By Noah Joseph
A horse’s career is like a road. Sometimes it’s a short, simple road, other times it’s a long, almost never-ending highway. There are plenty of bumps, turns, and detours to go along with them. But sometimes the road less traveled may lead to a most welcome and unexpected destination. At Canterbury, that was the path taken by Speed Is Life, and it led to some unexpected rewards.
Speed Is Life was bred in Minnesota by Daniel Kelliher and Vincent Caldwell. He was sired by Scipion, a graded stakes winning son of A.P. Indy. His was out of Classic Threat, a Canadian bred mare who won two stakes as a two-year-old in her native Canada. Mr. Kelliher bought Classic Threat for $9,500 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December Sale in 2010 when she was in foal. The foal she was carrying would be Speed Is Life, who was sent to race for owner Ez-AZ Thoroughbreds and longtime trainer and Canterbury Hall of Famer Doug Oliver.
Speed Is Life took a road that some, but not all, young racehorses do, as he was unraced as a two-year-old. He eventually made his career debut on May 16, 2014, opening night of Canterbury’s racing season. Speed Is Life was close to the lead for much of the race and finished a good second behind longshot winner Slippery Ice. Not a terrible way to start your career. His next start would be a disappointment, as he finished fifth. However, the 3rd time would be the charm, as on June 13, Speed Is Life broke his maiden in impressive fashion. He came away from the gate quickly, took the lead, and never looked back, winning by over two lengths with Ry Eikleberry aboard. For his next race, Speed Is Life made his stakes debut in the Victor S. Myers Stakes on the 4th of July. This time, he did not make the lead and instead stayed off the pace, then came with his run as the field turned for home and had just enough to run down Slippery Ice for the victory. The good times were short lived, as Speed Is Life ran again, this time against older foes, and finished last.
But instead of moping about, his connections regrouped and entered him in the Minnesota Derby. This would be his first start ever going around two turns, but the extra distance turned out to be a blessing rather than an obstacle. Breaking from the number one post, Speed Is Life was allowed to track the pace all while saving ground along the rail, then with 3/8ths of a mile to go, he made his move for the lead, but in doing so, he bumped a horse named Street Fighting into another horse, A.P Is Loose. The bumping didn’t bother Speed Is Life, who drew clear and won by over three lengths, despite multiple objections and an inquiry due to the bumping. Eikleberry was aboard again for this victory, along with his Vic Myers triumph. These two stakes wins helped propel Speed Is Life to the top of the three-year-old rankings at Canterbury, but all of his starts were against Minnesota breds. How would he do against open company? He ran second in his first start against non Minnesota breds, which was also his first start on grass. This race was a prep for the Mystic Lake Derby, the biggest race of the season. On closing day, Speed Is Life was one of 11 horses taking part in the Mystic Lake Derby, which featured horses from all across North America. The competition was too much for him, and Speed Is Life finished ninth. Despite this, he was still named Champion Three-Year-Old at Canterbury for the season.
At age four, Speed Is Life returned to Canterbury, hoping to build on success from the year before. He started off with a good second in the 10,000 Lakes Stakes and back-to-back third-place finishes in allowance races. But then some of the shine from before began to fade away, and Speed Is Life finished off the board in three of his next four starts, including a seventh in the Blair’s Cove Stakes and a sixth in the Wally’s Choice Minnesota Classic Championship. He was able to at least end with a bright spot, as he won an allowance race on the final day of the season. Regardless, 2015 was a very disappointing season for Speed Is Life. But hey, there’s nowhere to go but up, right?
As the 2016 season began, the career of Speed Is Life had gone from a smoothly paved road to one filled with cracks and potholes. In fact, the season could not have gotten off to a worse start, as Speed Is Life started the year with five consecutive losses, two coming in stakes races. But his connections still had faith in him, and eventually Speed Is Life was entered in the Wally’s Choice Minnesota Classic Championship, hoping to rebound off his sixth-place finish the year before. He followed the leaders for much of the race, took the lead late, and held on to win by a neck over A.P Is Loose. Andrew Ramgeet was the winning jockey on this occasion. After so many defeats, it was sweet relief to see Speed Is Life win again. That would be the final stakes victory of Speed Is Life’s career, but he would win one more time in a claiming race in 2017. Following the race, he was claimed away from Ez-Az Thoroughbreds and Doug Oliver, and soon entered the care of owner Curt Sampson and trainer Tony Rengstorf. Speed Is Life went winless in 2018 in what would be his final season.
Overall, Speed Is Life raced 40 times, with all but one start coming at Canterbury Park. He won six times, all in Minnesota, with three of those wins coming in stakes races. He finished in the money 15 times, and earned over $240,000, with nearly all of that money coming from races at Canterbury. He ranks 29th on the all-time money list in career earnings in the history of Canterbury Park or Downs. Life was truly a highway for Speed Is Life.