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

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.


By Dick Jerardi

Jim Maloney wrote two letters to tout the merits of a horse he groomed for a short time. Jockey Tony Black regularly mentioned his favorite horse on Steve Byk’s Sirius radio show.

Whether it was the efforts of Maloney and Black or it was finally just time, the great My Juliet will be honored on Aug. 2 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. as she takes her rightful place in the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.

My Juliet was selected by the Museum’s Historic Review Committee. The only question is: what took so long?

My Juliet, like Black, a member of Parx Racing’s initial Hall of Fame class, will become the first Parx-based horse to make the National Hall of Fame. She is one of just four divisional champions that have been stabled regularly at Parx, along with Gallant Bob, Smarty Jones and Jaywalk.

My Juliet began her career on April 2, 1974 at Fonner Park and ended it Sept. 24, 1977 at Belmont Park. She won the Black Eyed Susan, Cotillion and Test as a 3-year-old in 1975. She ran really well in the Ashland and Kentucky Oaks.

She ran Kentucky Derby winner Bold Forbes off his feet in the 1976 Vosburgh to clinch her Eclipse Award as Sprint Champion. She won major stakes going long, but was nearly unbeatable sprinting, winning 19 of 24 races between 6 and 7 furlongs.

My Juliet ran at 16 racetracks from coast to coast. She won at Hawthorne, Sportsman’s Park, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Pimlico, Monmouth Park, Ak-Sar-Ben, Saratoga, Laurel, Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Santa Anita, Delaware Park and Detroit Race Course.

She was at Keystone with trainer Gene Euster from the fall of 1975 to the fall of 1977. Maloney worked for Euster and still remembers where My Juliet was every day – Barn 18, Stall No. 1. She ran four times at her home track and won them all, including the 1977 Neshaminy Handicap when she ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14 3/5, a track record that stood for 32 years. The great Gallant Bob could do no better than fourth in that race.
Black rode My Juliet in the final 12 races of her career. He will be making the trip to Saratoga to be part of the ceremony. Black will never forget her and he will especially not forget the day My Juliet beat Bold Forbes and he got the best of the legendary Angel Cordero.

“I was just a kid,” Black said. “We walked into the gate and (Cordero) said, ‘Just keep ‘em straight, don’t get in my way leaving here.’

“I did what I always did. If you were on the inside, I kinda herded you out of there. If you came around me, I herded you, parked you a little bit.”

My Juliet took the lead at the start and Bold Forbes could never catch up, the filly winning by 2 lengths and running the 7 furlongs in 1:21 4/5. Bold Forbes was second. Cordero claimed foul.

“I’ll never forget going in the winner’s circle, we’re circling, (and) Gene Euster wanted to know what happened,” Black said. “I said, ‘I didn’t do nothing more than I do anyplace else. It ain’t coming down.’”

My Juliet did not come down. In fact, Bold Forbes was the one that got disqualified Maloney was not My Juliet’s regular groom, but had her for a month between races late in her career when her regular groom took ill.

He remembered they called her the “Bionic Filly” after the “Bionic Man” TV series of the time. She won the Vagrancy Handicap on May 3, 1976, but suffered a fractured cannon bone. After getting surgery at the New Bolton Center where two screws were inserted, My Juliet returned that Oct. 1 at Keystone. She won that day and then finished off the year with three more wins, including the Vosburgh. She ran some of her greatest races after the surgery. Thus, the “Bionic Filly”.

“That filly was amazing because she ran against the boys,” Black said. “Gender never intimidated her.”
She finished in front of Preakness winner Master Derby in the 1975 Omaha Gold Cup. In her penultimate race, she won the Michigan Mile and an Eighth over a top field of males that included On the Sly.

My Juliet raced 36 times. She finished second or third just six times. When she was close, she won, 24 times in all from 36 races.
After she retired, My Juliet had some terrific foals, including Stella Madrid who won four Grade I stakes, including the Acorn, Matron, Spinaway and Fritzette. Her daughter Tis Juliet won the Grade I Shuvee.

My Juliet was owned by George Weasel, Jr., a.k.a. the “Radish King of the Midwest”. She was 29 when she died in November 2001.

Now, My Juliet will live on forever in the National Hall of Fame. Black loves talking about her career and especially loves remembering the leadup to that Vosburgh.

“Cordero said it would take a jet airplane (to beat Bold Forbes),” Black said.

Turned out Black was riding a rocket ship named My Juliet.


By Dick Jerardi

When I spoke to trainer Carlos Guerrero for 30 minutes the night before the July 20 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, you could hear the enthusiasm through the phone line.

He explained he had planned to run Spun to Run in the Federico Tesio Stakes in the spring, hoping to get to the Preakness. That was before it was found that the colt had an entrapped epiglottis which would require surgery.

