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MAYWOOD PARK

Contact:  Tom Kelley         Friday, July 19th, 2013   tkelleyatbal@aol.com

 

LEONARD REACHES 1,000 WIN MILESTONE

 

        They say good things come to those who wait.

Driver Casey Leonard was a perfect example of that on Friday night at Maywood Park as the 35-year-old reinsman patiently waited out several tough losses and a severe thunderstorm that soaked the track midway through the card before rattling off three wins in his last four drives, including a shocking upset with 44-1 outsider Fox Valley Libero in his final drive of the night in Race 13 to post his 1,000th career victory.

       The third generation horseman who received a business management degree from Western Illinois University has become a fixture in the winner’s circle on the Chicago circuit over the past few seasons currently sitting in second in the driver standings at both Maywood and Balmoral Park. The Harvard, Illinois native has surpassed 230 victories in each of his last two seasons and is currently in the midst of his biggest year to date with 217 wins and almost $1.4 million in purse earnings.  

          Despite a grandfather (Bud Leonard) who is in the Illinois Harness Hall of Fame, a father (Terry Leonard) who has been a longtime driver-trainer on the Chicago circuit and a brother (Ross Leonard) who is a successful driver on the Illinois and Indiana circuits, driving horses wasn’t number one on Casey’s to do list as he headed out on his career endeavors.

          “I worked for several years in warehouse and supply chain management before my uncle Gary passed away in 2000,” said Leonard. “That’s when my dad asked if I would come back home and help out on the farm so I did. Initially I just wanted to train horses but with more opportunities to drive good horses and make some good money I’ve kind of headed in that direction the past few years.”

          Having come a long way from his first career victory at the Woodstock County Fair back in 1996 the personable Leonard only seems to get better with age and experience despite the grind of traveling some 70 miles each way to Maywood Park and 115 miles each way to Balmoral Park to compete on the five-night a week schedule.

          “This is a lot of fun and it’s my job but believe me I would rather be home at night relaxing with my family,” said Casey. “It makes for some long days and nights to be out there training horses in the morning then commuting all that way to drive horses at night but that’s what I’ve chosen to do and I try to give it my all each time I go out there. Our family goes on ski trips every winter and I very much look forward to those trips with our family and friends to help recharge my batteries.”