Consistency secures Saftic a Hall of Fame berth
by Randy Pascal
There was no firm and concrete "Plan B" in place for legendary harness racing driver Mike Saftic.
Thankfully, "Plan A" worked out pretty darn well for the 54 year-old Sudbury native, one of eight new individual inductees to the Sudbury Sports Hall
of Fame this year.
Looking back, there was also some good luck in play, as Saftic was groomed in a local environment that has not existed in several years, and likely never
"Sudbury Downs is the reason I took this career path," said Saftic. "I just kind of went to the track with my dad, got in the barn area through a
friend of my dad's, and got to working with the horses. I just kind of ran from there."
Despite boasting a driving resume that would likely place him among the top twenty or so in Canadian harness racing history, Saftic remains quite
unassuming, discussing both the keys to his success, and his legacy in the sport.
"First, it's a love of the sport," he said. "And you have to have a strategy, you have to know your horse. Some you can drive hard on the outside, some
don't want to leave the inside."
"I hope that maybe my longevity and consistency stands out," Saftic continued. "I was never number one, but I've always been top ten. I'm kind of the
Garry Unger (former NHLer) of harness racing, kind of an ironman."
The long-time Mohawk-Woodbine (racetrack) regular fully expects to close out his career in Southern Ontario, with little chance for a revival of
harness racing up north.
"There's no horse population here now," said Saftic. "You've got to have a backstretch, a stable area at the track. That's how we grew up, and everyone
grew up together. It was like a family atmosphere, and all tracks are like that. It would take a magic wand to do it, the time has likely passed."
As for when the time comes to step away from his lifelong passion, Saftic suggests there is at least one more target worth shooting for. "I would like
to get to $100,000,000 in lifetime earnings," said Saftic, who currently sits right around $97MM.
"I think there are a dozen Canadians or so that have gotten it. I've been banging away a couple of million a year," Saftic added. "That would be nice to
have when I walk away. It's been a good run, no matter what."
A "Hall of Fame" run, in the eyes of the citizens of his hometown of Sudbury.