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Tracing His Own Path

Published: July 23, 2012 9:45 am ET

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While the name and colours look familiar, one driver has placed his name in some rare harness racing company and you might be surprised to find out he's done what only four other drivers have been able to accomplish.

Trace Tetrick is taking Indiana by storm as the 25-year-old has been given the chance to drive, and help develop, some top younger horses.

But considering Tetrick drove his first matinee at age 14 and drove fairs at 16, he’s pretty experienced. He has also learned under some pretty fair talent – his father Tom and big brother Tim.

Tetrick, an Illinois native, has proven his worth this season, having just won the driving title at Hoosier Park and picking up his 2,000th career win in the process. It is his first driving title since becoming the youngest to win the crown at Hoosier Park at age 21 in 2008, and he ended Peter Wrenn’s three-year reign after finishing second last season.

“I’ve been able to drive a couple nice two-year-olds and some really good three-year-old pacing colts that have been successful early and have a lot of potential,” Tetrick said. “I went with an Indiana-bred pacing colt (Our Lucky Chip) in (1):50.3 and he seemed nice and I got a two-year-old trotter (Lucky Keg) that has a big motor. She went (1):59.2 and she has a lot of potential to get better every week.”

As his career moves along, Tetrick is consistently proving that age is just a number when it comes to handling young horses.

“I don’t consider myself a young-type guy,” said Tetrick, who also won a driving title in 2007 at Indiana Downs. “You try and teach babies how to race and how to mature as they go and bring them to the level you like. You get this horse for three minutes, so you have to think if you owned him, how would you want him to race.”

And how does he want them to race?

“You want to teach them how to race, make sure they can sit on the helmet,” he said. “You want to make sure they know how to finish. Once they know how to do that you can use them in different areas, sometimes out of the ordinary, if positioned correctly.”

Part of Tetrick’s ability to handle the younger horses is that he has come along during an evolution and the new breed of horse is something he has grown up with.

“I think the game has changed in general,” he said. “The sport of racing is all a speed game now; it’s just a different type of game, it’s a different type of performance.

“Horses go faster than they ever used to. They’re more fluidly gaited horses. They’re built totally different. They’re not stocky and bulky. They’re sleek and fine; they kind of look like Thoroughbreds.”

And Tetrick is making them look even better. Tetrick won two Indiana Gold Sire Stakes championships on July 14, with three-year-old filly pacer Dont Flash Me (trained by Carthel Daulton) and three-year-old filly trotter Cincinnati Star (trained by Steve Carter) as well as a sire stakes aged trot with Brooke Nickells’ Dream Kid.

“It was a real good day,” said Tetrick, who won three Indiana Sire Stakes titles last September and October in addition to piloting two second-place finishers. “I drove as good as I could and got the right spot at the right time. A couple of them peaked pretty good when they needed to.”

Tetrick has won 219 races this year and $1.82 million in purses. He won a career-best $4.18 million last year and 391 races, which was just shy of his career mark for victories (401 in 2008).

He believes his success last season may have kick started this year.

“I think so,” he said. “We finished up strong and I had a really good winter up in Canada (winning 55 times at Windsor Raceway). I was successful up there and I’ve just been on a roll.”

A roll that led to a milestone. Tetrick is among a handful of drivers to reach 2,000 victories by the age of 25; a list that includes his brother Tim, Walter Case Jr., Mark MacDonald and Jordan Stratton.

“Winning 2,000 (races) is a great accomplishment,” he said. “I’m only 25 so it’s been a great ride so far. I’ve had a lot of good horses and I’m happy to be able to get it done.”

Tetrick feels his career is about where it should be at this point.

“Everything has worked out great,” he said. “I’m very happy with the success I’ve had so far and hope to always do better. You just have to keep the nose to the grindstone and hope it works out.”


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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