After Spun to Run returned to training at Parx, Guerrero realized when he watched the colt’s attention wander during a routine gallop that he needed full cup blinkers.

Once equipped with blinkers, Spun to Run, already talented, turned a corner in his training and Guerrero started thinking big again.

The maiden win in January and the allowance win in March both were so nice that the trainer was thinking Preakness. His training over the summer made him think Haskell.

After a crazy day at Monmouth Park that started late, was delayed nearly five hours in hopes that it would cool off just a bit (it did cool off, but just a bit), that indeed was Spun to Run cruising down the backstretch on a loose rein under jockey Paco Lopez, sitting just behind a grouping of three horses that included Maximum Security. As the field neared the end of the far turn, only three of the six horses in the race were still running hard – Maximum Security, who finished first in the Kentucky Derby before being disqualified, Mucho Gusto, trained by Bob Baffert, winner of eight Haskells, and Spun to Run.

That the top two eventually got away from Spun to Run and had a race of their own to the wire which was eventually won by Maximum Security mattered to a wider world. That Spun to Run finished a clear third mattered too.

“Man, he ran great,” Guerrero said the next morning.

Spun to Run ran that well even though it was his first start in the nearly four months. With that race to get the colt even more fit, there is no telling what we might see next for the colt owned by Robert Donaldson.

It is very likely, Guerrero said, that Spun to Run’s next start will be at his home track on Labor Day in the Smarty Jones Stakes. He won’t be 34-1 that day. And he won’t be running against Maximum Security.

When Lopez came to Parx to work Spun to Run, the jockey told Guerrero the horse actually seems to like getting hit by dirt when he sits behind horses.

In fact, if Lopez could do it over again, he would have waited longer to tip Spun to Run out in the Haskell. He was never going to beat the top two, but the jockey thinks he would have been closer at the finish if he had sat behind them a bit longer.

It is also true that Maximum Security and Mucho Gusto had each raced three times since Spun to Run’s last race so the colt had a reason to get a little tired in the stretch of a mile and an eighth race.

So the Smarty Jones Stakes is next. And if the colt wins or at least runs really well, the Pennsylvania Derby 19 days later at Parx might be a consideration.

Nothing about Spun to Run’s third in the Haskell looked fluky. The trainer was not the least bit surprised. Now, we will all see how good the colt might turn out to be.

Joe Taylor Leads Trainer Standings at the Halfway Point

By Dick Jerardi

If you wondered where Joe Taylor came from and looked at his career record on Equibase, you would think he came out of nowhere. After all, the leading trainer at Parx midway through 2019 had never won a race prior to 2016 when he won two.

The truth is that Taylor has been around racetracks for a long time. He was an assistant to trainer Tony Correnti when he had 44 horses from 2004 to 2011. He started out with harness horses at Liberty Bell Park in 1977.

Then, he was out of the game for years, working various jobs. He was in the steel business for 16 years. He drove a tractor-trailer. He also found time to become a serious poker player. He even played in the World Series of Poker several times, including one year when he played in the Main Event.

“I won a seat online,” Taylor said. “I got busted with Aces the first day. I had Aces three times in a half hour and the third time I go them I got knocked out. I got beat by a flush.”

In 2016, Taylor’s stepson was galloping horses for trainer Patricia Farro and his wife, Felipa Quevedo-Hernandez, was a groom for Butch Reid. When his stepson wanted a horse, Simmstown was claimed by Ho Dee Boy Stable for $5,000 on Nov. 5, 2016. When the horse ran back on Nov. 19, Taylor was the trainer.

Simmstown won three of four, with a second, for Taylor before being claimed for $12,500. In 73 days with the barn, the horse won $54,000.

With that money, Taylor claimed two more horses that won a combined $200,000. And that was it. He was off.

The apartment across Street Rd. has now become a house two minutes from the track. Taylor’s barn won 30 races in 2017 and then 59 last year. Through July 13, Taylor had already won 59 races, 53 at Parx, which has him leading the trainer standings by 12 over Scott Lake.

The day we talked on Saturday, July 6, Taylor had just won the sixth race at Parx with Every Step. The horse was claimed by trainer Dee Curry.

“This horse has been really good to us.” Taylor said. “I love this horse. It breaks my heart to lose him. He’s the first horse I see when I come out of my office.”

How good was Every Step to Taylor and owner Marty Shaw’s Top Notch Racing? The Pennsylvania-Bred gelding was claimed for $7,500 on Oct. 8, 2018. Every Step had three wins and three thirds for Top Notch with earnings of $110,130 over the nine months they had him. And they lost him for $5,000 more than they paid for him.

