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Trainer Enjoys The Diva Act
George Leager will turn 79 in August, but says he feels like a man half that age. The success of horses such as Diva Demands might help him keep that youthful disposition.
Diva Demands will start from Post 2 in Tuesday’s $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund final for three-year-old female pacers at Dover Downs. The filly has won two of three starts this year, including her opening-round assignment in the DSBF series before finishing second by a neck to Bad Mama in last week’s second leg.
Corey Callahan will drive Diva Demands, who is 12-1 on the morning line. Trainer Jim King Jr. will send out the race’s top picks, 2-1 Logans Girl and 3-1 Spanish Dream. Bad Mama, trained by Clyde Francis, is 7-2.
“She’s just a game filly,” Leager said about Diva Demands. “I knew she had a lot of speed last year, but I never could get her right. She’s better this year. She’s only missed a cheque once in her career, so you have to like her. But you hate to brag on them too much. It’s better to talk about what they’ve done than what they’re going to do. You never know what’s going to happen.”
A daughter of Roddys Bags Again out of the broodmare Me In The Spotlite, Diva Demands was purchased for $5,500 at the 2015 Chick’s Sale. Last year Diva Demands won once in seven starts, with her victory coming in the November DSBF series consolation, and earned $15,620. For her career, she has banked $33,120.
Leager, a Maryland native who spent most of his life as a farmer, has five horses in training. Over the years, he enjoyed success with horses like homebred 1998 Maryland Sire Stakes champion Aunt Lainey, 2005 DSBF champ Badlands Cowgirl, homebred $354,051-earner Moms Toy, and Razzle Dazzle Hall.
He also partnered with fellow Maryland resident Robert Van Dyke Jr., who passed away in 2015, on horses.
“We had horses for 30 years and never had a disagreement,” Leager said. “He was a real good guy.”
This season, Leager has a pair of two-year-olds he likes, homebred colt Slick Tony and filly Lofty Illusion.
“You like them until you find out they’re no good,” Leager said, laughing. “I breed most of my horses, but I buy one every once in a while. It was probably around 1980 when I started fooling with the horses. I did it part time. I’m near 80 years old now and I don’t know where all the time went. I feel like I ought to be 40. I feel pretty good.”
Diva Demands won her first-round elimination in the DSBF by two lengths over Lillisbagsrpacked in a career-best-equalling 1:55.2. Last week, she sat a pocket trip behind Bad Mama before briefly getting a nose in front as the two horses battled in the stretch. Bad Mama rallied for the neck victory.
“I think when she got by Bad Mama she thought the race was over,” Leager said.
Bad Mama and Logans Girl both were two-time winners in the DSBF preliminaries. Diva Demands, Spanish Dream, and Lunar Phase each had one victory and one second-place finish. A Lady Sizzling also had a win in the eliminations.
“There are a bunch of good ones in there,” Leager said. “We’ll see how it goes.”