by john manzi for the Billings Series
His participation in the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series has been diminished in recent years but when Bob “the Lumberman” Troyer jumps up behind a trotter he produces great results. Take, for instance, last night’s Billings trot at Scioto Downs in the mid-west region action. Troyer once again guided Heza Rube to a come-from-behind victory this time in a 1:57.4 clocking. For the lumber broker it was his third winning drive in four seasonal starts and over the last three years Troyer has eight victories in just 14 trips to post.
“I got away slowly and was sixth at the quarter and still sixth at the half. And when (Steve) Oldford moved Celtic Merchant out to challenge the leader up the backside I did the same and followed him and as we headed for home I wasn’t sure my horse could beat the old guy,” Troyer said referring to 13-year-old Celtic Merchant. It was close at the finish but (Heza) Rube got up in time to win it.”
Not disappointed, Oldford took the defeat in stride. “After Celtic made the front I heard a horse coming fast on the outside and I didn’t need to look, I knew it was Troyer,” Oldford said. “In the lane my old guy couldn’t hold off Heza Rube but if he’d been four years younger the results would have been different.”
The swift early fractions set by Nordic Venture and driver Gary “Soups” Campbell set the stage for the closers in the race. And charge they did but at the finish Heza Rube was a neck better than Celtic Merchant. However, five other trotters in the rears raced side-by-side through the lane and it took photos to separate them at the wire. When the judges deciphered the pictures third place went to Speed Hanover, driven by “Lawbook Larry” Farley.
Heza Rube, a 6-year-old Master Lavec gelding is owned by Debra Kvernmo and trained by Marty Wollam. Sent off as the odds-on favorite the winner paid $3.80 for win.
Coincidently, the first three drivers under the wire ( Troyer, Oldford and Farley) had come down from Delaware (Ohio) where they were luncheon speakers at at the USTA Driving School. And with them came over 30 of their students and according to Oldford, some wagered on them in the trifecta and those who did were rewarded with an $81.40 payoff.
Next Billings action is slated for Saturday, June 11th at Tioga Downs.