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Double Duty Suits Roberts (02/26/13)
Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2013
By Mike Paradise
Grant Park’s John Roberts has made every year in this decade a better one than the last.
Not only did the 32-year-old Roberts have a career year in 2011 with 205 dash winners as a driver and 31 victories as a trainer. He had an even better one in 2012 in every category.
Last year the lanky Roberts won 215 races and for the first time horses he drove went over the seven-figure mark with earnings of over $1.35 million. And last season John also trained 51 winners and his barn had purse money won of $247,127.
Being a driver and a trainer makes for a full day and night of work and John knows it can’t be done without being surrounded by the right people.
“Having good help goes a long way to having success as a trainer,” said Roberts.
“In my case, since I get home on race nights very late, especially when we’re at Maywood, I let my help know what has to be done with each horse and I have the confidence that when I do come to the barn in the morning, it’s being taken care of.
“I have a family now and with a full day of work that doesn’t leave me a lot of time to spend with them. I try to take advantage of what time I do have to be with them, so good help makes that more possible.”
While Roberts has had 424 winning drivers over the past two seasons and already has nailed down 37 more this year, he knows that catch-driving can have its ups and downs as far as a steady income flow
“Also being a trainer gives me a little cushion,” continued John. “You can have three good months as a catch driver out there and all it takes his one bad month to set you back. Having some of your own horses to fall back on to drive gives you the opportunity to be more consistent as far has earnings and also can get you out of a slump quicker.”
Sun Dream, winner of 7 of his last 8 starts, is one of Performcenter Stable of Ohio horses who has had success under John’s care.
“I’ve done pretty well since Performcenter Stable gave me their horses to train,” noted John. “I don’t think we’ve ever spent more than $5,500 to buy a horse and we’ve still done pretty well with some of them.
“We started out with pretty much $4,000 claimers and have been able to improve their stock. Also now we have a few babies and two look like they may be pretty good and the other looks average. Hopefully I’ll continue to do well for them so that they’ll invest in Illinois horses.”
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