Day At The Track

Miller; “It’s been going good for me"

06:45 AM 25 Mar 2021 NZDT
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Eddie Miller, harness racing
Eddie Miller
Raymond Lance Photo

Hightstown, NJ — Eddie Miller was around 17 years old the first time he went to a harness racing track, visiting Ohio’s Northfield Park, about an hour from where he grew up in Navarre. Some five years later, he started winning races there.

The 23-year-old Miller has been training a small stable of horses for himself in addition to a stable for driver Kurt Sugg. He got his first win in January 2020 at Northfield, with Sugg driving pacer Vegas Highroller, and has added nearly 100 more victories since then.

“The first time I went to the races, I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” Miller said. “I got hooked on it.

“Getting that first win down as trainer, that’s probably my biggest thrill so far. But we’ve had some good horses and I think I had a good year (in 2020) for somebody’s first year. Hopefully, it keeps only getting better.”

Miller won 73 of 382 races last year and $547,726 in purses. This season, he has 21 victories in 96 starts and $104,992. He also has won three races lifetime as an amateur driver at Northfield and picked up four other triumphs at the fairs.

“He’s a very hard worker,” said Sugg, who brought Miller on board in 2019. “He works all day long and he loves the horses. He’s really driven to succeed in the business. He’s not there just putting his time in. He does everything he possibly can to make the horses as good as they can be.”

Sugg, who has 4,702 wins as a driver and 1,067 as a trainer, first got to know Miller when he was working for trainer Herman Hagerman. After Miller left to take a job in construction, Sugg talked him into coming to work with him.

“It’s been a real good fit,” Sugg said. “I’m not getting any younger, I’m 51 years old, and I was trying to get him set up where he’s able to take over. He’s a good kid and willing to learn. I guess I see me in him, like when I was that age.”

Among last year’s highlights for the Sugg-Miller duo was two wins in preliminary divisions of the Ohio Sire Stakes with 3-year-old male trotter Yanks Dugout, who also finished third in the Ohio State Fair championship and a division of the Ohio Breeders Championship.

In addition, Mystical Virgin made $71,124 last year and competed multiple times in the fillies-and-mares Open at Northfield, finishing second on six occasions. The pacing mare was the first horse Miller ever claimed, for $10,000 in August 2019.

“She’s been wonderful. He’s got a good eye for a horse,” Sugg said.

“I guess I got lucky,” Miller said. “I’ve claimed some others that have been all right, but she’s been really good for us.”

Miller, who at the moment has six horses on his own to go with Sugg’s 15, is hoping for more good times ahead.

“There are good and bad days like everything else, but I just love it,” Miller said. “The horses are amazing animals and it’s good working with Kurt. He’s taught me a lot, and I’m still learning. We’re a really good team. We try to help each other out as best we can. If something needs to be done, we just chip in and do it.

“It’s been going good for me. Thanks to Kurt and all, everybody who tries to help.”

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

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