Day In A life Has a Moment Of A Lifetime

By Kathy Parker
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It’s tough to own a really good colt. Just ask the connections of Sealed N Delivered or Rustler Hanover, who were all in attendance at the Meadowlands Saturday night, July 11. While the thrills can be exhilarating, the disappointments are pretty tough.

Sealed N Delivered was the betting favorite to win the $1 million Meadowlands Pace. But after racing first-over into a strong headwind down the backstretch, the colt faltered in the turn and finished 10th, beaten 11 1/2 lengths. After the race trainer Chris Ryder said he planned to scope Sealed N Delivered. Later he revealed the colt had flipped his palate.

Rustler Hanover was also bet down fairly low and avoided any catastrophic breaks in stride, which plagued him in last year’s Breeders Crown and the North America Cup last month. This time he was beaten simply because he didn’t fire, said driver Paul MacDonell, although a pus pocket on a foot had also bothered the colt before the elim.

The thrill of victory on Meadowlands Pace night belonged to those associated with Day In A Life. With a savvy frontend drive from Luc Ouellette, the colt by Life Sign held off a late rally by Fit For Life—another son of first-crop sire Life Sign—to win the race in 1:51.1 for owners Howard Schoor and Peter Heffering and trainer Monte Gelrod.
Day In A Life started from post four while Rustler Hanover was just to his inside (post three) and Sealed N Delivered was outside in post eight. In the North America Cup final Day In A Life had broken stride when the starting gate wing bounced back and hit him. Ouellette had driven him that day. This time he had to deal with another scenario behind the gate: a slightly rank colt.

“When I got behind the gate he was taking me pretty good, and I decided to pace out with him,” Ouellette said. “When I regained the front with him, I didn’t want to end up in the three hole. I saw the :56 (for the half) and felt pretty good. Halfway down the lane, I felt I was a winner. I hadn’t pulled the plugs.”

“Mine had as good a shot as any of them coming into the race,” said Gelrod, who trained the 1997 Meadowlands Pace runner-up At Point Blank. “Sealed N Delivered was the one to beat. He’s a fast, very powerful horse. But he gets real tired in the final 30 yards down by the wire. I watched him very closely many times and I noticed that.

“I was more concerned winning it on the lead than sitting a two hole to Sealed N Delivered,” continued Gelrod, “because I know if I’m on his back I would run right by him. Day In A Life doesn’t like to cut the mile. He wants a target, an opening to aim for. When there’s no one in front of him, he loses interest and thinks the job is done. In the stretch we were home. But just past the wire we’re beat.”

George Brennan, who rallied Fit For Life through a :26.2 final quarter, saw the finish the same way as Gelrod. “A few more feet, and I’d get him,” he added.

Dragon Again also had plenty of gas left in the tank for the final quarter mile, but he had farther to come than Fit For Life (another 2 1/2 lengths), and was also caught behind the floundering Sealed N Delivered and Rustler Hanover. He finished third. A victory by Dragon Again would have meant sweet revenge for driver Ron Pierce, who had lost the drive on Sealed N Delivered after the North America Cup, and it could have been a huge moment in the career of Ohio trainer Kelly O’Donnell. “I wish we could have had better luck,” lamented O’Donnell, 40, who was starting his first horse in the Meadowlands Pace.

Day In A Life’s triumph sent a happy throng to the winner’s circle, including Marty Granoff, whose Val d’Or Farms shares ownership of Fit For Life. Granoff is also a close friend of Schoor. Schoor’s partner Heffering had stayed in Canada to prepare 400-head of cattie for a sale but Schoor, an engineer, developer, and the operator of Showplace Farm, merely had to drive up the turnpike to the track and was joined by family and friends for the trophy presentation. After owning horses for 30 years, it was Schoor’s greatest moment as an owner.

Schoor had become an owner of Day In A Life after Heffering invited him to buy an interest in the horse. Day In A Life was a $23,000 yearling at the Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg. As a two year old he began his racing career at Rideau Carleton, but showed enough potential in a 1:56.2 win at Woodbine on Aug. 1 that Heifering bought the colt and turned him over to Bill Robinson. Geirod took over as trainer when the colt came to the U.S. shortly before the Governor’s Cup.

Day In A Life put together a slate of 13-6-2-1 as a freshman and earned $91,980. His 1998 season has thus far yielded five wins and three seconds in 11 starts and $589,250 in earnings.

Copyright © 2011 Howard Schoor Comanies

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