If you take a close look at the Woodbine drivers standings this season, there is a noticeable change near the top of the leaderboard.
Twenty four-year-old Jonathan Drury is currently in second place, three wins behind three-time O'Brien Award winner Jody Jamieson.
Drury, a resident of Rockwood, has certainly made the most of his drives this season accumulating 23 trips to the winner's circle and $335,471 in purse earnings.
Drury is also the regular pilot behind Hldontghttoyurdrms, who has captured the $34,000 Preferred Trot for a fourth week in a row for trainer Corey Johnson.
"It's definitely horse power,” Drury said explaining his stellar start in 2014. "When you get that kind of power to sit behind every night and get results, obviously your confidence goes up. So far this season, everything couldn't be better and I'm very fortunate.”
Drury was born into the harness racing business. His father, Barry, has operated a small stable for many years.
Drury, who appears poised in his yellow and blue silks, a nod to his father's colors, is thankful for the valuable lessons he learned at a young age.
"All the fundamentals of this sport came from my parents,” Drury said. "My dad was stabled along the Mohawk backstretch for many years and my mother (Patricia) was in the barn too. When I wasn't in school I was in the barn or on the track.”
Drury also ventured out to other trainers before and after getting his trainer's license and he gained valuable experiencewhile working with such trainers as O'Brien Award winner Casie Coleman, Tracey Brainard and Tony Montini.
"That was a great learning curve for me,” Drury said. "I got to see other methods of training and see the way they do it and run their operation. I've worked for Casie off and on for the past three years and got the opportunity to drive for her, which was amazing.”
After gaining his license in 2008, Drury began driving at Flamboro and Georgian Downs, but the move to Kawartha Downs a few years later and teaming up with top trainers in Corey Johnson and Carmen Auciello yielded great dividends for the young reinsman.
"I was a regular driver there (Kawartha Downs) and they started using me and we developed a relationship and it just snowballed from there," said Drury. "Now they both have powerful stables at Woodbine and I'm just thankful to get the work.”
Perhaps the most valuable experience Drury gained was a summer spent atPocono Downs in Pennsylvania where he drove regularly for Ontario-based trainerCarmen Auciello, who sent a team of roughly 12 head.
"Driving with a different bunch of guys at Pocono was a lot of fun,” he said. "It's a little different style of driving and I learned so much in a short period of time. That was the most valuable experience I got, especially when I came back to Ontario.”
Drury was also a key player in the development of O'Brien Award winner Vegas Vacation.
Drury baby-raced the son of Bettor's Delight, before guiding the colt to victoryin his first lifetime start at Mohawk Racetrack.
"I was working for Casie at the time and would sit behind her 2 year olds on a regular basis,” Drury said. "She asked me to baby-race him and teach him in his early stages and that was a lot of fun to sit behind that type of animal.”
Needless to say, Drury certainly has gained a lot of experience north and south of the border at a young age, and with a little patience and a lot of talent, it appears to be paying off nicely for the man they call JD. (WEG)