Miller Focuses On Matchmaker And Milestone

Mystical Carrie winning an opening leg division of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series
Published: March 23, 2022 04:35 pm EDT

A dozen years ago, Marcus Miller began driving a female pacer named Mystical Victress, who provided Miller with some of the biggest wins of his early career. As the 32-year-old Miller approaches 4,000 lifetime victories in the sulky, he is now picking up triumphs with one of Mystical Victress’ daughters, Mystical Carrie.

Miller and Mystical Carrie won an opening-round division of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares last week at Yonkers Raceway and will go for another in the second leg of the event on Friday at The Hilltop. Mystical Carrie got post one in the fourth of four $40,000 divisions and is the 3-1 co-second choice on the morning line.

The five-year-old Mystical Carrie is trained by Miller’s father, Erv, and owned by breeder Mystical Marker Farms. She has won 17 of 50 lifetime races and $419,278. She was a Grand Circuit winner in 2020, the same season she finished second to Priceless in the Indiana Sire Stakes championship for three-year-old female pacers.

“I drove Mystical Victress in Chicago,” said Miller, an Illinois native now living in Pennsylvania. “She was one of the first really good Illinois-breds that I drove consistently from season to season, so it’s kind of special to drive [Mystical Carrie] now in some stakes races as well.

“It also makes me feel a little bit old,” he added with a laugh. “I see that happening more and more, where I remember a horse’s mom.”

Miller won a number of state-bred stakes with Mystical Victress in Illinois. He has three wins with Mystical Carrie since she left Indiana, where she was driven by Trace Tetrick, in the fall.

“They are different horses,” said Miller. “Mystical Victress was a big, rugged grinder. This filly is a little smaller and maybe a little snappier than she was. The one thing they have in common is they both try really hard.”

Mystical Carrie is one of four horses from Erv Miller’s stable in the Matchmaker this week. Marcus also drives the other three — Lucky Artist A, La Bella Vita N and Bolt Of Beauty. Lucky Artist A is making her first start in the series while La Bella Vita N and Bolt Of Beauty both had third-place finishes in the event’s first leg.

“None of the divisions are going to be soft; there are a lot of nice mares in there,” said Miller. “I think I’ve got four horses that are very competitive. They’re not going to be slam dunks, but they’re all very competitive. I think if I can draw good [in the series], I’ve got a shot to come out of it OK.”

Miller is driving in the Matchmaker Series for the first time in his career. He spent the winter driving more frequently at the track, where he has won 19 times this year to sit in 11th place in the standings. He is only one victory from joining Dan Dube and Scott Zeron in a tie for ninth.

“I think I’ve been holding my own,” said Miller, who has driven in 395 races overall this year compared to 211 starts at this same time in 2021. “I’m happy with how it’s gone so far. It’s kind of picked up. I’m glad I made the decision to try to stick it out through the winter.”

Miller, who was the 2016 Rising Star Award winner from the U.S. Harness Writers Association, entered Wednesday needing 34 wins to reach 4,000 lifetime.

“It’s something I’ll be proud of when it happens,” said Miller. “It represents a lot of hard work from a lot of people other than just me, that’s for sure. It takes a lot of people to win one horse race. And it probably touches more people than any of us are able to understand.

“I feel fortunate that I’m able to get up into these numbers. It’s definitely special.”

The Blue Chip Matchmaker Series features five preliminary rounds from which the eight mares with the highest point totals are eligible to return for the final on April 25.

Morning-line favourites in Friday’s four divisions are, in race order, Scarlett Hanover (7-5), Dragon Roll (5-2), Miss You N (8-5) and Karma Seelster (9-5).

First-round winners in addition to Mystical Carrie were Dragon Roll, Drama Act and Easy To Please.

Racing begins at 6:55 p.m. EDT at Yonkers. For Friday’s complete entries, click here.


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