Racing 101

How To Place A Bet

Big Jim Portrait 391

 

Big Jim has enjoyed racing at Meadowlands Racetrack this year.  

  

The 3-year-old colt is 3-for-3 at the Big M, including a win in his Meadowlands Pace elimination race on July 9 and a victory in the $400,000 New Jersey Classic on May 28. 

  

Last weekend, Big Jim won his Meadowlands Pace elim by three-quarters of a length over Powerful Mist in 1:50. His win time was the faster of the two elims; the other was won by Custard The Dragon in 1:50.2. Big Jim’s Canadian connections will get to select his post position for Saturday’s $1 million final. 

  

So far this year, Big Jim has won three of six races and earned $452,720 for owner Jim Carr, trainer James “Friday” Dean and driver Phil Hudon. Big Jim was second in a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario and third in both his elimination and the $1.5 million final of the North America Cup, also at Mohawk. 

  

“I think we’ll just stay here the rest of the summer,” Dean said. “I was real pleased with his effort. They didn’t go much on the front end, but he finished up good. We schooled him (July 1). He seems to race well off a bit of a break.” 

  

A son of Western Ideal out of the mare Bold Pink, Big Jim will try to become the first 2-year-old divisional champion to win the Meadowlands Pace since Presidential Ball in 1993. Big Jim was named the Dan Patch Award winner as best 2-year-old male pacer after winning six of 10 races and $827,204 last season. His wins included a world-record 1:49.1 triumph in the Governor’s Cup and a victory in the Breeders Crown. 

  

“I’m pumped about it to tell you the truth,” Hudon said about competing in the Meadowlands Pace. “I’ve watched all the big guys race in it and win it, the great horses, and it’s just exciting to be a part of it.” 

  

Carr, a Hamilton, Ontario, resident who operates a company that delivers court documents, has become well known for his winner’s circle policy of inviting children to have their picture taken with the horse. 

  

“I don’t think we have enough young blood at the racetrack,” Carr said. “I see the kids along the railing and I thought if the kids got their picture taken with the horse, the next time he races they’ll want to go back. I just enjoy seeing the kids get their picture taken, and how happy they are, especially with a good horse. And I want them to come back to the races and be cheering for him. 

  

  

“I just figure it’s good for racing. It’s only a little bit, but it’s going to help. If everyone did a little bit when they had a horse, we’d get more and more people to the races. We’ve got to give back.” 

  

Big Jim, who also received the O’Brien Award as Canada’s top 2-year-old male pacer in 2010, was renamed from Bold Ideal Hanover because of his size and voracious appetite. (“We’re both big and we both like to eat,” Carr once quipped.) He was purchased as a yearling for $35,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale.  

  

Dean, who is probably best known for his work with multiple-stakes-winner Doonbeg, was a longtime assistant to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Famer Stew Firlotte. Carr and Firlotte had horses together, including stakes-winning Stonewal Almahurst in the late 1980s, before a stroke in 2003 forced Firlotte to retire and Carr left the sport. Carr decided to start buying horses again to share the experience with Firlotte. 

  

“One of the reasons I got back into harness racing is I’ve got a place near Stew in Orlando (Florida) and I got tired of seeing him sitting in the house,” Carr said. “It was just to get him out of the house. He was a great trainer and is a great man. He was a true gentleman for the sport. We’ve been friends for years. I probably wouldn’t have (Big Jim) if it wasn’t for Stew.” 

  

Dean, who trains in Florida during the winter, said Big Jim was the best 2-year-old he ever had. 

  

“You never know if he’s going to be this good, but he never made a mistake,” Dean said. “He trained like an older horse, and whenever you asked him to step it up, it was never a problem. Any time you asked him to go the extra little bit, it was there.” 

  

Hudon hopes for a little extra this weekend. 

  

“I feel good about the final,” Hudon said. “I think he’s as good as anything out there.”