Brett Clow’s first driving win was part fashion statement, part family ties and all talent

by Chris Lomon

Wearing the colors of his Hall of Fame uncle, Harry Poulton (the man who trained world champions On The Road Again and Matt’s Scooter), Clow took the reins of Bold N Bad, a veteran pacing son of Badlands Hanover, on the evening of June 27, 2023 at Red Shores at the Summerside Raceway in Prince Edward Island.

Sent off as the 7-5 choice in the field of six for the third race on the card, Bold N Bad was blasted off the wings by Clow and put on the front end in the $2,000 dash.

On top by 1¾ lengths through an opening quarter in :29, Bold N Bad was a length clear after a half in 1:00, before Clow let it out a notch to increase the advantage to 2½ lengths after pacing three-quarters in 1:30.3.

Five ahead at the stretch call, the duo crossed the wire six lengths ahead of their nearest rival in 2:00.2.

The victory was even more special considering Clow’s mother, Deanna Clow, owns and trains the horse who was originally purchased for $20,000 at the 2016 Forest City Yearling Sale.

“I couldn’t have planned it any better,” Brett said. “My father, Les, bought the horse out of Ontario, so he played a big part in that win too.

“Bold N Bad was 3 when I first started driving, so we learned how to race together. We raced in the amateur ranks, and we were both green at the start, but when we got that first win, we knew what we were doing. I’m grateful that it was with him.”

That Brett became part of the vibrant Canadian East Coast racing scene is by no means a surprise.

Both his parents introduced him to the sport at a young age.

As Brett recalled, it took all but one interaction with a standardbred to put him on the path to a driving career.

“My mom and dad took me to [trainer] Dave Tierney’s barn one day,” he said. “I met a horse named Jersey Joe and since that day, it was all about harness racing for me.”

Brett trained a handful of starters in 2022, adding driving duties to his repertoire the following year.

His first year in the race bike produced 10 wins in 122 starts, accompanied by $23,545 in purse earnings.

“I had a lot of confidence going into that first year because I competed in the matinee races for three or four years,” Brett said. “It’s an incredible program and I learned a lot from those experiences.

“I learned a lot last year as well. That’s an important thing when it comes to driving, that you pick up something new every day. Whether it’s going behind the gate, getting into holes or reacting quickly to the flow of the race; I was lucky to have some great people and nice horses to help me along in 2023.”

Brett also put some of the helpful words he was given into play.

Is there one memorable piece of advice that stands out?

“Well, people told me, ‘Don’t fall off,’ so that’s a good one,” he said with a laugh.

It wasn’t only on the racetrack where Brett was making people take notice of his talents.

On April 19 of this year, the Prince Edward Island Standardbred Horse Owners Association (PEISHOA) Awards Banquet celebrated the standouts of the 2023 racing season.

Brett was named the Rookie Driver of the Year.

“It felt great,” he said. “I was working for that the whole year. It was such a fun year driving. I enjoyed it so much and I don’t think I’ll ever stop. It was the icing on the cake winning that award.

“I have so much support from my family and friends over the years, so to share that moment with them was very special.”

While he showed that he could walk the walk against more established drivers, Brett showed he could also talk the talk, so to speak, at the end of the awards evening.

He took part in a panel discussion that also featured horsemen Brian MacPhee and Corey MacPherson.

Brett was grateful for the opportunity to discuss the sport.

“Corey was the one who got me up there,” Brett said with a laugh. “But it was interesting to be part of that; I never did anything like it before.”

The young horseman is as optimistic as he has ever been when it comes to life in the sulky.

Support is in steady supply.

As for short-term plans, Brett has a long list to choose from.

“I have a lot of goals,” he said. “I want to win more races than I did last year, that’s for sure.”

The amicable teenager is also hoping to have a stable of his own sooner rather than later.

“I’d like to have about 10-to-15 horses of my own in the next few years,” he said. “That would be a dream come true. I like the training side just as much as the driving.”

Winning the biggest race in the Maritimes is a long-term objective.

Each August, Red Shores at Charlottetown Driving Park in Prince Edward Island plays host to The Gold Cup & Saucer.

Top horses and drivers in Eastern Canada come to the racetrack for 11 racing programs over nine days.

The iconic Gold Cup & Saucer, whose history traces back to the early 1960’s, will celebrate its 65th edition on Aug. 17.

“I would love to win that race one day,” Brett said. “It is such an historic race, and it would mean a lot to say that I was able to win it.

“I’d also like to join the 2,000-win club, but I know that is not going to happen for a while.”

For now, the focus is on the next dash.

“Any win from today on is my first goal,” he said.

Chasing that objective in one of the sport’s most passionate racing communities is deeply meaningful for Brett.

“I love it,” he said. “My family is involved in the sport, and we are with each other every day. I help them at the barn, and we love our time together.

“And to be able to do all of that in a place where everyone enjoys racing and has such a passion for it is something I never take for granted. It is a wonderful thing.”