Monticello, NY --- Quietly and without much fanfare, Jimmy Devaux continues to be a force to be reckoned with. Last year the former Mighty M driving champ, competing both here and at Saratoga, reined 413 winners which ranked him 19th in races won in North America.
|Geri Schwarz photo|
And again this season Devaux is off to a good start. On a wet and snowy Monday afternoon (Jan. 20) at Monticello Raceway, Devaux started the day slowly, producing just two seconds and a third place finish in his first seven drives, but before the day was over he drove the winners of the last three races on the card to come away with the proverbial hat trick.
His trotting victory with VIP was the veteran gelding’s second in a row this year and his ninth win in his last 10 starts.
With his three wins on Jan. 20, Devaux’s 17 winners are currently third best on the local leaderboard, just a few victories behind both Bruce Aldrich, Jr. (21) and Jimmy Marohn, Jr. (18).
Although not expressly noted, last season Devaux, like his brother-in-law, Bruce Aldrich, Jr., did double-duty driving at both Monticello and Saratoga. His 184 wins at the Spa City oval was fourth best and his 229 here was the third best output. And his total of 413 wins last year was his career best.
Devaux, 46, has currently driven 3,481 winners with more than 3,000 of them recorded since the turn of the century.
For Devaux, who lives and breathes harness racing, his burgeoning success is a realization of a lifelong dream.
“When I was growing up my dad (Butch) was racing horses at Saratoga and Monticello and I spent as much time as I could with him at the barns learning about racing and how to care for the horses,” Devaux related. “Eventually he let me jog and then train (the horses). I loved it and realized that I wanted to make harness racing a career.”
Like many other aspiring drivers of the present era, Jimmy began driving in amateur races. It was at Monticello Raceway in 1990 that Devaux notched his first driving victory.
“You never forget that,” Devaux said with a smile, referring to his first winner. “It came right here at Monticello Raceway behind Clarich St Pat. I believe we went in 2:03 and a piece.”
At the end of the 1998 season he still hadn’t registered 140 winners, but in 1999 his star began to rise. That year local trainers were beginning to avail themselves of Devaux’s services and he responded by driving 113 winners in just 579 starts.
Off to what appeared would be his break-out year, Devaux’s 2000 campaign was cut short when he was involved in a racing accident which sidelined him for six months. He finished that season with just 96 winners.
“I broke my wrist in a racing accident and it didn’t heal right so they had to break it again and reset it again,” Devaux explained. “I was getting nervous as many months went by and I began to wonder if my wrist would ever be strong enough to drive again.”
But after nearly a six-month layoff Devaux returned and won the driving title here in 2002 and has been among the leading drivers here year in and year out.
During November of the 2012 season, Devaux reined his 3,000th winner.
“I’m living a dream. I mean how many people can do something they thoroughly enjoy and make a living doing it?” he said. “I’m a lucky guy.”