Lately, another driver with the Miller surname has been lighting up the toteboard at Meadowlands Racetrack. Brett Miller was named the Meadowlands Driver of the Week for guiding two longshots to victory last Saturday, May 21.
Miller's longshot winners were Lettherockbegin at 22-1 and I Wanna Go Fast at 12-1. This Saturday he will bid for his biggest Meadowlands win with Lookinforadventure in the $400,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic.
"Yes, I'm Dave Miller's cousin, but I haven't had to live in that shadow," he said. "In fact, with Dave at the Meadowlands, whenever a horse would come to the Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park, he would recommend me. He's always helped me out."
Just like his cousin, Miller got his start racing on the Ohio circuit. The 37-year-old native of Columbus has won over 5,400 races and $35.7 million.
"I had some very productive years where I was averaging 500 wins and $3 million per year," Miller said. "In 2004, I was likely going to win the national dash winning title. I had 639 wins that year, and in November I had a maiden claimer go down on me at the quarter pole. I got injured and just couldn't finish out the year. I've had my share of tough luck."
Miller went through a difficult period, personally and professionally, in 2007. "In the middle of 2007 I received a one-year suspension, so I missed the last half of that year and the first half of 2008," he said. "Honestly, that was really a significant turning point in my life and career. I had gotten into a couple of bad accidents and got addicted to pain medication. Plus, I was abusing drugs and drinking. Obviously, I was in trouble.
"It's kind of a typical situation that athletes and people go through. There's no doubt there can be an event, or series of events, that can turn your life around. During the year suspension I realized the thing that I loved the most was driving harness horses, and that was taken away from me. I've been sober for almost four years now.
"It was a big wake-up call," he continued. "I went back to grooming horses for Dan Daley at the South Florida Training Center. He worked me to death. Dan made me appreciate what I had and how I lost it. He really helped me out."
Miller also met his wife, Stacey, during that time. "She's a great, great person," he said. "Now we have a family. My youngest child is nine weeks old, my oldest is five years old and the one in the middle is two. We're busy!"
Miller will leave from post seven with 12-1 shot Lookinforadventure in the New Jersey Classic on Saturday night. Big Jim, the 2010 divisional champion, will leave directly to their outside.
"I watched Lookinforadventure in almost every one of his starts last year, and I totally agree he was a vicious 2-year-old," he said. "Last week was the first time I drove him, and his trainer, Bruce Saunders, told me he had some bad luck so far this year. He wanted me to drive him a little more aggressively. We ended up sitting a two-hole behind Big Jim, and when Big Jim took off, Lookinforadventure got a little tired. He felt good though and I thought he raced okay. I think they're still going over him, yet I haven't heard that there are any issues with him. I'm looking forward to Saturday, and hopefully we can get him to go a little better."
For the last three years, Miller has driven at The Meadows in Pennsylvania. He had a career season in 2010 with $6,518,476 in purses won.
"Last year may have been my best season ever, but my all-time highlight of racing horses was finishing second in the North America Cup with We Will See," he said. "It felt bigger than any win I've ever had. That was such a thrill, and when people see you drive a horse like that in big races it definitely opens up the door."
Miller will be following Meadowlands Pace eligible Big Bad John on the 3-year-old stakes trail this season. "He's unbelievably sharp right now," he said. "I raced him last week at The Meadows. They made him go in the preferred, and he still handled them easily in 1:50.2 on an off track. I'm really looking forward to racing this colt. This horse is very special. He'll be in a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes just before the North America Cup eliminations. Ron Potter trains him. He's been based at the Delaware County Fair for years and had many top Ohio-breds." (Meadowlands)