Racing & Wagering

Miller Racing Stable Making Big Time

Churchill Downs Communications | 08/29/2008 #

In Today’s Notes:

· Miller Racing Stable Making Big Time

· Bill Donovan, Trainer of Lost Code, Dies in Maryland

· Upcoming Handicapping Seminar on Labor Day Monday

Everybody on the backstretch knows the husband-and-wife trainer team of Danny and Patti Miller, who recently cracked the top 10 in the Arlington Park owner standings as Miller Racing Stable Ltd. along with their partner Mike Conway.

But who is Mike Conway?

“He’s a pretty high-powered attorney around Illinois – with clients like Muhammad Ali – but he’s also a really nice guy,” said Patti Miller Thursday morning during training hours. “He’s not the kind of guy you see around the barn every morning – he’s a very busy man – but he tries to come to the races every weekend. He loves horse racing and he loves to gamble.”

Describing Conway as “high-powered” might be a bit of an understatement. It turns out that Glencoe attorney has been attending the Democratic convention this week as a Clinton delegate. Conway originally met both Bill and Hillary Clinton when they were all classmates at Yale Law School. There, he became close friends the couple.

Once, as students there during the course of a mock trial, a prosecution team consisting of the Clintons opposed Conway as a defense attorney.

Justice Abe Fortas, who had recently retired from the U.S. Supreme Court, presided over that mock trial. Conway won the case.

At present, however, Conway’s efforts are focused on trying to assure a victory for the Democratic Party in November.

“Obviously, I worked very hard for Hillary to be the candidate,” Conway was quoted as saying in the Daily Herald earlier this week, “but she’s supporting Sen. Obama, and I’ll be supporting Sen. Obama.”

Meanwhile, the Millers are enjoying their stable’s ascension in the Arlington standings, where they were tied for ninth entering Thursday’s races. That success is due largely to a 5-year-old Dynaformer gelding named Dynaman, winner of his last three starts this summer.

“We’ve had some other nice horses over the years, like Micanopy (a career winner of $179,048),” said Miller, “but Dynaman is our best right now. Hopefully, we can win another race with him before the season ends. We’d love to run him in the ($50,000) John Henry (Sept. 20 at 1 1/16-miles on the grass). That would be a nice race for him to win.”

Veteran trainer Bill Donovan, who saddled Wendover Stable’s Lost Code to win the 1987 Arlington Classic, died Wednesday morning in Maryland.

Earlier that season, Lost Code won the Illinois Derby, and during the course of that summer, also captured the Alabama Derby, Ohio Derby and the St. Paul Derby, establishing himself as one of only three horses in history to win four Derbys in the United States.

A native West Virginia, the colorful Mr. Donovan and his wife Donna raced their horses all over the country, but were probably best known during their careers in the Mid-Atlantic region.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Donovan is survived by sons Pat and Mike, and a daughter Sheeree.

Mr. Donovan, who loved the sport of Thoroughbred racing until the very end of his life, attended the Preakness this spring as the guest of Big Brown’s trainer Rick Dutrow, and was very excited when informed of the field for this summer’s Arlington Million.

“That’s a powerful line-up you have up there,” Mr. Donovan advised a longtime friend living in Chicago. “I wish I could be there. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you get lucky.”

The next event in Arlington Park’s Handicapping Seminar Series this season will be held from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Labor Day Monday in the Starting Gate Theatre. The seminar will feature Arlington Park morning line maker and Daily Herald handicapper Joe Kristufek as well as Daily Racing Form handicapper Marcus Hersh.

After the Starting Gate Theatre session, Kristufek will appear at a kiosk in the Clubhouse from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., and then at a kiosk in the Grandstand from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.