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Krivelin wins third Amateur Driver of the Year

December 10, 2014
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This year USHWA's National Amateur Driver of the Year Award goes to Bob "Rapid Rail” Krivelin and it could be said that Krivelin won the honor in a split decision. His name rose to the top over other prolific drivers and for the New York City wholesale food purveyor it marks the third time that he has received this prestigious award.
 
When Krivelin was notified he was on vacation in Florida relaxing, swimming and playing golf. But when he answered his cell phone and found out the news, to say he was jubilant would have been an understatement.
 
"I'm really happy and proud to be named the top amateur driver again this year, especially when the amateur driving colony is the best it's ever been. To be chosen over the talented others really makes me feel great,” Krivelin said via cell phone.
 
"I work hard at staying in shape and I feel that this was my best year yet, and I feel I'm driving better than I ever have. I drove with more confidence this year, too.”
 
From 74 seasonal starts Krivelin has 15 wins, 10 seconds and 13 thirds for a very respectable .336 UDR. His seasonal victory total is second only to the 22 winners he reined during 2001 when he was named Amateur Driver of the Year for the first time.

Two years ago Krivelin copped his second amateur driving title and although he rarely drives more than 75 times a year he thus has far reined 167 winners since he began his amateur career in 1996.

Some of his triumphs this season include winning the $12,000 Billings Eastern Region final with Permanent Joy in a time of 1:57 at Pocono Downs on November 12 and Krivelin won the $14,000 final of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's spring trotting series with Current Crisis in a 1:59.3 clocking at Yonkers Raceway back in May.
 
"I love amateur racing,” he says. "In what other sport can a participant get a chance to compete side by side with their hero's? That's a big draw for the amateur movement in harness racing.”

And while he was on the subject Krivelin expounds how harness racing wouldn't be the same if it weren't for the amateurs.

"Just look at how many invest in race horses and employ professional trainers and drivers.Take Doc (Scott) Woogen for instance; he must have 40 horses with various trainers and drivers many of which he drives himself when time allows. And me, I have 13 horses, three which I train and drive myself, and the rest with professional trainers and drivers. And like many other amateur guys I purchased a farm to house my stock.”

From a young age Krivelin, who hails from the Bronx, was bitten by the harness racing bug.

"When I was a youngster I used to sneak into Yonkers Raceway with some friends after the seventh race when they opened the gates,” Krivelin said unashamedly. "Those days, foolishly, youngsters weren't allowed in the grandstand.

"It was from the excitement and fun of the races at Yonkers that I got hooked on harness racing. The crowds were tremendous, the racing top notch, so what wasn't there to like?”

After becoming a successful businessman and then spending much of his leisure time around the Meadowlands he purchased a few horses and in 1996 "Kriv,” as many of his friends call him, drove his first race. He finished fifth with Straight Talk at the Meadowlands in 1996 and it was behind that same trotter that year that he won his first race (2:04.2) at Rosecroft Raceway.

Winning your first race is often like that first girlfriend who most men usually remember with reverence. But not Kriv.

Although in 2003 he drove his own Rapid Rail to a Hambletonian Oaks elimination victory—thus his nickname-- and then finished second in the final, still he claims his greatest thrill thus far was winning his first race against professional drivers at the Meadowlands in 2001.

"I won with a trotter by the name of Heathen Hall who was by Incredible Abe and my dad's (first) name was Abe, "Krivelin said as he recalled the joy of that victory,” Although I had won some amateur races at the Meadowlands before it was my first win against field of professionals and it came from the 10 hole. I not only beat the pros but the top drivers that night.”
 
But Krivelin is an amateur driver in the true sense of the word. Although he currently owns 13 horses and employs multiple trainers, his main profession is a wholesale food purveyor—or as he claims ‘a distributor'-- and he and his partner supply 500 restaurants in New York City, including some of the very best.

Much of the money he has earned from his vocation Krivelin has put into the racing game, and says, maybe with tongue in cheek --and maybe not---"It's great when you get hooked on harness racing…. but when you do it's all that you think of and it takes up your whole life.” (by John Manzi)

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