Star jockey stands accused

Jockey David Clark guides Queen's Plate contender Jiggs Coz through his paces at Woodbine...

Jockey David Clark guides Queen's Plate contender Jiggs Coz through his paces at Woodbine Racetrack. Clark faces drunk-driving charges in the death of Suzanne Mizuno. (Michael Burns photo)

MIKE STROBEL -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

On Sunday, star jockey David Clark will pilot heavy favourite Jiggs Coz in the Queen's Plate.

Clark seeks his third win of Canada's premier horse race, en route to the hall of fame.

Tomorrow, he is scheduled on six horses at Woodbine.

While he rides them, charges against him in the death of a young schoolteacher and pianist will be discussed in a Newmarket court.

Two days before the big race? Well, they say jockeys have ice water in their veins.

Clark, 53, of Vaughan, is accused of impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing injury, dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing injury, and blood alcohol over 80 mg.

Suzanne Mizuno, 34, died soon after 6:20 p.m. May 16, 2006, on Huntington Rd. south of Major Mac.

She was a passenger in a blue Honda Civic driven by her brother Jamie, 30. They were about three clicks north of Woodbridge Public School, where they were teachers.

Clark was southbound in his silver Nissan Maxima.

DEAD AT SCENE

It is alleged he swerved into the Mizunos' lane. Jamie tried to veer clear, but the Maxima smashed into the passenger's side.

Suzanne was declared dead at the scene by York Regional EMS. Her brother and Clark were treated for minor injuries.

Newspapers, including this one, reported the crash, especially since it occurred during Canada Road Safety Week.

But no one twigged that it was that David Clark.

The Dave Clark whose brilliant career includes more than 2,600 victories and $65 million. Seven of the past nine seasons his purses have surpassed $4 million.

The Queen Mum watched him win the Plate in 1981 on Fiddle Dancer Boy and in 1985 on the filly La Lorgnette.

In 1998, he had what the current Queen's Plate bumpf calls "a season for the ages."

Sovereign Award as Canada's top jockey, 176 wins including a remarkable six in a row one day.

In 1999, he won the Avelino Gomez Award, for greatness in his sport. A big deal. Other recipients include Sandy Hawley, Ron Turcotte and Robin Platts.

The award was ironic. The legendary Gomez died in a three-horse wreck at the 1980 Canadian Oaks. Clark, aboard the filly Lacey, was also thrown, but rolled clear.

"It's one of the things that come with the game," he said later of the perils. "You have to look at it that way."

Clark is noted as a calm, firm horseman. He was that when I called yesterday for comment on his court case.

"If you want to talk about horses, that's fine."

I do not. I know Jiggs Coz, a strapping, grey colt, has breezed to victory in his two outings this year.

Isn't your court case weighing on your mind as you prepare for the Plate?

"My private life has nothing to do with the horses."

Good luck on Sunday.

"Thank you."

When I call Woodbridge Public School, the kids are all out back playing by Suzanne's Garden.

It is freshly planted with a new hybrid lily, a pink beauty registered as Suzanne's Joy.

The library piano bears a brass etching of Suzanne Mizuno.

"The music died at Woodbridge Public School that day," principal Karen Cooper-Brown tells me.

"She was a warm, empathetic, passionate, brilliant teacher."

By all accounts, the whole family is something special. That awful May night, mom Deanna, of Kleinberg, called Cooper-Brown, to tell her Suzanne and Jamie would not be in the next day.

"She wanted to make sure the kids were okay."

The kids were in shock. They helped plant that garden.

Jamie testified at the preliminary hearing in March. No press, though the evidence is under ban anyway.

REMARKABLE

Still, it is remarkable this case has run under the radar so long. The only murmur, a mention in the Daily Racing Form last year.

Tomorrow's judicial pre-trial hearing is a sort of update briefing on the case. Clark has chosen not to be there and to let his lawyer David Humphrey handle it.

Humphrey tells me his client plans to plead not guilty, so likely a trial will be set for sometime in the next year.

Who knows how many more races David Clark will win by then?

But the Queen's Plate sure has taken a startling turn.


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