Todd McCarthy off to fast start in North America
« Return to News
Over the past several years, driver Todd McCarthy contemplated leaving his native Australia to continue his career in North America. Watching his brother Andy win four Breeders Crown trophies last October at Woodbine Mohawk Park helped convince McCarthy to do it in 2020.
The global coronavirus pandemic put his plans on hold for several months, but McCarthy finally was able to complete his move last week. And the 27 year old wasted little time in finding the winner’s circle, posting five victories in his first 28 starts.
“I’ve always wanted to come, it was just a matter of time when I was going to be able to make the move,” McCarthy said. “Probably after the Breeders Crown last year I started putting a few plans in place to make the move. That sort of made me think that this is the place to be. That definitely was motivating.
“Initially, I wanted to come in March, early April, but (the pandemic) slowed things down. I was fortunate enough to be able to get over last week and it’s all worked out. I’ve really enjoyed it at this stage. I’ve got a visa that allows me to stay for some time, so I’m planning on sticking around for quite a while.”
McCarthy’s father, John, is a highly regarded trainer in Australia and brothers Luke and Andy are top drivers. Luke spent part of 2009 in North America and is best remembered for driving Muscle Hill to victory in the World Trotting Derby. Andy moved to the U.S. in 2007 and has won more than 2,500 races, including August’s Hambletonian with Ramona Hill.
Todd’s accomplishments Down Under included winning the 2016 Australasian Young Drivers Championship and multiple New South Wales state and metropolitan premiership driving titles. He represented Australia at the 2019 World Driving Championship and counts the Inter Dominion as his top victory.
“I think I’m most proud of the consistency,” said McCarthy, who started driving in 2010. “I’ve had a lot of great support from trainers and that’s something I’m proud of as well. My last couple seasons Down Under have been fantastic as far as the Grand Circuit goes, winning a lot of races. That’s been pretty cool.
“The timing (for this move) was perfect for me.”
McCarthy earned his first triumph in the U.S. in his third start and added four more victories in his next 25 races. He notched his first stakes triumph with Marloe Hanover in a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support, that people have been willing to put me down and give me a shot,” McCarthy said. “I can’t thank all the trainers enough for that. It’s been fantastic.
“I’ve met so many people this first week, even though covid has made things a little difficult. It’s a weird time to be meeting people and making new relationships because you don’t get to see everyone’s face. That’s been a little bit tricky. I’ve joked around that once we take our masks off, I probably won’t recognize people.”
Adjusting to new horses and new drivers are McCarthy’s biggest challenges.
“I’ve been watching for a long time, but you’ve got to be here and driving in races to really pick that up,” McCarthy said. “Back home, you sort of know most horses and have an idea how they race. Over here, I’ve had to start from scratch.
“I find myself watching a lot of replays and reading a lot of programs. I’m doing my very best to educate myself. Each time I go out there, I’ve got as much knowledge as I can about the race and the horses in it and how I think the race is going to go.”
Following in Andy’s ever-growing footsteps might seem daunting, but Todd is grateful for his brother’s support.
“If anything, he’s made it easier for me; he’s done all the hard yards,” he said. “He’s thrown a few contacts my way and gotten me a little bit of work. I’ve got to give Andy a huge shout out there. He’s given me pointers on what to do and not to do. He’s pointed me in the right direction, that’s for sure.” (Ken Weingartner/USTA)