Keith Jones

Dick Jerardi is an award winning sports writer as well as a radio/television host and commentator, and is arguably best known for covering the sport of Horse Racing.

Though his work as a journalist at The Philadelphia Daily News, Dick has covered every Triple Crown race since 1987 (he is a five-time winner of theRed Smith Award for Kentucky Derby coverage). Dick Jerardi famously chronicled the remarkable Smarty Jones during the Triple Crown chase of 2004 s the Thoroughbred won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes for trainer John Servis.

Since 2011 Jerardi has been an on-air analyst for the live television broadcasts of The Pennsylvania Derby from Parx Racing, most recently for NBC Spots Philadelphia.

Many fans know of Dick Jerardi’s work from the long running Let’s Go Racing TV program where he works alongside fellow Parx Hall of Fame members Keith Jones and producer Bruce Casella.

Dick also continues to provide color commentary for the live broadcasts of Penn State basketball.


TURNING FOR HOME DAY A BIG SUCCESS

By Dick Jerardi

The rains finally ceased, so the sixth annual Turning for Home Day at Parx Racing on Saturday, June 22, was appropriately glorious on the first day of summer.

The racing was great, the cause even greater.

“We had a great picnic lunch for the Partner Farms and the adopters; anybody that helps us,” said TFH Program Administrator Danielle Montgomery. “And we try to bring new faces out to the races. Some of our adopters know they have ex-racehorses, but they have no idea about what they actually do. They have never seen live races.”

They got to see two TFH alumni—Dover Point and Sterling’s Maximus—lead the post parade for the $75,000 Turning for Home Stakes. The race was won by 16-1 longshot His Royal Majesty, who gave the best performance of his career, coming from way back early in the mile and a sixteenth race to blow by the field in the stretch and win by 3 1/4 lengths. Moon Gate Warrior, second in the TFH Stakes in 2018 to Parx Horse of the Year Aztec Sense, was a hard-trying second again.

There were two $100,000 Pennsylvania-Bred stakes prior to the Turning for Home Stakes. The grass course was soaked from all the rain during the week so they had to be moved to the main track.

Favored Chilly in Charge dominated the Crowd Pleaser, winning by 12 lengths. Wildcat Combat won the Power By Far by a length at 7-1.

Power By Far, now a 24-year-old stallion following a great racing career, paraded just before the race named in his honor. He was joined by one of his offspring, TFH graduate Aye Jay Power. The stallion’s owner Barbara Geraghty presented a spray of flowers to the winner of the Power By Far race.

“We had a good turnout,” Montgomery said. “We had a lot of people that don’t normally come to the races. The picnic area was full. It was a picture-perfect day.”

The TFH program is mainly funded by a $30 per start fee that comes from horse owners and annual donations by the PTHA, Parx, Parx jockeys and the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders’ Association (PHBA).

Each of those organizations got plaques on TFH Day thanking them for their role in helping find new homes for nearly 2,700 retired racehorses so far.

Prior to the races, the Cotillion Room was packed for seminars by state veterinarian Dr. Shari Silverman and Turning for Home vet Dr. Tom Lurito. Videos of the seminars are on the TFH Facebook page. Dr. Silverman’s colleague, Dr. Craig Goldblatt, received a plaque for his long service at Parx in the winner’s circle after the first race. He is retiring after 33 years of service in July.

“Tom Lurito, our Turning for Home vet talked to the adopters about the process, kind of dispelled some myths, talked about how the horses never do as much and are never the same as what they did here racing,” Montgomery said. “Horses maybe can’t race, but they can still do every kind of second career because it’s not as demanding. Nothing is as demanding as racing at the top peak level.”

And that is the essence of the Turning for Home program. Racehorses that have given their all on the track are re-trained for second careers and get to find a comfortable place to live out the rest of their lives.

SIXTH TURNING FOR HOME DAY ON JUNE 22

By Dick Jerardi

There are more significant annual racing days at Parx now than ever before, but the most impactful day will come on Saturday June 22, the sixth annual Turning for Home Day.

The 11-year-old racehorse retirement program, which is owned and run by the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (PTHA), has become the industry model with almost 2,700 horses retired from the track that are eventually rehomed and retrained. The program is mostly funded by a $30 per start fee that comes through horse owners and annual donations by the PTHA, Parx, Parx jockeys and the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders’ Association (PHBA).

Turning for Home Day is an opportunity to showcase the program and raise some additional funds for an endeavor that has become even more important in 2019 when so much national attention has been focused on the horse deaths this winter at Santa Anita.

