Illinois boy wonder celebrated

06:25 PM 28 Feb 2008 NZDT
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Tim Tetrick
Tim Tetrick - IHHA Person of the Year
Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Some folks might think that Illinois’ favorite son’s name is Abe—but in reality, his name is Tim. Tetrick, that is. Tetrick 26, was certainly the Prairie State’s boy wonder last year.

Hailing from the small town of Geff, Illinois, Tetrick set the harness racing world on fire, breaking driving records in the categories of both wins and earnings in 2007, among his many accolades.

Tetrick rewrote the record books in 2007, winning an average of 3.25 races per calendar day at 18 tracks from New York to Illinois.

He completed 2007 with an all-time record 1,188 winning drives and $18,342,367 in purse earnings. He boasted a UDRS of .388 last year and was one of the leading drivers at Dover Downs. He was also the leading driver at Harrah’s Chester and Pocono Downs.

Tetrick shattered the world record for wins in a single season with his 1,078th victory on November 27 at Dover Downs. The victory came behind one of the top pacing mares in the country, Stonebridge Kisses, in 1:51.4. The previous record of 1,077 was set by Walter Case, Jr., back in 1998.

Other highlights of Tetrick’s World Record setting season included becoming the youngest driver to reach 3,000 lifetime wins (May 28 at Harrington Raceway), and the youngest driver to win a million-dollar race, a feat he accomplished on June 2, when he guided Southwind Lynx to victory in the Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers.

Those two teamed up to win yet another million dollar race on July 14 capturing The Meadowlands Pace. Tetrick also set the record for the most driving wins in a single calendar month, when he won 120 races in June.

Tetrick became the first driver since Jack Moiseyev in 1991 to lead North America in wins and purse earnings and the first non-Meadowlands Racetrack regular to claim the earnings crown since Carmine Abbatiello in 1978.

“Mind boggling; that’s the only way I can describe it,” said Tetrick, who was featured in Sports Illustrated, USA Today and the New York Times during his record setting season.

“It’s been amazing. I have to thank the trainers and owners for having the confidence in me to drive for them and be in the big leagues. Thankfully I’ve been able to perform well enough to keep getting the better horses to drive.”

Tetrick grew up in a harness racing family. His parents, Tom and Mary Alice own a 450-acre farm and small track and brothers Tom and Trace are also involved in the sport as drivers and trainers. According to Tetrick, he knew what he wanted to do for a living by the time he was age five.

My dad said, “I'm going to let you jog that mare,” and I went out there by myself. “It was pretty cool," he said. "I just loved working with horses. From that point on I just wanted to be with horses."

hat passion, combined with his knowledge of Standardbreds, has taken him from obscurity to the global big leagues of harness racing.

A good driver feels horses," Tetrick said, "and you try to make them exceed their limits without hurting them. You just feel it. It's a knack, I guess."

Tetrick was named Driver of the Year and Rising Star of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association and also was honored as the Harness Tracks of America Driver of the Year. The Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association also honored Tetrick as their Man of the Year for 2007 at their awards banquet on Feb. 18th.

Despite a well deserved vacation early in 2008 Tetrick has already amassed over $1.2 million in purse earnings this year and now boasts more than 3,800 career victories and $39 million in career earnings

Maywood Park will be giving away 1,000 bobblehads on Thursday, Feb. 28th while Balmoral Park will be giving the first 1,000 patrons through the door on Saturday, March 1st.

Tetrick will also be on hand on both nights to meet and greet the fans and to provide autographs..

Kimberly Rinker, Maywood Park

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