Two weeks ago you might have noticed a new name. Jockey Chase Miller got his first career victory at Churchill Downs on Thursday 6/3/21. Then on Sunday 6/6 Chase got 2nd twice with two longshots. He got my attention as a guy you may want to start betting with value before everybody else discovers this guy can ride.
It also got me wondering, who is Chase Miller? Well, I was fortunate enough to be able to reach out to him and find out. I found out a lot about Chase including how passionate he is about the sport and what that moment of getting his first win was like. Chase Miller did have 3 rides at Delaware Park in 2012, but he told me if he could go back and take them off the books he would. He considers his first ride was April 29th of this year, and that's the beginning of his story. The time is now for Chase Miller.
Shawn: In 2012 when you rode a couple races in Delaware you said you weren't ready to be on your own. Are you ready this time or are you going to try and stay local with family?
Chase Miller: I had a dream. This go around,probably in the middle of February, I gained my strong interest back into riding.
Also I stand behind my dad when his horses are running or what not. So for years I got to get irritated or upset that whoever did a bad job, in my opinion, did a bad job. I watched certain people for how things are going with them, and I just kind of knew I could do it; breezing horses down the lane and stuff. I've always known I had pretty good riding ability.
Shawn: Trevor McCarthy, for example, always tries so hard and always comes up with those 2nd and 3rd place finishes with higher odds— kind of like what you did on Sunday. It seems to me sometimes jockeys out-try those other jockeys for other's placings. Trevor's Dad was a trainer as well, so he knows what each position means.
Chase Miller: You know what keeps in my mind man no matter what it's even before the race. It stays in my head even before I walk down out of the jocks room. It's little people that I'm riding for right now and I know how much it means to them. I know how much work and how much stress and all the things that they go through just to train that horse every day and get them to the races. If they can do that for a week, a month, or however long it takes to get that horse to the races, I understand. Because I've watched my Dad for so long so I understand.
If they do their job and do what they need to do, I'm going to give every inch of try in me for the 15-20 minutes that I'm on their horse. I mean, you owe it to them, especially the smaller outfits. Like I said, they sometimes just pay their bills from that little bit of extra money, you know what I mean? That's in my head the night before. Just give them all you have. Hopefully other people will see that. I also think it's just the drive and the adrenaline. I love it. I don't mind it all man. I will go all out. I don't mind at all.
Shawn: Describe your relationship with your family.
Chase Miller: Oh, tremendous man. My mom has always been my #1 fan she's great. My dad: I wouldn't be where I'm at in life from a character standpoint if it wasn't for him. He and I are pretty opposite, but just the man that I have watched him be. He works so hard and sometimes you just don't want to let him down. And he taught me how to ride. My sister and I never had a great relationship growing up, but now that we are all adults and she has her first baby— now, everyone is just really, really close. Basically in my mind it's four adults actually hanging out. It's not like mother/daughter or mother/son or father/son.
Shawn: How was your experience of being an exercise rider?
Chase Miller: It was cool. I've always taken pride in being able to ride. It's a good feeling when you have a barn where you're the main guy.
Shawn: Is there ever any jealousy getting the horse ready and then somebody else gets on the horse and gets the check?
Chase Miller: I wouldn't say jealousy. People would ask me why aren't you riding? I have always gotten that question and stuff. I would say I like to eat, drink beer, and do all this stuff. I know that's not answering the question you just asked. I wouldn't say jealousy, I would say more of, "Ah oh hell, I could have done that."
Shawn: You were an exercise rider for Steve Asmussen, Todd Pletcher, George Weaver , Eddie Kenneally, your dad Darrin Miller, etc . Talk about your experience with each one.
Chase Miller: I appreciate every single barn and shed that I ever walked into. Even if it was a disagreement or anything you get to see how people do things. I couldn't even explain how horses feel different in other people's barns. It's weird. I don't know, and I don't want to say it's the tack that they use. All the jobs I ever had, I'm extremely grateful and thankful for. Even if it was a day, week, month, or year, you learn something, and you retain things from that outfit. You kind of build your own on how you do things.
Shawn: I wrote an article on how important I think a jockey is for a horse to win. What are your thoughts?
Chase Miller: I'm going to say its 97% the horse
Shawn: Really? I think sometimes horses respond differently to different jockeys.
Chase Miller: They're all different. It's like the Filly I rode on Sunday in the 3rd race. Consider the things that I did. See the thing with her is, she didn't want to run through that dirt. Immediately it started hitting her in her face and the momentum was backwards. I kind of had to get into her a little bit, kind of shout to her a little bit, and get after her down the backside, like "Hey, let's go!".
"Hey, I'm getting hit in the face with this dirt too, so let's just tough it up, and maybe we can pick up some pieces." We met halfway; 50-50. Like, "if you accelerate a little bit, I promise you I will get you out in the clear, and we won't get anymore of this dirt in our face but right now we have to stay where we are."
