There is no place like home, especially when it can lead to so many places elsewhere.
Trace Tetrick has enjoyed success racing at Indiana's Hoosier Park--he recently became the track's all-time winningest driver--which has led to opportunities to race across North America in Grand Circuit stakes.
Last year, for example, Tetrick captured a Breeders Crown at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack and an American National Stakes at Chicago's Balmoral Park with Indiana Sires Stakes champion male pacer Freaky Feet Pete.
In addition, he visited Canada last year with female pacer Color's A Virgin, who in 2014 was an Indiana Sires Stakes champ and also won the Jugette in Ohio and competed in the Breeders Crown in New Jersey.
"I've been fortunate to make a good living here and have the opportunity to drive some really good Grand Circuit horses," said the 29-year-old Tetrick, who is a four-time Hoosier Park driving champion. "A lot of guys don't get that opportunity because they're not in the right place to get that ride.
"Usually you need to be on the East Coast to get those types of mounts. I consider myself very lucky to have those opportunities here in the Midwest. The success of the Indiana breeding program gives you a great opportunity. The last few years they've put out some really good racehorses. They can go anywhere you want to take them and compete at almost any level. The horses give you the chance to be there and be a real contender."
Tetrick will be at home this weekend--and Color's A Virgin and Freaky Feet Pete will be right there with him.
Five-year-old Color's A Virgin, who won last year's Breeders Crown Mare Pace, makes her seasonal debut as the 2-1 morning line favorite in Friday's Invitational for fillies and mares at Hoosier Park. The next day, 4-year-old Freaky Feet Pete looks to go 2-for-2 this season as the 1-5 morning line choice in the track's Invitational Handicap for pacers.
Last week, Freaky Feet Pete won the Invitational Handicap by 2 1/2 lengths over Nitro in 1:49.4. He paced his final quarter-mile in :26.4 despite getting a little rough gaited in the final turn.
"He was nice and relaxed and I kind of smooched to him there and I think he got out of gear too fast," Tetrick said. "He wanted to go a thousand miles-per-hour. They let his hobbles out some, so they'll tighten them up a little bit more. But he was very good; well in hand. I was very happy with him; he did it pretty easily."
Freaky Feet Pete, a homebred son of Rockin Image-Skyway Lori owned by Mary Jo Rheinheimer and Marty Rheinheimer, has won 25 of 28 career races and earned $1.12 million. The two-time Indiana Sire s Stakes champion, trained by Larry Rheinheimer, has been driven by Tetrick in all of his career starts. Freaky Feet Pete's 2015 campaign included winning two of three starts against Indiana-sired Wiggle It Jiggleit, who was named Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
"I think he's poised for a good year," said Tetrick, who entered Thursday with 3,407 career wins. "He matured a lot over the winter. He tries hard and he's very versatile. You can do whatever you need with him.
"The 4-year-old year is always the toughest. There are a lot of good horses out there, but I think he'll be able to hold his own. So far he's done everything we've asked him to do. It should be a lot of fun."
Tetrick got his first win as a driver in 2003. Last May, he became the fifth-youngest driver to reach 3,000 victories, a feat he accomplished at Hoosier Park. Incidentally, Tetrick's brother, Tim, was the fastest driver to reach 3,000, at the age of 25 in 2007.
On April 8, Trace picked up Hoosier Park win No. 1,481 to become the track's winningest driver.
"It's pretty nice," Tetrick said. "I didn't realize how close I was. It's a great feat. I'm very happy to do it; very honored." (HRC)