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Casey Made Correct Call (03/24/13)
Posted Sunday March 24, 2013
By Mike Paradise
It was in 2009 that long ago when Casey Leonard made the decision, rather reluctantly, to become full-time harness racing driver. Now a little more than three years later he’s developed into one of the most sought after drivers by owners and trainers on our circuit.
Casey has put together back-to-back seasons with over 230 winning drives and both years his horses have well surpassed the $1 plateau in earnings. This season he’s on a pace to dwarf those very good numbers with 87 victories and over $487,000 in money won.
The 35-year-old Leonard is a third-generation horseman. His grandfather, the late Bud Leonard is in the Illinois Harness Hall of Fame, and his father Terry is a long-time driver and trainer.
However, growing up Casey had other plans with his life and driving horses for a living wasn’t one of them.
Casey received a business management degree from Western Illinois University and went out and worked for several years in warehouse and supply chain management before joining his father on their 100-acre farm-training center in Harvard.
“When my uncle Gary passed away in 2000 by dad asked me if I would come back home and help out on the farm and I did,” said Leonard.
“I just wanted to train horses and do some driving with our horses but when top drivers like Timmy (Tetrick), Tony (Morgan), Andy (Miller) and others started leaving Illinois for the east coast there were more and more opportunities to make some good money,” continued Casey.
“I prefer training horses than driving them because I like being home at night with my wife Maureen and our son Cayden. Also Maywood Park is 70 miles away from our farm and Balmoral is 112 miles from us so it can be a grind going out there five nights a week.
“While it’s a lot of fun driving horses I realize this is my job. I go to work at night to drive horses and do the best I can and then I come back home to my family. I’m back training horses in the morning and while most times it makes for a long day this is what I do.”
And it’s what Casey does very well.
Last night at Balmoral Casey brought home four more winners including the 16-1 longshot Fort Silky ($35.00) in the $17,000 ninth race invite. His others were Dallas Jones ($4.60) in the first, Whirlwindiplomacy ($10.20) in the fifth and Major Monet ($5.00) in the 11th.
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