GOSHEN — LeWayne Miller can scratch an item off his bucket list.
The Shipshewana native was the winning driver in the Maple City Trot Tuesday afternoon at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.
“Winning the Maple City Trot has always been on my bucket list,” Miller said. “The next one on the list is the (Maple City) Classic.”
Miller lives in Anderson and does most of his harness racing at Hoosier Park.
“Elkhart County is about the only fair I go to anymore. The reason I’m sill coming here is it's like a hometown fair for me,” he said. “I love coming here and racing before people I know.”
Miller guided J-S Swanman to victory in the MC Trot for 3-year-old colts. The horse is owned by Jack Myers of Bristol.
The purse ($12,100) was the second largest at the fair. Only the MC Classic XXIX Colt Pace ($12,500) was higher.
It was the ninth win of the season for J-S Swanman. The winning time was 2:01 1/5.
“Jack is great to drive for. He always has good horses,” Miller added.
For a while it didn’t look like Miller was going to be able to cross the item off his bucket list. Early in the race Miller and J-S Swanman were last in the six-horse field.
“We began the race in the No. 5 hole and got off to a slow start,” he said. “The others went out faster, but we began working our way through the field and by the time we had three quarters of the race done I was thinking we have a shot at this.
“Today was the first time I have driven J-S Swanman. You have to go by instinct when to push the horse and when not to. That can be more difficult when it is the first time driving the horse.”
Myers had a successful run with a total of five wins during the three-day program at the fair.
Miller drove in two races Tuesday afternoon before packing up to race in the evening at Hoosier Park.
Hoosier Park is where Miller does most of his racing. As of Tuesday, he is the fifth-ranked driver at HP. He has started 688 races this season with 72 firsts, 86 seconds and 89 thirds. The total values of the purses he has earned is $1,000,386.
The life of a harness driver can be a pretty hectic.
“It is not as bad as it once was since cutting back on the number of fairs we go to. Still the season at Hoosier Park runs from March to November,” Miller said. “In the winter time, I often travel to Ohio to race.”
A chance trip to Florida with his brother ended up turning into a career.
“My brother and I raced the ponies at Nappanee and LaGrange. We decided to go to Florida to drive for Erv Miller and Erv ended up talking me into staying,” he said.
Derek Hooley of Atlanta, Georgia, was the overall winner in the Maple City Trot for 3-year-old fillies. He drove Summit Swan to victory in the sixth race in a time of 2:02 2/5. Miller guided Phine By Me to a win in the fifth race in 2:03 4/5.
Summit City Swan was a gate-to-wire winner Tuesday and is undefeated on the fair circuit this season. The horse is owned by Summit Racing Acres of Fort Wayne.
Former Goshen resident Don Eash, now living in Greenfield, won a total of five races over the three-day program.
Eash had started 194 races at Hoosier Park this season with a total of 13 firsts, 15 seconds and 25 thirds.
Jay Cross of rural Middlebury recorded three victories at the fair.
Greg Keim can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 326. Follow Greg on Twitter @gkeim_TGN
Tuesday’s Harness Racing Summary
Race One (3-year-old Filly Pace, 1st Division) — 1, Faye’s Jet Mile (Mike Peterson); 2, J-S Perfect Cache (Alex Udell); 3, Hypo Flip (Jay Cross); 4, Dojea Rita (Logan Loney); 5, Shady Madam (Doug Rideout); 6, Dancingthebigmove (Don Eash). Winning time: 1:58 3/5. Purse: $3,000. Blanket Sponsor: Nancy and Chuck Immel Memorial.
Race Two (3-year-old Filly Pace, 2nd Division) — 1, She’s Cruising Home (Jay Cross); 2, Tequilas Jet (Doug Rideout); 3, Vortex Ivy (Matt Rheinheimer); 4, Rockin Patsy (Don Eash); 5, Miss Fire (Mike Peterson); 6, Island Club (Alex Udell); 7, Cntdancewithoutgin (Chad Clark). Winning time: 2:00. Purse: $3,000. Blanket Sponsor: Vi and Joe Blocker Memorial.
Race Three (3-year-old Colt Pace, 1st Division) — 1, Tellitlikeitwas (Don Eash); 2, Chip For Real (Mike Peterson); 3, Dojea Rock (Matt Rheinheimer); 4, Sand Sniper (Jay Cross); 5, Lanas Desire (Lewayne Miller); 6, Fourpeat (Doug Rideout); 7, Great Faith (Jared Seekman). Winning time: 2:00 1/5. Purse: $3,000. Blanket Sponsor: Re/Max Results Dean Slabach.
Race Four (3-year-old Colt Pace, 2nd Division) — 1, Isitlikeitlooks (Jeffrey Dever); 2, Madeline’s Beach (Doug Rideout); 3, Hayswood Ron (Mike Peterson); 4, M E Proper Dude (Chad Clark); 5, This or That (Jay Cross); 6, Letsmakithapncapn (Don Eash); 7, J-S Allnitelong (Alex Udell). Winning time: 1:58 2/5. Purse: $3,000. Blanket Sponsor: Cleo Hartzler Memorial.
Race Five () — 1, Phine By Me (Lewayne Miller); 2, Celebrate Winning (Jay Cross); 3, Er Sophia (Don Eash); 4, Julianna’s Jet (Doug Rideout); 5, Graceful Dance (Curtis Sumpter). Winning time: 2:03 3/5. Purse: $6,050. Blanket Sponsor: Maple City Trot Filly Division.
Race Six (3-year-old Filly Trot, 2nd Division) — 1, Summit City Swan (Derek Hooley); 2, Swans Honey (Matt Rheinheimer); 3, Skyway Fusion (Jay Cross); 4, J-S Looney Toon (Alex Udell); 6, Er Betty (Don Eash). Winning time: 2:02 2/5. Purse: $6,050. Blanket Sponsor: Maple City Trot Filly Division.
Race Seven (3-year-old Colt Trot) — 1, J-S Swanman (Lewayne Miller); 2, Kasha’s Boy (Don Eash); 3, Pante Vecchio (Doug Rideout); 4, Jesse Popper (Alex Udell); 5, J-S Power Chip (Jay Cross). Winning time: 2:01 1/5. Purse: $12,100. Blanket Sponsor: Maple City Trot Colt Division.