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.


By Dick Jerardi

To understand the kind of care so many retired Thoroughbreds are getting in the United States, one almost has to make a stop at the annual Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover in the Kentucky Horse Park. Held in Lexington during the first week of October, the Makeover is a showcase for the retraining of recently retired racehorses.

The horses must have less than 10 months of retraining and can compete in up to two of ten different disciplines, including barrels, dressage and show jumping.

“The mission is to put these retiring horses in the hands of good trainers who can transition them carefully into second careers and transform them into solid citizens so they are safe for the rest of their lives,” said Danielle Montgomery, Program Administrator for Parx Racing’s Turning for Home Program.

By mid-August, there were 474 horses entered in the 2019 Makeover. They had combined for more than 10,133 starts, 1,158 wins and $28 million in earnings. There were 26 states, four Canadian provinces and two European countries (Ireland and France) represented.

TFH originally had 24 horses entered. Fourteen went to Kentucky. Two were late scratches so 12 competed.

“It’s a training test,” Montgomery said. “It’s not that these horses are going to win an open, real competition. This is not that. This is a marketplace where we try to get the best trainers we can get and bring these horses along and present them as a makeover in 10 months of training. They shouldn’t be the finished horses. They should be able to show that they are calm and relaxed and ready to go on to their second careers.”
Edger Jones, a seven-year-old son of Smarty Jones and a TFH graduate, finished 10th in dressage and 13th in freestyle.

The gelding raced 44 times over four years with four wins and $128,656 in earnings. All but six of those races came at Parx. When he was no longer competitive on the track, he was signed over to TFH which then placed him with one of its Partner Farms (KL Sporthorses) on the way to retraining for that second career. Just 13 months after his last race, Edger Jones was competing in the Makeover.

“Anytime we can take a Turning for Home horse that is right off the racetrack and put the horse with a good trainer that understands Thoroughbreds and understands the process of what they go through when they’re decompressing (is helpful),” Montgomery said. “They’re young horses. They go from being broken to the sales sometimes right to racing.”

Henny Strike, from the William Hedus barn, raced 10 times from November 2017 until August 2018. He won just once, but when it became obvious he could not compete at Parx, he became a TFH horse and just over a year later a horse good enough to finish seventh in eventing and 22nd in show jumping, earning him the Turning for Home High Point Award. He is currently available for adoption through Full Gallop Farm in Aiken, South Carolina.

Aces for John’s entire 50-race career was in South Florida. When he was brought to Parx in 2018 by trainer Eli Betancourt, it was discovered he had a knee issue that would not allow him to race again. He became yet another TFH horse that competed in the Makeover, this time in foxhunting and freestyle.

Shoppingforsilver finished 18th in barrels but found the perfect home on her return to New Jersey. I’m Truly Blessed was 26th in competitive trail. Pulpituity finished 17th in show jumpers which was definitely the right division. The horse reared so high in the paddock before his first (and last race) on Sept. 1, 2018 that the jockey slid right off.

“What’s great about the Makeover (is) it shows that every horse that retires can do something,” Montgomery said.


By Dick Jerardi

Get Set, making the fourth start of his career, finished an impressive second in the second race on Pennsylvania Derby Day at Parx. Two and a half hours later, his mother, Enthusiastic Gal, ran seventh in the Turf Amazon, the seventh race on the card.

Something strange is going on here. Yes, it is true. Mother and son are each stabled at Parx with trainer Steve Klesaris and both are racing.

So, what is the deal?

Enthusiastic Gal injured a tendon after racing four times from September 2015 to January 2016 when she was trained by Ben Perkins, Jr. for three races and Shug McGaughery for one race.

“The owner (Joe Imbesi’s Briardale Farm) actually did some research and found by breeding them, the stem cells that the foal and the mare share together heals tissue in the mare,” Klesaris said.

So, in 2016, Enthusiastic Gal was bred to Awesome of Course. Her foal, a Pennsylvania bred like Enthusiastic Gal, was born in 2017. And made it to the races on June 26, 20 days after his mother ran in a Grade III stakes at Belmont Park.

“She came to me after she had dropped the foal,” Klesaris said. “She’s been really perfect ever since. You wouldn’t even know she had a tendon. There’s certainly something to be learned from this.”

Enthusiastic Gal has won three races and $150,000 the last two years. Each of her four career wins and all but one of her 17 starts have been on grass.

