Tim Tetrick has had a lot of great moments during his harness racing career, and what happens within the next week or so may rank near the top of the list when combining family life with his job.
Tetrick's wife Ashley is about ready to give birth to a baby girl, with the due date May 25. How accurate that is remains to be seen, for as Tetrick said, "They pretty much come whenever they want to, don't they?"
If the baby comes later, she may brush up against Tetrick's next milestone as a driver as he is just 22 victories shy of 7,000 for his career. And he will do it in a hurry. At age 30, Tetrick will be the youngest driver to reach that mark by five years.
Walter Case, Jr. holds the record for being the youngest, having hit 7,000 at age 35.
Tetrick holds the records for youngest driver to wins No. 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 and 6,000. He also was the youngest to reach $100 million in career purses.
"It's definitely a big feat; I worked hard to get there," Tetrick said about approaching 7,000 wins. "I never dreamed I could get that many wins, but I'm working on it. It's pretty interesting and pretty neat to be at that kind of milestone."
In fact, when Tetrick started out as a youngster, all he thought about was putting some bread on the table doing what he loved.
"You dream about racing with the big guys and being in the sport you can participate in all aspects and make a living at it," he said. "From day one, I was hoping I could make this my career.
"I got to Chicago at around (age) 19, 20, things started clicking and I started getting support. I got a lot of test drives against tough drivers, getting 10 to 12 drives a night and things started steamrolling."
Tetrick was confident this could be his career. Accomplishing what he has, however, goes way beyond expectations.
"I never dreamed about doing anything like this," he said. "But I always thought I could be a good catch driver."
Tetrick is enjoying another banner season, leading North America in both wins (with 264) and purses (with $3.59 million). Tetrick has led the sport in earnings each of the past five years and set the record for wins in a season when he was victorious 1,189 times in 2007.
As is his usual target, Tetrick is more concerned with the money title than the victory title.
"I'm just worried about that right column," said Tetrick, who was voted Driver of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association in 2007 and 2008 and was HTA Driver of the Year in 2007, 2008 and 2010. "It's great if I win both, one thing can lead to another. But in my eyes, if I can get on the right-hand column, the money department, that's my biggest worry.
"The more wins you get, the more money you get. I'm trying to worry about quality more than quantity this year."
Tetrick drove a number of prominent stakes-winners last season, including American Jewel, Check Me Out, Possess The Will and Handsoffmycookie, and is looking forward to another big summer of racing.
"It's great to drive some great 2-year-olds," he said. "It's always fun to do."
It also will be fun to welcome his new baby daughter and get his 7,000th win. It was suggested that maybe it could happen within the same week if Tetrick wins a bushel full of races in a hurry and the baby comes a little late. Tetrick's needed just seven racing days (over a 17-day calendar span) to get his most recent 22 triumphs.
"That," he said, "would be amazing."
And even if unlikely, that's OK.
Amazing is still the only way to describe Tim Tetrick's career, and the upcoming weeks will merely re-affirm that.
by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent