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Rod’s Deal a big deal to Steinbrenner

July 11, 1997

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ After training Rod’s Deal for a little more than six weeks, Bill Gallagher has a good idea what’s wrong with George Steinbrenner’s colt.

The temperamental 3-year-old pacer is a little goofy. He acts like he belongs in the zany world of the Bronx Zoo reserved for Steinbrenner’s New York Yankees.

When Rod’s Deal is good, he’s very good. And when he’s bad, he gives Steinbrenner plenty to say.

There’s no consistency though, so neither Steinbrenner nor Gallagher know what to expect from Rod’s Deal in the $1 million Meadowlands Pace tonight at the Meadowlands.

``He acts like he knows he’s the best of the best,″ Gallagher said. ``The horse has an attitude but sometimes when he gets out on the track, he turns on you.″

That happened last Friday in the eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace. Rod’s Deal finished fourth but was placed third after Village Jove was disqualified for interfering with other horses.

Had the disqualification not occurred, Rod’s Deal might be racing in today’s consolation races.

``I wasn’t happy at all,″ Gallagher said Thursday from Gaitway Farms in Englishtown, N.J., where the colt is stabled. ``Of course, he is known to throw in a clunker almost every other race. Hopefully, this is the time not for one.″

Gallagher, who has trained horses for Steinbrenner for nearly five years, started working with Rod’s Deal about six weeks ago after the Boss took the colt away from trainer Roger Welch.

Sound familiar?

``I think he’s like any other boss,″ Gallagher said of Steinbrenner. ``If you perform and do your job everything is OK. If you make mistakes and don’t produce ... you have to expect to lose your job.″

Working with Rod’s Deal, who has yet to win in seven starts this year, hasn’t been easy.

``He’s got a mind of his own,″ Gallagher said. ``You have to try to get him to focus on what he’s supposed to be doing. When you get him to focus, he’s OK. They say that’s the trait with No Nukes. They can be complete fools and others can be hammerheads.″

One of Rod’s Deal most impressive races this year came in a 3-year-old open pace June 20. The colt broke stride early and fell behind by 16 lengths. He then closed fast and just missed winning.

``This colt loves to chase,″ Gallagher said. ``He’ll chase them all day long and go right by the last horse and then he’ll wait for them to catch up. He’s one who’ll never win a race by open lengths.″

Gallagher doesn’t expect anyone in the field of 10 to win by open lengths.

Gallagher has worked hard this week with Rod’s Deal, a 10-1 shot to be driven by Catello Manzi.

Red Bow Tie, Arturo and the Brett Pelling-trained entry of Dream Away and JK Outlaw are the morning-line favorites.

Red Bow Tie and Dream Away were each timed in 1:50 2-5 in winning their eliminations, while Arturo raced very well in finishing a length behind Red Bow Tie. Park Place won the other elimination in 1:51.

Dream Away drew the No. 1 post and is the 4-1 third choice. Ron Pierce will drive.

The rest of the field in post position order with driver and odds:

Arturo, Luc Ouellette, 7-2; Rod’s Deal, Manzi, 10-1; Western Dreamer, Mike Lachance, 6-1; Park Place, Wally Hennessey, 6-1; JK Outlaw, Jack Moiseyev, 4-1; His Mattjesty, Doug Brown, 12-1; Red Bow Tie, Bill Fahy, 5-2; Village Jasper, Paul MacDonell, 15-1; At Point Blank, John Campbell, 20-1.

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