This was a first for Klesaris and perhaps a first in the 45-year history of Keystone/Philadelphia Park/Parx.

“I’ve seen mares have foals and come back and run, but I’ve never had the mare and the foal,” Klesaris said. “This is pretty unique. I’ve never seen it before. She (Enthusiastic Gal) has a sister in the barn and a brother which makes him the uncle to the foal.”

And all of them are with Klesaris at Parx.

The mare Twiggles is the mother of all those siblings, including Enthusiastic Gal. The brother, two-year-old Buy Land and See, won the third race on that Pa. Derby Day card, winning by 8 1/4 lengths and setting a course record (1:30.03) for 7 1/2 furlongs on grass in just his second start. Like Get Set, Buy Land and See is a two-year-old. Klesaris thinks he may turn out to be the best of the bunch.

“There is a lot to be said for the mare who’s thrown nothing but runners,” Klesaris said. “Twiggles was hand selected in the (auction) ring by Joe’s daughter Amanda because she liked the looks. Joe raised his hand and bought her for a ham sandwich, three or four thousand dollars.’’

So it was Twiggles who foaled Enthusiastic Gal (who in turn foaled Get Set) and all his relatives.

The trainer has high hopes for Get Set as well. The gelding has two seconds in four starts.

“He’ll be a useful horse in his own right,” Klesaris said.

And the answer to a question that had probably never been asked at Parx before: What is the name of the horse that ran on the same card as his mother?


By Dick Jerardi

None of the 11 horses that left the Gulfstream Park starting gate at 5:12 p.m. on Dec. 20, 2018 had won a race. All of them were eligible to be claimed for $16,000.

The winner, a horse that was making his first start, would go on to finish first in the 2019 Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby and Haskell Invitational. The horse that finished second was 0-for-9 after that race, is now 1-for-14 and most recently finished third in a $10,000 claiming race at Gulfstream for horses that have never won two races. The horse that finished third won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 21.

Horse racing’s allure is its possibilities. You just never know.

The first three horses across the wire that day in Hallandale, Florida were Maximum Security, Guerreron and Math Wizard.

Only Math Wizard was claimed. Seventeen days later, Math Wizard was entered in another maiden $16,000 claimer. The colt won by 6 3/4 lengths and was claimed again. Guerreron was a distant second. Twenty-five days later, Math Wizard was entered in an open $25,000 claimer. He won by 18 1/2 lengths and was claimed again, this time by John Fanelli, the general manager of Turnersville (N.J.) Nissan, a horse owner who also is a major player in the stable of Joe Taylor, the leading trainer at Parx in 2019.

Math Wizard stayed in South Florida with another of Fanelli’s trainers, Saffie Joseph, Jr. Fanelli sold off percentages of the horse, but stayed as majority owner as Math Wizard raced in stakes races in New York, Arkansas, Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia. The colt ran second once (Ohio Derby), third once (Indiana Derby) and fourth twice (Wood Memorial, Oaklawn Park Invitational). Math Wizard’s only poor performance came when he finished sixth in the Aug. 3 West Virginia Derby, the colt’s third race in six weeks.

Fanelli was considering the Pa. Derby as entry time neared on Sept. 16. Joseph was more thinking Oklahoma Derby. Fanelli said it was only $2,000 to enter, so why not? Barely after entries closed, Maximum Security, the horse that won that maiden claimer by 9 3/4 lengths and was clearly the country’s most accomplished three-year-old, developed a serious colon problem at his Monmouth Park base. The colt was rushed to a New Jersey equine clinic, was treated and is now recovering. It was announced the next day that Maximum Security would be scratched.

The Pa. Derby was down to six, one of them a maiden who clearly had no chance. Math Wizard was going to finish no worse than fifth, which would be worth $40,000 and push the colt’s earnings to $300,073. Math Wizard was flown north two days before the race and hit the Parx track for the first time the day before the race.

Edgard Zayas, who had ridden Math Wizard twice, was named to ride in the Pa. Derby. But, due to the original uncertainty about whether the colt would run, he chose to stay in South Florida and ride the Gulfstream Park card. He went 2-for-4, winning a $16,000 claimer with a $24,000 purse and a $10,000 claimer with a $21,000 purse.