The day will start with an 11:45 AM presentation in the Cotillion Room by state vets Dr. Craig Goldblatt and Dr. Shari Silverman. It is open to the public and highly recommended that trainers also attend.

“They’re going to talk a little bit to the public and the trainers about what goes into making sure that these horses are safe to race,” TFH Program Administrator Danielle Montgomery said. “They’ll talk about what they do for their vet exams, not just the morning of (a race), but all that we do here at Parx to make sure these horses are safe for racing.”

In addition to the $75,000 Turning for Home Stakes, the race card will also include the $100,000 Power By Far Stakes and $100,000 Crowd Pleaser Stakes.

“We are going to bring out some of our alumni and just have a great day celebrating Parx Racing and what we do for our adopted horses,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery is hoping that Power By Far, who stands at Castle Rock Farm in Unionville, Pa., will be making an appearance before the race named in his honor. Power By Far, a stallion since 2002, won 15 of 32 races and $544,335 in his career. One of Power By Far’s sons, Aye Jay Power, is coming to Turning for Home Day.

“(Aye Jay Power) was adopted by one of our great ladies who adopted three of our Turning for Home horses,” Montgomery said. “She’s going to bring him around just so you can see the father, the son, talk a little bit about how great these bloodlines are and how the mentality of a Thoroughbred transfers into them as riding horses.”

Aye Jay Power raced 32 times from 2013 to 2015 with three wins, six thirds and earnings of $77,127. When he was no longer competitive on the track, he was a perfect TFH candidate. In addition to bringing Aye Jay Power, Susan Ospina is donating her time and resources as a floral designer for her Bella Design Company on TFH Day.

When National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) representatives were at Parx for the track’s recent safety accreditation, they spent some time with Montgomery. They were especially impressed with how TFH keeps tabs on the retired horses that are in the program.

“Turning for Home does a lot of tracking,” Montgomery said. “We have three people full time who are following up with our adopters, following up with our farms, and I think they were impressed with the tracking that we do here and how we make sure we don’t just send them to the first place and turn them loose. We follow them… It’s a full-time job just keeping up with them as they get to their third and fourth home.”

The very first horse in the TFH program was named Maneuverable. That was 11 years ago. Over the years, the program has just gotten stronger and more streamlined with each link in the chain critical to its success. All of it will be rightly celebrated on Saturday, June 22 at Parx.

2019 TRIPLE CROWN SEASON OVER, SECOND HALF OF SEASON BECKONS

By Dick Jerardi

The Triple Crown races have such an outsized influence on the sport that even without the Kentucky Derby winner in the Preakness or a Triple Crown on the line in the Belmont Stakes, the racing cards featuring the last two legs generated $200 million in handle.

The Derby itself somehow gets bigger every year. I was at Churchill Downs for every Derby from 1987 to 2017 and watched the nearly annual transformation of the track to the Twin Spires being dominant to the spires being dominated by all the construction around them. In recent times, especially, a new structure went up just about every year to meet the demand for the Derby experience. That demand, apparently, is insatiable.

After getting the unforgettable American Pharoah tour de force in 2015 and the unraced maiden to Triple Crown winner in 111 days that was Justify last year, we were probably due for a letdown on the track. This Triple Crown could best be described as unsatisfying unless, of course, you were Mark Casse who trained Preakness winner War of Will and Belmont winner Sir Winston.

Something just seemed off after Maximum Security was disqualified and Country House was declared the official Kentucky Derby winner. That neither horse ran in the next two races was certainly part of it.

Hopefully, all of the good three-year-olds will regroup for the second half of the year and we will see more than a few of them for the Pennsylvania Derby in September.

We can only hope Pennsylvania Derby Day will be as good as it was in 2018. Just how good was on full display during the best racing card of the year at Belmont Park that culminated with the Belmont Stakes.

Midnight Bisou won the Grade I Cotillion last year after Monomoy Girl was disqualified, but there has never been anything fluky about the now four-year-old filly’s performances. After running what looked like the best race of her life to win the Grade I Ogden Phipps on the Belmont undercard, Midnight Bisou is now 9-for-15 lifetime and closing on $3 million in earnings. The filly is 4-for-4 in 2019 and, with Monomoy Girl having to miss the first half of the season after a bout with colic, has complete control of the older filly and mare division.

McKinzie, the 2018 Pennsylvania Derby winner, was favored to win the Grade I Metropolitan Handicap (more commonly referred to as the “Met Mile”) against what was the best field of horses assembled all year. The 11-horse field had combined for nearly $26 million in earnings. Firenze Fire, who won last year’s Grade III Gallant Bob on the Pa. Derby Day card, was in the field as was two-time Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow, superstar sprinter Mitole and Grade I winners Pavel and Promises Fulfilled.

Mitole was brilliant in victory: his seventh straight. No way to know what would have happened if McKinzie had not faced serious traffic trouble in the stretch, but the four-year-old was coming hard at Mitole in the final yards, strongly suggesting he has more major wins in front of him.

A star emerged in the Grade I Acorn, a three-year-old filly we may see in this year’s Cotillion. Guarana had raced just once, but her 14 3/4-length win at Keeneland was so impressive she was favored against much more experienced and accomplished fillies. She did not disappoint, blowing by Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress to win by six lengths and running a mile in 1:33.58. The surface was extremely fast Saturday, but still…

The Met Mile went in 1:32.75 so for a three-year-old filly to run less than a second slower than some of the fastest older males in America really does suggest greatness for the Chad Brown trainee.

With that, the 2019 Triple Crown is in the books and the second half of the season beckons…

PARX MEETS SAFETY STANDARDS

By Dick Jerardi

Anybody who has followed racing at Parx Racing in the last few years knows the racing surface, while often slower than it used to be, has also become safer. During a time when the sport is being scrutinized because of the unusual numbers of fatal injuries this year at Santa Anita, Parx clearly is doing something right.

That was recognized last week when the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced that Parx Racing received “initial accreditation” from the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance.

Parx is the 25th track in the United States and Canada to get accreditation from the Alliance.

“A lot of the things that the alliance requires, we had already done,” Joe Wilson, Chief Operating Officer of Parx Racing, said in an NTRA news release. “And when I say that, it refers to a padded starting gate, proper equipment with regards to helmets and vests. We installed the rider protection rail…we installed an audio and visual alarm system on the track.

“And as far as aftercare for racehorses, the PTHA’s Turning For Home, which was founded more than 10 years ago, has safely retired more than 2,600 Thoroughbreds. This program is funded by Parx horse owners, jockeys, the PTHA, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association and Parx management

“So with all that, it was just a natural fit that we should take that further and be accredited by the NTRA. It just solidifies how important we take safety and integrity.”

Concussion protocol has become a major issue in contact sports, especially football where standards have been developed to diagnose and treat serious head injuries. Jockeys obviously are susceptible to head trauma.

“Right now, if someone comes off a horse and there is any thought at all that they may have hit their head, we require them to have a doctor’s note to return and get back on the track,” Wilson said in the release. “It’s a unique circumstance where jockeys are not employed by us; they are employed by owners. However, we’re the venue and we are going to do as much as we can to protect everybody so it was just a natural thing. So if we’re aware that someone may have hit their head, we’re going to require them to be cleared by a doctor before they can get back on a horse.”

To get Alliance certification, according to the NTRA release, a track must comply with “safety and integrity concerns within six broad areas: injury reporting and prevention, creating a safer racing environment, aftercare and transition of retired racehorses, uniform medication and testing, jockey health and welfare, and wagering security.”

A track does not get accredited unless it has addressed concerns in all six areas. Parx has done that, so the track is now one of 25 in North America with the NTRA’s Seal of Approval.

Joey Evans’ Favorite Horse Winning For Him

Joey Evans had been on the race track for 30 years, mostly as a groom. When he was working for trainer Cindy Servideo at Parx in 2018, his favorite horse was a gelding named Undeniable Temper.

Evans, 58, passed away on March 31. There was a memorial service for him in the Parx winner’s circle at 11 a.m. on April 6. The fifth race that day, a conditioned $7,500 claimer, was named in Evans’ honor. Undeniable Temper was 4-1 for Ron Dandy, who took over the training last year, lost him briefly on a claim and got him back when the owner re-purchased him. Dandy then gave the horse some time on a farm before bringing him back to the track in late winter

Undeniable Temper battled for the lead the entire way, took over in the stretch and held on to win by three-quarters of a length, his first win in nearly 14 months.

“I know that he was with him right there with (Undeniable Temper),” said Joey’s sister Donna Evans. “I have no doubt he’s with him and he pushed him. He can keep him going. I know he will.”

