Day At The Track

Miller is making his mark with Pine Credit

07:10 PM 04 Oct 2012 NZDT
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Pine Credit & Lewayne Miller trot boldly
Pine Credit & Lewayne Miller trot boldly - to the line to win in 1:56.4 - last quarter: 28.3.
Fotowon Photo

As a youth, he always envisioned himself in the sulky, but LeWayne Miller, because of his background, never ever thought his most ardent desire would become reality. 'Growing up I always dreamed of driving,' explained the 25-year-old. 'We used to race ponies, but I grew up Amish, so I never really thought I would be good enough to do something like that and they don't allow harness racing.'

Miller received his big break about four years ago, when he and his brother worked for trainer Erv Miller in a capacity completely unrelated to the sport.

"I had a job pouring concrete with my dad and one winter we decided to go to Florida," Miller, a resident of Wind Gap, Pa., remembered. "We couldn't pour concrete at home during the wintertime with the snow and that's when we ended up working for Erv. We planned on going back home and my brother did go back home to race our ponies, but Erv talked me into staying with him, working for him and driving for him."

In 2009, Miller's first year in the bike, his mounts earned $12,012 from 25 starts with seven wins, five seconds and five thirds. The following year he netted $40,737 from 42 drives with a record of 6-5-4, but last year, Miller served notice he will be a force to be reckoned with.

From 186 miles, horses he drove banked $244,106 with 40 victories, 18 seconds and 26 thirds. This year, Miller has competed in 337 purse starts with 57 wins, 53 seconds and 44 thirds. To date, he has amassed $433,721 in purses and seeks to add to that grand total when he pilots Pine Credit in an $81,750 division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile on Friday (Oct. 5).

The duo will leave from post five in what is carded as the 10th race. Only Hall Of Muscles, conditioned by Jim Campbell, from the field of eight has made more money than Pine Credit ($95,474 to $94,477) while Pine Credit owns the fastest lifetime mark (1:55.4) of the group.

"I think he's a very talented colt," Miller said about the youngster. "He had problems early on this year, but kind of grew out of them. He was just immature early and had some bad racing luck, but he seems to get better with every start."

Owned by Erv Miller, Harvey Eisman and Mary Jane Anderson, the 2-year-old son of Credit Winner-Ms Piggy Pine by Pine Chip, debuted in a pari-mutuel race on July 6 at Vernon Downs with a fourth place finish in a $29,936 New York Sire Stakes contest. He was then ninth in a $29,422 Tompkins-Geers division at Tioga Downs on July 19, sixth in a $10,000 leg of the Kindergarten at the Meadowlands on July 26 and second in another $10,000 Kindergarten leg on August 2. On August 13, Pine Credit returned to Tioga Downs to finish fifth in another $29,696 New York Sire Stake event.

For his first five trips to the post, the colt was steered by Steve Smith (twice), Jim Morrill, Jr., David Miller and trainer Erv Miller, but for his next engagement on August 25, LeWayne Miller held the lines, guiding him to break his maiden in a $12,800 New York State Fair race at Vernon Downs.

The pair's next start was another win in the $71,398 Historic-Harriman Cup at Vernon on Sept. 6, followed by triumphs in a $57,760 New York Sire Stakes race at Yonkers Raceway on Sept. 13 and in a $10,000 Kindergarten leg at The Red Mile on Sept. 20.

In their most recent start, Pine Credit and Miller were third in a $101,000 division of the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile on Sept. 28, just a half-length behind Major Athens, who scored in 1:56.3.

From ten starts, Pine Credit has collected $94,477 and sports a record of 10-4-1-1. He established his lifetime mark of 1:55.4 in Lexington on Sept. 20.

"I think he's better off cover, tracking horses down," Miller said. "He won in Lexington on the front end coming out of the eight hole (in the Kindergarten). A horse came to him late and he just didn't seem to try as hard as he does when he's coming off a helmet."

After Friday's contest, Pine Credit will either contest the Kindergarten final (on Oct. 26 at Vernon Downs) or the Breeders Crown with Miller holding the reins.

"Erv told me last week if he wins this next start he plans on taking him to the Breeders Crown," Miller said. "So I guess it depends on how this start goes, but it would be a dream come true. I never imagined so early in my career I would even be thinking about going there and if it happens it's going to be awesome."

While Pine Credit will more than likely receive an extended vacation after the trip north of the border, Miller does not plan on taking time off any time soon.

"I run Erv's barn here in Pennsylvania," he said. "Hopefully when the Meadowlands opens I can drive a few there. They might need a driver and maybe I can get quite a few mounts, but honestly I will go wherever Erv wants me to go. I will just take things one day at a time and hopefully I keep getting better."

by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Courtesy of the United States Trotting Association Web Newsroom


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