Dave Magee will drive his last race Saturday at Balmoral Park.

Magee, who has nearly 12,000 career victories and more than $101 million in earnings, has been Chicago’s leading harness driver for more than 30 years.

The 61-year-old resident of west suburban Big Rock is one of only 17 drivers in the sport’s history to earn more than $100 million and is the only Illinois-based driver to reach the milestone.

“When I started out racing on the Wisconsin fair circuit with my family, I didn’t even know those types of numbers even existed,” Magee told Balmoral Park. “I started out at the bottom and just learned about the business every step of the way thanks to my family and friends in the business. Everything I have from all of this is honestly just an unexpected reward.”

Magee will pursue a career as a steward at Hoosier Park in Anderson, Indiana.

He led the country in wins in 1994, guiding 630 horses to victory. He drove Anniecrombie to a 1988 Breeders Crown championship and guided Mr. Dalrae to the 1984 Canadian Pacing Championship and U.S. Pacing Championship.

Magee sat behind Odds Against, Keystone Raider, Continental Victory, Staying Together and Color Me Best for major stakes victories.

He was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2001.

“I have been blessed throughout my career to sit behind some unbelievable horses and to drive for some great trainers,” Magee said. “Bob McIntosh has given me many great chances to drive world champions for him.”

Magee is a local hero, too, winning 12 driving titles at Maywood Park and 11 more at Sportsman’s Park. Both are track records.

For 36 years in a row, Magee earned more than $1 million in purses, and he won 100 races or more for 38 consecutive seasons.

“I guess that shows I’ve been here a lot,” Magee said. “I’ve sacrificed going to events, parties, weddings and that type of thing on weekends, but I always felt that I had an obligation to be at the track driving for the people that wanted me to drive their horses.”

Email: djust@suntimes.com
Twitter: @davidjustCST