The last time Jody Jamieson drove at the Meadowlands Racetrack he deftly stick-handled his way through stretch traffic with Put On A Show, who became the fastest female in the sport with a 1:47.3 upset in the Lady Liberty on Hambletonian Day 2012.
The busy two-time World Driving Champion and O’Brien Award winner returns to the Big M on Saturday night, principally to compete in the TVG Free For All Championship and eliminations for the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial.
Once again, Jamieson, one of the leading drivers on the Woodbine-Mohawk circuit, will venture south of the border to team up with trainer Jeff Gillis, who sends out defending Cutler champion Mister Herbie. The five-year-old Ontario bred by Here Comes Herbie was voted Canada’s top older trotter in 2012, winning six of 12 starts and $956,343. He posted a gutsy 1:51.3 score in last year’s Cutler Final, and his 1:50.4 triumph in the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk was the fastest mile ever trotted in Canada.
Mister Herbie begins his season with $1,282,238 earned for Gillis of Hillsburgh, Ontario, Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ontario and Gerald Stay of Buffalo, NY. Gillis, Canada’s Trainer of the Year in 2011, decided to turn down a recent invitation to the Elitlopp because similar to last year the gelding developed a foot problem [rear quarter crack]. Mister Herbie has post three in the second $40,000 division [race eight].
“I don’t see any reason why we can’t win this thing again this year,” said Jamieson. “He’s had a foot issue again, but it’s as close to being perfect as we’re going to it right now. I believe he’s tight enough. His latest qualifier at Woodbine the other day [in 1:54.4] was strong. He’s the type of horse who has the will to win. He has a great chance to repeat.
“Last year, if you put everything together, you’ve got Tim Tetrick with Winning Mister, I got bumped around the first turn, was three wide, then we were first over. Winning Mister had everything his own way, and Mister Herbie just beat him with a relentless rally.”
Jamieson and Gillis also have Knows Nothing in the first elimination [post three, race two]. The four-year-old son of Kadabra finished fifth in the 2012 Hambletonian after winning his elimination in 1:53.1. He banked $616,755 in his first season of racing for Ontario owners Gillis, Al Libfeld, Marvin Katz, Mac Nichol and Gerald Stay of Buffalo, NY.
“I haven’t drove Knows Nothing this year, and I think the idea was to use a different driver because he could be in a lot of races with Mister Herbie,” noted Jamieson. “I talked to Scott Zeron who drove him in his first start back. He didn’t get much of a chance. He trotted in 1:54.4 and didn’t pop the earplugs. He’s got a shot to make the final and be a player. He’s got some back class. He had a great year in 2012. He’s kind of like a three-year-old coming into his four-year-old season because he didn’t race at two. The top four-year-olds won’t get too far away from him.”
Aquarius Final runner-up Warrawee Needy returns to the Big M for the first leg of the TVG Free For All Championship. Trained and leased by Jody’s father, Carl Jamieson, the son of E Dee’s Cam has post six in the first of two $50,000 divisions [race six]. The winner of $924,568 ships back to New Jersey fresh off three straight wins on Lasix in the Preferred class at Woodbine. His latest tally on May 4 was a career best of 1:48.3.
“Warrawee Needy never had an issue with sitting and coming from off the pace,” said Jamieson. “When he set that fast pace in the Aquarius [on March 9] it was just his second start of the year and he got a little wound up. He was so good last week and he obviously loves Woodbine. I know he’s a four-year-old, but I think he’s going to have a huge year. If you can fire out in :25.2, then come home in :25.4 that spells success anywhere you go.”
This past week Jamieson accepted an overseas assignment to drive Canadian invitee Take My Picture in Sweden’s Elitlopp on May 26.
“I drove at Solvalla when I won the World Driving Championship back in 2001,” Jamieson recalled. “I had no luck at all there, but had a little experience with the track. The Elitlopp is one of the greatest races in the world, and the allure to me is their great crowd. I raced Take My Picture at Flamboro Downs and everybody I talk to thinks he has a serious shot because of his style. He can grind it out.”
Jody’s father, Carl Jamieson, is a 2013 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee. The pair scored an emotional victory in the 2011 North America Cup with Up The Credit.
“It’s an absolutely amazing accomplishment,” exclaimed Jamieson. “I kind of forgot he was on the ballot. He was on it the year before and didn’t get in. It’s a testament to all his hard work. He moved us [the family] to Flamboro Downs on Boxing Day, I think it was 1986. He just never stopped working. He built a farm in Hagersville and turned over so many good horses. He’s a self made man.”
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