Undeniable Temper had raced 62 times prior to Evans’ death. The 8-year-old had nine wins, but had never won more than two straight. Well, after he won that race on April 6, he won an open $10,000 claimer on May 5 and then a first-level $52,454 allowance race on May 21, the first three-race win streak of his career. He was 4-1 and then 10-1 and 10-1 again. He won the last two by 6 1/4 lengths and then 3 1/2 lengths, making a huge move from the back each time.

“All of a sudden I just changed his training around a little bit,” Dandy said. “I just couldn’t believe how good he came around. You know how some horses just like what you do. He was liking what I was doing.”

There is that and there may be something else going on here.

Evans and his family lived in Norristown when he was young and were around horses at a family farm in Williamstown, N.J.

“He loved all the horses, everything about them,” Joey Evans’ sister Donna said. “We grew up with show horses as kids.”

And he really loved Undeniable Temper.

“When he got with certain horses he knew could do something, he put everything into it,” Donna Evans said. “That horse was so close to him. I have a really cool picture of them together.”

Donna and Joey were especially close too. They talked every day.

“It’s a loss for me to wait for that phone call and it’s not there,” Donna said. “I think about him every day. Certain things come up. It’s hard. My mom came from Florida for that day (of the service). Family up in Norristown came down for that day.”

Donna lives near Parkwood, not far from the track in Northeast Philadelphia.

“I’d like to thank Ron Dandy from the bottom of my heart for giving the horse a shot and keeping him going,” Donna said.

Undeniable Temper has won $302,841 in a career which began Aug. 31, 2013 at Gulfstream Park.

The horse had a great run in the fall and early winter of 2016, winning three times, with two seconds and a third. But this is easily the best run since then. And the first one of the three straight, now that was special.

“The family was there,” Dandy said. “They were all in the winner’s circle. It was just a good day for everybody.”

Dandy’s younger brother passes through the area once or twice a year.

“He has never been in a winner’s circle picture with me,” Dandy said.

He was in the winner’s circle on May 5 when Undeniable Temper won his second straight.

Jean Barbanti, who owns Undeniable Temper, lives in the Boston area.

“She never comes down,” Dandy said.

She came down for the third win on May 21.

“It’s just good to be around this horse because if you’re around this horse, you’re going to get lucky,” Dandy said.

Something is definitely going on here.

– By Dick Jerardi

Going Home to the Preakness

By Dick Jerardi

I grew up 15 minutes from Pimlico. I saw my first race there. It was so long ago that the grandstand was pretty much filled. My oldest brother and I sat in what we thought were empty seats, with newspapers draped over them. What we found out when two angry men returned was the newspaper left behind was the universal signal that the seat was occupied. Kind of ironic that I ended up in newspapers covering horse racing.
My first Preakness was 1973. If you watch old films of Secretariat storming through the stretch, I am one of those people running from the infield right up next to the rail, the great horse close enough to touch, but really so fast that he was by me in an instant on his way to legend.
Last Saturday was Preakness No. 144, No. 44 for me. It is my favorite Triple Crown race because, even after 34 years of working in Philadelphia, Baltimore is home, Pimlico is my hometown track and I love going back.

Pimlico has easily the best setup for the Triple Crown races, the horses in the Preakness barn a very short walk from the back of the grandstand. So many great memories of unforgettable races – Affirmed refusing to let Alydar by, hometown hero Spectacular Bid overwhelming the field, Sunday Silence and Easy Goer inseparable in the homestretch, Smarty Jones winning by what is still the biggest margin in Preakness history, Afleet Alex miraculously recovering from a near-fall and winning easily, and then the tragedy of Barbaro.

There is a chance that next year will be the last Preakness at Pimlico. That makes me kind of sad and not a little nostalgic. I’m not close enough to it to understand the disconnect behind the Stronach Group’s wish to move the race to Laurel Park and the city of Baltimore wanting it to stay at what would eventually have to be a rebuilt and/or refurbished Pimlico, a facility fairly described as being near the end of its useful life.

Whatever happens next, it was nice to see a deserving Preakness winner in War of Will for one of America’s great trainers, Mark Casse. I spent a lot of time Friday and Saturday touring old haunts, seeing old friends, showing a first-timer around Pimlico and checking out the Preakness horses.

I decided to watch the race from the old grandstand in a seat that must have been somewhere near that seat I was in very briefly all those years ago. This time, I had a credential so I could pretty much hang anywhere. When War of Will crossed the finish line right in front of me, I was back in the moment until I wasn’t.

