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Smolin Grows Into Prominence (12/30/12)
Posted Sunday December 30, 2012
By Mike Paradise
Bobby Smolin has come a long way since he began his career has a professional driver on the local circuit about six years ago.
In his first full season in 2007 when he was a 20-year-old Smolin had only 47 winners and horses he drove won a little over $250,000 in purses. The next season wasn’t much better. Bobby finished with 48 winning drives and money won of $264,524.
With drivers receiving five per cent of the money won in a race, Smolin’s rate of making $13,000 a year for his first two seasons wasn’t going to cut it.
However every year since the Illinois native’s money-won total has gone up, sometimes significantly, and in 2012 it has reached $1,264,972 going to into Sunday’s last card of the year.
And Bobby’s winning drives have more than tripled since his rookie season and stand at 167 for this year
What’s turned Smolin’s fortune’s around?
“Maturity has a lot to do with it,” Bobby replied. “I had some growing up to do.”
While Smolin has always been lauded for his competitiveness, he also at times took some heat for making some poor decisions on the racetrack.
“I finally listed to the owners, trainers and other drivers who kept telling me to drive smart out there, and don’t be making so many foolish mistakes” continued the now 26-year-old Smolin.
“Also having self-confidence is a big thing for a driver. You can’t expect a trainer or an owner to have confidence in you if you don’t have confidence in yourself. But it takes time. You start out in this business driving a lot of longshots and a lot of horses that aren’t very sound. Often early on you are finishing up the track.
“As you get better horses to drive and learn more what to do out there you start having some success and of course the more success you have, the more your confidence grows,” added Bobby.
“It’s been a learning experience. Every night that I go out and compete I learn something to make me a better driver for the next time.”
This year Smolin will finish in the Top Five in the Balmoral Park driver standings in two important categories: Fifth in races won with 147 and fourth in purse money with $1,004,286 earned.
“I’ve been lucky enough to drive some very good young horses this season like Al’s Hammered and Holdingallthecards for (trainer) Bob Phillips and B Fly McQueen for (owner) John Bernard,” said Smolin.
B Fly McQueen and Al’s Hammered gave Bobby his first two career winning drives in Super Night championships when the former captured the $116,000 Lady Ann Reed Trot and the latter the $178,000 Langley Final Pace.
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(Mike Paradise writes an additional weekly column—Trot Topics—in Saturday's The Daily Journal. The Kankakee, IL based newspaper has expanded its coverage of racing at Balmoral Park and welcomes comments and questions on Illinois harness racing.