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News and Insight On Winbak Farm

Read below for the latest on Winbak Achievements and graduates. Stories are from the leading industry news sources.

Miller reflects on Pace win

Tuesday, July 17, 2018  By: Standardbred Canada


Hightstown, NJ --- David Miller has made countless trips to the Meadowlands Racetrack winner’s circle during his Hall of Fame driving career, but when he returned to that spot following Saturday’s Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace, none counted more.


Miller guided favorite Courtly Choice to victory in the $701,830 event for 3-year-old pacers, a race he dreamed of winning since arriving at the Meadowlands in the late 1990s. It took 19 tries, but as Miller soaked up the triumph following the trophy presentation and posing for photos, it was worth the wait.


“It’s a bit emotional,” Miller said as his eyes misted with tears of joy. “I was all but thinking I was never going to get this race. I finally got it. It was cool. As a kid growing up, you watch these races and dream about being out here and winning them. It’s a great feeling. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it for a while.” 


Prior to the race, Meadowlands Racetrack analyst/historian Bob “Hollywood” Heyden pointed out that Miller was the youngest driver, at age 30, in his first Meadowlands Pace drive, which came behind Cinder Lane Sam in 1995 and resulted in a fifth-place finish. Now 53, Miller was the oldest driver in the race on Saturday.


“I guess patience is a virtue,” Miller said, laughing.


Miller’s drive with Courtly Choice was his first in the Meadowlands Pace with a favorite. Prior to driving Courtly Choice, the nearest Miller came to a favorite in the race was Always B Miki, who finished second to He’s Watching in 2014 at odds of 7-1 from post nine. Miller had driven only one other horse in the event at less than double-digit odds, No Pan Intended at 8-1 in 2003.


“I’ve never had a favorite, but I’ve had horses that I thought I had shots with and left here with a lot of fourths and fifths,” Miller said. “I was driving here and trying not to be too exciting. I kept telling myself, we haven’t had much luck in it.


“I just tried to play it low key and go into it as just another race and not do something like over-drive my horse or under-drive him. I was hoping things would work out for us, which they did.”

 

Miller and Courtly Choice were in sixth place for the first half of the mile race, but moved to the outside to follow Dorsoduro Hanover as the field made its way around the final turn. Dorsoduro Hanover steamed past leader American History as they straightened for home, but Courtly Choice was able to get by Dorsoduro Hanover in the stretch and win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:47.1.


“I wasn’t sure what Doug McNair was going to do (driving second-choice Stay Hungry),” Miller said. “I saw off the gate he was going to get me in front of him and track me. That was all right because two from the outside left and I didn’t want to be, like, third over trying to run them down.


“The trip actually worked out perfect, as I was hoping it would. The horse did the rest.”

 

Blake MacIntosh, who trains and co-owns Courtly Choice (as Mac And Heim Stables) with Hutt Racing Stable, Daniel Plouffe, and Touch Stone Farms, won the Meadowlands Pace in his first attempt, but was no less thrilled than Miller. The owners supplemented Courtly Choice to the race for $61,690 because the horse was not originally staked to the event.


“You dream about winning the Meadowlands Pace when you’re jogging every morning; I’ve won it 30 times jogging,” MacIntosh said with a big smile. “It’s just amazing, just amazing. I thought if we were ever going to win it, we were going to win it (Saturday) because Dave gave him the most unbelievable drive.”


MacIntosh bought Courtly Choice for $60,000 at the 2016 Lexington Selected Sale. The colt is a half-brother to O’Brien Award-winner Betterthancheddar, a horse with which MacIntosh was associated while working with trainer Casie Coleman.


“I looked at him at the sale and he was a twin to (Betterthancheddar),” MacIntosh said. “I fell in love with him. I don’t spend big money at the sales. I got him at 60 and after the hammer fell I’ve never been so sick in my entire life. I was nervous as could be. But it paid off. It’s unreal how it paid off for us.”


Miller would be the first to agree.


“He’s just an incredible horse,” Miller said.


After a pause, he laughed, and added, “He got me to win the Meadowlands Pace, so how good is he.”

 


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