If you don't first succeed, try, try again.
For a number of years, Bobbi Jo Martin HAS succeeded as a trainer on the Western New York harness racing circuit. But after 20 years of being a accomplished trainer, succeeding in her mind just wasn't good enough. The 44-year-old Martin wanted more, to take that next step, an elusive one.
She wanted a trainer's title.
Well, Martin (shown below) hit the daily double.
One got the feeling it was going sooner than later in getting a title. Looking back at the start of the 2012 campaign, Martin had a great Buffalo Raceway meet and finished third in the training standings with 63 wins in 384 outings, $304,697 in earnings and a Universal Training Rating System score of .297. She finished behind Jim Graham who had 83 wins and John Mungillo with 79.
The success rolled right into the Batavia Downs Summer/Fall meet as Martin had 49 victories in 288 attempts, $234,365 in winnings and a UTRS of .280, beating Dave McNeight Jr. by seven wins.
For the season, Martin's line showed 677 starts, 112 wins, 91 place finishes and 98 shows for $540,982 in earnings and a UTRS of .286.
"This couldn't have happened at a better time for me than right right now," Martin said of winning her first ever trainer title. "This is a tough business for a woman to be in and to see the success Tracy Brainard, Linda Toscano and Cassie Coleman have had this season, this is just great. They've all done it at bigger tracks. But this may only be Western New York, but it's darn special for me. I've always set a goal to win a title but I always want to be as close to the top as possible. That's our goal every year. But this year we finally did it. The success is wonderful but you've also got to be humble."
Being a woman in a male-dominated sport, Martin likes the fact that she has proven that she can compete with the 'big boys' and win.
She reflected on a brief story about when she was going to the winner's circle early this month to get her awards for Trainer of the Year and Trainer of the Season. "Someone jokingly came up to my husband John and said to escort me to the winner's circle because women aren't supposed to win awards like that."
"We worked hard and it paid off this year," Martin said of her success. "Winning the training title has always been of goal of mine and finally accomplishing it this year is really special."
Martin and her husband John (shown below) said they've accomplished what they did in 2012 because of the owners. "We had a better class of horses overall and that's has a lot to due with the owners. With the purse structure here, ownersare getting better stock and if you have a $6,000 to $10,000 claimer, you should be able to race them weekly.
And if winning those two titles weren't enough, Martin was the trainer for Trotter of the Year at Batavia Downs in Big Baller. So the elsuive win turned into a daily double which now evolved into a trifecta.
"My husband (John) and I both trained Big Baller (shown below). He's kind of a quirky horse...he likes to train sometimes and then there are times he doesn't. He had a lot of back class when we got him and we straightened him out between us."
She credits her husband John and four grooms for the banner year. "We all work together. I also have a lot of good owners and owe it them too. With the purse structure now here in Western New York, we are getting better owners and getting better stock."
When asked if her training title would mean more horses in her barn, she wasn't looking to add any at this point. Including the "babies" she has in her stable, Martin oversees 37 on a daily basis. That's just right for her but added, "We don't want to expand because help is so hard to find here in Western New York. You have to have good help."
But finding help off the race track may be a problem, but getting top-notch help on the track was a different story as she used the services of Shawn Gray, Dan Noble and Jack Flanigen throughout the year. "I didn't hurt having them."
Gray won the driving titles at both Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs in his first season locally and Martin said about his possible departure from the local circuit, "Shawn Gray can drive anywhere and be successsful, but he can dominate here in Western New York."
But while are basking in a glorious 2012 season, the Martin's are looking ahead to the 2013 year, knowing there's a target on their back as they are the ones to beat.
"We have a lot of friends at the track but it seems like when you are winning, there aren't as many," Martin said laughing. "Success is wonderful but you got to be humble. I am superstitious so I don't want to say much about 2013 but my goal again is to be near the top again."
And a motto Martin said that she'll keep in mind as well is "When climbing the ladder to success, watch whose toes you step on going up because those are the same toes you are going to step on on your way back down."
"Personally, I am afraid of it," she said of the possible invasion from Canada. "They have nowhere to race but there are some great owners who could be bringing their horses here. And that could be a positive as well as you will probably be able to claim them and thus, improve your stock."
But for the next few weeks, Bobbi Jo Martin is just going to sit back, relax and bask in the glory of being Western New York's Trainer of the Year, something that was over 20 years in the making.