09/13/2013 12:20PM

Fort Erie: Leading trainer Robillard credits team for stable success

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FORT ERIE, Ontario – Julie Robillard is once again a major force on the Fort Erie trainer’s list.

Last season, she had her stable in top form and her 24 wins tied Ross Armata for most victories at the meeting.

This year, the 33-year-old Robillard has 16 wins and leads the trainers’ standings going into the final month of the 2013 season.

“I had some down years after getting my license in 2008,” Robillard said, “and my personal life in general added to the problem. Thankfully, things have turned around, and last season was great. This year, we have been building our stable with claims and purchases and it feels good to be having another successful season.”

Robillard has been around horses since her teenage years and gradually picked up the background needed for a trainer’s license.

“I even took the grooming course that is offered by the [Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association] through Candice Warwick,” Robillard said, “and it helped me build more confidence. To be honest, when I was young and small, the horses scared me and it took a while before I could relax. Now, I have no problem and I love being around them.

“I cannot thank [owners] Six Brothers Stable and Robert Elkins enough for sticking by my side and helping me to a successful season in 2012. This year, we have continued to go well while building the stable. We had 11 horses in June and now the shed row holds 18 runners, eight of them coming through the claiming box.”

Beyond My Control, a $4,000 claim in July by Elkins, has been one of the barn’s success stories.

“He had lost the day we took him, by 26 3/4 lengths. We did some work with him and then after some time off and some TLC, intended to run him back for $5,000. The day of the race, he got loose and ran back to the barn.”

Robillard had been concerned about losing the opportunity to be in the $5,000 claimer, but as luck would have it, an allowance race for nonwinners of two lifetime was in the condition book.

“He had been off for quite a while, was feeling good, and needed racing,” she said. “At the race office, I am sure that there were a few eyes raised when we entered our $4,000 claim in that allowance race. Juan Crawford was named to ride.

“Our entry completed the six-horse field. Although he looked to be in deep, Beyond My Control ran his heart out. He stayed close, bid, and then dueled to the wire, winning by a head. Definitely a nice surprise for us and his backers. He paid $19.60 for the win.”

Robillard does not take sole credit for the stable’s statistics this season.

“I need to share our success this season with my staff,” she said.

Robillard has used various jockeys this season, but her two main go-to riders are Kirk Johnson and Crawford.

“Johnson and Crawford are both top riders,” she said, “and they both meet our expectations, and that is all you can ask.”