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Miller wins in Big M debut

February 01, 2007

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Devan Miller may have been nervous before post time, but the 18-year-old daughter of driver David Miller looked completely at home as she sailed to the winner’s circle in her Meadowlands debut on Wednesday night.

Devan guided 6-year-old trotter Maltese Malcom, a horse owned and trained by her stepmother, Misty, to a 1:56.4 victory in the evening’s eighth race. The duo was sent off the 2-1 favorite and paid $6, $3.80 and $2.80.

“We went over the race beforehand,” Devan said. “My father told me how he thought I should drive. I told him what I thought I should do, and we compromised that way. He told me not to worry, that it’s just another racetrack. He’s always like, ‘There’s no pressure at all,’ and I’m thinking, ‘Are you kidding?!’ There’s a ton of pressure, but I guess that makes me try harder.”

David added, “I tell her to stay relaxed, there’s no pressure, there’s always next week. Don’t get into any trouble and have fun.”

Devan, who lives in Troy, Ohio, started driving on a regular basis after graduating from Troy High School in June 2006. She finished the year with nine wins and $22,874 in 103 starts. Upon her father’s encouragement, she has decided to spend this winter in New Jersey and will return to Ohio in April with plans to attend a local community college.

“I’m going to go back to Ohio in the spring,” she said. “I don’t think I could make a start out here. I’m going back to Ohio where I can get drives.

“I’ll probably end up majoring in business,” she added, “because if I do want to get a trainer’s license, it would definitely help me.”

Devan got her first career win with Easy Connection, a mare she leases, at Dayton in September 2005. She brought the mare to New Jersey with her and drove her to a second-place finish in a race at Freehold on Jan. 26.

Devan dreamed of sitting in a sulky from the time she was in elementary school.

“As soon as I turned 12, I got my matinee license,” she said. “Ever since then, this is what I’ve wanted to do. My dad says he’s not nervous about me driving, by I think he’s lying.”

David admits to being more anxious than he lets on. “It’s a tough sport,” he said. “Anything can happen and I wasn’t too crazy about it at first, but that’s all she wants to do, at least right now, anyway. I told her just to do her best. She handles a horse well. She’s here until April and she’ll have plenty of chances to drive.”

Devan Miller is the 17th female driver to win a race at the Meadowlands and the first in over five years. Prior to Miller, Jacqueline Ingrassia was the last on Dec. 4, 2001. Devan and David Miller are the fourth father-daughter team to win at the Meadowlands, joining Frank and Diane Browne, Bill and Leah Vandevort and Elmer and JoAnn Looney. (Meadowlands)
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