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Jewitt Still Going Strong At Clinton

Published: July 21, 2021 10:53 pm ET

Last Comment: July 22, 2021 8:56 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

For the past decade visitors and participants at Clinton Raceway have been treated to the handiwork of Dennis Jewitt, who readies the racing surface for action each Sunday.

“I take a lot of pleasure in it,” Jewitt said. “I used to drive and what I try and do is have the track the way I would have wanted it. I like to see them go fast, that’s what you aim for. I’ve been doing it for 10 or 12 years now.”

The soon to be 80-year-old — he will celebrate the landmark birthday on July 24 — retired in 1992 from a driving career that saw him compete as far away as Connaught Park in Aylmer, Que. and earn driving titles at a number of the Grassroots tracks in Ontario. Clinton, Elmira, Goderich, Hanover and Orangeville Raceways were all regular stops for Jewitt in his driving heyday, most of which he fit in around a full-time job in the Goderich salt mine.

“I spent 40 years working underground at the salt mine in Goderich and did the horses part time. I did a lot of driving, quite a bit of driving, for other people and trained my own horses,” said Jewitt, who now calls Wingham, Ont. home.

There was a stretch in the late 1960’s that saw Jewitt spend all of his days with the horses, but he found it tough to balance full-time training and driving with family life at home in Goderich.

“Years ago, I think in 1967, I went to Connaught Park in Quebec and raced and I enjoyed that, but I had a young family and back then you just couldn’t do it,” said Jewitt, who got his start working for renowned southwestern Ontario horsemen like Wib White and Wes Litt. “So then I went back to the mine and loved every minute of it. It didn’t bother me being underground and I really enjoyed it.”

Once he retired from driving, Jewitt continued to train a few horses and said the best horse he ever had came along in 2004. As a five-year-old, pacing gelding R M Karisma (Intrepid Seelster–Cherubine) won at Woodbine Racetrack in 1:51.4 and earned $195,170 in an 11-year racing career. Also appearing on Jewitt’s equine highlight reel is a mare he sold to Brett Robinson in 2005. Then four, Hope For Life (Fit For Life – Patscc) raced until 2007 when she was retired to broodmare duty. Since then, she has produced six foals, three of which were $450,000-plus winners who have paced sub-1:51.

“She’s the dam of just a heck of a mare, she won the Blue Chip Matchmaker in The Meadowlands this year, a mare called Machnhope (Mach Three),” said Jewitt. “I’ve had some good horses. I’ve just had so much fun in in the horse business.”

At present, Jewitt just has one broodmare and her two-year-old Lyonssomewhere filly, who he does not expect to race until this fall at the earliest. In addition to staying busy with his horses and maintaining the Clinton oval on race days, Jewitt is a long-time supporter of the Wingham Ironmen and looks forward to getting back to co-ordinating their 50-50 draw program once the Provincial Junior Ice Hockey League resumes play in October.

In the meantime, to mark his 80th birthday Jewitt has been walking the G2G Rail Trail, which stretches 127 kilometres between Guelph and Goderich, Ont.

“I’m doing about 10 or 12 kilometres a day on it and I would like to get it done before my 80th birthday,” said Jewitt, who expects to complete the trail, with two days to spare, on Thursday, July 22. “I think staying active is what keeps you going.”

Family is also an essential part of Jewitt’s formula for a full life. He is very proud of daughter Kathy Johnston, the former assistant race secretary at Clinton Raceway, and son David Jewitt, the deputy mayor of Central Huron, who will gather with their families on Saturday to celebrate his milestone birthday.

On Sunday, Jewitt will be back behind the wheel of the Clinton Raceway track maintenance vehicles, ensuring the surface is fast and accepting good wishes from the many friends and acquaintances he has made through more than six decades in harness racing.

(Clinton Raceway)

July 22, 2021 - 8:56 pmHappy Birthday Dennis! Hope

Dan Donnelly SAID...

Happy Birthday Dennis! Hope to see you on a Sunday afternoon in Clinton this summer.

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