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Freehold, NJ --- Corey Callahan has been enjoying March Madness, both on the racetrack and off.

A graduate of the University of Kentucky, where he played ice hockey, Callahan has been reveling in the Wildcats’ march to the Final Four in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament as much as his own march to a third consecutive driving championship at Dover Downs.

Callahan entered Monday with 233 wins at Dover, which began its meet Oct. 29, and held a 72-victory advantage over second-place Ross Wolfenden. Callahan’s drive to the title began in the meet’s first race, when he won with Wit And Wisdom. Last year, Callahan edged Ron Pierce by one victory to claim the driving title at Dover. The current meet ends in less than three weeks.

In addition, Callahan’s 139 overall wins in 2012 ranked fourth among all drivers in North America while his $1.34 million in purses this year was good for sixth.

“It’s gone very well,” Callahan said. “I’ve had a really good season. I started off the meet really hot, with a lot of condition horses that were able to win their ways through classes, so that helped a lot. I’ve been very fortunate to drive for a lot of the top trainers and barns and my dad (trainer Nick Callahan, who is one win out of the top five at Dover) has had a good meet too.”

Callahan won a career-high 512 races last year, good for seventh place in North America, and also set a career best with his .291 driver’s rating, which is based upon in-the-money finishes. Callahan’s rating so far this season is .305 and he has won 19 more races compared to the same time last year.

“I think every year you get a little bit better,” said Callahan, who turns 34 on April 21 and did not start driving on a fulltime basis until 2007. “This year, everything kind of worked out right. I’ve been driving very relaxed, which is good because when you put pressure on yourself it can make it a little tougher. I’m able to be as patient as possible and make the most out of every drive.

“For me, it’s as big a thrill to finish second or third with a bomb (longshot) as it is to win with a favorite. It’s a thrill when you’re doing well for the underdog, so to speak. It’s very fulfilling.”

When the Dover meet ends, Callahan plans to devote his time to the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit as well as Harrah’s Chester and the Meadowlands, two tracks where he has raced on a limited basis this year. Callahan has picked up six wins at Chester and three at the Big M.

Last year, Callahan raced only one night at the Meadowlands, which came while competing in the World Driving Championship. Callahan finished second to Canada’s Jody Jamieson in the World Driving Championship standings.

“I’ve been going to the Meadowlands on Friday nights now and when Dover closes I’m going to start picking up Saturdays as well and see how that goes,” Callahan said. “I’d like to get more Grand Circuit drives this year and the only place you can get them is pretty much to be at the Meadowlands.

“I drive against those guys every day at Chester and I’ve held my own,” added Callahan, who drove Mr Wiggles to victory in the 2009 Hoosier Cup as well as second-place finishes in the Breeders Crown and Adios. I’ve had some success (on the Grand Circuit) before so I know that I can drive with those guys and compete with those guys. It’s just a matter of getting the work. You have to be there, show up, to get the work. Hopefully, I’ll have some trainers that will have some confidence in me and use me.”

Callahan, who was a standout soccer and hockey player in high school in Maryland, is not only hopeful about the rest of his season, he is anxious to see how his Wildcats fare in their pursuit of the national championship.

“I’m wearing my Kentucky stuff every day to the track,” he said with a laugh. “There are several people that I race with from Ohio, so we’re hoping for a Kentucky-Ohio State showdown. That would be fun.

“Kentucky looks dominant this year. I’m very excited about their chances. Every year, we do the brackets and a lot of times people make fun of me because I pick Kentucky every year. This year, how could you pick against them? I go with my heart. This year it looks like they’ve got a pretty good chance.”