Irad Ortiz, Jr, the 2018 Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s leading jockey, was at Parx to ride Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress in the Cotillion. He also rode a few of the undercard stakes and was on a hot first-time starter for Todd Pletcher that would win the day’s last race. Neither Irad nor younger brother Jose, who rode Cotillion favorite Guarana and had ridden Math Wizard in both his Gulfstream wins in January, had a mount in the Pa. Derby.

Irad ended up on Math Wizard for the Pennsylvania Derby. The colt was 31-1 as the horses came out of the gate.
Well, all but 6-5 favorite Improbable came out of the gate. That colt, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, the exacta that had won the last two Pa. Derbies, completely missed the break and was immediately several lengths behind the field. Instead of being in front where Baffert and Smith wanted him to be, Improbable was last.

Instead of a comfortable front-running trip, Improbable would have to pass them all. Instead of stalking from second, Mr. Money, who had won four straight stakes with a close-to-pace running style, was instead looking uncomfortable on the lead. The fractions were slow, with Preakness winner War of Will just behind Mr. Money and Parx-based Spun to Run just behind War of Will. Improbable gradually moved into a good striking position.
A half-mile into the race, Math Wizard was last, just behind the maiden Shanghai Superfly. But the pace was so slow that Math Wizard was not that far from first.

And when the pace really picked up during the third and fourth quarter miles of the race, Math Wizard really picked it up too, coming off the rail and making a powerful outside move on the far turn.

With 100 yards to go, it really looked like any of five horses could win. At the wire, it was Math Wizard just in front of Mr. Money, the top five separated by just 1 1/2 lengths. It was mayhem in the owner’s boxes as the Math Wizard team rooted their horse and jockey home.
That $25,000 claim had just taken down a $600,000 first prize, a Grade I and more than likely earned a trip to run in the Nov. 2 $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

Horse racing can’t be scripted. It just happens, you marvel and you smile.

“I’ve got to retire now,” Joseph said. The trainer is 32.

He won’t be retiring. Fanelli will keep running horses at Parx with Taylor. Math Wizard will run some more.

And anybody who was there at Parx on Sept. 21, 2019 will never forget what they saw on a day when nearly $9 million was bet on the 13 races (seven stakes), with purses of $3.24 million. They will remember the brilliant ride by English native Sophie Doyle on the Larry Jones-trained Street Band to win the Cotillion and the California sprinters, King Jack and Landeskog flying home 1-2 in the Gallant Bob.

The lasting memory will be Math Wizard—an owner who believed in his horse, a trainer who got him right for his first Grade I, a jockey who gave the colt a chance and that moment when anything seemed possible.


By Dick Jerardi

Click here to see a gallery of this year’s event.

From the first class—which was honored in 2011—to the ninth class—which was presented on Sept. 14—the Parx Racing Hall of Fame has never lacked for deserving enshrinees in its five categories – Horse, Trainer, Jockey, Owner and Special Achievement. And that was certainly true this year with a trainer who has been at the track for 30 years, a longtime owner who was also a well-known public handicapper, a beloved veterinarian and three horses that gave Parx an unforgettable fall of 2018 in Grade I stakes.

Going back to 1984, Alfredo “Freddie” Velazquez has won 1,117 races from 7,077 starters. His horses have taken down nearly $19 million in purse earnings. In a sport where winning any race is difficult, winning 1,000 races is a serious milestone.

“You work all your life to get here and it happened,” Velazquez said. “When you start, you never think you are going to get here.”

Velazquez trained the wonderful Traffic Light who began his career at Parx on Oct. 24, 2011 with a 5 3/4 length win and ended it at Parx on Dec. 21, 2015 with an 8-length win. The horse won three Pennsylvania-Bred stakes and $613,160 in a 29-race career that included 10 wins and seven stakes. All but six of his races came at Parx.

As Traffic Light’s career was playing out, Velazquez got the chance to train the top horse Private Zone for three races in the fall of 2014 and he made them count, winning the Grade I Vosburgh and the Grade I Cigar Mile while running a close third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Nicholas Saponara was honored in the Special Achievement category and there is no question his unique horse racing resume, which began in 1963 at Liberty Bell, was always going to get him a spot in the Hall.

He was a handicapper for the “Philadelphia Bulletin” for 20 years. He also made the morning line at Brandywine, Liberty Bell and Parx when it was known as Keystone. He was equally at home with the Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds.

He owned harness horses before claiming his first Thoroughbred. His horses race under the familiar Club Risque Stable silks for trainer Randy Allen.

