As a young driver, Lucas Myers has learned patience pays off

by Chris Lomon

The best part of Lucas Myers’ job is that it never feels like one.

Although his harness racing career is still in its early stages, the 20-year-old Myers has had a lifetime association with the sport through familial ties.

He was drawn to the sport and standardbreds at an early age, times when he would help his father, longtime horseman Charles Myers, with various duties around the barn.

His time at the stable and various racetracks in and around Pennsylvania steadily increased over the years.

So too did Myers’ respect and admiration for the industry.

“Ever since I can remember, being around horses and the racetrack always made me happy,” he said. “Even if I was tired or having a bad day, coming to the barn was always something I looked forward to.”

His first official drive came in 2020, a second-place finish — it was his only start of the year — with Jailhouse Hooch, a bay trotting son of Jailhouse Jessie trained by his uncle, David Myers.

The following year, Myers won his first parimutuel race, a 1-length score in a $1,000 pace at McConnelsville, a half-mile Ohio oval.

Fittingly, the victory came with his uncle as the trainer.

Hillbillyfairytale, a son of The Panderosa, was sent to the front in the three-horse race.

Lucas and the bay gelding, who was 1-for-23 on the year, would wire the field in 1:56.2.

“My uncle told me to wake him up, so I put him on the lead and away he went,” Lucas said. “That was exciting. I know there were only three horses, but it was still a big thrill.”

At the end of the year, Lucas fashioned a 1-4-1 record from nine starts.

After two wins and nine top-three finishes over 23 races in 2022, the young reinsman announced his presence with a sensational 2023 campaign.

In 190 starts, Lucas produced 32 wins and 75 top-three results, to go along with $256,464.

He hasn’t had much time to look back on his breakout season, but when he does, Lucas has plenty to be happy about.

“I went down to Virginia and raced and did pretty well,” he said. “I went to Georgia the winter before and worked for Jeff Nisonger. When I came back, my dad sent me to Shenandoah every weekend, and I did alright there too; it felt like I could have a good year. We had some horses come in and we did very well at the fairs.”

Hillbilyclassygirl, a bay daughter of Racing Hill, went 6-5-4 from 23 engagements in 2023, accompanied by purse earnings just shy of $45,000.

The mare, trained by Charles Myers, won an elimination and was third in another, both at Shenandoah, before a troubled fifth in the final.

Another offspring of Racing Hill, Hillbillypacinhill, saved his best for last at Shenandoah this past October.
After a pair of seconds in both opening legs of the series, the bay gelding, trained and owned by Charles Myers, took all the spoils in the $89,800 final.

As for the “Hillbilly” names of the horses, Lucas said, “We have owners, Tim and Sharon Dotson, in Virginia — that is why we are involved in racing there — who have sent us a lot of horses over the years. We also bought some from them too — she has a farm called Hillbilly Haven — so it’s been a very good relationship.”

Competing at numerous racetracks has also been a good experience for Lucas.

Learning how to navigate the layouts of different ovals and mapping out the right trip has been a helpful educational tool for the young driver.

“It helps you change and adapt to a lot of different things,” he said. “I think driving in Ohio is a lot different than you would find in Pennsylvania or anywhere else.

“At the fairs, you find some tracks have tighter turns, and you find a way to adapt to that. I think it’s been a big assist for me, having to learn different ways to approach how you drive.”

Keeping an open mind and open ear continues to guide Lucas in his craft.

Helpful advice is embraced by the horseman who attended the Harness Horse Youth Foundation at Scioto Downs in the past.

“Patience was a big thing, something both my dad and uncle talked to me about,” Lucas said. “There are times when you do need to be aggressive; when you start out, you tend to be more aggressive and that isn’t always the best approach.

“My uncle used to drive — he still does on occasion — and he taught me that being patient can pay off. It’s about knowing the right time to make a move, whether it’s going to the front, or waiting for the right moment to take your best shot.”

For Lucas, who enjoys hunting and fishing, goals don’t come in the form of numbers.

Instead, it’s self-improvement that tops his list.

“You want to do better than you did before, stats-wise, but I like to focus on being more well-rounded at what I do, to strive at improving my skills in the race bike,” he said.

Did Lucas discover anything about himself as a driver last year?

“I think it was just taking the experiences from the whole season and learning from that,” he said. “I found it easier to know what to do in the middle of a race, to react to unexpected things with more confidence.”

His long-range goal is to attract more attention from trainers.

“When you are starting out, you need to show people they can be confident in you,” Lucas said. “In the summer, I get busy, but for now, it’s much slower. I want to be a consistent driver, get out there more often, and become a catch driver. Eventually, I would like to find a track to settle into and drive every card.

“You always want to win the big races, but it takes time to get there. I’m prepared to put in the work to achieve that goal.”

Work that never feels like it.

“Someone told me once, ‘Find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life,’” Lucas said. “Ever since I was a kid, racing is what I have wanted to do. When people ask me if I ever think of doing something else, I always have the same answer, ‘Why would I?’I get up every morning and get to do something I love.”