by Jack Futty
While the well-known veterans of harness racing are fun to root for, it’s the young up-and-comers that can be the most fun to follow sometimes. The underdogs of today are the Hall of Famers of tomorrow and can add an exciting, unpredictable element to races.
One such newcomer is 20-year-old trainer-driver Brady Jenson of Bode, Iowa, who chose to become a horseman because of his parents and the equine-affirming environment he grew up in.
“I grew up in [a racing environment]; I understood it and I owned horses,” he said. “I had a couple of good horses a few years ago and I started to pay more attention to them. My horses made me fall in love with racing and made me decide that this is what I wanted to do.”
Jenson said he could have gotten his license sooner, but wanted to wait until he was more experienced. So he worked through the spring and summer and got his license in 2015, which was also the first year he began training horses on his own.
“My parents sent me up to Running Aces to train there all last year and this year,” Jenson said. “I decided to only train with a few horses that I was comfortable with. I let others race those I didn’t have as good a relationship with.”
Jenson now owns 14 horses and, since becoming a licensed trainer and driver in 2015, has 142 training starts (including nine first-place finishes) with $92,215 in earnings. He’s also earned $71,314 in 162 starts as a driver.
One of Jenson’s most successful horses in training thus far has been Freedom Reigns, a 3-year-old pacer who pulled off five wins in a row at Running Aces in 2016. Jenson also trained pacers Marktentwentyseven, SB On My Honor, and Viva La Voracious.
When asked, Jenson gave some advice to any aspiring drivers and trainers out there.
“The best piece of advice is to keep jogging horses, keep training horses, and don’t rush yourself into the driving aspect of things because your first few drives might not be right,” he said. “You’re hard on yourself, but you can’t let it get to you; keep working hard at it.”
Hard work has gotten Jenson far in his career even though he hasn’t been at it long, and he remains optimistic about what will come next, feeling the support of others in the community.
“The future of racing can be scary,” said Jenson. “It’s great to see the generations of racing passing on to kids that grow up and want to do it. It encourages kids to keep racing and keep passing it on so it keeps evolving and moving forward.
“Harness racing is a great pastime. It’s fun. You meet great people. It’s a bond when you can get along with the horse and I think it’s awesome. There’s a great bond you get with people and it’s a fun sport.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of Youth Beats.