Old man Miller keeps rolling along

At age 59, David Miller is leading The Meadowlands’ drivers’ standings by a wide margin.

by Debbie Little

Winter at The Meadowlands is supposed to be the time when the ‘Young Guns’ shine, but David Miller didn’t get the memo.

Miller, 59, sits atop The Big M drivers’ standings for the current winter meet — which ends on March 30 — with 41 wins, 14 better than his closest rival, Andy McCarthy.

“I haven’t been leading driver since back in the Luc Ouellette days, you know,” Miller said. “I was always one of the top five or six but I haven’t led since back in like, 2003, at The Meadowlands, anyway.”

In 2003, Miller tied with Ouellette as The Meadowlands’ January-August meet-leading driver. But, since The Big M doesn’t typically keep track of the leaders of the different shorter meets and chooses instead to track the statistics from the beginning of January until Hambletonian Day, it’s impossible to know for certain if Miller has won a winter or spring meet in the past. What is certain, is that he is on top now and is appreciating the circumstances that put him there.

Miller pointed out that since so many of the top Meadowlands’ drivers take off for much of the winter meet, he’s been busy.

“I have a lot of horses to choose from,” Miller said. “That’s always a big help as far as winning all the time. I’m getting a lot of opportunities for every race.”

Of the seven Meadowlands drivers with at least 10 wins this year, Miller — who is second on the all-time money earnings list with $282,397,481 — is the only one who qualifies for AARP, and is 17 years older than the next oldest, Jason Bartlett (42).

When it was pointed out to him that winter is supposed to be the time when young drivers make a name for themselves, Miller laughed and said, “Now they have to deal with this old fart.”

Miller, who has only started at The Meadowlands in 2024, had driving triples on both cards last weekend, and is hitting the board in almost half of his starts this year. His followers have been on a TGIF end of the night bandwagon since he has brought home the winner in five of the last seven Big M Friday night race-14 finales. The average age of the five drivers, other than Miller, that won on Friday night (March 15) — not including the MADC races — was 32, while on Saturday night the average age of the six winning drivers, not including Miller or the MADC, was 36.

Like many of his fellow Big M drivers, in the past, Miller chose to leave the cold behind in New Jersey, and for six-straight years spent time in warm, sunny Florida.

“I spent four winters [in Florida] just training and that was nice,” Miller said. “Then I got to spend two winters racing at Pompano, and that was nice.”

Following the closing of Pompano in April of 2022, Miller started spending winters again at The Meadowlands.

“I have a horse that I own myself and it kind of keeps me working,” Miller said. “I bought him in Lexington last year. When I would go to Florida the first four years, I always had a horse or two and I would do them myself and the weather down there was so nice. The only thing I’m really missing is the warm weather, I mean, everything else is the same.

“I get to race on the weekends and I get to go to the barn every day and it was just a lot nicer [in Florida] but the winters haven’t been bad here. I mean, they usually hang around 20 to 30 degrees at night, and that’s not that bad and we don’t get much snow. This year, I do have a new set of winter colors that are really warm, so, I haven’t had a problem. My hands don’t get cold, my feet don’t get cold, I’m still handling it. It was just a lot nicer in February going to the track when it was 80 degrees out.”

More than the warm weather, there’s something more important that Miller is missing, since one of the biggest draws for him to spend time in Florida in the past was his family. His daughter, Leigha, and grandson, Callen, live in the Sunshine State, and his daughter, Devan, worked there in the winter for trainer Ron Burke.

David spent the last two weeks of 2023 in Florida visiting his family and plans to do the same at the end of March.

“I’ll miss that Friday and Saturday at the end of the month [at The Big M], the 29th and 30th,” David said. “I’m going to go down and spend the holiday with my daughter and grandson.

[Callen] plays T-ball and doesn’t have school Friday and I’ll go down [on Thursday] to start the weekend early and then the following week I’ll be back to race.”

David recently spent time with Devan in the winner’s circle at The Meadowlands, but he wasn’t the one in the bike.

Devan was one of the 18 female competitors for The Meadowlands International Women’s Day event on March 9 and she won one of the two IWD races.

“It was a good ride home,” David said with a laugh. “That was a great high to get to watch her race and she won and I couldn’t have been prouder of her. She’s always handled a horse very well. It’s nice to see her get to win.”

At this time, it’s impossible to know where David — who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2013 — will sit in the standings at the conclusion of The Meadowlands’ Championship Meet on Hambletonian Day (Aug. 3). However, with a little luck and the right horses, maybe he can pick up another meet title.

“I had a decent group of 2-year-olds,” David said. “Hopefully, they all come back good. Probably the best horse that I have to look forward to is T C I, the trotting colt I drove last year. I would say he’s the main horse that I think about. So, hopefully, he lives up to what our expectations are.

“I haven’t really asked much about him, but I did hear that he grew some and is training back good, so, hopefully, we’ll be having a great day in August.”