Jamieson Hears Opportunity Knocking
This is a year of opportunities for harness racing driver Jody Jamieson, and he would like to take
advantage of them.
Racetrack schedule changes have allowed him to drive more often this season, resulting in Jamieson occupying the No. 2 spot for wins in North America so far this year. In addition, is among the owners of three-year-old trotter Federal Flex, which could lead to an opportunity for Hambletonian glory.
"Things have been rolling right along. It's been good," Jamieson said. "It's just a matter of going and doing the work; putting the time in. It's just getting the opportunities and getting live horses to drive."
Jamieson, 32, who was Canada's Driver of the Year in 2007, entered Monday with 203 wins this year in 876 races. Last season at this date, he had 88 victories in 511 races. Much of the change can be attributed to Flamboro Downs offering more daytime cards. In 2008, Jamieson drove only 37 times at Flamboro; this year, 345.
"It's just doing double duty again," said Jamieson, who won 336 races in 2001 starts last year; both his lowest totals since 1999. "There wasn't enough opportunity (last year). You pretty much had to pick a track to race at. You could race seven days a week, I guess, but you could only race at one track a day. American drivers a lot of times can race at two tracks a day for four or five days a week.
"Racing opportunities in Ontario have been dropping for the last four or five years (from 16,978 total races in 2004 to 15,484 in 2008) and are going to continue to drop. That's another reason I've been going at it, working real hard, so I can do it before there's no opportunity to do it."
While taking advantage of his immediate opportunities, Jamieson also is dreaming about a future one. Federal Flex won five of nine races and $560,818 last year. His triumphs included the Valley Victory and a division of the Champlain Stakes. Federal Flex is a son of 1998 Hambletonian winner Muscles Yankee and 2003 Classic Series champion Scully FBI.
"Federal Flex is all systems go," said Jamieson, whose Federal Flex Stable owns the colt with Ken Henwood, Al Libfeld, and Marvin Katz. "He's about six weeks away from qualifying, and that will put him right on time for the Goodtimes at Mohawk in the middle of June. He's in good hands with (trainer) Jeff Gillis. His attitude is great and we're just hoping for a big year."
Jamieson has driven in the Hambletonian once, last year as a sub for Trevor Ritchie, finishing fifth with Clerk Magistrate.
"It seems like, right today, we have a contender," Jamieson said. "We're going to try to be in it and just enjoy it. I've never had a trotter come back that was eligible for the Hambo that had a legit shot at being there, let alone winning it. I wish we could fast forward right to that day; see if we're in it and what post we got to pick."
The connections have high hopes for Federal Flex beyond this season, provided the horse remains healthy and productive.
"We'll hopefully continue racing and maybe even spend a stint in Europe, if the horse stays great and we're that lucky and that fortunate," Jamieson said. "We're going to take full advantage of having a top trotter. I think everyone has to experience Europe once in their lives. I got to experience it with the World Driving Championship. But to have a horse in those classic races would be something else, too. He might be the horse. We're just keeping our fingers crossed that he is. That's a minimum of two years away. A lot of things have to stay good between now and then."
In the meantime, Jamieson will simply continue to try to take advantage of the opportunities at hand.
"I enjoy winning races," Jamieson said, "and I enjoy what comes with winning, which is that people consider you the top driver. I enjoy that, too."
(Harness Racing Communications)