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A conversation with Dan Noble
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - by Ken Weingartner, Media relations, Harness Racing Communications

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Ken Weingartner
Freehold, NJ --- Dan Noble entered Tuesday with 258 wins, good for No. 6 among all drivers in North America.

 

Last season, the 28-year-old Wilmington, Ohio resident set career bests with 313 victories and $1.29 million in purses. His top triumph came in the $300,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes final for 2-year-old filly pacers, with Joe’s Miss Daisy. He also fulfilled a dream by getting to drive in the Little Brown Jug, guiding Doc’s Yankee to a third-place finish in his opening heat. Doc’s Yankee got the No. 8 post for the final and finished sixth.

 

USTA/Jessica Schroeder photo
Dan Noble is currently No. 6 in wins among all North American drivers.
Noble, the son of Ohio Hall of Fame horseman Sam “Chip” Noble, went over the 2,000-win level for his career earlier this month and has 2,039 lifetime victories. Last year, he was the leading driver for the fall meet at Lebanon Raceway and tied Mike Lachance for the top spot in wins at the Red Mile.

 

On May 21, Noble was an instructor at the U.S. Trotting Association’s 13th annual Driving School. Before talking to the students, he took time to speak with Harness Racing Communications’ Ken Weingartner.

 

HRC: The year you’re having so far looks like your best year at this point. What’s it been like?

DN: I’m having by far by best year and I’m hoping I can keep it going. I set a goal to have 500 to 600 (wins) this year. I don’t know if it’s possible, but it seems possible with the roll I’m on. It just seems like everything is falling into place.

 

HRC: When you set a goal like that, how do you go about making it happen?

DN: The only thing I know is to be there every night, just show up. I don’t know what else to do other than keep working hard. It’s really just paying attention to the horses and the different classifications. It’s trying to make the right pick on the right horse. I hope I make the right decision all the time; I don’t, but it works out 90 percent of the time so far.

 

HRC: How difficult is it to pick horses, especially when you are friends with someone but may have a better ride elsewhere?

DN: It’s very difficult to make that decision. I just kind of go by the draw and I hope I make the right decision.

 

HRC: You race on a lot of small tracks, so the draw is more of a factor.

DN: On a half-mile track I really look at the inside draw because it really makes a big difference in the outcome of the race.

 

HRC: What’s been the key to the success the last couple years?

DN: I’ve been pretty good at staying in contact with a lot of my trainers and I have a lot of friends that help me out with it. Really, just plain showing up, no matter what. It makes a big difference on being able to get the drives.

 

HRC: Does it feel different when you approach it this way compared to maybe the way you did it in the past?
DN: It feels totally different. I feel like I’m more on my game. I used to work during the day and help my father train horses and now I just have one of my own that I do in the mornings. Now I’m able to think more about the decisions I’m going to make.

 

HRC: How much has the family been an influence?

DN: Dad has been an influence and helped me out a lot through the years learning wise. You couldn’t have a better teacher.

 

HRC: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from him?

DN: That’s tough because there are so many things. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. One thing is just to be courteous and nice to people. And to be honest with everyone that you’re driving for. It goes a long way.

 

HRC: It really is a business of relationships.

DN: If you’ve got good relationships with a lot of the trainers, it helps. It really works out.

 

HRC: What do you most enjoy about the sport?
DN: It’s not like a normal job, which is why I like it. It’s our income, but I love every day because it’s like getting away. You can go out here and work the horses and you can make your own decisions. And the travel, you get to go to a lot of places and see new things.

 

HRC: What’s been your biggest thrill so far?

DN: (Winning) the sire stakes are nice, but the biggest highlight was driving in the Jug last year. It was a dream I’ve always had. Just to be in it was something.

 

HRC: When you have that as a dream and you get to realize it, how difficult is it to focus on the race while at the same time trying to soak up the experience?

DN: It was hard at first. I was real nervous. But when I got out there, it changed over to another race. It was no different than driving maybe a $3,000 claimer. When the gate shut it was just another race. All the nervousness went away. When you go out you get nervous; you realize this is the Jug and your adrenaline gets pumping. Once you’re out there, it all goes away.

 

HRC: It’s got to be a pretty awesome feeling, particularly with the crowd all around the track.

DN: It’s nice. With the crowd, it does change everything. It boosts you.

 

HRC: What would you still like to accomplish? What are your goals?

DN: I’d like to get where I can stay on the top as a top driver in the nation. I’d like to go on and be out east someday. I just haven’t taken that step because of family being here. I’ll probably follow in my father’s footsteps. Being a catch driver, I’ll just drive until I can’t anymore as long as my health is good. I don’t know what else I would do. This is what I’ve always wanted to do.

 

HRC: Were you involved in other activities as a kid, or was it always the horses?

DN: It’s always been the horses. I did play soccer back when I was a kid (13 or 14) and I almost took that up, but the horses just took me away. I fell in love with the horses and I couldn’t get away. I was driving matinees and training horses with my dad after school, and it just kind of took over. I can’t stay away.

 

HRC: How much traveling are you doing now?

DN: Right now I’m going to Northfield Park on Mondays and Wednesdays and then Scioto Downs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Occasionally I’ll go to The Meadows on Tuesdays. It’s quite a bit of travel. For me to go to Northfield it’s about a 500-mile trip, about six hours, round trip. I’m not home a lot. It’s tough.

 

HRC: What do you like to do when you’re not at the track?

DN: I love spending time with my family and I usually don’t have much time to do so. I like to go on vacations with them occasionally when I can. I’d like to go on a cruise with them for the first time this year. It would be a new thing. Other than that, I’m always on the road. I’d love to go to Florida and sit on the beach and just kick back and relax for four or five days.

 

 


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