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illiniharnessracing/ news article

"Tree" makes a good point.

January 8, 2010                           

By J.C.Trevino for illiniharnessracing



`Every once in a while you run into a person that you will just like, and Gary “Tree” Millner fits that bill.   Some of you are wondering about his nickname and who he is? Well his nickname is not because he’s a tall guy but because he owns a tree spraying service, a nickname that fits the bill.  Who is tree?  He is a great harness bettor, that's who he is! Now the first time I met him, I knew Tree was serious about harness racing in a way nobody else was that I had ever met. But why I didn’t know.  


Like they say don’t judge a book by its cover, and how true with Tree.


When harness racing is going on near his home you can see Tree show up hours before post just so he can go through his program like college students do when they are studying for finals.  But just studying the book isn’t enough for Millner, he watches the horses warm up before he makes some of those last minute selections, but that isn’t enough for Tree either as over the years he has figured out in order to be successful in this game you have to get value while making a wager.  So Millner sometimes skips races and wagers only when the odds are in his favor. A great move by his part but that took years of punishment through the windows before Millner finally figures out what he was doing wrong and corrected it.  


“Everything has not always been good” Millner recalls of his early years at the racetrack, “I would bet every dollar untill I went broke or if I made a nice little score we would spend all night living it up.”  While attending  the races with buddy’s week in and week out, and living in the fast lane but all of this came to an end one morning after lying there down and out Tree recalls thinking to him self “this is really stupid. How can I work all week and come every Monday I’m lying here busted and disgusted? Something has to change?”  Something did change as over the years Tree manages to take a different approach to the way he gambles. “In the beginning I would come out here and just bet to be betting” Tree says. “But now I look at the program for a couple hours the day before, and try to remember anything that happen last week or the week before that will help me make some of my decisions ” he continued.  “Then I watch the weather channel to see how the weather is out there in New Jersey before I go to the racetrack, then I do some more handicapping, then I watch the betting action before I place a wager.” Millner lets us know of some of his betting strategies.   


When you see Tree at the racetrack you will only see him with a Meadowlands book, so we had to asked him why? “Well over the years I noticed that good horses seem to perform better week in and week out, so I started following the Meadowlands right around 1996, since they have the best horses, and I have been successful making wagers there”.  We also took this time to ask him about the situation going on in Chicago right now and he replied “Boy it’s a real shame what is happening there you have so many guys that have come out of there that have done really well elsewhere and you have some good horsemen there.  It’s a real shame what is happening in Illinois its not like the old days when guys would look forward to racing there and I used to look forward to betting there”   With a statement like that we were starting to get curious if Tree ever bets the Chicago circuit anymore “No, I used to in the good old days. I used to love to bet the duel simulcast from Maywood and Balmoral but over the years it just seems that all the good horses have gone out east and I really like betting the Meadowlands.” Tree tells us “But I do love betting on Springfield, Du Quoin, and Super Night since it brings out the best Illinois has to offer” 


Millner is no stranger to both the Springfield and Du Quoin fairs as you will see him their hours before post with his wife and nine year old daughter Elizabeth, but you won’t see him in the grandstand as Tree likes being right by the paddock. “I spend all year watching them on TV monitors so any chance I get I love being around the horses and horsemen and this is my only chance now a days”, Tree continues “sometimes you do get a little info here and there too, but you do have to know who you are talking to since most of them think they can win all the time.”  So they say curiosity killed the cat, but we wanted to know what Tree's best info was while sitting in the bench at the fairs near horsemen “A couple years ago I told Dave McCaffrey he caught a real nice colt in Glass Pack with Home Bed Advantage in a division of the Governors Cup. “  And McCaffrey tells him “they just don’t know but we are the ones to beat.”  Not only did Home Bed Advantage win that day but he went on to win the Orange and Blue Final that Year.  That’s some pretty good info I would say.         


Now with the three week break in racing in Chicago and the start of series action at the Meadowlands, Tree is right as eleven horses on Wednesday, thirteen on Thursday, twenty one on Friday, and twelve on Saturday are competing at the Meadowlands Racetrack making it a total of 57 horses that have raced in the Chicago circuit over the years that will be racing this week out East. That’s not counting horse’s that are racing at Yonkers Raceway or Dover Downs this weekend, that’s a big quantity of horse that are not competing in Chicago anymore.  Is it because of the break or is it because of something else?


Only Time will tell but for now Tree is right good horses are leaving Chicago and going out east. 

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