One of the nation’s most decorated reinsmen, Hall of Famer Doug Brown recently sat down to reflect on a career that would make most other sulky sitters envious.
The past, the present and the future were discussed by the multiple O’Brien Award winner with Rideau Carleton Raceway’s John MacMillan and Graeme Mitchell.
Brown is a mere two wins away from pushing his lifetime win total to 8,500, and when asked about achieving the number he showed a sense a pride and his sense of humour.
“I think it’s taken longer for the last 500 than it did for the first 8,000,” he jokingly admitted. “Winning still feels the same, maybe even better because I’m a little longer in the tooth now. It probably feels as good or maybe even better. Even if it’s a $4,000 claimer it doesn’t matter, it still feels pretty good.
“I’d like to drive eight or 10 a night, but it’s just not working out,” added Brown. “As long as I’m healthy I’d keep driving as much as I could. I still like training the young ones. I had two and because of the lockdown I had to send one down to Pennsylvania so I’ve only got the one left there. I’m out at Mike Wade’s farm. I’m doing some driving for him once we get back racing. It always was fun, but it’s more fun now just because driving for the people I’m driving for now there’s not the pressure from back then. I enjoy the pressure, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just a little bit more on the fun side.”
Like most other reinsmen, it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time and catching a break or two along the way. Brown recalls his break, and the incredible relationship he forged as a result of that memorable moment.
“Well, when I first started out it was my father,” said Brown. “He let me drive a couple when I first started out and we actually got very lucky and won our first start and after that it just blossomed. The big break was one night at Kawartha Downs when Stew Firlotte’s driver didn’t show up and I got to drive a two-year-old pacing filly named Poinsettia. It just carried on from there. We developed a fantastic relationship – business and personal – and we were best friends. He’s the godfather to our daughter. That was the biggest break of my career.”
On top of that, though, Brown was blessed with an amazing talent that helped him take those opportunities and make the most of them.
“I think a big part of it is definitely a gift, but it’s also something where you learn things from watching other people. I mean hockey players can watch [Wayne] Gretzky or Bobby Orr and they’re not going to learn what they did. The biggest percentage is definitely God- given.”
Those talents helped Brown rack up more than $90 million in purses thanks to victories in such prestigious events as the Breeders Crown, the Maple Leaf Trot and the World Trotting Derby, just to name a few.
The list of great horses he had the privilege of sitting behind is a long one, and one that he shares in the video below: