Century Downs is three race dates into the season, but driver/trainer Tyler Redwood isn’t wasting any time.
The Albertan horseman has strung together three wins, two places, and one show in 13 starts, giving him a blistering start to this year’s meet. Those statistics are good enough to give him second place on the list of leading drivers behind only Mike Hennessy, who is mounting a dominant performance of his own with 10 wins, six places, and two shows in 23 starts.
“Pretty next near to perfect,” Redwood said of his start. “It’s looking good so far.”
The 33-year old hopes to propel himself into a comeback season this year. After collecting 9 wins, 17 places, and 21 shows in 173 starts during Century Downs 2016 season, he packed up and travelled to Edmonton to try his hand at Northland Park’s winter meet.
It paid off. By the end, Redwood had earned 13 wins, 12 places, and 12 shows in 90 starts. He was ranked fifth overall for leading drivers.
“It always feels good to get a win, no matter if it’s one, two, five. You take what you get when they’re going to give it to you,” he said.
His best performance at Century Downs so far came on the fourth race on Saturday March 25. Driving four-year-old mare Shock the Monkey, Redwood led the field and never gave up his lead. The pair pulled away at the half-mile mark, cruising to an easy win by several lengths in 2:02.
There are many factors that could have contributed to his early success, but the Redwood has narrowed it down to having the right horses in the right classes, in the right positions, which makes his job as a driver easier. He’s also started to prepare for the races a little differently, drawing on years of experience.
“I do a lot more studying now than I used to. If you can study up on (the horses) and read what the animal’s capable of and everyone’s driving techniques, you try to match them. And if you can match them and outdo them, that W’s yours.”
That insight matches shades of a younger Redwood, who erupted onto the Saskatchewan racing scene. He was named the leading driver in 2009, 2011, and 2012, as well as the Saskatchewan Standardbred Horsemen’s Association’s top trainer in 2012, according to an article in Standardbred Canada.
For now, Redwood wants to continue picking up catch-drives as he works on a small stable of his own.
“I got six (horses) right now. I got one racing right now, Red Star Katrina, and then a qualifying one today (six-year-old Rs Kazza Nova), qualifying another one next week, and then I got two three-year-olds that are slowly training back. They’re from Saskatchewan, so we’ll see what happens
Seven-year-old mare Red Star Katrina has a feel-good story of her own. After struggling on the racetrack, she was claimed for $12,500 from Jean-Francois Gagne’s barn. When she still had trouble finding her stride, Redwood changed her equipment and rigging. The modifications ended up making a world of difference. Red Star Katrina has amassed almost $30,000 in lifetime winnings and had won seven of her last eight races in Northlands Park as of the end of January 2017.
Her performance at Century Downs also hints that the change isn’t just a temporary thing; the mare has two places in two starts so far and surely has more left in the tank.
While Redwood continues to juggle a busy life, shoeing horses to supplement his income, working on his horses, and being a family man to a wife and three kids.
His plan for the rest of the season is simple.
“Hopefully just driving some more and getting those wins. See if I can compete with everyone else again.”