David Drew grew up around horses on a farm, and he spent a lifetime racing standardbreds on the side, while working full-time at General Motors in Canada. Finally, 10 years into retirement, Drew is realizing a dream to not only race at the Meadowlands Racetrack, but to do it at the top level, and with a homebred.
Last week, Drew’s Modern Legend finished third to Golden Receiver in a first leg division, and the five-year-old son of Modern Art has drawn the rail (program number two) in a $40,000 single round two division, carded as Saturday’s 11th race.
Once again, five-time Presidential winner, Hall of Famer John Campbell will drive Modern Legend, who has won 12 of 19 career starts and $240,795 for Drew of St. Catharines, Ontario.
“Overall, this would be considered a dream on my part to be racing at the Meadowlands in the Presidential Series,” admitted Drew. “This is beyond what I could have imagined. I mean, he’s a homebred, I raised him and drove him in his first four starts to get him underway. This is the first time I’ve raced a horse there that I’ve owned, but I did win Delvin Miller Silver Cup for amateur drivers back in 2007. That was certainly a highlight of my career.”
Although Drew worked in automobile manufacturing most of his life, he has family roots in rural Southwestern Ontario.
“I grew up on farm in the town of Merlin, Ontario,” recalled Drew. ‘I’ve had some involvement with harness racing horses almost all of my life. I have a brother, Greg Drew, who is also in the business and still on the family farm. My late father, Murray got me interested in the horses when I was a teenager.
“We had a large 350-acre farm with beef cattle and cash crops. It was a busy place before we added harness racing horses into the mix. My father had always been interested in it and that was our first venture into it. We raced mostly at the smaller tracks like Dresden, Windsor and Western Fair.”
Drew has made the successful transition from punching a clock to training horses fulltime.
“I spent a 33-year career at General Motors,” said Drew. “I was the Plant Manager in St. Catharines, Ontario from 1992 to 2002. I moved around to six different facilities in Ontario and Quebec. I owned horses with my brother throughout my working career. I retired about 10 years ago and went off to train some of my own. I’m stabled at Dr. John Hayes Stable in Beamsville, Ontario, and I have three horses right now. They’re all homebreds out of the same mare, Ruby Cam. One of my other training associates there is Carman Hie.”
Modern Legend is a well-preserved five-year-old with plenty of upside.
“Typically, I started pretty slow with him like my others,” noted Drew. “I had him trained down to about 2:15 as a two-year-old and then backed off through the winter. I got him to the races midseason as a three-year-old and he started an eight-race winning streak at Woodbine in the Autumn Series. Then, he swept the Snowshoe and Cam Fella Series. He’s just excelled wonderfully.
“Unfortunately, he got injured in the Cam Fella Final despite going on to win the race. He hit himself when he was interfered with. I took my time bringing him back late in 2012 and he won a Preferred at Woodbine in 1:51.4. I was pleased with the way he’s come back, and last week was the fastest he’s ever gone (1:49.1). I’ve got him stabled at Mark Ford’s training center in Middletown, New York, and it’s working out nicely.
“Understandably, I’ve had several offers for him, but he’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse, so I intend to keep him. He’s an excellent handling horse to train and race.”
When it came to the right mating for the dam Ruby Cam, Drew played around and finally struck gold with Modern Art.
“When I chose to breed to Modern Art I was moving around trying different sires. I have an Astreos six-year-old and a Jeremes Jet three-year-old. I was looking for a stallion with reasonable size since Ruby Cam is not real big. I actually sold the dam two years ago and haven’t been able to relocate her. I would probably buy her back.”
Drew’s venture to the Meadowlands has come complete with a Hall of Fame driver.
“The other part of the dream equation is getting John Campbell to drive the horse for me,” said Drew. “I remember when John was up and coming in London, Ontario and at Windsor Raceway. Ten or 20 years ago I would’ve considered it unbelievable that John would drive for me. I contacted him after I nominated the horse to the Presidential and he gladly accepted.”
Drew’s contribution to racing has also involved the challenging uncertainty back home.
“I’m the Secretary Treasurer of the Central Ontario Standardbred Association, which represents horsemen at Woodbine and Mohawk,” he noted. “Along with the President, Bill O’Donnell, and the other directors, we’re working towards sustainable racing in the province. The current Liberal government is changing leadership and conventions are coming up. We’re continuing to lobby all of the candidates. The Ontario Government was receiving a billion dollars annually from the Slots-At-Racetracks Program before they suddenly cancelled it, which defied logic.”
To view Saturday's harness racing entries, click on the following link: Saturday Entries - Meadowlands Racetrack.