Shawn: Do you think your riding style fits more of a speed horse or closer?
Chase Miller: I think a little bit of both. I haven't ridden a whole lot of speed horses but I would say coming off the pace. You can kind of see the race unfold and you can kind of get to watch what door you are going to go through,what hole is going to there. But also, then, you wouldn't even have to worry about it on a speed horse. I would say I could fit any. I just try to get to where my horse feels pretty comfortable. Then I can see if the race is going to be too fast. I just try to let my horse close as comfortably as possible. I don't really touch them a whole lot. I try to not touch them or interrupt them at all. I feel I can fit any horse and any way to ride. If they put themselves out on the lead and are going comfortable, I don't interrupt that at all.
Shawn: What did it feel like getting that first win?
Chase Miller: Man, I don't think people realize. I mean my dad used to drive this little pickup truck. And I remember there was, on the passenger seat (it was just a 3 seat truck and the passenger seat right in front right above the glove box) was like a bar that you could hold onto when things got rough or something. I tied a string to that and that string stayed on that part for 8 years, or however long he had the truck. I used to practice throwing crosses and he would be driving down the interstate down 64 or something, and I would make the next exit or stop sign or the "1 mile to Shelbyville" sign— I would make that the wire. I would be throwing crosses and pushing a little piece of string, and I know he would do it sometimes where he would make it close to like where, he would pass the Chevy Tahoe in the right lane, you know what I mean? Simulating a horse race.
Man, I've been in love with this. It's my first love, man. It was perfect timing because I feel like I'm fully developed. You always learn and stuff, but I feel like I'm a good horseman, and I feel like I know horses and ride really well. I've thought—and it might only be a minute a day— about riding a horse down the lane, every day for the last 18 or 19 years.
It wasn't like I was coming down the lane and said, "oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh" it was more like I'm just going to show the Filly won easily. But my thought was "I'm going to show these people that I can hang with these guys. I can ride with the best of the colonies in America. I'm going to show everyone right now, from the quarter pole home, I'm going to show any doubters, you know, everyone, that I know how to ride, and I know how to get a horse to the wire. I try to do that every single time.
Shawn: Why should owners and trainers put Chase Miller on their horses?
Chase Miller: Because one day I'm going to be the best.
I have something to prove. I feel like I can be the best. I know the work people put into it and I know how frustrating it can be when a rider comes back and they don't say much to you, and they just go back to the room. You're left with questions unanswered. I think I can be one of the best, and that's my answer to that. I think I have enough talent. I think God gave me a gift that I can definitely be one of the best.
Shawn: We now know who Chase Miller the jockey and exercise rider is. Who is Chase Miller off the track? What are your other hobbies?
Chase Miller: I didn't really have a choice. I got into running I guess. I'm a very humorous person. I don't go out. I'm kind of like an introvert to an extent. I just got out of a 3 year relationship, so things are kind of a little different now. I think it was a blessing in disguise because I got to focus on myself. I don't have to worry about what this person thinks or what my girlfriend is going to say. I love to throw football with my friends.
Shawn: Do you watch any other sports?
Chase Miller: Heck yea c'mon heck yea. I jumped the bandwagon to the Green Bay Packers just because my Indianapolis Colts were just doing things so terrible for however many years. I'm just a fan of the game. I came up on the Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrision, Reggie Wayne era in like 2004 to when I was really disappointed when they released Peyton which I thought was so wrong. I don't know about Basketball, I think it is so soft and overrated.
Shawn: You had issues with your weight. What's different this time?
Chase Miller: Discipline man. It's having that vision, having that hungry passionate vision in my head. It's just the vision that I can be great if I just have to sweat and lose some weight and not eat the bag, you know, of those M&M's or something. I can do that. Those M&M's will be there in 30 years when I can retire and have a family with a house. Just wanting something greater for my life man, and if I have to wear you know a size 27 waist 28 waist. And have a better life, meet great people, go to great places, and meet great riders and sit in the room with great riders and hear them talk. If I just have to cut a little bit of weight, I'll do that any day.
For the last nine years, I've said I'm going to ride races and I'm going to be a jockey here and there. No one takes me seriously, no one is going to take me seriously. It's like get off your butt start grinding, start working, and don't be impatient. Don't be impatient at all. If you don't drop a pound today (man this was before I was even riding, before I even got licensed), if I don't drop a pound today well I'm going to be blessed with tomorrow and I'm going to try to knock that pound off tomorrow. If I don't get it the next day I got another day so don't be impatient now just put your head down, work, and grind.
I knew how I rode horses and the ability that I had. It's a gift man, and I think all these years and all the good times and irresponsible times that I had over the years — I'm appreciative of those moments. I won't forget those moments.
Chase and I talked for about 50 minutes and it could have been longer. Chase will be an easy guy to root for and we can't wait for success to come his way. We appreciate his time and story.