Every year, harness racing gets defined by a singular horse or event. We had the Year of Somebeachsomewhere, the Year of Donato Hanover, etc. This year looked before yesterday, and may still be, the Year of See You At Peelers. But in my opinion, this year should be defined as The Year of Jody Jamieson.
Last night at Tioga Downs, Jody Jamieson won the Tioga Downs Driving Championship after winning the first leg at the Meadowlands on August 20, defeating Yannick Gingras, Ron Pierce, George Brennan, Brian Sears, Tim Tetrick, Ed Hensley, David Miller, and Andy Miller. This is an impressive roster of drivers he defeated.
When Jody Jamieson won the World Driving Championship, there were complaints about the format as to how certain drivers seemed to get horses not ready to win all the time or get an unfair share of bad posts. That may be true, but it is clear now after last night's event, that the right driver won the WDC and the right driver came out on top in last ngiht's driving championsip.
So why should this year be the Year of Jody Jamieson? Canadian horsemen and fans always new Jody was a top driver and while last year Jody made a few appearances at Tioga and in a few other races, Jamieson expanded his appearance in the United States this year, primarily at the Meadowlands. So in effect, this year has been a coming out party for Jody Jamieson south of the border and he has done exceptionally well. I expect Jody will become the driver sought out by trainers.
In defeat, See You at Peelers still get press. The story of his defeat made news in The Houston Chronicle, the Washington Observer Reporter, The Washington Post, Wilke-Barre Time Leader, CT Post, Dambiry News Times, San Antoino Express, Stamford Express, Greenwich Time, Sports Illustrated, other papers using the AP story, and Bill Finley covered it for ESPN. Think of it, news in states like Texas and Louisiana where they probably didn't know about harnesss racing beforehand. The challenge is what does racing need to do to get this attention in the future.
Tiny Clinton Raceway, a racetrack which features live racing once a week knows how to ingrain itself into the community. This Sunday, September 4, they are having a Legends Day as a fundraiser to support the Clinton Public Hospital Foundation., featuring a meet and greet and a race where the all-time great will participate in. Drivers John Campbell, Bud Fritz, Jim Doherty, Ray Remmen, Wally Hennessey, Bill O'Donnell, Ron Waples, and Dough Brown will be competing while Clint Galbraith and Keith Waples will be there to sign autographs with the rest of the drivers. Canada, being such a hockey country, has inspired Clintron raceway to also have Theo Flurey appearing for autographs, Track announcers Roger Huston, Frank Salive, Ken Warkentin, Greg Blanchard, Ken Middleton, and Tim O'Conner will be alternating duties behind the mike that afternoon. This, along with some other activities and races scheduled, promises to draw the attention of the community.
We need days like this at all tracks, even at the Meadowlands (they do events similar to this at Tioga). Not only does it get the community involved with racing for a day; it makes the track a member of the community which is the key to develop a relationship with your market place. A track which supports the community will get more attention from the local media and the people it serves.