Trace Tetrick will head to Orlando this weekend to receive harness racing’s Rising Star Award, and even if he stops off at a nearby theme park it will be difficult to top the ride he enjoyed in 2017.
Tetrick, a 31-year-old driver who grew up in Illinois and now calls Indiana home, set career highs with 569 wins and $6.81 million in purses. He cracked North America’s top 10 in victories for the first time, finishing fourth, and was No. 11 in North America for earnings, another lifetime best.
Interestingly, nine of the drivers ahead of him on the money list were former Rising Star Award winners, including his older brother, Tim. The award, presented by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, recognizes early career achievement for a driver or trainer age 35 or younger.
Tetrick, who has won 4,443 races and $45 million in purses lifetime, will receive his trophy during Sunday’s Dan Patch Award banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando.
"It’s a great privilege to be honored in that category and to be invited to be a part of that event," Tetrick said. "It was probably my best year overall. The highlight, I’d say, was the Breeders Crown. To be in the Breeders Crown again and get a couple wins was great."
Tetrick won Breeders Crown finals with Blazin Britches (3-Year-Old Filly Pace) and Fiftydallarbill (2-Year-Old Colt Trot). He also captured three Indiana Sire Stakes championships, two Kentucky Sire Stakes championships, and one Ohio Sire Stakes championship. In those eight victories, Tetrick drove the favorite only once.
"I guess it was being in the right spots at the right time, being lucky," Tetrick said. "Everybody is looking to beat the favorites. When you’re not the favorite, you can kind of run under the radar. But whether you’re the favorite or not, you’re just trying to put your horse in the best possible spot to make money. If things work out to where you get all of it, that’s even better."
Tetrick was the regular driver of Blazin Britches, who will receive the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old female pacer. The filly was trained by Brian Brown, who will receive the Trainer of the Year Award, and owned by Bruce Trogdon’s Emerald Highlands Farm, which will get the Owner of the Year trophy.
Tetrick, Brown and Trogdon also won an Indiana Sire Stakes championship together last year with Always Bet De Grey and enjoyed success previously with Color’s A Virgin, who received the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old female pacer in 2014.
"Brian and Bruce Trogdon have been very good to me and things have worked out," Tetrick said. "It’s great to have the opportunity with those guys."
Another honoree at Sunday’s Dan Patch Awards banquet will be Hoosier Park, which will receive the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award. Hoosier Park, which is Tetrick’s home track, hosted the Breeders Crown last year to rave reviews from horsemen and fans.
"I thought they did a great job," said Tetrick, who has won six driving titles at Hoosier Park. "They put forth a lot of effort and they tried to put on a good show. That’s all you can ask. But I think that everyone that came for it had a great time. They loved it. We had a little bad weather the one day, but there’s nothing you can do about that. The racing was still good; the track was still fair. I thought they did a very good job and everyone was happy.
"It also allowed so many people to see the event that never had the opportunity to go to the Breeders Crown; not only new people, but people from the Midwest that have been in the business for years. I think it was great for people to be able to come and see the Grand Circuit-type horses here."--By Ken Weingartner/USTA