08/30/2004 11:00PM

Each day is a long one for Reid

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"You're thinking, 'I got this thing called life beat, I can enjoy myself,' and something like this happens." - Mark Reid on the death of his son David

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - On the morning of July 24, bloodstock agent Mark Reid sat in trainer Bobby Frankel's Belmont Park office and spoke of how much he was looking forward to spending the summer at Saratoga.

Reid was going to rent property from trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., and his method of payment would be to furnish the house. Reid, a former trainer, had not been to Saratoga for the meet for more than a decade, since he had a small string here.

Only hours later, Reid's world would come crashing down. His youngest son, David, drowned in a swimming pool during a graduation party at a friend's house, about a block from the Reids' home in Lumberton, N.J. David Reid was 20.

Reid, 53, has made two brief trips to Saratoga this summer. Last week, he was in town to watch two of the horses he purchased for clients of Frankel and Dutrow. On Aug. 25, Midas Eyes, whom Reid purchased for Ed Gann nearly two years ago, won a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race, nearly setting a track record. The following day, Sugar Punch, a New York-bred trained by Dutrow, won the Union Avenue Stakes.

The victories, if only for a little while, helped ease the pain.

"I'll tell you one thing about horse racing, it grabs you so you can escape for a little while; like I can hoot and holler when [Midas Eyes] is turning for home and blot out that thing that happened to me a month ago," Reid said. "So yeah, this work is wonderful therapy. It's not going to have quite the thrill because I'm not the same person I was a month ago. Horse racing is great in that it does lock you up, keeps you focused, and in that way it hides a little bit of the pain for a while."

Reid is expected to return this weekend to Saratoga, where he will watch either Midas Eyes or Watchem Smokey compete in Saturday's Grade 1 Forego Handicap. He found solace in the amount of support he and his wife, Barbara, received from his friends in the racing industry during the toughest time of their lives. Reid said more than 1,000 people attended David's funeral and wake, some waiting for more than 2 1/2 hours to offer their condolences.

"I got cards and letters and flowers and fruit baskets, and racetrackers from all over the country were calling me," Reid said. "It was very touching, the amount of response I got from people around the racetrack. You know, sometimes you think they're in their own little world and don't really pay attention to anything; it was very moving to me. It was probably the only way I made it through."

A former trainer on the mid-Atlantic circuit, Reid began Rancocas Valley Bloodstock a few years ago with his oldest son, Mark Jr. The Reids hit paydirt with their private purchases of You and Medaglia d'Oro, both of whom won multiple Grade 1 races for Gann and Frankel.

This year, Reid relished the Triple Crown run of Smarty Jones. Reid helped bring owners Roy and Pat Chapman together with trainer John Servis, David Reid's godfather, who used to work for Mark Reid. Reid's business has expanded to include, among others, New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, Will Farish, William Warren, and the North View Stallion Station.

"You're thinking, 'I got this thing called life beat, I can enjoy myself,' and something like this happens," Reid said.

Servis, who worked as an assistant trainer to Reid in the 1980's, said one of the biggest reasons Reid quit training was to be there to watch his sons grow up.

"It was a horrible accident," Servis said. "A young man in the prime of his life getting ready to get out and see the world and start his adulthood - as rough as it was for me knowing it happened, it was harder for me watching what it did to Mark."

According to his father, David Reid was not that interested in horse racing. David and his other brother, Sean, had already begun investigating what type of business to get into next spring after David graduated.

On Thursday night, Mark, Barbara, Mark Jr., and Sean will be at Villanova University, where the football team will play its opening game and have a halftime ceremony to dedicate its season to David, who would have been a senior offensive lineman.

"I don't know that I'll ever have a good day again in my life," Reid said. "Some will be better than others. It's something I'll never get over. It's like every parent's worst nightmare. I start every day the same as I do the day before - wake up with a good cry and try not to be angry. You have certain feelings that come out and you have to fight them. I get up every morning and thank the Lord he gave me David for almost 21 years."