After a long day, Muscle Hill with driver Luke McCarthy won the World Trotting Derby in 1:52.3. If you don't know why Luke McCarthy was driving Muscle Hill, you don't sleep, eat and live harness racing. Dean over at Pull the Pocket recaps the "it can only at DuQuoin" day. While all the accolades will go to Muscle Hill, the real story of the day is Luke McCarthy.
Don't minimize Luke McCarthy's effort in yesterday's World Trotting Derby. Sure, Luke is well known down under but in the United States he is still relatively unknown. To be given the drive on Muscle Hill yesterday was an amazing stroke of good fortune but make no mistake about it, it could have been a curse. Once Luke got the call to take the drive and he accepted the offer, the amount of pressure on him must have been phenomenal. Yes, Muscle Hill is heads above the horses he raced yesterday but it was still a horse race and one never knows what could happen.
Think about it. If Brian Sears was driving Muscle Hill yesterday and somehow he made a bad move or Muscle Hill went off-stride, it would be called bad racing luck; Brian may have been criticized but on the next racing day he would just pick up where he left off. However, with Luke McCarthy the stakes were much higher. The win yesterday gives Luke McCarthy a higher profile which may benefit his North American career. However, if Luke made a bad move and/or Muscle Hill went off-stride and lost, Luke becomes harness racing's Bill Buckner and his career in North America would have been over. Luke had little to gain but plenty to loose yesterday by accepting the drive and he knew it once he said yes.
So let's give Luke McCarthy the credit he is due. He rose to the occasion and not only accepted the challenge; he succeeded. "Cool Man" Luke IS the story of the World Trotting Derby.