Driven to Win

A 26-year-old is rewriting the harness racing record book
November 26, 2007

IT TAKES two kinds of horsepower to make the prince of harness racing go. Yes, driver Tim Tetrick, 26, makes his living with a horse and sulky, the two-wheeled, single-seat cart that has been part of the sport since the 1890s. But in terms of hours logged, his lucrative—and frenetically nomadic—schedule means he spends more time in the driver's seat of a Chevy Silverado, traveling from track to track along the Eastern seaboard. At Delaware's Dover Downs on Nov. 6, Tetrick broke the single-season purse record (behind a mare appropriately named Price Check), surpassing the old mark of $15,085,992 (only four thoroughbred jockeys have earned more this year). Then, as always, he was on the road again. "I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving," Tetrick says, while, of course, in his car. He races 15 to 20 times a day, and Thanksgiving will be his fourth day off in 2007. "I got this pickup in April," he says. "It's already got more than 50,000 miles."

Obviously the price of gas hasn't been a problem. In addition to having the most profitable season in harness racing history, Tetrick—who keeps 5% of his winnings—is in the midst of one of the most dominating. In June, he won 120 races, breaking his own record for victories in one month, which he set in April. On Oct. 9, he became just the third driver to hit 1,000 wins in a year, and he stands just 43 behind Walter Case Jr.'s record of 1,077, set in 1998. "It's been absolutely amazing. I never thought I could win 1,000 races," says Tetrick, whose winning percentage this season is hovering around .400. "My dad, I think, reached 1,000 [career] wins when he was 42."

Trainer George Teague Jr., who's teamed with Tetrick to win two million-dollar races this year, says that two traits set Tetrick apart: work ethic and adaptability. "He works as hard as anybody," Teague says. "And he can go from a half-mile [track] one day, to a mile, to five eighths the next. He's a natural." The 5'9", 160-pound Tetrick was virtually bred for harness racing, following his father, Tom, and joining his brothers, Trace and Tom Jr., into the business. But success wasn't immediate. "When I was 16 growing up in southern Illinois," he says, "I think I drove 40 horses and won one race." These days, however, Tetrick has his eye trained on Case's record, the 4,000-career-win plateau (Tetrick has 3,562) and—as always—the road.

Alex in Wonderland

He's been E-ROD, PAY-ROD, STAYROD and STRAY-ROD in the New York press. Now that he's agreed to a 10-year, $275 million contract, what personas will Alex Rodriguez assume next?

OLÉ-ROD

GRAY-ROD

SLEIGH-ROD

A-GOD

OY VEY-ROD

BERET-ROD

A-ZOD

PHOTOMARK HALL/US TROTTING ASSN. (TETRICK)$15 MILLION MAN Tetrick has won 1,034 times in his record-breaking season. PHOTOMARK HALL/US TROTTING ASSN. (TETRICK)[See caption above] SEVEN ILLUSTRATIONSILLUSTRATIONS BY JEFF WONG

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)