When I left, I knew I would be back next year. But I also knew that there may not be another next year when I leave the track in 2020. That was harder to process and, regardless of who is right about what, difficult to understand.

The Other Omaha Beach

Arkansas Derby winner Omaha Beach was the morning line favorite for the 2019 Kentucky Derby until he had to be scratched just 72 hours prior to the race because on an entrapped epiglottis. Omaha Beach, who began his career in 2006 at Oaklawn Park, had 11 different trainers and made the last start of a 61-race career at Parx on Feb. 19, 2012.

Wait, what?

Welcome to the world of horse names where once a horse turns 10 and is five years past his last start, the name becomes available for re-use, with some very notable exceptions.

When Rick Porter was told Omaha Beach became available after he purchased a yearling colt by War Front, he eagerly scooped up the name to honor the men he said “saved the world” 75 years ago on D-Day. Porter’s Omaha Beach has started seven times, with three wins, three seconds, a third and $1,121,800 in earnings, and a very promising future once he returns to training.

The “other” Omaha Beach raced 10 times at Parx Racing (PRX) and 22 times at Philadelphia Park (PHA), the abbreviations on the “Daily Racing Form” past performances. So same track, different name and same name, different horse.

The older Omaha Beach was born in 2003 and was eligible to be claimed in 53 of his 61 races. In fact, the grandson of Storm Cat was claimed for as much as $75,000 and as little as $10,000. The younger Omaha Beach, born in 2016, won’t be entered in claiming races, not after being purchased for $500,000, with stakes races in his past and future (perhaps including the Pennsylvania Derby) and a stallion deal already negotiated.

If Omaha Beach goes on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic or be named champion 3-year-old or a champion in 2020, he will be the last Omaha Beach to run in North America. Those are among the criteria for a “permanent” name.

The criteria also include horses that are in the Hall of Fame, have been named Horse of the Year, won an Eclipse Award or have won more than $2 million. It also includes horses that have won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Turf and Jockey Club Gold Cup.

So there will be no more horses named Discreet Lover. That is a permanent name for the Parx-based 2018 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner.

Nor will there be another Secretariat or Affirmed or Justify. No more Beholder or Ruffian or Smarty Jones.

Horse names can be no more than 18 letters, with spaces and punctuation marks counting as letters. Living persons have to give permission for their names to be used.

A name can be reserved for exactly one year. According to Trish Bowman, who worked at the Jockey Club in Lexington, Ky. and is now the horse identifier at Laurel Park and Pimlico, someone reserved the name Philly Special the day after the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018. If the name is not used in a year, it goes back into the pool.

So far, there is no Philly Special in the DRF database, but keep an eye out. A horse with the name eventually could appear at the races. And after that horse finishes racing, unless the name becomes permanent, there could be another Philly Special someday. Eagles fans can’t wait.

-By Dick Jerardi

Kentucky Derby Controversy

One of the very first stories I ever wrote was for a newspaper in Baltimore in the aftermath of the controversial 1980 Preakness when Codex took Kentucky Derby winner Genuine Risk wide on the far turn and then ran away from the filly to give legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas his first Triple Crown race win. There was no disqualification that day and a subsequent appeal by the owners of Genuine Risk to the Maryland Racing Commission was turned down.

My story was about the Maryland stewards and the rules governing how they looked at replays to determine if fouls had been committed. I learned that everything was subjective and that consistency is incredibly hard. Nothing has changed.

The burden we put on our stewards is incredibly difficult. They somehow have to figure out what would have happened if what they deem interference had not happened. I think it is a borderline impossible task which is why I have always advocated that the first horse to wire wins and if the stewards want to go back later and penalize what they think were offending riders that would be fine.

I am in the distinct minority on this. And I am nothing if not pragmatic. So, after the 2019 Kentucky Derby controversy, I would advocate that North American racetracks adopt the international model where the only way the winner comes down is if he interferes with the second horse and clearly cost that horse the win. So everywhere else in the world, Maximum Security, who finished first, would be the official winner. That was obviously not the case in this Derby.

Obviously, Maximum Security went out several paths on the far turn. War of Will was impacted as was Long Range Toddy. I would argue that War of Will immediately recovered, had a clear shot for 400 yards to get by Maximum Security, could not do it and faded to eighth. I would also argue that Long Range Toddy looked like he was slowing down at that point and, while he may not have finished 17th, was not going to be any threat to hit the board.

