Day At The Track

Romo seeking elusive win in prestigious race

11:43 PM 22 Aug 2015 NZST
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Danny Romo
Danny Romo has been working with The Rev for the better part of five years, breaking and training him as one of the top Maritime bred horses in action today. On Saturday night, Romo will take The Rev behind the gate for the second big trip in as many week
Ryan Cooke - Truro Daily News Photo

CHARLOTTETOWN – When harness racing trainer/driver Danny Romo leaves from the post position tonight, he’ll have the shortest route to the biggest race of his life.

Danny Romo has been working with The Rev for the better part of five years, breaking and training him as one of the top Maritime bred horses in action today. On Saturday night, Romo will take The Rev behind the gate for the second big trip in as many weeks - looking for an Exhibition Cup win. 

Late last month, I stood in Romo’s stable at Truro Raceway, shooting the breeze with one of the most tenured veterans in the business. Fresh off Governor’s Plate week in Summerside, he had a tired look on his face after driving to and from the Island night in and night out.

We talked about the upcoming Exhibition Cup, his past wins and his future plans. Maybe it was the tired bags under his eyes talking, or maybe it was the truth, but he said he wants to give it up soon. He said he thinks about it all the time, but can’t very well walk away knowing there aren’t enough young drivers sticking around to replace the Danny Romos, Pooker McCallums and Dave Careys when they go.

“I’m getting older now and getting tired of this business,” he said. “Like I said, six days going to Summerside getting back at two-thirty and three in the morning. I said this year it would be my last year doing that. I’m getting too friggin’ old for that stuff.”

There is one thing left he wants more than anything though – the Gold Cup and Saucer.

Three years ago, after spending the summer in Newfoundland, I moved back to P.E.I. for a new school year. There was a major logistical problem, however. I picked the worst day of the year to drive a truck full of furniture through the streets of Charlottetown. It was Gold Cup and Saucer Day.

On this day, once a year, the streets are filled with people and the city has an unnatural buzz to it. There’s a parade that puts the city’s Christmas parade to shame. There are parties all over town and they all converge on one place once the sun goes down – the Charlottetown Driving Park.

Imagine how it must feel for someone who works in the industry. Once a year, all the excitement and attention formerly attached to the sport becomes a reality again. For one night, an entire city becomes harness racing fans.

The $60,000 purse falls far short of the most lucrative races in North America, but the prestige that comes with it is priceless.

For that reason, Danny Romo is still searching for that one last bit of fulfillment.

“I’ve pretty much won every major race there was in my life, in my racing career, except for the Gold Cup,” he told me. “That’s the only one I can’t remember winning out of the big events and the stake races in the Maritimes.”

This year, Romo will be in a unique field of horses with The Rev. In past years, the Gold Cup has drawn in the best of the best from the Maritimes, Ontario and into the Northeastern States. Charlottetown Guardian columnist Nicholas Oakes reports in 2011, there were 25 trial entries with 13 from Ontario. This year, there were just 12 entries, with one from Ontario. This undoubtedly paved the way for the six Maritime horses to make the final, including the locally bred and broken Rev. That’s not to say it’s going to be a cakewalk, however, as harness racing powerhouses Ron Burke and Rene Allard will also have horses in the mix tonight.

At 10-1 odds, Romo is a long shot even from his inside post. But he knew that long before any odds were established or posts were drawn.

“I’ll probably never win a Gold Cup before I give it up, but it would be nice to do it,” he told me after that long day at the track in July.

With a wink, a smile and a crack at his inevitable aging, he said, “Every young fella wants to win that one.”

By Ryan Cooke

Reprinted with permission of the Truro Daily News

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