09/27/2017 3:43PM

Red Mile: Miller looks to shine again during Grand Circuit


Marcus Miller enjoys driving at Lexington’s Red Mile. It is not all related to the success he enjoyed there a year ago, but that probably doesn’t hurt.

Last year, Miller won three divisions of the International Stallion Stakes and a division of the Bluegrass. He also finished second in three divisions of the Bluegrass and in a division of the Glen Garnsey. For the track’s entire Grand Circuit meet, Miller hit the board in 12 of 23 starts for a .338 driver rating.

“It’s a big, fast track; that’s my favorite part about it,” Miller said about racing at The Red Mile. “It’s such a fun track. You can kind of come from all over the place. The trip really matters, the pace really matters. It’s just a lot of fun.”

Miller hopes to continue the fun when this year’s Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile begins at 7 p.m. Thursday with five divisions of the Bluegrass Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters. Miller will drive in three of the divisions with horses trained by his father, Erv. None of the three colts are at odds longer than 6-1 on the morning line.

Leading the way for the Millers is Keystone Apache, who won last week’s Standardbred Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters on Little Brown Jug Day (Sept. 21) at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio. Keystone Apache raced on the outside the entire mile and went three wide heading to the final turn to win by a neck over Can’t Afford It in 1:56 2/5.

For the year, the son of Explosive Matter-Found An Angel has won three of nine races and $65,527. All three of his victories have come in his past four starts.

“If he can keep racing like he did on Jug Day, I think he can go with a good bunch of them,” Miller said, adding with a laugh, “It wasn’t the trip I was planning on. But I did think he was the best horse in the race. He definitely performed as good as he could.

“(My dad) has always liked him and I think in the last few starts we’re really getting to see why. He’s really got a good attitude. I think he’s just gotten a lot more sure-footed. I think the attitude was always there, but now you’re able to use him a little bit without having to worry so much.”

Keystone Apache is 7-2 on the morning line in the first Bluegrass division. He is the second choice behind You Know You Do from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter. You Know You Do, a son of Muscle Hill-You Want Me, won the Peter Haughton Memorial and finished second in the William Wellwood Memorial. He has finished no worse than second in seven of eight starts, winning four.

Miller’s next Bluegrass drive will come with Farsetti Hanover in the fourth division. Farsetti Hanover has won two of nine races this year and $75,139. He has won two of his past three starts, including a division of the Reynolds Memorial, and finished third in the Haughton.

“He’s a really nice colt,” Miller said. “I think the last start at the Meadowlands (a fourth-place finish) I really didn’t want to be on the front. He came up a little bit empty late. But he’s a handy horse and good gaited. I like him. He’s really grown a lot right now and I think he’ll keep getting better also.”

Farsetti Hanover, a son of Donato Hanover-Finesse Hanover, is 4-1 on the morning line. Jim Campbell-trained Crystal Fashion, by Cantab Hall out of Window Willow, a two-time winner on the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit, is the 5-2 favorite.

In the fifth and final Bluegrass division, Miller will drive Tito. The last time Miller drove the colt was in August. He was driven most recently by Miller’s uncle, Andy, on the New York Sire Stakes circuit and heads to the Bluegrass with two wins in his past three starts.

Overall, Tito, a son of Muscle Mass-Stonebridge Encore, has won two of nine races and $77,173.

Tito is 6-1 on the morning line. The favorite is Takter’s Maxus, who is 2-1. Maxus, by Muscle Hill out of Gerri’s Joy, heads to the Bluegrass off a third-place finish in the Wellwood.

“When they’re 2-year-olds they change so much from week to week, so when it’s a solid month from the last time I drove them they’re usually quite a bit different,” Miller said. “But I really like (Tito). He’s a really nice colt too.”

All three of the Millers’ horses are eligible to the Breeders Crown in October.

“I think they all have a shot at it, it will just depend how these next few starts shake out,” Miller said. “They’re all good horses, that’s for sure.”

The favorite in the second Bluegrass division is New Jersey Sire Stakes champion U Need Stones, a son of Wishing Stone-Sequin Hanover from the stable of trainer Ron Burke. The favorite in the third division is Julie Miller-trained Met’s Hall, a son of Cantab Hall-Met’s Inn who has won four of six races.

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com