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Horse, Driver Have Both Matured

Published: May 7, 2015 5:42 pm ET

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"When you go for a million dollars you know you’re going for a million dollars, but you can’t let the nerves and the pressure get to you. You have to treat it just like another race. Everybody wants everything to work out, but there are times it doesn’t. You just can’t beat yourself up over it, you have to learn from it and move on from it."

Tyler Smith says pacer Lets Drink On It has grown up and matured a good deal since last season. It’s not unlike the way the 22-year-old driver describes himself, too.

Smith and Lets Drink On It are getting ready for their first stakes engagement of 2015, the Confederation Cup for four-year-old pacers at Flamboro Downs in Ontario. A total of 16 horses entered the event, so two eliminations will be raced Sunday, with the top four finishers from each group advancing to the $200,000-added final on May 17.

Last year, the Joe Seekman-trained Lets Drink On It won eight of 25 races and earned $422,363 while providing Smith with his first regular Grand Circuit drives. The duo teamed to win a division of the Circle City Pace and eliminations for the Little Brown Jug and Delvin Miller Adios. They finished second in the Little Brown Jug final and a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes.

“It was unbelievable, especially as young as I was, to get to drive a colt like him,” Smith said. “That’s where everybody wants to be in their career, driving Grand Circuit horses like this. I’ve been very fortunate to get the opportunity at a young age. I’ve been very, very fortunate at a young age to drive good horses.”

Smith was the leading driver at Hoosier Park in 2013, the same year he became the youngest driver in harness racing history to reach 1,000 career wins, and finished second to Trace Tetrick in the Hoosier Park standings last season. Smith, a native of Washington Court House, Ohio, finished last year with 412 victories and a career-best $3.76 million in purse earnings.

Racing regularly on the Grand Circuit was a learning experience. Last year, Smith drove in eight open stakes worth more than $200,000. In the previous five years of his career, Smith drove in a total of four open stakes worth more than $200,000 -- with all of those starts coming in Indiana.

“It taught me a lot, getting the experience of racing in the big races, and getting the experience racing against those guys that are the best,” said Smith, who has 1,695 lifetime wins. “I watch them night in and night out when I have a break, but to be able to drive against them, they’re there for a reason. They’re the best.

“I still learn to this day, but I learned a lot last year. You have to take each race as it goes....I feel like I’ve grown up and matured a lot as a driver. I feel like I’m ready for the big leagues.”

A day after the Confederation Cup eliminations, Smith will head to Monticello Raceway for the New York Sire Stakes to drive a three-year-old male trotter named The Physician for trainer Anette Lorentzon.

“I’ve got a couple New York Sire Stakes horses,” Smith said. “I’m just ready for the stakes season to get back going. I’m going to try to travel some this year and hopefully it works out.”

Lets Drink On It is in the second of the two Confederation Cup eliminations. He will start from post six and is 6-1 on the morning line. Ron Burke’s Limelight Beach, who won last year’s Little Brown Jug, is the 8-5 favourite. He will start from post one with driver Yannick Gingras.

The remainder of the field is Luck Be Withyou, Ideal Cowboy, Somewhere Fancy, Nirvana Seelster, Vance Bayama, and Melmerby Beach.

So far this season, Lets Drink On It has one win and two second-place finishes in three starts. He enters his Confederation Cup elim off a 2-1/2 length victory over Night Pro in 1:50.1 in the Invitational at Hoosier Park. He paced his final quarter-mile in :26.3.

“He’s come back very good,” Smith said. “He’s definitely grown up and matured a lot more. Last year he could be a little funny here and there to drive, but this year he’s been perfect to drive. He’s definitely gotten a lot stronger. He was a good-looking colt anyway last year, but he’s filled out a lot more. He’s definitely filled into his four-year-old self.”

Lets Drink On It, a son of former Seekman star Art Official out of the mare Letmedowneasy, is owned by Tina Seekman, Larry Bond, Hal Hewitt, and Vincent Boido Jr. He has won 14 of 40 career races and earned $617,089.

The first Confederation Cup elimination has National Debt, leaving from post one with Chris Christoforou at the lines for trainer Rob Fellows, as the 2-1 morning line favourite. Bettorever, with Corey Callahan driving for Jeff Bamond Jr., is the 5-2 second choice, starting from post four.

The remainder of the field is Three Of Clubs, P L Hellcat, All Bets Off, Big Boy Dreams, Boomboom Ballykeel, and Mattamerican.

To view the entries for Sunday's card at Flamboro, click the following link: Sunday Entries - Flamboro Downs.


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.


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