01/07/2016 1:05PM

Meadowlands: Tim Tetrick back in action starting Friday

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Tim Tetrick returns to the Meadowlands on Friday after a six week absence.

Meadowlands fans perhaps have wondered whatever happened to Tim Tetrick. One of the sport’s perennial leading drivers has not raced at the East Rutherford oval since November 28 and though he’s returned from a trip to Australia, trainers didn’t immediately take notice this Monday when races were drawn for the Friday and Saturday night Meadowlands 14-race programs.

“Yea I was only put down on one horse on both nights,” said Tetrick, a bit surprised by the revelation.

By scratch time on Friday, Tetrick found himself on a few more mounts and no doubt going forward he’ll be a regular.

[DRF HARNESS LIVE: Real-time insights from the DRF Harness team this Saturday at 6:35 p.m.]

“I’m going to race on Monday and Tuesday at Dover and then Friday and Saturday at the Meadowlands,” said Tetrick. “I’m not thrilled with the 11 and 12 horse fields at the Meadowlands.”

Tetrick and wife Ashley recently returned from a 16-day trip to Australia where he competed at three different racetracks as well as took part in the $1 Inter Dominion in Perth.

“It was a wonderful trip. We had a great time,” said Tetrick. “The racing is a lot different there. They have big fields and they race longer distances. We’d be going around a half-mile track three times and guys would go wide the second time to force the action.”

Tetrick had about 20 drives during his time Down Under and hit the board on 11 occasions.

“They have good fans down there and they promote the racing,” said Tetrick. “I think we can learn a lot from what they do.”

Specifically Tetrick pointed to the incredible treatment afforded to winning owners that he witnessed in Australia.

“They make a really big thing about the winning owners. They take the owners into a room following a victory and there’s champagne and beer for everyone. They show the replay over and over again and provide a CD of the race to the owners,” said Tetrick.

“I think we need to do something to get more owners to come to the track as opposed to watching the races from home or on computers,” said Tetrick.

Tetrick begins 2016 this weekend and given the four-day-a-week schedule he has it may be difficult for him to return to the kind of success he enjoyed just a few years ago. The driver’s schedule has slowed considerably since 2007 when he drove 4278 horses and racked up an incredible 1,189 driving wins. In contrast in 2015 he guided just 2525 horses in purse races and won 465 times. In each of the last two years Tetrick’s mounts have earned the owners near-$12 million in purses.

Tetrick appeared concerned about the level of horses racing at the Meadowlands this winter. “There isn’t a lot of quality racing there,” Tetrick said.

At the same time the driver was mum on whether he would attempt to race at Yonkers instead of the Meadowlands.

The absence of any late closers at the Meadowlands this winter means a strict diet of overnight races, and with larger fields and cheaper classes, less opportunity to make significant money for those earning a living strictly driving horses.

Tetrick managed to acquire 10 mounts on Friday night as trainers became aware of his presence. Still most of the mounts are double digits in the early morning line. Uva Hanover reunites Tetrick with trainer Linda Toscano. The pair has enjoyed an incredible relationship with trotters on the track, with Tetrick guiding the Hambletonian winner Market Share through a $3.7 million career as well as the multiple Breeders Crown champion and near $2 million-winning Chapter Seven.  The 5-year-old Uva Hanover is a 9-2 prospect from post six in the ninth race on Friday night, a $25,000 Open Handicap event. Uva Hanover finished a solid third on December 26 at the Meadowlands and was idle last week simply because the Meadowlands did not card any trotting races with just one night of action on Saturday.

With word out that Tetrick was back in action, he was able to pick up 10 total drives on Saturday. While absent from the weekly featured Open Handicap, he was able to secure drives on potential contenders True Blue Hall (4th race), Mr Franklin N (9th), Yippity Hanover (12th) and Glass Prince (13th).

While many of the other local drivers have enjoyed a head start on Tetrick at the current Meadowlands meet, don’t expect the driver to be suffering any “Jet Lag” from his trip Down Under.