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Driver Returns After 21-Year Hiatus

Published: July 16, 2020 10:45 am ET

Last Comment: July 16, 2020 6:28 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Harness horseman Scott Robbins sure figured out a way to surprise Standardbred industry followers last month.

Racetrack officials, horsepeople, handicappers -- heck, virtually everybody -- had to do a double take when the name 'Scott Robbins' appeared on the list of reinsmen set to drive during Hawthorne Race Course's June 1 qualifying session.

After having not raced since September of 1999, Robbins was in the bike for three drives during the June 1 session. He was back in the sulky for another three qualifying dashes a few days later (June 3) at the Illinois track.

On June 7 at the Chicagoland raceway, the 55-year-old pilot tasted victory in his pari-mutuel return. Robbins had four drives that night at Hawthorne, the first of which came aboard Louis Paisano. The duo was sent off as the public's second choice in the tilt, made the lead early, and then engineered a pocket ride through the middle half of the race. Robbins called on his charge in the final quarter, and the pair shot out to a three-length lead before cruising under the wire first in two minutes flat.

A handful of days later, a mention of Robbins' return was noted in a press release from the track -- an excerpt of which appears below.

The third driving story of the night came in Race 5. Race 5 was won by the talented trotter Lous Paisano in 2:00. Guiding Lous Paisano to the win was driver Scott Robbins. With over 1,000 lifetime victories and nearly $4 million in earnings, the name Scott Robbins was only familiar to those who followed Illinois harness racing in the '80s and '90s. Prior to Sunday’s win, Robbins' last pari-mutuel victory had come on September 18, 1998 at Maywood Park. Robbins will be seen much more in the coming weeks as he continues to pick up drives.

To this point in the COVID-19-affected season, Robbins has been in the stirrups for 30 pari-mutuel drives. He has notched a pair of victories and three third-place efforts -- not bad for a guy whose colours had been relegated to storage in a basement container for two full decades.

As Robbins recently explained to Kevin Hieronymus of Illinois' Bureau County Republican, he checked out some state fair racing last year, which renewed his interest in being at the controls of a thousand-pound athlete. Robbins threw some gas on that spark when he then attended the Night of Champions at Hawthorne later in 2019.

Fast forward a few months, and Robbins was unearthing his driving suit from its dormant state. “Maybe the Good Lord knew more than I did, is why I kept them," Robbins explained to Hieronymus. "It’s sort of neat, because I never even thought about going back until last year.”

Robbins added, “I said by next year when they open up in March, if I get back in shape and get a little more fit and I could fit back in my driving colours that I wore 20 years ago, I would give it a whirl.”

And whirling he is.

Robbins explained how he had to get back in shape in order to make his return. Trimming down and cutting weight is no type of fun -- just ask, well, every single person that has ever attempted it. “I had to lose some weight, eat healthier and stay more active," said Robbins, who added, "Anybody who’s lost weight knows it’s not easy."

No matter how adept someone is at a craft, when a 21-year break is taken, there will anxiousness upon a return. Just ask Robbins.

“First drive back, I was not crazy nervous, but nervous," Robbins stated, understandably. "It was my first drive in 21 years and the horse (Lous Paisano) won. It was pretty neat."

Robbins has stated that his return is no joke. He wants to steer horses, tally wins, and make it all worthwhile for his connections. “I want to have success like I did the first time around,” he said.

To read the Bureau County Republican article in its entirety, click here.

(With files from the Bureau County Republican)

July 16, 2020 - 6:28 pmGo to it Mr. Robbins, you can

Go to it Mr. Robbins, you can do it, where there's a will there is a way, GOOD LUCK.

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