Harness driver Kiwon Waldron wins Rookie of the Year award in Canada
Kiwon Waldron capped an impressive debut season in professional harness racing in Quebec, Canada, after being named Rookie of the Year at the Hippodrome 3R racetrack in Trois-Rivieres.
The Bermudian driver registered more than 20 wins in debut season as he raced at this level for the first time with various teams.
“It was quite an honour to receive it, especially going out to a foreign country, in a foreign providence really,” Waldron told The Royal Gazette. “There was a bit of a language barrier, but we made it work and I am pretty proud of it.
“I knew I was nominated for the award as it was myself and another guy. It was a 50/50 but I felt pretty confident on my chances. It all comes down to somebody’s vote, and I ended up coming out on top.
“I finished in the top five drivers so that definitely would have helped me and just showed that I can handle it. I think I had maybe 25 wins, which is not a huge amount, but for what I drove it worked out. ”It was all about stats and that’s what I think did it mostly.”
The 22-year-old notched a maiden professional win with Allard Racing’s stallion, Mickeymaksomespeed, in the Preferred-Handicap at the Hippodrome 3R last May.
That milestone arrived just weeks after he obtained his professional licence and set a gelding world record of one minute flat on a quarter-mile track with Allard Racing’s nine-year-old pony, BA Show Stopper, at North Shore Raceway in Quebec.
While results may suggest otherwise, Waldron admits the transition to the professional level has been a steep climb.
“It definitely was a big step up from the pony club for sure,” he added. “To get my professional licence, I had to do some qualifying with the same amount of field of horses with drivers, so I got a bit of a feel before I started racing in the big league professional-wise.
“It took a little time to figure out the strategies, the horses and what the other drivers like to do and not to do, so it’s more strategy than anything.
“The tracks are far bigger than what I am used to but there is less margin for error. I raced on half mile and 5/8 tracks so it’s a whole different ball game, but I prefer it.
Waldron competed mainly for Allard Racing but picked up a host of rides for a number of competing teams.
“I was with Allard Racing but I was driving for whoever put me down, so I was more like a freelancer,” he said.
“A lot of my drives and wins came with them Allard. They helped me tremendously and I also got other drives with other trainers and owners.”
After an award-winning first season, the talented driver hopes to compete in the sport as a full-time professional.
“That is one hundred per cent the plan,” Waldron said. “But you need to get connected , need a lucky break and maybe latch onto a nice stakes horse that can take you around to the big money.
“It is profitable if you can get into the big leagues and those guys make a very good living.”
Waldron takes great pleasure being paid for something he simply does out of passion and enjoyment more than anything else.
“It’s rewarding, especially getting compensated for something that’s not work but love and fun, and it keeps bringing you back,” he said. “The payment on top is just icing on the cake.
“I definitely feel now that I can go out there and compete with these guys if I can get the support from the owners and trainers.
I definitely think that I can handle it and is something that I want to do. I am trying to get everything sorted out paper-wise and then I am going to head overseas to race hopefully soon.”