Hall of Fame 2010: Michael “”Buster”” Millerick

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By Ben Meyers

When Michael “Buster” Millerick saddled Yankee Dandy and Rackatck, his first stakes winners, in 1940 little did he know that he would be on a roller coaster ride that made him one of the best trainers in the history of California.

Now he is one of the best trainers ever as he enters the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame.

“He ranked so high among his contemporaries in terms of stakes winners and wins and sometimes that fact gets lost compared to the modern barns that are so big,” Ed Bowen, Chairman of the Hall of Fame’s Historic Review Committee that elected Millerick, said. “There are a lot of people that search through history and honor those that are deserving, Buster Millerick is a perfect example of that task.”

Overall, the trainer won 1,886 races and gave orders for 54 individual stakes winners who won the Bing Crosby, Vanity, Del Mar Futurity, Hollywood Derby, Malibu Stakes, Milady Handicap and the Californian among others.

The pinnacle of Millerick’s career came when his greatest trainee made it to the Hall of Fame 32 years before he would.

Native Diver was the best runner to ever receive Millerck’s care. Native Diver won 37 races, including 34 stakes, in his seven seasons on the track. The horse won three consecutive Hollywood Gold Cups, the Los Angeles and San Carlos Handicaps, and set a track record in the Del Mar Handicap.

“When we search through history we find many people that deserve to be here,” Bowen said. “(Millerick) is one of the best stories that we are happy to tell and have here.”

Millerick’s story included working with Hall of Fame trainer Tom Smith and for owners such as Charles Howard and John Hertz, while training horses such as Countess Fleet, Count Of Honor and George Lewis.

When he finally retired in 1984, after a career that took almost five decades, he ranked second all-time in wins at Del Mar, fourth at Hollywood Park and fifth at Santa Anita.