Two years ago, Marcus Miller spent part of Hambletonian Day driving in harness races at the Logan County Fair in his native state of Illinois. Last year, he watched the Hambletonian Day card from his new home in Pennsylvania before heading to work that night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
This year, Hambletonian Day will have a different feel entirely. Miller will be part of the show.
Miller is driving on Saturday's Hambletonian Day card at the Meadowlands Racetrack, with his top assignment coming behind Cee Bee Yes in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters.
"I'm very excited,” Miller said. "She's a really nice filly. She's the kind of filly that if things work out, she's got the talent to get there.”
In June, the 25-year-old Miller got career win 2,000. A few weeks later, Miller drove in his biggest race to date, the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace, and guided Jet Airway to a fifth-place finish for his father, trainer Erv Miller.
"Hopefully one of these days I'll win a race like that,” said Miller, who won multiple driving titles on the Chicago circuit before moving east in spring 2013, before adding with a grin, "Maybe it'll be this one.
"I'm happy with this summer,” he added. "Last year I was brand new out here and now I'm meeting people and I'm getting drives for good trainers and good owners that didn't even know me two years ago. I'm getting a lot more drives.”
Miller, who also will drive SS Poseidon for his father in Saturday's $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters, got his first win in 2004 and won a career-best 501 races in 2011. His career high of $3.14 million in purses followed in 2012 and last year he missed a third consecutive $3 million-season by less than $50,000.
This year, he has 108 wins and $1.70 million in purses. He guided Cee Bee Yes to victory in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes and finished second in the $100,000 championship. Miller and the filly finished fifth in last weekend's Hambletonian Oaks prep, beaten by two lengths.
Cee Bee Yes (Muscles Yankee-Enbeecee) has won two of seven races this year and six of 18 in her career, with $268,182 in earnings. She was the 2013 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion.
The filly is owned by Jason and Doug Allen. She is trained by Julie Miller, whose husband Andy is Erv Miller's bother and Marcus' uncle.
"She was a little better (in the prep) than she was in her last start,” Miller said. "Hopefully she can take one more step and if something crazy happens, I think we can be close.”
Cee Bee Yes is one of three fillies in the Hambletonian Oaks for Julie Miller. She also sends out world champion Designed To Be and stakes-winner Take The Money.
"She's my sleeper,” Julie said about Cee Bee Yes. "She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces.” (HRC)