15 Spinning Wheel Road, Suite 432 • Hinsdale, IL 60521
De Long Takes Advantage of Opening (04/02/13)
Posted Tuesday, April2, 2013
By Mike Paradise
Drivers John De Long and Marcus Miller have been good friends for several years so when the 23-year-old Miller left Illinois to compete on the east coast his good buddy from Wisconsin understood the move but was sad to see it happen.
“Marcus and me have been close since we were about 14 years old,” said De Long. “I wished he didn’t leave but the money is so good in Pennsylvania and his dad (trainer Erv Miller) has so many really good horses for him to drive, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
Of course with Marcus gone, Sam Widger and Trace Tetrick back driving in Indiana, and Josh Sutton not far from heading out to Ohio, it opens the door for other drivers on the local circuit to get more chances and with stake season right around the corner, additional possibilities to drive better horses for better money.
Ironically, Marcus’ departure gave De Long the opening to take over the lines on Celebrity Hercules, currently the top trotter on the grounds at Balmoral Park.
“I got a text from (trainer) Erin Elliott after Marcus left that she needed a driver for Celebrity Hercules and wanted to know if I was interested,” said De Long.
“I told Erin absolutely I was. I watched Marcus drive him and read the horses (past performance) lines and knew that he was a very good trotter. After driving him three times now I can tell you he’s the best trotter I’ve ever been behind.
“However I had some learning to do about the horse. Marcus told me about Celebrity Hercules but sometimes you have to go out there and find out for yourself.
“He raced strong the first time I drove him when we came from out of it and he closed in :27.1. But the next time when I used him early to get to clear to the front he had about a three length lead at the top of the stretch and got beat. I realize now that I rushed him in that race. Last week I just let him grind his way to the front and he held on nicely.
“Celebrity Hercules is classy and he’s good. The horse also knows that he’s doing out there. I don’t think he’ll ever be a trotter that just blows away the opposition. He likes to win and he’ll do what he has to do to win a race but doesn’t over exert himself. He takes care of himself and does enough to get the job done.
“I’m thrilled to drive him,” added John.
Celebrity Hercules will have his familiar furthest outside post (the 9) for De Long in Wednesday’s fifth race “$12,500 Winner’s Over $20,000” feature trot when he opens as the 9-5 morning line favorite.
In six starts since joining the Erin Elliott Stable, the 7-year-old gelding has 4 wins and 2 seconds, all in Balmoral top-level trot event and already has banked over $31,000 for Dandy Farms of Glenview who paid $24,000 for the trotter at the mid-January Meadowlands Sale.
John De Long and Marcus Miller's conversations are now strictly on the phone.
Balmoral Park Photo
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