It was just about five years ago this month that trainer Greg Merlo lay unconscious in a hospital bed after slipping into a coma caused by diabetes.
With time running out, and no apparent hope of survival, doctors were considering pulling the plug.
When news had reached his daughter Christine, she wanted to make one last attempt to save her dad. On this day she gave her dad a hug, and whispered in his ear, “Dad, can I use your truck?” At that point, the heart monitor went crazy, and the doctors realized, although in a coma, he was still very much aware, and alive.
Continuing treatment, Merlo eventually cheated death, waking up only to find he had lost one leg. The doctors believed they had helped a man with a strong will to live. Their recommendation was to not slow down in recovery, but continue to live life as full as he could.
That life included getting up every morning and jogging his three-year-old filly Artistic Jewel, then heading off to spend 10 hours a day as a supervisor at Chrysler Canada in Windsor, Ont.
On Sunday afternoon at Leamington Raceway, Artistic Jewel broke her maiden in the sixth race in 2:02.1 with Nick Steward in the bike.
“It’s been a long road for both me and this filly, and I would have liked to have been in the winner’s circle, but it would probably have taken me till the eighth race to get there!” Merlo said with a chuckle.
Steward continued his torrid win streak on Sunday adding four more wins, bringing his five-card total to 22 wins. In second-place, Rob Sparling Jr. tried to keep pace winning two on the afternoon card.
Next weekend, Leamington races twice on the holiday weekend, Sunday and Monday, with post time at 1:30 p.m.