For the love of racing
Natasha Day came into 2018 off a career year, one in which she notched 47 wins and $228,353 in earnings.
She’s also pulling double duty working for Richard Moreau. It makes for long days and little down time, but Day isn’t complaining.
“Basically, I work as a groom for Richard,” she noted. “I take care of five horses, six including my own. Every day, just rubbing, getting on the track and jogging a few, training one here and there, paddocking them at the races. I have to fit that in with the driving as well, so it’s pretty busy. It can get tiring, but it’s been great.”
And well worth the challenges she’s experienced along the way.
“It took me a little bit to break into the driving side, to get people to take notice,” offered Day. “I think it was the end of 2016 and the past year, where it’s starting to pick up and people are starting to notice. People are starting to accept me now. The majority of horses I drove in the summer can still compete at Western Fair. It’s good for me because the horses are progressing off their races in the summer. I like London a lot. It’s a good atmosphere. Western Fair does a great job with their facilities and promote the sport exceptionally well.”
She once again notes Becky Geisel as a major contributor to her success, including the opportunity Day was given to drive on the WEG circuit.
“With the help of Becky and her horses – they are no slouches – they compete very hard,” noted Day. “She gave me a couple of drives at Woodbine and Mohawk. It’s just the fact of going around and picking up those drives that maybe others won’t take. It’s about saying, ‘Yep, I’ll go.’ People start to see that and know that you are putting in the time and effort. They’ll stick with you when you show that you’re willing to drive any horse. Most of the people I drive for are smaller stables. They like the one driver. That definitely helps a lot.”
Driven to succeed
So, too, does Day’s approach when she gets in the sulky.
How would she describe her driving style?
“It can be rather aggressive,” she said with a laugh. “It’s a little bit of Australia coming out in me. We drive a little bit aggressively over there. I tend to be a little bit aggressive when I have to be. All is fair in love and war as far as I’m concerned.”
With more opportunities to drive coming her way and a career-best campaign as a big incentive, Day is looking to make 2018 her most memorable year yet.
And she’s not being conservative as to where she’s set the bar.
“I’d love to crack the 50-win mark,” offered Day. “If I could crack the 100-win mark that would be even more super. That’s my goal this year. I’d really like to get to 100. I got close to 50 wins last season. I was a little bit disappointed. I was stuck on 47. I was bummed about that. I want to take it that next step, getting to 100.”
Day isn’t the only one who benefits whenever she gets a drive or a win.
“I drive for an organization called Team To The Moon, which is run by Lou and Maria Sorella,” she noted. “At the end of the season, team members donate a share of our purse money to help raise breast cancer awareness. So the more drives I get, and possibly the more wins I get, the more I can donate to a great cause that many people have been affected by.”
Day’s checklist also includes adding a driving title to her racing resume. In 2016, she finished third in the Hanover Raceway standings, moving up to second last year.
“To win a driving title is a big deal to me. It shows that you are consistent all-year round,” she said. “That’s means a lot more to me than anything.”
Day has no regrets about her decision to leave Australia for the Ontario racing scene.
“It’s a long journey, that one,” she quipped. “That’s a lot of miles and kilometres. Looking back, racing has definitely gone backwards where I’m from, so I believe I pulled the right rein there in getting out. So here we are.”
What advice would she give to a woman looking to get in the sulky?
“Don’t be soft about things,” said Day. “If you want to something, you pretty much have to go at it like a bull in the gate. Don’t take no for answer.”
And don’t let anything – not even a flat tire on your race bike – throw you off course.
Main photo courtesy of Flamboro Downs
Natasha Day is in the driver's seat: Part 1
AFTER THE WIRE
“In the wintertime, I like to go skiing. That’s a bit of fun. Summertime – anything to do with the water. I love to just get down to the water and the beach.”
“I love cars and anything to do with car racing. If there’s a car race somewhere three hours away, if I get the chance, I’ll jump in my car and go.”