“This is a special day I will never forget the rest of my life,” Saponara said. “I’ve been in racing for 56 years; did it all.”

Dr. James Penny started in Thoroughbred racing in Pennsylvania when the sport began in the Commonwealth—1969 at old Liberty Bell Park. Before that he was the track veterinarian at Garden State Park in the 1940s. He worked at Monmouth Park, Atlantic City and Delaware Park.

Anybody who was around Keystone/Philadelphia Park knew “Doc” Penny. He was such a beloved figure that after his death, a major stakes race at the track was named in his honor. The Doc Penny Memorial on grass is a summer fixture at Parx, and marks the first graded stakes of the year.

“It’s a great honor (for Dr. Penny); it’s a great honor for us too,” said Doc Penny’s son, James “Mac” Penny, Jr. “The family is all here for this induction. He really, really, really liked the life at the race track.”

Horses and the race track were his life. Thus, it was only fitting that Dr. James Penny take his rightful place in the Parx Hall in the Special Achievement category.

Discreet Lover, Imperial Hint and Jaywalk were the 18th, 19th and 20th horses to be elected to the Hall.

That they went in together made perfect sense as it was those three horses, all stabled at Parx, that won a combined five Grade I Stakes in 2018, two by Imperial Hint, including the Vosburgh, two for Jaywalk, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and one for Discreet Lover, the unforgettable stretch run to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup on the final jump.

Imperial Hint ($2,034,155), Jaywalk ($1,623,500) and Discreet Lover ($1,449, 685) have combined to win $5,107,340 and counting.

Imperial Hint is going to run in the Vosburgh again and then try for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint where he finished third last year after finishing second in 2017. Jaywalk is going to run in the Grade I, $1 million Cotillion at Parx on Sept. 21.

Discreet Lover, purchased for $10,000, has been the horse of a lifetime for owner/trainer Uriah St. Lewis.

“We’ve been here 30 something years and it’s been working out very good,” St. Lewis said. “To have a horse like this, it’s been fantastic.”

Discreet Lover has been out of training for a while, but just got back to the barn and St. Lewis hopes to run him in 2020.

Imperial Hint is trained by Luis Carvajal, Jr., for owner Raymond Mamone.

“It’s a great achievement, especially for us with such a small barn,” Carvajal said.

Jaywalk, along with Smarty Jones and Jostle, is the third horse to make the Hall for inaugural Hall of Fame member, trainer John Servis.

“It’s pretty special,” Jaywalk’s co-owner Chuck Zacney said. “Growing up in Northeast Philly, coming to Keystone Race Track way back in the ’70s (and) now all of a sudden making the Hall of Fame with Jaywalk means a whole lot to me. It’s great to share it with the Greens.”

Lois Green was at Parx to represent D.J. Stable.

“Jaywalk has been the peak of a long career here at Philadelphia Park, Keystone and Parx,” Lois said. “We started out with Walter Reese as our trainer. The Eclipse Award (as 2018 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly) and Breeders’ Cup were so phenomenally exciting, we couldn’t be happier.”


By Dick Jerardi

Right after he won the first graded stakes of his career, trainer Carlos Guerrero said he needed a few days before he could commit to trying to win the first Grade I race of his career.

After Spun to Run’s thrilling win in the Grade III Smarty Jones Stakes on Labor Day at Parx, the trainer took that time to evaluate owner Robert Donaldson’s horse. Guerrero liked what he saw, so Spun to Run will be entered in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 21 where he will be running against Kentucky Derby winner (for 20 minutes) Maximum Security and Preakness winner War of Will.

“It’s going to be a tough one,” Guerrero said.

Spun to Run tried Maximum Security in the Grade I Haskell Invitational on July 20. The colt by Pennsylvania-Bred Hard Spun finished third, 9 1/4 lengths behind Max. But there were extenuating circumstances. It was Spun to Run’s first race in four months, his first race since surgery to repair an entrapped epiglottis, and jockey Paco Lopez, against instructions, took Spun to Run from behind horses on the turn sooner than the trainer wished.

