Harness Racing's Newest Fan Is Hooked
The sport of Harness Racing gained a new fan recently. But not without the help from Heidi Miller, wife of Erv Miller.
I will begin the story by telling you how I got hooked to this beautiful game. So let's start by asking:
Would you rather go to a Yankees game, a New York Rangers hockey game, a Miami Dolphins football game, a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game, Quad city Downs, or to Duquoin to see the World Trotting Derby?
I would have rather gone to Quad City Downs. But if you did a survey and asked 5000 people that same question, 50% would probably want to go to Yankees Stadium, 9.95% of them would go to watch the Rangers play, 20% of them would go watch a Miami football game, 20% of them would go to Cleveland to go to watch the Cavaliers play, while the other 0.05% of them would want to go to East Moline - Quad City Downs.
(I didn't forget about Duquoin...keep reading).
Really though, what they would want to know is, what is happening at Quad City Downs? When you would tell them that it was a racetrack in East
Here is how it started. I can remember that Sunday afternoon at Fairmount park like it was just happening
yesterday even though it happened over twenty years ago. My dad and uncle would take me with them every
Sunday week in and week out. I would run around the grandstand playing with other kids tag or hind go seek or
even the pinball machine’s and right around the ninth race or so my dad would come get me.
This Sunday would be a special day for me.
My dad gave me a $5 bill and asked me to pick one horse so he could place my first wager for me. Now having no
clue what the numbers in the program meant, I was at least smarter then what I looked as I went outside to
watch the horses warm up in the post parade. John Scully introduced the field and I remember one horse that
caught my eye. He looked sharper then the others. He was shiny, he had new and clean equipment. His driver,
who had nice clean colors, was looking at his legs and at the tote board.
To me, it just looked like he had a mission to accomplish.
The other four guys in the race? They looked like they were just going through the motions like it just didn’t
matter what was going to happen.
I decided to go with the three horse Sameness. As the horses were turning for home, I glanced at the tote
board and my number goes from fourth to second. Now my dad starts squeezing my arm tighter and tighter as
he is getting more and more excited. It was a good thing there was only a quarter of a mile left in the race
because I don’t think I could of taken all of this abuse for a longer time then 28 seconds. But at the time what
was on my mind was shouting for the 3 horse rooting for him to cross the line first.
After the race was over we must have been really excited. Because when old Sameness crossed the line first, I
remember about eight people just starring at me and pops as we hugged and high fived, celebrating like we had
just hit the winning home run at Yankees Stadium or caught the winning touchdown at the Orange Bowl or
making the overtime goal to win the Stanley Cup. What we did have, was a winning ticket on Sameness.
But if that wasn’t enough, two guys walked over to us and asked us to get in there win picture so now you can
understand how I remember this horse's name. What this did was bring a new fan into harness racing from that
moment on I have been hooked.
Since then, I have been to almost every sporting event, but I never experienced anything like that - like a day at
the races - like harness racing. Walking out into victory lane and having that win picture is something I will never
How does Heidi Miller fit into all this? I'm about to tell you....keep reading.
Just recently on my yearly trip to Duquoin for the world trotting derby a friend of mine brings his 5yr old
daughter. When I asked him why he brought his daughter he said it was his weekend and why not - why not
bring her to the fair.
After showers all morning and having a world champion like Muscle Hill carded to race in the derby the officials
were going to do what ever it took to get the show on the road. It resulted in a six hour delay as the track crew
worked on the surface all day.
What this did was give my friend a chance to spend the whole day with his daughter riding all the rides at the fair.
But that wouldn’t be the highlight of her day.
As we found ourselves sitting in the grandstands, the little girl picked out a horse. So I went and got a $5 win ticket for her.
As she was cheering and yelling for "the horse in the pink sulky",she (and her dad) did not realize that the lady who was sitting in right front of them was Heidi Miller. She was watching her son (Marcus) and her husband (Erv) compete with some of there stake colts in the under card of World Trotting Derby day.
Heidi Miller must have enjoyed listening to this little girl (five years old) chanting for her son's horse to win.
During the night Heidi treated this little girl to soft drinks and popcorn.
But the greatest thing that Heidi Miller did, without even knowing, was invite the little girl to victory lane after
their two year old colt Power Of A Moment won the colt division for two year olds.
At that moment, without knowing it, what Heidi Miller did, gave a little girl an experience she will never forget.
Thanks to Heidi Miller, harness racing hooked a new fan that day.
Now you may ask the question of How do I know? Well it's been over three months now, and this little girl is
already looking forward to going back to next years fair in DuQuoin.