Every Step was a very good return on investment, but Ruby Bleu has been the best so far for the barn. The horse was claimed by Top Notch for $12,500 on Nov. 4, 2017. Since then, the horse has won nine times and earned $359,318.

Interestingly, Every Step and Ruby Bleu are both PA-Bred sons of the stallion Messner, a son of 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini.

Ruby Bleu was so good to Top Notch and Taylor that they decided to give him a vacation after he won $234,538 in 2018. They sent the horse to Florida for a few months. Ruby Bleu ran poorly in his first two spring starts after the vacation.

“I scoped him,” Taylor said. “He was entrapped. I sent him to (Dr.) Patty Hogan. She fixed him and sent him back.”

Ruby Bleu has won his last three starts, once by disqualification.

“He became Ruby Bleu again,” Taylor said.

Top Notch Racing and John Fanelli own most of the horses Taylor trains. His wife owns a few. He has a few with Chuck Zacney.

“Chuck came up to me one day and said do you know who I am,” Taylor said.

“Of course, you’re Chuck Zacney, Afleet Alex,” Taylor told him.

“No, no you know who I am,” Zacney said. “I sat right behind you in homeroom at Ryan.”

That would be Archbishop Ryan in Northeast Philly, just a few miles from the track. Small world, indeed.

“I used to get here at 4:30 every morning,” Taylor said. “Now, I get here at 5:30. I’ve got a much bigger staff. I’ve got 40 horses.”

And the stable is winning. Everybody knows Joe Taylor now.

“I like the low profile,” Taylor said.

Good luck with that.

It is a bit harder to keep a low profile when your name is at the top of the trainer standings.


By Dick Jerardi

The races were run 12 minutes and 57 miles apart. The winners were an 8-year-old gelding who absolutely loves the Parx grass course and a 3-year-old filly who clearly loves to train at Parx. One day, it would be no surprise if that gelding, Pure Sensation, and that filly, Jaywalk, both became members of the Parx Racing Hall of Fame.

First, it was Pure Sensation in the Grade III Parx Dash on a course soaked by rain that fell on the afternoon of July 6. It was Pure Sensation’s seventh race on the course. His only loss came in the same race in 2018 when he finished a close third.

This Parx Dash was not close at all. With clods of grass flying behind him, Pure Sensation went right to the front, shook off two challenges on the far turn, opened up a huge lead in the stretch and eased home a 4 1/4 length winner.

That was the horse’s third Parx Dash to go along with three Turf Monsters, breaking a tie with Parx Hall of Famer Ben’s Cat for wins in the track’s grass sprint stakes.

Why does Pure Sensation love the Parx course so much?

“I don’t know,” said Christophe Lorieul, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement. “We took him to (Penn National) last time. I think he likes a small track, tight turns.”

Pure Sensation trains and sometimes runs at Belmont Park which decidedly is not a small track and does not have tight turns, not even on its grass course.

“He’s got so much speed that around those turns he does it effortlessly,” Lorieul said. “I thought he was very impressive. We had a question about the turf. He likes it when it’s really hard.”

Hard, soft or in between, Pure Sensation, who was ridden by Paco Lopez, always fires on the Parx grass course.

All that was missing from the familiar scene was Pure Sensation’s regular rider Kendrick Carmouche, a Parx Hall of Famer himself. Carmouche, who says Pure Sensation is “like a big brother”, was down at Delaware Park riding that stakes-filled card.

Unfortunately for Carmouche, he was not riding Jaywalk in the Grade III Delaware Oaks. That was Joe Bravo and, for the first time in 2019, we all got to see the real Jaywalk.

The 2018 2-year-old filly champion and Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner got blinkers for the first time. She also made an easy lead for the first time this year. If you superimposed last November’s Breeders’ Cup race over this Delaware Oaks, they would have looked identical.
Jaywalk won by 5 1/2 lengths at Churchill Downs. She won by 9 lengths at Delaware Park. She was never threatened in either race.

In her three previous races this year, Jaywalk did not have the same speed or the same pop she showed in 2018 when she won four of five starts, including the Grade I Frizette. She did all that when she was based at Parx. She just wasn’t the same after going to Florida for the winter.

Well, she has been back at Parx for two months and it showed.

“When she came back after her first race earlier in the year, I thought maybe she needed the race, so I started bearing down on her a little bit with her works and that is probably the worst thing I could have done,” trainer John Servis said. “She just did not respond well to it.”

After one loss in Florida and two more in Kentucky, Servis said he started over with Jaywalk, going back to the routine that was so successful in 2018.

