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Talented Driver Going West

Published: December 11, 2013 12:32 pm ET

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Tyler Smith, who this summer at age 20 became the youngest driver in harness racing history to reach 1,000 victories, is scheduled to drive at Cal Expo for at least the next couple of months beginning Friday night.

Smith, who will turn 21 in January, was the leading driver at the recently-concluded Hoosier Park meeting in Indiana and is currently plying his trade on a Monday-through-Thursday night basis over the half-mile Northfield Park oval in Ohio. That leaves his weekends free to catch a plane to California and try some Cal Expo action.

“I was driving for Bob Johnson this summer and he suggested I look into it,” Smith related. “After talking with [Cal Expo general manager] Chris Schick, I was very encouraged and excited about the opportunity.

“I actually prefer driving over a mile track. On a half-mile, post position can be a big handicap and you almost always have to be moving. I like the chance to be patient and think a little more out there.”

Smith has been making headlines for quite some time. When he was 12 he became the youngest to win a sub-2:00 race, driving Look Likely to victory in 1:59.1 in a matinee at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in his home state of Ohio.

Smith began his career in 2009 and earned the Peter Haughton Memorial Award, which is bestowed to up-and-coming stars in the business. He recorded victory No. 1,000 at Hoosier in August, eclipsing the record of Doug McNair who had notched his two weeks shy of his 21st birthday.

Capturing the recent Hoosier Park crown was especially gratifying for the young pilot. “I never dreamed of ‘winning’ that meet going in, but everything came together perfectly and I was fortunate to be driving first call for some top barns.”

Invitational Trot, Sire Stakes head the program

An Invitational Trot that finds Inside Broadway eyeing his fourth straight victory and a $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the three-year-old trotters headed by Freedombird share the spotlight at Cal Expo Friday night.

In an effort to even out the playing field a bit in the Invite Trot, racing secretary Fred Kuebler has assigned Inside Broadway the demanding No. 10 post position for this go-around, with his four rivals filling out the inside spots.

Inside Broadway is in razor-sharp form at the moment for his owner/trainer/breeder Bob Johnson and regular pilot James Kennedy. The four-year-old son of Broadway Hall eyes the hat trick this weekend and has been putting his class and versatility on display during the streak.

His first two decisions were on the front end, including a dead-heat with his half-brother Franks Best who will again be among his rivals. Kennedy changed tactics with Inside Broadway for the most recent score, as they sat a stalking trip before coming first-over for a two and a half-length victory. He set his mark last season with a 1:55.3 tour at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Taking him on are his stablemate and half-brother Franks Best, who will have Mooney Svendsen giving directions; Axle with Dave Siegel guiding; Sharpshootennorris, to be handled by Steve Wiseman; and K D Amazin Spirit, who will start from the cozy inside slot with Tim Maier in the sulky.

Freedombird holds the aces in the sire stakes, which will be raced as a non-betting event prior to the regular program. The son of Panama Hanover is out of the popular mare Kimmie Girl and races for Melissa Erzene, trainer Gordie Graham and driver Luke Plano. Rounding out the field are Lightning Of Lodi, Tour Guide, More Tequila and Jewel Of Lodi.

(Cal Expo)

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