The Man Who Harnesses the Horsepower

Jul 12,2018 Lauren Zandee

Have you ever seen the starting gate truck zipping around the track at Century Downs and wondered what that was all about? Well, Jim Diakowicz has your inside scoop as the official starter for Standardbred racing at Century Downs.

Having worked in the Standardbred and track maintenance industry for over 30 years, Diakowicz fit the Starter position perfectly when Century Downs started racing in 2015. While in the starting gate truck, Diakowicz operates the throttle to control the speed of the truck to start the race. Diakowicz’s work doesn’t stop there though, during the race he also acts as an official judge to ensure the drivers are following the rules of Standardbred racing.  

“I watch the drivers to make sure they don’t have any infractions and watch the horses to make sure they don’t break or create any type of interference. If there’s an accident, and there rarely are, my truck crew and I are also the first on the scene to help,” said Diakowicz.

The most important thing for Diakowicz and his crew when there is an accident during a race is to keep the drivers and their horses calm and down on the ground because it is very difficult to get a horse back up with all of its equipment on.

“Sometimes it just takes another person to flip a bike back over to help the horse and driver get up, but other times we do need a human ambulance or horse ambulance on the scene to get the injured group up and out of the way. In those cases, I help speed up the process because my crew and I are always close to the scene. We also have the help of our outrider to corral the horses if they get loose or keep them calm in these situations because they can get scared or nervous. This can also be a dangerous situation for my crew because a horse can be very unpredictable in this state; therefore, safety for my crew, the drivers and the horses is always our number one priority,” said Diakowicz.

Thankfully, Diakowicz has a lot of experience in this field and for that, Century Downs Racetrack and Casino would like to thank him for his hard work and effort in these situations. For more details about Diakowicz’s position, head over to Century Downs’ YouTube channel or Facebook page (@CenturyDowns) for the full video on this story.


Bring your family out for a day of fun on Sunday, July 22 from 12:30 to 5 p.m. to celebrate Century Downs Family and Meridian Farms KidSport day! Pony rides, face painters and balloon artists are just a few activities that will keep everyone busy! Enjoy a mascot race between races, and a candy scramble!

The MILLION DOLLAR EVENT is back - Join Alberta's biggest slot tournament for your chance to win A MILLION DOLLARS in AGLC's TournEvent of Champions! Tournament dates are every Monday from June 18 to July 23. Win your way through one of the three qualifying tournaments per day at 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. To participate in the qualifying tournaments, simply register at Customer Service one hour before the tournament timeslot of your choice on your chosen qualifying tournament day. Participants may register once per day only. All participants must be 18 years or older with valid Government ID.

See you at Century Downs!