The trainer went “with what we did last year with the two-minute licks and putting those long quicker miles in her and she responded. That was my girl today. It felt very, very good when she started opening up. You know with horses, sometimes you have got to figure them out and we get caught up in the shuffle sometimes and you got to go back to square one.”

The early season goal for Jaywalk was the Grade I Kentucky Oaks. That plan did not work so well. The late season goal is the Grade I Cotillion at her home track in September. That plan is off to a great start.


By Dick Jerardi

Owning horses is not an inexpensive proposition as anybody who has been in the business for even a short time can attest. Marshall Gramm, along with partner Clay Sanders, a three-time leading owner at Parx Racing, understands the economics better than most because he is, in fact, an “economist” who heads the economics department at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

Gramm was in the area the last week of June to see the 23 horses he, Sanders and their partners, have at Parx with trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero. He was more than happy to sit down and explain how their Ten Strike Racing partnerships/syndicates have been developed and evolved as a way for people without the means to buy horses on their own to get involved in the game without having an overwhelming amount of risk.

“Our partners put up money and we hold a little for overhead to pay for bills,” Gramm said. “Clay and I make no money off management fees. We view this as, ‘hey, I could afford to buy one nice horse, let’s get our friends involved. Let’s buy six.’ It’s really a way to leverage our friends’ money and do this together. It’s really very much a partnership.”

Gramm and Sanders originally put together two small claiming syndicates, Mid Atlantic Thoroughbred Investments and High Point Thoroughbred Partners. High Point won the Parx and Monmouth titles in 2013 and was the ninth-leading owner by wins in the country that year.

“That sort of fell apart and Clay and I stayed together,” Gramm said. “We started buying yearlings and two-year-olds.”

They began buying under the banner of Ten Strike, the name of the horse that won the 1884 Tennessee Derby in Memphis when that was one of the biggest races in the country.

“Instead of buying one two-year-old or one yearling and syndicating out, making people choose between those horses, we buy six yearlings or a group of six horses and package them together,” Gramm said. “We do that every year.”

The fifth venture which they refer to as “10×5” just happened to include a horse named Warrior’s Charge, the colt that led the Preakness until the top of the stretch before finishing fourth. There are 51 partners involved in Warrior’s Charge.

“It was a thrill for all of us,” Gramm said.

Ten Strike had to pay a $150,000 supplemental nomination to make Warrior’s Charge eligible for the Preakness because he was not a Triple Crown nominee.
“When 51 of us are doing it, it’s much easier to foot the bill that way,” Gramm said.

It is quite a long way to the Chalet in the Preakness infield from Gramm’s first claim for $5,000 with trainer Don White at Philadelphia Park on Aug. 30, 2008. He won a three-way shake for Aunt Dot Dot, was offered $10,000, turned it down and “kind of never looked back.” Aunt Dot Dot, after eight non-winning races for Gramm, was retired to do what she was claimed for, become a broodmare. She is now the dam of two stakes winners.

Gramm gives great credit to all of Ten’s Strike’s trainers and can’t praise bloodstock agent/stable manager Liz Crowe enough.

Even as the stable has branched out with trainers in several states and has upgraded with horses like Warrior’s Charge who is trained by Brad Cox, Ten Strike has never stopped supporting racing at Parx.

“Clay and I started with Carlos in 2010,” Gramm said. “To me, Carlos is family. To me, Parx is home.”

Ten Strike was the leading owner at Parx in 2016 and 2017 and, according to Gramm, “we’re committed long term to Pennsylvania racing. We think the world of the Turning for Home program; we love racing here.”

That has shone through for years now.

“The claiming partnerships tend to be smaller,” Gramm said. “It’s a little bit of a leap of faith because when I claim a horse, if that horse runs poorly, he may suddenly be worth half that money. It’s not for the faint of heart.”

Ten Strike partners can buy in for as little as a half a percent of the total cost. It’s typically a bit more these days, but not so much more that it’s unaffordable.

“We want people who love the sport, get along well with others and appreciate these animals and who understand that we hope to make money with our investment in horses,” Gramm said. “We believe Warrior’s Charge is going to do well, but…this is a consumption activity. There is a lot of risk involved.”

Ten Strike and other partnerships like Kate and Greg DeMasi’s Pewter Stable at Parx and Truman High (Bristol Township) graduate Terry Finley’s West Point Thoroughbreds are a great way for newcomers to get a taste of ownership and perhaps, according to Gramm, “spread their wings” and start buying horses on their own one day.

Economists are nothing if not realists. Gramm is very definitely a realist. But what price can you put on seeing “your” horse leading the Preakness?

“We’re able to buy nice horses, something that we’d never be able to do on our own and lower our risk margin,” Gramm said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. We’ve had a great time doing it and we’ve met amazing people.”


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.