Day At The Track

Nice guys can finish first in harness racing

02:49 AM 15 Jan 2015 NZDT
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Casey Leonard, harness racing
Casey Leonard

One of the bright spots the past few years in Illinois harness racing has been the well-deserved success of Casey Leonard who has risen in prominence to become one of the top catch-drivers on the Chicago circuit.

The 37-year-old Harvard, Illinois native captured both the driving titles at Balmoral (204) and Maywood Parks (171) in 2014 and for the second consecutive year posted more dash winners in our state than any other horseman.

Casey drove 385 winners last year. He posted 407 in 2013 with 562 more drives. Leonard’ horses earned purse money of $2.8 million and $2.3 million the past two seasons.

It was only seven years ago (2008) that Casey did almost no-catch driving on the circuit, basically just steering the Leonard family’s horses. He had 19 winners that year before deciding to give catch-driving a try for the 2009 season at the age of 32, Casey went on to post 49 winners that season.

Leonard vaulted to 184 winners in 2010, and had 235 and 231 in 2011 and 2012, going over the $1 million plateau for the first time in his career in those past two seasons.

Casey’s mercurial climb up the ladder of success has surprised even himself.

“I would be the first one to tell you that 10 years ago I never thought I’d be where I am today as a driver on the circuit.”

The old proverb about “When Opportunity Knocks” certainly fits the narrative to Casey’s success.

“The biggest thing for a catch driver is to make the most of your opportunities,” continued Casey. “When you do, you get better and better horses to drive.  It doesn’t mean you have to drive more aggressively, it means you have to take advantage of the opportunity and drive that horse accordingly.”

“The last couple of years have been great. I’ve had the chance to drive some very good horses.”

And Casey definitely took advantage of those opportunities.

The late Chicago Cubs manager of the late 1960’s Leo Durocher once said: “Nice Guys Finish last.” Leo had no idea back then a guy like Casey Leonard would come along and prove him wrong.

by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: