Dave Dowling, a leading trainer/driver at Sudbury Downs, has shifted
his operation to The Raceway and has impressive standings for his
first full month at the London track.
Dowling moved his stable from northern Ontario to the Dorchester Training Centre just after Christmas and has established himself as a horseman to watch. He currently sits third on the trainers’ standings and is picking up catch drives from other stables as well.
“There’s so much more racing here. In Sudbury if you had a horse that didn’t fit there you had at least a three and a half hour drive to get to another track,” noted Dowling who has seven horses in his stable, all of which are currently racing.
It certainly isn’t the first time the personable Dowling has picked up stakes and moved to advance his career. A native of PEI, he was unlike many of his peers in that his parents didn’t have a history in horse racing. However, when his brother began working on a farm his interest was piqued and he soon found himself immersed in the Standardbred industry.
“I moved to Ontario where I worked for Kevin Davidson for three or four months and then went to New Jersey where I worked for Joe Stutzman for two years. When I was done there I moved back home for awhile and then returned to Ontario when Ronnie MacLean was moving there and worked for him.
“I then worked for Pete Core for awhile and got a horse of my own and starting driving at Sarnia and London mostly my own and a few of Pete’s. I also worked as second trainer for John Pentland.”
The move to Sudbury was encouraged by an owner Dowling had picked up who suggested Dowling would have more opportunities for driving at the most northern Ontario racetrack and that proved correct.
“When we headed for Sudbury I had no idea things would go so good. It started out a bit slow the first year but after that we were first or second in the driving and training standings for the next few years,” recalled the 35 year old who also finished sixth among all drivers in Canada in terms of UDRS last season.
Last year Dowling and his girlfriend, Tristen MacNeil, a nurse who helps him with his horses as well, decided to shift operations and London was their choice location. Despite having raced at the half-mile oval several years before, there were many new faces now competing there.
“I knew a few people, but there’s a whole different group of drivers. There are lots of younger guys and I think that makes for more competitive and better racing.
“We’re taking it one step at a time. We’re rolling pretty good now and hopefully that will keep going.”
Also of note at The Raceway:
The Raceway will host the annual Family Day on Monday, February 20. There will be events and entertainment for the kids and the OSAS horses will be on hand to allow fans the opportunity to see and pet a Standardbred close up.
The Raceway is coming off a strong month of January where overall wagering on The Raceway was up 25 per cent over last year. The pick-4 pools have been growing steadily and, as a result, the track has upped the guarantee on its pick-4 pools on afternoon programs from $4,000 up to $5,000.
“It’s been a really good start to the new year for us and we want to continue with that momentum,” said Racing Manager Ian Fleming. “We’re getting close on being able to offer our American customers the ability to make .20 cent wagers on superfectas and pick-4 pools as well, which should also give us a boost as we move into the Spring.”
Live racing happens every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 4:05 p.m. and Fridays at 7:05 p.m. The Raceway website offers live streaming video, free program downloads, a link to online wagering through HPI and more at www.westernfairdistrict.com.