SUMMERSIDE — Mike Stevenson has reached a milestone that seemed nearly impossible only a few years ago.
Stevenson recorded career driving win No. 1,500 in Truro, N.S., on Tuesday night.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Stevenson, a Fredericton, N.B., native who now lives outside of Montague and has a stable at Pinette Raceway. “I have been through some rough times the last six or seven years, and that makes it feel that much better I guess is the best way to word it.”
Stevenson was handed a five-year suspension in October 2010 after testing positive for a banned substance following a race in Summerside. It was not the first time he had been suspended.
While it looked like his driving career could be in jeopardy, Stevenson quickly found out there were people from the sport in his corner. Those individuals, along with hundreds of emails of support, played a big role in the Maritime Provinces Harness Racing Commission lifting the suspension in July 2011.
“I would like to go on record and thank my owner Daniel Ross, who stood beside me through all this, and three other people, Richard Campbell, Kenny Arsenault and Earl Smith,” said Stevenson, 49, in an interview with TC Media after Red Shores made a presentation to him in recognition of the accomplishment Wednesday night.
“When I was down and out, those gentlemen went and stood up for me, and helped me get things back on track,” he added.
“The 1,500 (milestone) means much more to me than the just the wins because of where I was three or four years ago. I was pretty much down and out, and here we are celebrating 1,500.
Stevenson drove Tyne Valley, owned by William Roloson of Belfast, to the historic win in Race 1 at Truro Raceway. Time of the mile was 2:09.
“It was eventful, a two-year-old trotting filly,” said Stevenson, who won the 2004 Governor’s Plate in Summerside with Igoddago in 1:55.3. “She was a little sluggish off the gate, but she ended up staying at it and we ended up with a two-hole ride.
“She was a little gapped out going to the quarter, but I just let her bide her time and as the race went on she progressively started to close the hole and close the hole.
“To be honest with you, halfway through the last turn I knew all she had to do was stay trotting and I think she was going to get the job done. She was getting stronger and stronger as the mile went on.
“I just tipped her out halfway through the last turn to give her some room to trot and do what she wanted to do, and she trotted strong right to the wire.
“It was good to win it with one of Bill’s. He’s from our home track of Pinette and I have been driving for him the last four or five years. We’ve had some great luck together. . .
It looked like Stevenson would reach the magical mark in Summerside last week during the Lobster Festival meet.
“It was a tough Friday and Saturday, and Thursday even,” said Stevenson. “I won the first race Thursday to get to 1,499 and then I think I had four seconds after that on Thursday and I had four more on Friday.
“I wanted to win it at home really bad. Maybe I was trying too hard.”