12/31/2012 4:38PM

Harness Racing: Tetrick reviews his award-winning year

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Tim Tetrick enjoyed a big weekend driving at Mohawk Raceway.

Entering 2012, Tim Tetrick never drove a horse that was voted Horse of the Year.

This year, he accomplished that feat – and so much more.

Tetrick drove seven division champions this season, including Horse of the Year Chapter Seven and Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous. The 31-year-old Illinois native, who was voted Driver of the Year for a third time, is harness racing’s leading money-winner for the sixth consecutive year, with $18.52 million in purses. It is the second-highest total in history, behind Tetrick’s $19.73 million in 2008.

In addition to driving 4-year-old Chapter Seven, who also was voted Trotter of the Year and best older male trotter, and Captaintreacherous, who also was named the best 2-year-old male pacer, Tetrick drove division winners Market Share (3-year-old male trotter), Check Me Out (3-year-old female trotter), Heston Blue Chip (3-year-old male pacer), American Jewel (3-year-old female pacer) and Anndrovette (older female pacer).

Chapter Seven, Market Share and Captaintreacherous finished 1-2-3 in Horse of the Year voting. All totaled, Tetrick sat behind six of the top seven vote-getters for the award.

“I wanted to make sure I had one that might get Horse of the Year,” Tetrick said, laughing. “I’d never driven a Horse of the Year winner, so to get that honor was very special. And to also drive the Pacer of the Year is pretty cool.

“I have to thank all the owners and trainers for giving me such great horses to drive. It’s just been an amazing ride.”

Tetrick, who won 670 races this year, ranking No. 2 behind Dave Palone’s 675, began to recognize his stellar season when harness racing’s Grand Circuit reached Lexington in late September, but tried not to focus on year-end awards and honors.

“The trainers and owners start thinking about divisional honors and every race is very important,” Tetrick said. “I can’t worry about that as much. My job is to try to go out there and win and use the least amount of horse while doing it; try to make them last year-round. That’s my perspective on it.”

Tetrick won the $1.5 million Hambletonian and $1.03 million Canadian Trotting Classic with Market Share plus the $1.01 million Metro Pace with Captaintreacherous to become only the third driver in history to win three million-dollar races in a year.

He also won a record four Breeders Crown races on Oct. 27 at Woodbine Racetrack.

Tetrick won 49 races worth at least $100,000 this year, with a dozen worth more than $300,000.

For perspective, when Tetrick set the records for wins in a season with 1,189 and purses with $18.35 million in 2007, he won 24 races worth at least $100,000. When he broke the record for earnings with $19.73 million a year later, he won 22 races worth at least $100,000.

“I’m trying to grow my own game and it’s really worked out,” Tetrick said. “ My style works good and it was a great year.”

Following, Tetrick looks back at some of the horses, races and memories.

Chapter Seven: “For me, he is very special because he’s my first Horse of the Year as a driver,” Tetrick said. “He is just a great horse. I just hate that he’s done. I think he could’ve beaten (1):50 next year. He finished up good and usually when they get put away like that they come back even better. People forget he was only 4 years old.”

Chapter Seven won eight of 10 races, including the Nat Ray Invitational in a world-record-equaling 1:50 1/5, but no race stood out more to Tetrick than his victory in the Breeders Crown, where he raced on the outside for the entire mile and beat an international field.

“Definitely the Breeders Crown; the trip that he went and the effort he put in,” Tetrick said. “To sit parked every step of the way and still draw off at the top of the lane, that’s pretty hard to do, especially in this day and age.”

Captaintreacherous: He won eight of 10 races and became the first 2-year-old pacer in history to win with three sub-1:50 miles.

“The miles he went all year were pretty amazing for what a 2-year-old pacing colt could do,” Tetrick said. “He was right there week in and week out. You’ve got to give him credit there. I really look forward to him next year. There’s no telling what he could be next year. He’ll be bigger, stronger, smarter and he’s got a great family. Hopefully he’ll come back and really good as a 3-year-old.”

Market Share: Purchased as a yearling for $16,000, Market Share became only the fourth trotter to win $2 million in a season. He was the first of that group not to be named Trotter of the Year.

“It’s surprising when a horse wins two million-dollar races and gets overshadowed,” Tetrick said. “Thankfully for (trainer Linda Toscano), he was overshadowed by his stablemate. What that little horse did is pretty amazing. The whole story is amazing, from being a $16,000 yearling to winning two million-dollar races and earning $2 million in one season. He’s the poor man’s horse that’s just a dream come true.”

Check Me Out: The 3-year-old filly trotter and multiple world-record-holder won 11 of 15 races this year and has finished worse than third just once in 31 career races (when she was third-placed-eighth after going off stride in the Hambletonian Oaks).

“She’s a great filly,” Tetrick said. “If she had ended up the year stronger she probably would have been Horse of the Year. I expect good things from her. It was a long two years. I don’t care what kind of class you race against, when you don’t ever finish back in 31 starts that’s pretty amazing.”

American Jewel: The 3-year-old filly pacer and world champion won nine of 16 races this year and has hit the board in 24 of 25 lifetime starts.

“I’ve loved this filly from day one,” Tetrick said. “Early in the season she was very dominant and she ended the season very dominant. She went through a little spell there, but when you go the miles she went, in (1):50 and (1):48 and (1):49, it’s hard on them. All in all, she’s a great horse. She can go four quarters. It’s a shame that she won’t be back at 4 because she could go in (1):48 or (1):47.”

Heston Blue Chip: The 3-year-old male pacer won 14 of 18 races, including three consecutive stakes finals (Breeders Crown, Progress, Matron) to end the campaign.

“He’s just a nice honest horse and does everything right,” Tetrick said. “He drives like a car. He can leave fast, duck, go forward, race off a helmet. He’s just a pleasure.”

Anndrovette: Won her second consecutive Dan Patch Award as best older female pacer after becoming the first pacing mare to capture Breeders Crown finals in consecutive years. She finished three-quarters of a length behind Put On A Show in a 1:47 3/5 world-record mile at the Meadowlands in the Lady Liberty despite battling illness.

“She’s just a hard-knocking mare and she likes getting to race every week,” Tetrick said. “She cut out those fractions for Put On A Show and she was dead sick that day. She wasn’t on top of her game and still only got beat by less than a length in a world record. She did all the work and the mare sat on my back and barely beat me. She’s tough as nails. I give her a lot of credit.”