Patience and learning to move on from the last race is serving Kevin Lambright well

by Chris Lomon

It is certainly appropriate, yet by no means surprising, that Kevin Lambright has plenty of drive.

For as long as he has been part of the standardbred world, the horseman who currently calls Anderson, IN, home, has been guided by a singular approach to his craft.

“It starts and ends with putting in an honest day’s work,” said Lambright. “That is the way I have always gone about things in my life.”

After driving in seven qualifiers in June 2020, Lambright got his first shot at victory in a non-betting race in July of that same year.

He didn’t waste the opportunity.

In rein to Dewitfuls Grace — trained by Lewayne Miller, the man whose barn Lambright had been working in since 2019 — the pair got away third in the six-horse field in the trot dash with a $3,000 purse.

Lambright had the bay mare rolling ahead of the turn for home and the pair kept charging down the lane on their way to a 1¼-length win in a time of 2:05.

“It was such a great feeling and a great moment,” said Lambright. “I appreciated Lewayne giving me that chance.”

By season’s end, the young reinsman, who started out racing ponies, had three wins and just shy of $16,000 in purse earnings from 26 drives.

Now in his fifth year in the sulky, Lambright, who worked with Miller for five years before moving into the barn of Robert Taylor, has 68 career wins.

Helpful advice from successful horsemen continues to be the norm.

“Lewayne talked about how tough it is to be a driver, just how competitive things are, and that I need to be patient and I need to learn from the horses,” said Lambright. “Robert has been so good to me too. I am his second trainer. He has taught me a lot. I am grateful for all the helpful tips and education he has given me, including shoeing the horses. I love learning about different sides of the business.”

Lambright does have a penchant for piloting a particular type of standardbred.

“I like the trotters,” he said. “They give you more of a challenge and I like that. They help you become a better driver.”

Just like a 3-year-old bay daughter of Muscle Hill has.

Trained and owned by Taylor, Kalibrated Power and Lambright teamed up for a win at Hoosier Park on April 17.

“She is my current favorite,” said Lambright. “She is fun to drive, and she gives it her all every time she is on the track.”

Lambright, who won a career-best 35 races in 2021, is hoping to get more chances to sit in the race bike.

Although he studies the program and video the night before each race card, he isn’t rattled when things don’t go as planned.

Lambright embraces the unexpected.

“The more drives you get, the more confident you get,” he said. “I like that challenge when you have to make split-second decisions. It keeps you on your toes, but it also helps you become a better driver.”

Whether it’s a trip to the winner’s circle, crossing the wire at the back of the pack, or anything in between, Lambright quickly puts his last drive beyond the rearview mirror.

“If you have a bad drive, you can’t let it bother you,” he said. “It’s about moving on. If you start dwelling on a bad drive, it does you no good when you go out there the next time. Whether you win or lose, you let it go and then turn your focus to the next race. I like going into each race with a clear mind.”

He does, however, like to go into each year with a game plan.

Lambright sets a group of goals for himself whenever the calendar flips to the new year.

“I set goals for myself at the start of each year,” he said. “I would like to win at least 20 in 2024.”

He would also, eventually, like to have a barn of his own one day.

What would his ideal number of horses be?

“I would like to have around 10 to 15 horses and drive a little more too,” he said.

Beyond those objectives, Lambright is hoping to find success with a 2-year-old filly trotter he co-owns with Taylor.

The two purchased the daughter of Dover Dan for $16,000 at the Northern Indiana Yearling Sale.

“She can be a handful,” said Lambright. “She can tire you out, but those are the types of horses you can learn a lot from. I think she is going to be fun.”

Lambright welcomes the chance to work with young horses.

“I like the babies, watching them develop, grow up and develop into racehorses,” he said. “That is a fun part for me.”

As is sharing his passion for horses and horse racing with his family.

He didn’t have to go into hard-sell mode to get them to the racetrack.

“My fiancée [Kassie Adams], who is my biggest supporter, and our son Kade, who is 11 months, come to the barn every day,” said Lambright. “He went jogging with me today. To see him smile and be happy is the greatest feeling. It means a lot to have them along for this.”

When he isn’t lining up behind the starter car or helping Taylor around the barn, Lambright hits the hardcourt for some fun and exercise.

A fan of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and the University of Indiana’s men’s basketball team, Lambright won’t be trading in the harness life for hoops action.

“Playing in the NBA would be nice, but it’s not going to happen,” he said with a laugh.

Working hard at his horse racing craft will remain his top priority.

As to where it will lead him, Lambright isn’t certain at this point.

One thing he can control, however, is what he puts into his career.

“It always comes down to your willingness to show up every day and work as hard as you can,” said Lambright. “Not every day is going to be easy and there will always be ups and downs in racing. But hard work and learning new things can always help you find the success you are chasing.”