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Kolthammer, LeDrew Talk Yorkton

Published: September 13, 2010 10:06 am ET

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The harness racing season has come to an end at Cornerstone Raceway in Yorkton with the final race card Sunday, a make-up day from Friday which was postponed due to weather.

The last day of racing was a good one for visiting driver Connie Kolthammer.

Kolthammer, who said she was in Yorkton with her husband visiting his family, added they brought along a few horses “just to have some fun with.” Kolthammer drove three races, and won them all.

“That’s a lot of fun,” she said with a grin. “It’s been a long dry summer. It feels pretty darn good.”

Kolthammer won her first race with Outlaw Black Gold, over Barry McNaughton with In Grand Style, and Leonard Hull with Bling Kaching.

In the LDM feature race, Kolthammer was back to the winner’s circle with Outlaw Mascott, over Glenn LeDrew and Meadowlark Apache and Tyler Redwood and Ashley Rocks.

Then, in the Yorkton Toyota feature race, it was Kolthammer again, topping the field with Smart Shark, over Barona Fivehundred, driven by Brad LeDrew, and Tajwon, with Glenn LeDrew.

Smart Shark was favoured in the open race, but Kolthammer said that creates its own pressures. “He’s a pretty nice horse,” she said, but adding no race is a given. “You really don’t know how it’s going to go.”

Smart Shark had a big year in Alberta in 2009, setting a since broken track record at Lacombe in 1:51.3, and recorded five straight wins, ending up age horse of the year in Alberta.

Kolthammer said she enjoys racing in Yorkton.

“It’s a really good time,” she said, then adding with a smile “they’re probably happy to see us go when we did what we did today.”

With the end of the season the top trainer and driver of the 16-week meet have been calculated, with Shawn Worthen taking trainer honours and Glenn LeDrew topping drivers.

LeDrew has been the top driver in recent years, although he fell short of the honour in 2009 missing a couple of weeks of races. While always at the top, or near it, he said it’s never easy in Yorkton.

“The racing is always very competitive here,” he said. “There are no gimmes. Everybody wants to get all they can get.”

LeDrew said this year there were new drivers such as Terry Kaufman and Jeffrey Stone were in Yorkton, making the field even tougher.

“They’re both very good drivers,” said LeDrew.

LeDrew is a catch driver, not training or owning horses, and he said that means he relies on his relationship with trainers and owners is critical.

“When you’re a catch driver you’re completely dependent on the opportunities that are provided to you,” he said. “Without owners and trainers there wouldn’t be a job for catch drivers.”

LeDrew said he is fortunate to drive a lot of horses for Worthen.

“Shawn takes his role here very seriously,” said LeDrew.

LeDrew added the owners Worthen works with invested in some new horses, and that helped too.

“It’s great for racing, and it’s good for Shawn’s stable as well,” he said.

As for earning the top-driver honour, he said it’s “always nice.” He added he just focuses on doing his best each race, “and if you end in top spot, it’s a bonus.”

Worthen said being top trainer is nice, but like LeDrew he said he just focuses on his job.

“We just work hard,” he said, then moving to share the accolades, “We have good owners, good horses, good help.”

Worthen said he does do things differently at times, adding a key was buying horses which had been on the track in Alberta, so they were in race shape by the time the season started in Yorkton. That is an advantage over local area horses which struggle with preseason training.

“There’s no place in Yorkton to train the horses down,” he said, adding “the horses I trained down myself took two, or three weeks to get better.”

When asked if the Yorkton track should be open earlier for training, Worthen said “that would definitely help.” He said having stalls available, and the track cleaned starting in March would be a big help to local owners and trainers. “At least then the horses are ready for day one.”

As for his own approach, Worthen said little things help him, like shoeing his own horses.

“My own horses are always sharp shod,” he said, since he only has the cost of the shoes, not hiring a farrier too.

Worthen earned the same honour in 2008.

(A Trot Insider exclusive by Calvin Daniels)

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