Tyler Smith, who this summer at age 20 became the youngest driver in harness racing history to reach 1,000 victories, is scheduled to drive at Cal Expo for at least for the next couple of months beginning Friday night.
Smith, who will turn 21 in January, was the leading driver at the recently-concluded Hooiser Park meeting in Indiana and is currently plying his trade on a Monday-through-Thursday night basis over the half-mile Northfield Park oval in Ohio. That leaves his weekends free to catch a plane to California and try some Cal Expo action.
"I was driving for Bob Johnson this summer and he suggested I look into it,” Smith related. "After talking with (General Manager) Chris Schick I was very encouraged and excited about the opportunity.
"I actually prefer driving over a mile track. On a half-mile, post position can be a big handicap and you almost always have to be moving. I like the chance to be patient and think a little more out there.”
Smith has been making headlines for quite some time. When he was 12 he became the youngest to win a sub-2:00 race, driving Look Likely to victory in 1:59.1 in a matinee at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in his home state of Ohio.
Smith began his career in 2009 and earned the Peter Haughton Memorial Award, which is bestowed to up-and-coming stars in the business. He recorded victory No.1,000 at Hoosier in August, eclipsing the record of Doug McNair who had notched his two weeks shy of his 21st birthday.
Capturing the recent Hoosier Park crown was especially gratifying for the young pilot. "I never dreamed of winning that meet going in, but everything came together perfectly and I was fortunate to be driving first call for some top barns.” (Cal Expo)