By Kentucky rule, however, once the stewards determined that Maximum Security interfered with War of Will and Long Range Toddy, Maximum Security had to be placed behind the horse that finished the farthest behind of those two. Thus, Maximum Security officially finished 17th. And second-place County House, who was not impeded in any way and was decisively beaten by Maximum Security, became the 145th Kentucky Derby winner.

The stewards apparently have no discretion to look at what went down after the incident. I wish they would have it. The result of this Derby was the best horse “finished” 17th and the second-best horse “finished” first.

So, the “victory” was unsatisfying for Country House’s trainer Bill Mott, one of America’s best. It was his first Derby winner, but definitely not how he wanted to win it.

And I can’t even imagine how Maximum Security’s owners Gary and Mary West, trainer Jason Servis and jockey Luis Saez must feel. For 20 minutes, they won the Derby. Then, they lost it.

For 20 minutes, John and Jason Servis were the first brothers to train Kentucky Derby winners: John in 2004 with Smarty Jones and Jason in 2019 with Maximum Security. Then, they weren’t.

-By Dick Jerardi

Scott Lake Gets 6000 Wins

When Scott Lake won his 5,999th the day before Easter, he knew he was going to have to cancel his early afternoon flight to Florida the day after Easter. He was going to an Ocala sale, but that would have to wait a few hours. He would be going for win No. 6,000 first.

Lake certainly did not win all those races because he did not know his horses. In fact, he felt very confident that first time starter I’m the Talent was ready to run big on April 22 in the fifth race at Parx.

When asked before the race what running style the 3-year-old filly would demonstrate, Lake said he expected her to show speed. Lake was right, of course.

I’m the Talent, as so many Lake horses have done through his now-three-decade training career, went right to the front, tracked by 4-5 favorite Charly’s Charm.

Watching calmly on television alongside girlfriend Sarah White and her daughter Isabella at his table in Parx’s paddock-side restaurant, Lake said nothing until the far turn of the six furlong race. It was then that he urged exercise rider-turned-jockey-for-a-day Luis Villanueva, who had only ridden four winners since 2015, to “stop looking around and open up”.

Not sure how the jockey heard him through the TV, but somehow he knew what to do. Villanueva let I’m the Talent loose and she was gone—way gone—a 6 3/4 length winner.

Lake kissed Sarah, hugged Isabella, and was congratulated by everybody he saw on his way to the winner’s circle.

With the 28,149th starter of his career, Scott Lake, 53, had become just the sixth trainer in history to win 6,000 races. Only Dale Baird (9,445), Steve Asmussen (8,409), Jerry Hollendorfer (7,590), Jack Van Berg (6,523) and King Leatherbury (6,501) are ahead of him.

“It’s unbelievable, stressful getting to this point,” Lake said after all the pictures were taken. “Everybody’s building it up. I understand it’s big. It’s fantastic. For all my help, for all my owners, every horse I had the pleasure of putting the tack on. It means the world to us.”

From 2000 to 2009, Lake won an incredible 4,130 races. He once had 287 horses in barns from New York to West Virginia, but it was at Parx in the early 2000s when his career really took off and it was only fitting that it was at Parx where he won No. 6,000.

“I just wanted to be in this business in some capacity,” Lake said. “For it to happen and become what it’s become, it’s just unbelievable. It’s a little surreal.”

Lake got 6,000 on his first try so he only had to wait two days and blow a mere $350 to change his flight to later on the day he got there. And he “knew” he was getting there.

“She’s been working really well and she just does everything so easy,” Lake said of I’m the Talent. “We were confident coming in here, but you have that monkey on your back so you’re a little nervous.”

Now, Lake can just go back to winning races. He has cut way back on numbers, but he still wins.

“I’m happy with maybe 125 wins a year, keeping maybe around 70-80 horses in training,” Lake said. “We scaled back; I spend more time with my kids and everything. I have no complaints with the decisions I’ve made and what we’ve done and where we’re at in the business now.”

When Lake was growing up, he knew the names of the trainers who would hit 6,000. Now, he is there with them.

“It means the world,” Lake said. “These guys become your idols. One day you wake up and you’re sixth all-time and you’re ‘wow, how did this happen?’ It’s kind of baffling to me that we got to where we are.’’

Lake obviously has many more winners in his future.

The next goal?

“7,000,” Lake said. “Knock off Leatherbury first.”

It will take a few years, but the King and Van Berg are squarely in Lake’s sights. After that, who knows?

-By Dick Jerardi