The up-and-coming driver from Ohio is constantly on the road as he shuttles between Northfield Park, The Meadows and his parents’ home.
by Chris Lomon
It’s rather fitting that Hunter Myers was in the driver’s seat when he answered the phone.
There are just over two-and-a-half hours and 175 miles of road between the 23-year-old’s apartment in Cleveland and his parents’ home in Williamsport, OH.
It’s a journey the standardbred driver knows well.
“When I get a day off, typically a Monday, I’ll usually go visit my family, hang out for a little bit, then I turn back around and head to my apartment. Then, I get up the next morning and head to The Meadows for qualifiers. Whatever free time I have I’ll either relax at home and not really do anything, but some days, I just can’t stand sitting around and doing nothing. So, it’s five hours total on the road when I go to see my parents, and I know I’ll have to get up early the next morning, but that’s good with me.”
Respites from racing are brief for one of the sport’s rising stars, a horseman who has put up lofty numbers over the past two campaigns, including a career-best 198 wins in 2020.
But with his career in overdrive, the son of trainer Michael Myers doesn’t get worked up over a hectic work schedule.
“My weeks are nothing but constant highway, which means Tuesday is qualifiers, driving back to Northfield to race that night, then Wednesday it’s back to The Meadows and on to Northfield that night. On Thursdays and Fridays, I’m at The Meadows, and Saturday and Sunday I’m at Northfield. So, I’m always on the road and always on the move. When I get the chance to get away from racing for a short time, I’m still usually on the road when I go to see my family.”
His companion for road trips comes in the form of a music streaming service.
“Pandora is my go-to. Whenever I’m in the car, I have my phone plugged in and it’s music all the way.”
Myers, who won 19 of 110 races while competing at 29 tracks in his rookie season of 2014, is certainly hitting all the right notes on the racetrack.
With nearly 750 lifetime wins to his name, the Ohio-born reinsman has used an open mind and narrow focus to garner more attention from trainers and with it, more opportunities in the race bike.
“The way I look at it, anything can happen in life, from tomorrow, to next week or a year from now. It’s why I approach things from day-to-day. Whatever happens, good or bad, I can learn from it. It’s all about living in the moment. You go for what’s right in front of you and things will eventually come your way. It’s like my parents always tell me, ‘Your time will come.’ Hopefully, the time for me to shine will come and I’ll be ready for it.
“There’s a lot of ups and downs in racing, so it’s something where you just don’t give up when things aren’t going your way. When you’re younger, you understand there will be more bad times before the good comes. You work hard to make sure your time will come, but you have to work for what you want.”
Even when he’s taking one to the chin, almost literally, he hasn’t seemed to miss a beat.
On May 26, 2020,four drivers, including Myers, and four horses [who escaped serious injury], were involved in an accident at Northfield Park near the five-eighths pole.
The end result for Myers was a broken jaw and a month on the sidelines.
“When they told me it was fractured, the first thing that went through my mind was that I didn’t want to be out for a long time. I was ready to get back to racing right away because that was the first day back racing at Northfield after quarantine because of the pandemic. We had already sat out over two months and I didn’t want to sit out any longer.
“It was a mix of physical pain and then having to deal with the mental part of not being able to drive. Both sides were fractured and they really couldn’t do too much about it. Some days, my face would hurt a lot and other days it was thinking about how long it would take me to get back racing again. It worked out okay. It was about a month or so after the accident when I got the doctor’s permission to resume driving again.”
Myers was euphoric when he lined up behind the gate for the first time since the accident.
He took in every sight and sound before the field was sent on its way.
“To be back in the bike and be back racing, it was just great. It’s what I love to do. Even on the bad days, I still love it. I don’t think I could ever do anything else. It’s all about racing for me.”
The goal for 2021 is to improve upon his 2020 stat line.
Ask Myers what he’s proud of so far in his career, and he opts for another word instead.
“There are a lot of things I’m happy about. Being able to drive some of my dad’s horses in the Stallion Series, and last year, being able to win a fair final – being in some of the races I’ve been in and have the chance to go some different tracks has been really great. I’m happy with the way everything has been playing out.”
Adding some new racetracks to drive at also remains a primary goal.
“If I could take a Monday through a Saturday to go to a lot of different tracks and have time to race at the other racetracks I’m competing at now, I’d probably take that opportunity.”
Which would mean more time on the road, more miles to travel and more songs to listen to.
For the Buckeye State’s travelling horseman, all of it is music to his ears.
“It’s something I’m used to. If I can drive at some different places and in races that I haven’t had the chance to be in yet, I’d be happy. As long as we can stay racing and I can drive as much as I can, that would be a successful year for me.”