UPS driver Spann a Breeders Crown VIP after contest win

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October 21st, 2017

Growing up near the heart of the Standardbred industry, not far from the United States Trotting Association's headquarters in suburban Columbus, Ohio, it's no surprise Stephen Spann was bitten by the harness racing bug.

Some 40 years after his first exposure to the sport, the 58-year-old UPS driver from Pickerington, Ohio, is on his way to the Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park on October 27-28 after placing first in's Breeders Crown VIP contest.

The contest, which ran from August 5 through October 14, required entrants to generate the largest bankroll from $10 Win/Place wagers on select Breeders Crown prep races held at Hoosier Park on five separate nights.

"I actually missed the first leg [of the contest on August 5], the Dan Patch, but opted in after that," Spann said.

The third leg of the contest, on September 22, is when Spann built up a lead in the standings he would not relinquish.

"The day after the Little Brown Jug, that was my best night," he said. "I have to attribute that to David and Brett Miller from central Ohio, graduates of Reynoldsburg High School, the next town over from Pickerington."

Down 100 points by his estimation, Spann relied on the Millers, cousins David and Brett, to produce the ultimate "Miller Time." While David won two stakes with heavy favorites, Brett captured the $160,000 Moni Maker with 7-1 chance Sunshine Delight and the $240,000 Centaur Trotting Classic with 6-1 shot Homicide Hunter.

"David won two, Brett won two," Spann recalled. "I hit one longshot and then Brett turned in two longshots that put me, I think, 125 ahead. I sort of just held on to the lead. The last two legs, I didn't do that well."

Although he dabbles playing Thoroughbreds on major race days like the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup, Spann says he's primarily a harness bettor.

"When I turned 18 years old, my cousin took me out to Scioto Downs. I've been a fan ever since," Spann said. "I grew up on harness, going after work when it was the only thing running.

"I bet so many tracks, I sort of have favorite drivers at each track. That really helps. You sort of know what they're going to do, you know they'll put a horse into the race."

While a frequent attendee of the Little Brown Jug, this has been and will continue to be a year of firsts for the long-time harness aficionado.

"This is my first go at the Breeders Crown," Spann said. "This year was my first at the Adios [at The Meadows in Pennsylvania] and at The Red Mile [for the Kentucky Futurity]. I went to Hoosier about five or six year ago, but this is the first time I'll be there for more than four races."