Hiteman wins 8,000th career race
December 04, 2010
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Longtime Chicago veteran reinsman Dale Hiteman reached a coveted plateau in his racing career on Friday night at Maywood Park as the 54-year-old native of Westville, Ind. posted his 8,000th career driving victory behind the Dave McCaffrey-trained Daibin N.
Sent off as the 4-5 favorite in the $6,000 claiming event, Hiteman took full advantage of his inside starting spot as he put the 9-year-old New Zealand bred on the lead from the word go. In complete command from start to finish, the gelding was never seriously threatened as he cruised home with a 2 1/4-length decision in 1:55.2.
In typical fashion the longtime Chicago reinsman spoke humbly about his career after posting his 8,000th victory.
“My dad was the one who got me into this back when I was about 14 years old or so,” said Hiteman. “We were from Ohio and back then I was basically doing everything at the barn from jogging horses to cleaning stalls. If you worked hard enough and one of your horses was doing well you’d get rewarded with a bag of donuts. At that time in my life that was a nice little bonus so I’d do everything I could to make sure the horses I was taking care of got the best care and were always ready to go,” he chuckled.
Starting his illustrious driving career back in 1974, Hiteman, a tireless worker and dedicated family man, managed to post 36 victories in just 142 trips postward. Since then “the Buckeye” has managed to post triple-digit figures in the win column in all but three years of his storied career. With 8,000 career victories Hiteman driven horses have earned over $61.5 million in purse money.
“It just comes to down to how bad you want it,” said Hiteman. “Once I relocated to Chicago it was a matter of how bad do you want it and how much are you willing to work for it. That suited me just fine because I was never one to shy away from an honest day’s work. I’m a very competitive person. I’m a good winner but a bad loser. When I lose a race I sit down and watch it again and figure out how to do it better the next time I drive that horse. You need a little luck in this sport but you’ve got to be dedicated to it, be aggressive, keep hustling and hope it all turns out for the best.”
In recent years Hiteman has elected to spend a large part of the brutal winter months in the “Windy City” down in Florida with his wife Mary, daughters Danielle and Tara, and his son, Myles.
“Even though I still do some driving at Pompano Park during that time I think that time down in the sun and warmer temperatures really helps my outlook when I come back home,” Hiteman explained. “I probably could have reached this 8,000 win mark a little bit earlier if I hadn’t done that and hadn’t spent so much time early in my career training horses as well as driving them. But one of the keys to a successful career is to keep plugging away, keep your mind fresh and make it fun. Even though I do some driving at Pompano during that time these winter getaways have really helped to keep me fresh.”
Hiteman’s biggest year of his career came in 2001 when he ranked 15th in the country with 423 victories and more than $4.5 million in purse earnings. When asked to name some of his favorite horses that he has piloted to major stakes victories such as multiple American National titles, the U.S. Pacing Championhip, Bluegrass Stakes and many major Illinois-bred stakes, Hiteman spoke highly of such stars like Mr. Dalrae, Blissfull Hall, Three Olives, Kikikatie and Street Dancer.
In typical Hiteman fashion Dale was also quick to thank to those that have helped him reach such lofty figures.
“It really means a lot to me to have the respect of the other drivers I’m competing against right now and have competed with in the past here in Chicago,” he said. “Track personnel have always been great to me and it’s my pleasure to race in Chicago where guys like current USTA president and director of racing for Balmoral and Maywood Park, Phil Langley, make sure things are done the right way and people are taken care of. I’ve learned a lot from the guys I’ve raced with here throughout the years and I just hope I can help some of the young drivers we have here in Chicago now in that same way.” (Maywood Park)