Guerrero does not think the colt was going to win that day, but does think he would have been closer. Lopez waited longer behind horses in the Smarty Jones Stakes and the colt had a much stronger finish. After getting passed by Ellis Park Derby winner Gray Magician in the stretch, Spun to Run came back to take the lead and was easing away at the finish line. This was, just as the trainer expected, a better horse in the Smarty Jones than he was in the Haskell. The winning Smarty Jones Beyer Speed Figure was 97, five points lower than the Haskell’s Beyer of 102, about three lengths on the track

So Spun to Run will have to be better again to win the Pa. Derby, but you can’t win if you are not in.

Spun to Run was purchased for $64,000 at the Timonium two-year-old sale right after the 2018 Preakness. Guerrero knew quickly this was a good one.

“He showed me a lot of class when I started training him, very professional with everything,” Guerrero said.

The colt did not win any of his first four starts, but he ran well enough and those were sprints. After the Smarty Jones win, Spun to Run is now 3-for-4 around two turns, including that third in the Haskell.

“It’s funny when you win a claimer and then you win a graded race,” Guerrero said. “Everybody and their mother, it’s like congratulations.”

The Pa. Derby likely will be Spun to Run’s final race of 2019 unless, of course, the colt wins. Then, they will have a lot to think about.

Soon after the Smarty Jones Stakes, the lady who cuts Guerrero’s hair reminded him what he had said about Spun to Run when he was getting a haircut on Jan. 14, near where he lives in South Jersey.

“Keep an eye on this horse,” he told her then. “He’s going to be a nice one.”

Spun to Run has now won $300,000 more than his purchase price, so he is definitely a nice one.

Spun to Run won’t have to go Maximum Security’s home track at Monmouth Park this time. All of them will be coming to Parx, Spun to Run’s home track. On to the Pennsylvania Derby.


By Dick Jerardi

As the annual 25-day break ends on the last day of August, what has been anticipated for months is now upon us. September has become “the” month at Parx since its most important races were moved to the third Saturday and placed together on a racing card that now has significant championship and Breeders’ Cup implications. That is every year. This year, however, is even more special because on Labor Day, almost exactly 15 years after his final appearance on the Parx track (Aug. 14, 2004), Smarty Jones will return to be paraded late that afternoon.

Smarty’s appearance will come between the $300,000 Turf Monster and the race named in his honor, the $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes. Those races will be preceded by the $150,000 Cathryn Sophia Stakes and four $100,000 MATCH series races.

The races will be nice, but Smarty’s appearance will be the highlight of the day and maybe the year. Who knows what the track or the racing would look like without Smarty’s impact (Gov. Rendell says the horse’s popularity was critical to passing the slots bill) in the spring of 2004 when he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness? Smarty was denied the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes only because he was targeted by other jockeys less interested in winning the race than seeing Smarty Jones get beat.

None of what happened in his final race, however, can ever lessen the brilliance of the greatest horse ever born in Pennsylvania and the best ever to occupy a stall at what was then called Philadelphia Park: Barn 11, Stall 38 to be exact.
The return of Smarty Jones is so big that there will be a two-hour television show (4-6 pm) on PHL-17, featuring four of the races and the Smarty Jones appearance. The races, no doubt, will be terrific, but it will be Smarty Jones that brings people to the track who got into the sport because of Roy and Pat Chapman’s horse and, in many cases, became fans for life.

Exactly 19 days after Smarty Jones Day, Parx will be in the spotlight again when the first national telecast in the track’s history will feature the Grade I $1 million Pennsylvania Derby and the Grade I $1 million Cotillion Stakes. The races will be on NBC from 5-6 p.m. on Sept. 21.
Not only will they be on national television; both races could go a long way toward determining 3-year-old championships.

The Pa. Derby appears as if it will include the horses that finished first in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Florida Derby and Haskell Invitational winner Maximum Security, who was disqualified from first and placed 17th in the Derby, and Preakness winner War of Will are both on schedule to run in the race.

The Cotillion looks as if it will include Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress, unbeaten Guarana for superstar trainer Chad Brown and local hero Jaywalk, the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner and Eclipse Award-winning Two-Year-Old Champion Filly.

Jason Servis trains Maximum Security while his younger brother John trains Jaywalk so that could be some day for the Servis brothers. Whatever happens that day, it will be not be as emotional as Labor Day no doubt will be for John Servis, the man who trained Smarty Jones so brilliantly.
“He gave us a helluva ride,” John Servis said on the day of Smarty’s last appearance at Parx, fifteen years ago. “We had the time of our lives.”


