Getting to know people within the industry teaches you many things, such as the value of family, the value of friends and the value of hard work. Harness driver Tyler Moore took time out of his busy schedule to explain his love of the sport on route to the Western Fair Raceway, located in London, Ontario.
To date, Tyler's fondest memory is winning the 53rd annual Gold Cup and Saucer, (at Charlottetown Driving Park, located in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island), driving Eighteen wire to wire back in August of 2012. Not only was this a prestigious race to win but to add to the excitement, Tyler's dad,trained the horse and hockey hall of fame and Montreal Canadiens legend, Serge Savard, was the owner. Hence the reason the horse's name was Eighteen, Serge Savard's number.
Currently, Tyler is splitting time driving at Flamboro Downs located in Hamilton, Ontario and at Western Fair Raceway grabbing as many drives possible. When posed with the question if he had to do anything other than work with horses, Tyler considered some options, but no matter what, horse racing is in his blood.
"If I couldn't drive horses here I'd probably go to school for a trade, I think I would save up some money to buy a horse so I could still (be a part of racing) as a hobby". Tyler adds "it's something I see myself doing my whole life."
As spring is around the corner, which if you're in Canada cannot come soon enough, several more tracks will be opening up for the summer. When asked what he's looking forward to most about the spring/summer season of horse racing, you can really feel how much passion Tyler has for the sport. Are there particular horses he's excited about driving...?
"I actually look forward to driving them all" says Tyler. "Whether its good post, bad post or good shot, bad shot I'm always excited. Drives are limited for everybody, there's less races and less horses... I don't get to drive as many times as I used to, if I have one drive like I do today, I will drive an hour and a half just to go drive it".
Tyler is 22 and as I listen to him explain his thoughts on the delights of horse racing; any fan would believe he's at least 10 years older.
"You get a nice old class horse that's real smart and been in a lot of races and has experience,: Tyer said, "they know how to do their job and it's an enjoyment to sit behind and it's an enjoyment to drive... they do everything you ask. They don't come by too often but they are still around and when you get a horse like that, it's exciting."
Racing in Canada is a constant variable. In the summer it can be intensely humid and in the winter it can be epically cold. Every driver has their preference for climate when racing, and Tyler has his, but I found his explanation of why quite intriguing; "In the winter time when it is moderate, say minus 5 to 15 (Celsius), I am fine with that.... You do stay warm, and when you race it's an adrenaline rush and your body doesn't get cold.
"Your blood is pumping," Tyer explained, "your heart is going. I like late fall early winter, but a day like today when it's minus 30, that's too cold."
I am pretty certain everyone can agree with Tyler on that last part, but when you love your career like Tyler does, nothing can stop you from what you're passionate about.
When Tyler is not scheduled to drive, he helps out trainer Herb Holland with his stable of horses. As with any industry there are highs and lows and through it all Tyler stays focused on a baseline of values which include staying humble, being respectful, courteous and no matter the circumstance always keeping a level head. "Don't act like you care, really care" is how Tyler put its.
Tyler offers advice for anyone wanting to become a harness driver and that is to always remain confident.
"I find if you are more confident and calm, everything can flow at the right time;" Tyler said, "your reaction will work, you will make the right move. It's a big deal on how you can drive a horse; it's not drive two laps (on a ½ mile or 5/8 mile tracks) and go as fast as you can. It's where are you going to put your horse, where are you going to situate your horse. There can be up to ten times when you have to make a decision and that is just one race.
"Whether to pull the horse or whether to go up the rail there are a ton of things you can do." Tyler added, "You can put the horse's nose up to the gate, the timing. If I had a younger brother I would say, try to find your confidence and don't lose it. Keep it as long as you can and hopefully it gets better. It's what you need to make the right decision. You make the right decision and you will make the Winner's Circle."
Not only does a driver need to know their horse, but in any sport, you need to understand your competition and Tyler does a great job providing insight as to what is needed when sizing up your competition.
"You got to know the horses in front of you and the horses behind you." Tyler went on, "If the best horse is behind you and you're going to pull and be first over, you are going to give the best horse a better trip and make (that horse) better than it should be.... An example of a tough decision is if you left of the gate and you are third at the rail headed to the quarter pole, let's say your horse is 'mediocre', you're rounding the second turn at the half and there are horses on the outside coming. Do you make your move? Turn outside or stay in? You need to read the program so you know who is around. That's a tough decision to make sometimes."
Whether at the track or at home, Tyler enjoys being around friends. "I like the fast pace life, I don't like to sit still" Tyler says. So what would Tyler do if he had a weekend away from horse racing? "Go somewhere warm..." he says. "I'd head to Florida and take my golf clubs, enjoy a few drinks and maybe go to a party. Plain and simple, nothing over dramatic."
When I asked Tyler about inspiration and who he looked to for inspiration, Tyler said it was ex-Ottawa Senators hockey player Wade Redden. When Tyler's dad was president of the Ottawa Senators farm team, back when the farm team was in Prince Edward Island prior to moving to Binghamton in the USA, Tyler's dad took Tyler and his teammates of his Lindsay Muskies Junior-A hockey team for a tour of the Ottawa Senators' NHL home arena in Ottawa, Ontario and this is where Tyler met Wade Redden. "He was one of their top defensemen at the time... he was tough player, a good player who never did anything wild but was always gritty. He was a guy I idolized up until I stopped playing hockey. When I met him I was about 10 or 11."
Moving forward Tyler's outlook is to keep getting better every day and to not get ahead of himself. Tyler expresses his gratitude for every drive to date and in time he hopes to make a bigger name for himself based on his hard work and values.
This summer, you can watch Tyler drive at Georgian Downs, (located in Innisfil, Ontario just south of Barrie, Ontario), Grand River Raceway, (located in Wellington, Ontario) and Mohawk Raceway, (located in Campbillville, Ontario). Tyler is another quality driver who is one big horse away from becoming a regular name.
By Roderick Balgobin, for Supernova Sports Club www.supernovasportsclub.com twitter: ScSupernova