TORONTO — As the 2012 standardbred racing season came to an end on Monday afternoon at Woodbine, so too did the compelling battle for the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) driving title, one that saw Sylvain Filion and Jody Jamieson tying for top honours.
Entering the 11-race card, Jamieson had a three-win lead. Filion, however, made up ground Monday by posting a driving triple early on, while Jamieson recaptured the lead with a single win.
It all came down to the last race on the last card of the year. Filion and Jamieson went toe-to-toe in the 11th dash with 5-2 co-favourites.
Filion, with the Richard Moreau pupil Gareth Nourrir, and Jamieson, at the helm of Long Fight Hanover for conditioner Jeff Gillis, duked it out in the stretch, but Filion and his charge pulled away to score the one and a half length victory in 1:53.1. Jamieson was third.
The reinsmen each posted 284 wins between Woodbine and Mohawk this year. Filion had 1,724 starters and Jamieson had 1,581. Scott Zeron finished third with 262 wins.
Jamieson, 36, a resident of Moffat, also led all drivers in the purse earnings category, accumulating $7,170,687. Filion, 43, who calls Milton home, amassed $6,496,872 in purse earnings.
This is Filion’s first WEG driving title.
“This championship here really got me wound up at the end of it,” said Filion, who is a first-time O’Brien Award finalist for Driver of the Year. “I am not the type of guy who looks up stats, but it got me going. It was pretty cool. Tying a guy like Jody, who I consider probably the best driver in the world right now, that’s something else. It’s pretty neat.”
Jamieson now has four titles to his name. He was also WEG’s leading driver in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
“I’ve had a great year,” said Jamieson. “To win the drivers’ championship again was something that was on the radar, but I missed a lot of time taking some vacations. I thought I could still win the dash title. I did, but I have to share it with Sylvain. That’s why he is nominated for Driver of the Year. He does a great job and he’s had a huge year.”
Moreau, who won four dashes on Monday afternoon, captured top training honours at WEG for the second time in his career.
Between the Toronto and Campbellville ovals, Moreau’s stable produced 132 wins from 703 starters with $2,076,259 in purse earnings.
“I’m sure it is probably the year to remember because the numbers show and I worked very hard,” said the 48-year-old Puslinch resident. “I didn’t know what to expect next year so I pushed as much as I could. I raced at B tracks and on the WEG circuit. I tried to make things happen and I was very lucky.”
Tony O’Sullivan, who was the leading trainer for the Mohawk summer meet, was second with 124 victories from 632 starts and $3,259,648 in purse earnings. Gillis finished third with 94 wins.
Moreau, who is an O’Brien Award finalist for Trainer of the Year, also took the training title in 2010.
Live racing returns to Woodbine on Thursday, January 3, with a 10-race programme. First race post time is 7:25 p.m.