During the last few years, Eric Goodell has made a name for himself driving and winning at some of harness racing’s top venues. Now, the 36 year old is looking for a change of pace as he has quietly appeared on the list of drivers competing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino.
“I’ve been at it real hard for three years straight, beating myself into the ground,” the Michigan native Goodell said of making the move back to the Midwest. “If I was single and didn’t have any responsibilities I’d probably stay.”
Goodell won driving titles at Hazel Park, Sports Creek, Saginaw Harness and Northville Downs, but the lure of competing out East prompted a move three years ago, and he flourished.
Goodell has won more than 300 races each of the past eight years, and in 2007 he finished 12th nationally with 489 wins while earning nearly $6 million. The next year he won 420 times and accumulated a career-high $8.5 million in purse earnings. But the grind took its toll, resulting in the decision to relocate.
“At the end of last summer I got a little worn out. The money is great, but the pressure is tough,” he explained. “I live between Pocono and Chester and it’s an hour each way. It’s an hour and a half to the Meadowlands. It’s two hours without traffic one way to Dover.”
That time on the road meant less time with his wife, Jamie, and two children, Sadie (2) and Ty (7). Often driving at two tracks each day, the fun began to slowly disappear for Goodell and the nonstop schedule caught up to him. He has placed his house in Pennsylvania on the market and plans to drive at Hoosier Park over the next several weeks with hopes of making the Indiana circuit his new home.
“I think it’s an all-around good move,” Goodell added. “If I would have never went out there I would have always regretted it. I went out and I was successful. I want to be close to home and enjoy a slower pace. Now, I can be around for my son’s baseball games.”
Goodell picked up the nickname “King of the Longshots” while competing at the Meadowlands, having won several races with horses at long odds. At Hoosier Park on Saturday, May 1, Goodell directed The Admiral to a 1:52.3 win in the $23,000 Invitational Pace—at odds of 16-1. The victory brought him within 13 of reaching the 4,000-win milestone.