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HRN Original Blog:
Drive On

Doug McNair's star continues to shine brighter

The meteoric rise of young Canadian driving star Doug McNair didn’t slow a bit with his full-time switch to the major leagues in 2012. In fact, the 23-year old had the biggest surge of any Woodbine Entertainment Group driver in number of winning drives, up 110 from the previous year when he was just breaking onto the WEG scene after rewriting the record books several times on smaller tracks. McNair, the youngest driver to steer 1,000 winners and winners of $1,000,000 in purses AND winners of $10,000,000 finished a solid 5th in wins on the extremely competitive Woodbine/Mohawk circuit, finishing with 191 wins and a solid 14% win rate. Lofty status for a 23-year-old. Some of McNair’s biggest moments included reprising his winning performance in Maywood’s Windy City Pace driving Pet Rock (he won the 2010 version with his dad Gregg’s Aracache Hanover.)

 

 

McNair flew down to Chicago to catch drive the Rocknroll Hanover colt for trainer Virgil Morgan and was clearly appreciative of the connections’ confidence in him  during post-race interviews.

 

“I’m just very happy and very thankful that Virgil gave me the chance to come to Chicago tonight and drive a great horse like this in such a big stake as this,” he beamed.

 

“It was a big thrill to win this race for Frank and Joe Bellino, two of my big owners,” McNair recounts. “It was also a thrill winning four Grassroots Finals in one night at Grand River, 3 of them for my dad. It’s our home track as we live five minutes away from Elora.” McNair also mentions his winning steer behind World Record setting aged pacing mare Drop the Ball as another highlight:

 

 

The teamster also won Clinton Raceway’s annual Charity Drivers’ Challenge, frequenting the ½ miler’s winner’s circle four times that day accompanied by his grandmother Gwen, his biggest fan.

 

As for 2013 goals, the youthful pilot aims to ‘match” what he accomplished in 2012 even if the year didn’t end exactly as he had hoped. “I finished $150,000 shy of $6 million in earnings because I had a slow month in December,” he notes. Yet with the future of Ontario racing somewhat up in the air considering the current government’s plan to end the Slots At Racetracks agreement, “matching” may not be so easy. The WEG circuit has already announced a 10% purse reduction and cancellation of any winter stakes series. “It doesn’t look 100% promising,” McNair agrees, but adds “we raced before the slots, though and we should be racing after. If any track is going to survive, it’s Woodbine.” If a worst possible scenario played out, what then? “I could probably go to the east coast (U.S) and race at Yonkers/Meadowlands,” he predicts. “But I’d rather stay here. It’s my home and I love it here.” Indeed, McNair has a lot to look forward to as it appears he will be one of the dominant reinsman for decades; if not on the Toronto circuit, then wherever he happens to touch down.

 

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Meet Garnet Barnsdale

 

I am an Honours Graduate from Humber College School of Journalism and a lifelong race fan and handicapper who has been watching and wagering on harness racing for more than 30 years. I was a staff writer for The Standardbred magazine in the late '80s. I will attempt to provide both beginners and veterans with valuable information and handicapping tips and advice on the top events from all major harness circuits.

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