah’s Philadelphia on August 30, but learned from Campbell that morning he was getting a second opportunity later on the card. He appreciated the extra chance.

“That was a big relief, knowing I had another drive instead of just having one,” Morrison said, adding with a laugh, “Then I could mess up two times instead of once.”

But there was no messing up. Morrison picked up a cheque by finishing fifth with 33-1 longshot Thisguyisonfire in his first race, and then picked up his first win by guiding favourite Fashion Forever to victory by two and three-quarter lengths in 1:55.1 in the second. It will be a memory forever for the 28-year-old Morrison.

“He’s a nice trotting colt, so I knew he would have no problem getting around there,” Morrison said about Fashion Forever. “When I went across the wire, it was a good feeling. [Winning] doesn’t happen all the time, and when it does, it makes all the work worth it. It was very exciting.”

Morrison has been with Campbell since January 2017. He was born in Canada, where his parents worked for trainer Bob McIntosh, and moved to Michigan at the age of eight. After graduating high school, Morrison travelled to Florida and got started in harness racing by working for Lindy Farms.

Three years later, Morrison moved to Sweden for several months, where he worked for Per Lennartsson. He returned to the U.S. and worked for a year in Indiana for the O’Mara Stable – during which time he bought his first horse – and then headed to New Jersey, first working for Jonas Czernyson before Campbell.

“I’ve learned a lot from a lot of people,” Morrison said. “I learned to shoe when I was in Sweden and that’s when I first started jogging horses.

“I want to stay here and learn more. I don’t know everything, but I’m eager to learn. I just want to watch, maybe get a few drives, and learn as I go. There is always something new to learn.”

Morrison enjoys the thrill of seeing the stable’s horses compete, whether he is watching from afar or sitting behind them.

“I love the feeling of when they go behind the gate,” he said. “You get that nervous feeling and your heart starts beating a little faster; the adrenaline starts picking up. You can’t do much when you’re just watching from the sidelines, it’s just very exciting.

“To me, it’s easier to drive because you’re just concentrating on one horse. As soon as I got behind the gate all the nervousness went away and it was just me and my horse. When I’m watching on the screen my heart is really pounding because I can’t do anything to help.”

At this point, though, Morrison is more focused on training than driving, although he has gotten drives this year in qualifiers from trainers such as Czernyson, Ron Burke, Nifty Norman, Andrew Harris, and Clyde Francis.

“I’ve been very lucky,” Morrison said. “I’ve been at the right place at the right time when some drivers weren’t (at qualifiers). It makes you feel good when people come to you, it makes you feel important. I appreciate the chances.

“I like driving, but I see myself being more of a trainer than a driver. I do enjoy driving. It was fun. I didn’t really think about being a driver until I started doing it. The more I drive, the more I like it.”

And winning doesn’t hurt.

“No,” Morrison said with a laugh. “Not at all.”

(USTA)


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