By Dick Jerardi

It was sunny. It was ominous. It was pleasant. It was pouring.

In the end, Smarty Jones Day at Parx was glorious, a day-long celebration, an event 15 years in the making, a series of snapshots that surely will turn into lifetime memories.

Smarty Jones, the horse of Pat and Roy Chapman’s lifetime, the horse they insisted on sharing with everybody during the horse racing feast that was the spring of 2004, returned to the track where his remarkable saga began in 2003.

There were seven stakes races on the brilliant card put together by the track’s racing office. Those were attractions for the casual fan and the serious bettor alike, so much so that the $4 million handle was believed to be the track’s highest ever on Labor Day. It was absolutely twice as much as 2018.

But “the” attraction was the return of Smarty Jones. The 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner came back to Parx from Equistar Farm in Annville, Pa., where he stands at stud. Farm owner Rodney Eckenrode drove the van, arriving about five hours prior to Smarty’s scheduled appearance.

Smarty emerged from the area around trainer John Servis’s barn just after 5 p.m. The now-18-year-old horse walked toward the quarter-pole gap where he came on to the racing surface for the first time since he walked off at the same spot Aug. 14, 2004 after a “farewell” celebration.

Flanked by Eckenrode and Mario Arriaga, his groom from his racing days, Smarty walked toward the winner’s circle as the fans lined up along the rail started to cheer. And never really stopped.

The plan was to take Smarty past the winner’s circle to the walking ring for a few turns and then stop in the winner’s circle for a brief ceremony before heading back to the stable area.

“When he got close to the winner’s circle,” Pat Chapman said, “and I saw Mario, I said, ‘I’ve got to go say hi to Mario’. I said, ‘the heck with this, I’ve got to take that walk with him.’”

Which is exactly what she did. On an emotional day, that was the most emotional moment. Pat walked with her horse to the walking ring and then back to the winner’s circle.

Pat Chapman had wanted a day like it to happen for years, but was always a little hesitant. She finally said go.

“I had no idea what to hope for,” Pat said. “It really met anything I could hope for. I thought it was a great day, a great turnout. Loved the fans, loved seeing them, loved hearing them yell ‘Smarty, Smarty’! It was so thrilling.”

It was definitely that.

“It was great to see the crowd and how much they enjoyed it,” Smarty Jones’s former trainer John Servis said. “It was pretty sweet. It was fun; great to see him here.”

Smarty Jones has not forgotten Servis either. When he heard his voice in the barn area, he “called out” for his trainer.

As great as Smarty Jones was as a race horse—and his 47 1/2-length combined winning margins in his eight wins tells part of that story—the horse’s real magic was how he made people feel. If you saw Smarty run or said his name or just thought about him, you had to smile.

Without question, there were people there on Labor Day who were there 15 years ago for the “farewell”. There are very few horses in history that would inspire that kind of devotion. But Smarty Jones did then and does now. May it always be so.


By Dick Jerardi

When Jack Armstrong arrived at Parx on July 30, he knew he had a strong hand with seven horses in the 12 races. He has also owned horses for 20 years, so he knows how hard the game can be.

“I was talking to a couple of buddies and I got seven (entries) in, which is hard to do anyway,” Armstrong said. “I’m like, ‘I hate to be greedy, but I think three or four of these have a pretty good shot.’

“The first one, I said to (trainer) Scott (Lake) ‘I’ve got six in after this, if we can win this race, I can’t go 0-for-7,’” Armstrong said.
Now, that is spoken like a horse owner who knows what can go wrong. Well, on that day, just about everything went right.

Armstrong won that first race. And the second. And the third. He had horses finish third in the fourth race, then fourth in the fifth race and fifth in the seventh race.

Armstrong had won three races in a day before, but his memory is that they were at different tracks.

Could he win four, and all at his home track? He could, and he did when To The Flag won the 10th race.

“It was pretty cool,” said Armstrong, a member of the Parx Racing Hall of Fame. “My phone was blowing up. Keith Jones said it was Jack Armstrong Day at the Races… It was fun. I’ve been in the game for a long time. I’ve got to say that was pretty cool.”

Iwish Irish, who was 8-5, won the first, going 1 mile. The winner’s purse was $12,000. Iwish Irish was claimed for $5,000.

