The leading driver sits third in Scioto training standings thanks in part to Non Smoker.
by Jay Wolf
When looking at the leading drivers and trainers for this year’s Scioto Downs meet, it is not surprising to see Dan Noble’s name. The 35-year-old native of Xenia, OH leads the Scioto driver’s colony, 50 wins over second place Chris Page. It is surprising, however, that Noble currently ranks third in the training standings.
North America’s 2011 leading dash-winning driver, Noble finds himself ranked in the conditioners race behind Virgil Morgan, Jr. and the nation’s winningest trainer, Ron Burke.
Through just seven months of the year, Noble has conditioned horses that have earned a career best $581,018 with a UTRS rating of .441.
Noble’s success as a trainer can be attributed to a gray filly he also owns, Non Smoker.
Campaigned under the Norman Rae Racing banner, the 3-year old filly trotter is undefeated in the first three preliminary legs of the Ohio Sires Stake (OHSS).
“’Norman Rae’ is my middle name and my wife’s (Christi) middle name,” noted Noble.
“Non Smoker is just a nice horse. She’s pleasant to be around and does everything and anything you ask. She loves her job.”
In the first leg of the OHSS at Miami Valley on May 4, Non Smoker went gate to wire to win in career best 1:54.
The second leg was June 11 at Northfield Park was a tougher battle.
When the gates wings folded, Looking For Zelda, the 2017 Ohio divisional champ, grabbed the early lead. Noble sent Non Smoker to the lead before the half mile station. A pair of Chris Beaver trainees, Red Storm and California Love, sat behind the two leaders. Non Smoker led deep into the stretch, but a late rush by California Love put the final result in doubt. A photo couldn’t separate the two and a dead heat was declared.
The final leg (July 13 at Scioto Downs) resulted in a neck victory over Impinktoo, last year’s OHSS Final champ, in 1:55.
Three sire stakes wins and $75,000 in OHSS earnings is a great year for the $18,000 yearling purchase.
“When we purchased her at the Ohio Select Sale, we sold half (to fellow Xenian, Stephen Sexton),” said Noble. “We bought her to be a broodmare.”
As a freshman Non Smoker complied a 2-1-0 record in six starts, earning $20,551.
Now owned completely by Norman Rea Racing, Non Smoker finished sixth as the morning line choice in Friday’s $55,900 division of the “Pride of Ohio” Ohio State Fair stake.
“Honestly, I am not looking for a whole bunch out of the mare. I am aiming for the final sires stakes leg (Aug. 20 at Northfield Park) and the ($275,000) final (Sept. 8 at Scioto Downs),” said Noble. “Not that I wouldn’t want to win the state fair stakes, I want to protect her to have her set up for the next leg of the sires (stake).”
Friday’s State Fair slate includes the $116,700 (div.) “First Lady Pace” (three-year-old filly pace). The $114,700 (div.) “Governor’s Cup” (two-year-old colt pace) and the $118,100 (div.) “Director of Agriculture” (three-year-old colt pace).