Stewart Starting to Cash-In on his Success
By Mike Paradise
Mississippi native Cordarius Stewart has set a goal for himself going into the 2023 racing season and it’s the same as last year’s: “I want to get my driver average and numbers up again.”
It was mission accomplished in 2022 as the 28-year-old well-traveled Stewart grinded his way to his most successful season. His dash winners jumped from 52 in 2021 to a career high 93 last year while horses he drove won $200,000 more in purse money and Cordarius’ UDRS sprung from .147 to .258.
Stewart was plugging along at an even pace when the Springfield meeting came along last June when he suddenly caught fire. In the first few days of the meet Stewart had six first place finishes to go along with seven second place finishes. Many of his winners would have been at “double-digit” mutuels if there had been wagering on the Springfield races. Unfortunately, there wasn’t.
When racing returned two months later at the state’s capitol for the Illinois State Fair session Stewart’s boyhood dream come into fruition when he waved his way through traffic from the second tier10-post and steered Fox Valley Kia to her ISFCS two-year-old pacing filly championship with a new mark of 1:51.3, a fifth of a second off the all-time Illinois record for the filly’s gait and class.
Fox Valley Kia is a very nice filly,” said Cordarius. “She was a pleasure to drive. Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a harness racing driver and winning a championship at Springfield,” said Cordarius. To have it happen is something very special for me.
Fox Valley Kia would go on to be named the 2022 Illinois Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year,
Stewart came up from Mississippi in 2017 to compete on the Chicago and Illinois County Fair circuit. The Jackson, MI native only took 48 horses to the starting gate that year, a far cry from his last three-year average of more than 700 per season.
“The more driving opportunities, the better you get at it. I want to keep improving,” added Cordarius.
We mentioned earlier that Stewart was a much-traveled driver. The old popular song Johnny Cash song “I’ve Been Everywhere” fits the likeable horseman, at least as Illinois is concerned.
Cordadius competed in the Prairie State last year at Springfield, Du Quoin, Hawthorne, Paris, Urbana, Altamont, Charleston, Belvidere, Marshall, Greenup, Farm City, Henry, Sandwich, Lincoln, Knox, Rushville, Decatur, Carlinville, Carrollton, and Newton.
If you’re counting, that’s 20 different racetracks in Illinois
Stewart began the 2002 season at Cal-Expo in Sacramento, California and ended his year at the Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky, also with stops in between at Oak Grove, Kentucky and Hoosier Park, Indiana.
The Mississippi traveling man saw his gasoline bills climb upward while wearing new driver colors last year and they contained one noticeable difference: Gone are the horseshoes on back of his green-c-red-white colors. They were replaced with $ signs. Yes, dollar signs.
“That was (driver) Brandon Bates idea,” said Cordarius with a chuckle. My nickname is ‘C D’ for Cash Deposit. He thought dollar signs would be a nice touch to my colors.”