Star Sign, a first-time starter at 4-1, won the second, a maiden $20,000 claimer going 7 furlongs. The horse is trained by Bobby Mosco, one of three trainers Armstrong uses along with fellow Parx Hall of Famers Phil Aristone and Lake. First place was worth $14,000.

Lendar, trained by Lake, went wire-to-wire in the third to win by 6 1/2 lengths at 4-5 going 7 furlongs. The winning purse was worth $12,600. Lendnar was claimed for $7,500.

Chelios finished third in the fourth at 3-1 for Aristone and was promptly claimed for $5,000. Raggy Rocks finished fourth in the fifth race, a maiden $20,000 claimer. Cousin Pete finished fifth in the seventh, a maiden special weight.

Lake was back with To The Flag in the 10th. The horse won the 7-furlong race by two lengths at 5-2. The winner’s purse was $18,000 and, yes, To The Flag was claimed for $12,500.

For the day, the seven horses earned $61,590 in purses and brought back another $30,000 for the claims. Armstrong used three trainers and six jockeys.

Armstrong was delivering pizzas two decades ago when he went to the track one day with a co-worker who just happened to own horses.

“I had been to the races as a bettor and as a fan,” Armstrong said. “I come to the races, watch his horse run and I’m like ‘that was kind of exciting and that was his horse. Imagine if this was my horse’. One thing leads to another. I get in. I get a horse. Pretty much, I’m addicted at that point. It was such a thrill.”

His first horse wasn’t very talented, but his second horse was.

“One became two, then became four, and now I have 22 as of today (Aug. 18),” Armstrong said. “I’m a claiming guy. I’ve never won a stakes race. I’ve been in a couple, had a couple seconds. But to me the fun is one gets claimed off me; alright good, I’ll go look for another one.

“I was talking to Bobby Mosco. It’s not even all the money, it’s about when you claim a horse thinking: ‘Hey, we can stretch this horse out and she might like it. We can shorten this one up and he might like it.’”

Armstrong has been around long enough to remember “the beaten fours ($4,000 claimers with conditions) when the pot was $7,500, (with) $4,500 to the winner. After the 10 percent for the trainer and the jock, we came out with $3,600”.

The slot machine revenue that led to dramatically increased purses changed the economics for Parx owners. Before slots, they were just trying to survive. Now, done correctly, it is possible for stables at Parx to show a decent profit.

Without owners, there is no game. Owners with passion make the game. Jack Armstrong is a perfect example of how it can be done. He has been savvy enough in how he runs his operation that he is capable of having days like July 30—seven starters, four winners, and more than $90,000 coming into the stable in one afternoon.


By Dick Jerardi

They knew in late 2009 and early 2010 that Uptowncharlybrown might be special when he won the first two starts of his career by a combined 15 lengths.

But just as he was headed for the Triple Crown trail, the colt’s trainer Alan Seewald died. Uptowncharlybrown eventually ran a solid third in the Lexington Stakes just after Seewald’s death. Then, the colt was a respectable fifth in the Belmont Stakes for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin before being disqualified because a lead weight had fallen out of the lead pad under the saddle.

Uptowncharlybrown never won another race after those first two starts, but his story is still evolving, now in fast forward. The horse stands stud at Glenn and Becky Brok’s Diamond B Farm in Mohrsville, Pa., not far from Reading. He is the hottest stallion in the state. And one can make a case that, in relation to the quality of mares he’s being bred to, one of the hottest in the country.

Those were two of Uptowncharlybrown’s sons, full brothers Midtowncharlybrown and Midnightcharly, finishing one-two in the $100,000 Banjo Picker Stakes at Parx on Aug. 3. The pair, out of the unraced Speightstown mare Torchwood, have combined to earn $755,278, with 15 wins in 31 starts.

“Just a great credit to our trainer Ed Coletti, Jr., and the late Alan Seewald who said Uptowncharlybrown was the best horse I ever owned,” said Bob Hutt, managing partner of Uptowncharlybrown Stud LLC. “Turns out he was right, but as a stallion and we’re just thrilled.”

Hutt’s partnerships started years ago as Fantasy Lane Stable with about 10 people who put up a few hundred dollars each. Uptowncharlybrown Stud is the successor to Fantasy Lane and a bit more expensive ($1,125 for a fractional share of a horse), but as Hutt said, “we’ve been winning at 30 percent for the last three years, in the top 1 percent in the nation… It’s basically for the everyday fan who wants to become involved in racing.”

