1933 was a memorable year in the world of sports. The New York Giants won the World Series, prescription sales The New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup, Broker’s Tip was the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Primo Carnera won the world Heavyweight Championship. 1933 was also the middle of the Great Depression but one bright spot that year was Levi “Jiggs” McFadden driving in his first harness race in Bothwell, Ontario.
Jiggs McFadden grew to be one of the best horsemen on circuits in Canada and the United States.
McFadden was once dubbed “the red haired corn farmer from Dresden” by the Canadian Sportsman for his legendary moves in the stretch that would be so close to the grandstand patrons could smell the lather on the horse.
The fan favourite guided horses like Annie Direct, Billie Direct Heir, Miss Lady Lee, Royal Blue L and his favourite Miche’s First.
Jiggs guided the homebred colt to 12 straight wins in 1966, an incredible feat even by today’s standards.
Levi McFadden carded 333 career wins in the sulky and 80 training victories but those numbers pale in comparison to the real stats as he was driving long before records were kept.
Jiggs was a three time Driver of The Year at Old Woodbine Raceway and was also a back to back winner of the Canadian Pacing Derby in 1955 with Richard Hal D and again in 1956 with Clark Herbert.
Levi McFadden was a dominant driver at many racetracks including Thornhill Park (Toronto’s first Standardbred track), Old Woodbine Raceway, Windsor Raceway, Western Fair Raceway and his home track, Dresden Raceway.
The harness racing legend has secured his place in the Dresden Sports Hall of Fame as well as his spot on the Western Fair Raceway Wall of Fame. In the induction speech for Jiggs at Western Fair Raceway, Anne Eadie said, “He is loved, respected and revered, not just by his owners but by the thousands of harness racing fans at tracks big and small. He is a “one in a million” driver who always got the best from every horse and always gave 100 per cent of himself whether he was tailsitting the odds-one favourite or the longest of longshots.”
Former Dresden Raceway Manager Jay Lekavy once said that “Driving a horse comes as natural to Jiggs as breathing does to most people”. A talent likes that comes from passion.
Jiggs McFadden had a passion for horses and family. His passion and success with horses was always shared by his number one passion, his family including his wife Gladys and sons Ted and Jack.
Jiggs McFadden passed away in 1993 and now takes his rightful place in the Dresden Raceway Hall of Fame.