Hutt described everything as a “whirlwind” after Seewald’s death.

“I didn’t know where to turn,” Hutt said.

Uptowncharlybrown suffered an injury after the Belmont and did not race for more than a year. He ran some decent races upon his return, but never had the explosion he showed early in his career.

“Foolishly, I decided to make him a stud, probably for all the wrong reasons, but mainly to keep Alan’s memory alive,” Hutt said. “We’ve been blessed.”

The top two stallions in America, Curlin and Tapit, have an Average Earning Index (AEI) of 2.3 and 2.27, respectively. Third is Uptowncharlybrown with 2.24.

The mares that are bred to those big-name stallions are some of the best in America. Uptowncharlybrown is not getting anything like that quality of mares. Despite that, Uptowncharlybrown is averaging $88,000 per foal. He’s tied with the recently deceased Pennsylvania stallion Jump Start with three 2019 stakes wins. Jump Start has 141 runners to just 18 for Uptowncharlybrown.

Uptowncharlybrown was bred to 48 mares in 2018, 82 in 2019. So, with even more chances to get a good horse there is really no telling how many stakes winners Uptowncharlybrown might eventually produce.

Hutt calls the full brothers who ran 1-2 in the Banjo Picker the “Smash Brothers”. Their full sister, Charly’s Charm, has earned $75,760 in seven starts. The partnership just bought into Charly’s Assassin, the 2-year-old full brother. He will be training at Parx with Coletti.

Torchwood is owned by Coletti’s stepmother, Irene, whose registered ownership name is Godric LLC. She is partners with Hutt’s group on all four siblings. It has been a rather good partnership so far. Those breeders’ awards have also been nice for Irene. And who knows what’s on the horizon?


By Dick Jerardi

The final Saturday before the annual August break at Parx was a day-long showcase for the breeding program in Pennsylvania. It was only fitting that the performance of the day on “PA’s Day at the Races” came by a son of the greatest PA-Bred of them all.

That would Someday Jones, a son of Smarty Jones, in the Roanoke, one of five $100,000 stakes on the 12-race card that had $1,122,150 in total purses. I ran into John Servis the next night at Sperry’s in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he was having dinner with his dad Joe, brother Jason and Jason’s wife Natalie.

John was not only thrilled with Someday Jones’ dominating 6 1/4-length win (career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure), he was equally thrilled that his son Tyler won the $100,000 Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial with Afleet Tizzy, and thankful brother Jason decided to scratch Monongahela from the Roanoke to run him in the Grade I Whitney the same afternoon at Saratoga. Someday Jones might have been able to beat Monongahela, but it would not have been nearly as easy as it turned out to be.

It was not only a great day at Parx; it was also a great day for Parx 250 miles north of the track. That was 2018 Pennsylvania Derby winner McKinzie winning the Whitney in style and stamping himself as a major contender for Horse of the Year. About 2 1/2 hours before the Whitney, Parx fan favorite Pure Sensation, who has completely dominated the Parx Dash and Turf Monster in recent years and likely will be back to defend his Turf Monster title on Labor Day, chased a crazy pace (20.82, 43.01, 54.26) in the Troy before settling for third in a 5 1/2 furlong race that was timed in a course record 1:00.23.

The Uptowncharlybrown phenomenon continued when his son Midtowncharlybrown beat his younger full brother, Midnightcharly, by a neck in the Banjo Picker Sprint at Parx. Both horses are trained by Eddie Coletti who has found racing gold with the offspring of Pennsylvania’s hottest young sire.

The two grass stakes at Parx went to overwhelming favorite Imply in the Mrs. Penny and longshot Hollywood Talent in the Marshall Jenny Handicap. Imply, who trains at Penn National for Bernie Houghton, was the only non Parx-based horse to win one of the stakes.

Hollywood Talent was expertly managed by trainer Carlos Guerrero who got the horse to peak after just one race in a year, an off-the-grass way-back finish on July 27. In his first race for Guerrero, Hollywood Talent had finished third in the 2018 Jenny, beaten by just 1 length at 8-1. This time, Hollywood Talent, just a week after his comeback race, won the Jenny by a nose at 12-1.

The Parx card, with all 12 races for Pennsylvania-Breds, was so attractive to the large crowd at the track and simulcast bettors that the total handle was $2,178,509, nearly as much as Laurel Park and Delaware Park combined.