ADVENTIST PULLS OFF 50-1 SHOCKER IN G3 GREENWOOD CUP

Local trainer Uriah St.Lewis has a long history of placing horses in races where most “experts” would consider they had no chance. Last fall at Belmont Park, he shocked everyone when Discreet Lover, at 45-1, won the prestigious G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and earned a trip to the Breeders Cup. His legacy grew yet again at Parx on Saturday afternoon as he pulled off yet another improbable victory. Adventist, a 50-1 long shot, rallied past two heavy favorites with a little more than a sixteenth of a mile to go in the mile and a half, $200,000 G3 Greenwood Cup, and then drew away from them to win by a thoroughly convincing three widening lengths.

On paper, the Greenwood Cup looked to be strictly a two horse race. Marconi (3-5), a Grade 2 winner in New York back in June and War Story (6-5), a recent Grade 3 winner at Monmouth Park looked to absolutely be the class of the field. By comparison, Adventist had never competed in graded company and his most recent win came in a local starter allowance race at the end of July. His odds in some of his starts this year, against much lesser company than the likes of Marconi and War Story were 36-1, 44-1, 59-1 and 74-1. But, of course, races are not, and never have been, run on paper.

As racing luck would have it, neither of the two favorites got particularly good trips. Marconi, who won the G2 Brooklyn Invitational on the front end, broke awkwardly in the field of six and was last coming out of the gate. War Story, sitting just outside the early leader, never had a much of a chance to relax and never saw the inside of the racetrack.

While the others battled it out on the front end, winning jockey John Bisono was fully content to play the waiting game. Heading to the far turn for the first of two trips there, he quickly guided Adventist to the rail, saved every inch of ground, and allowed his mount to settle into a nice, comfortable gallop. After the opening half mile in 50.07, Adventist was still on the inside of the track and about 7 lengths behind. And there he stayed. Heading into the final three furlongs, the race everyone expected took shape, Marconi side by side with War Story, those two ready to settle the issue coming down the lane. But Bisono had other ideas. Still 7 lengths back with three-eighths to go, he asked the long since forgotten Adventist to start to quicken. As the two leaders were head to head, Adventist was now gaining. With a quarter mile to go, he’d moved within four lengths and now Bisono angled him to the middle of the track for the stretch run. Finding his best stride, he easily surged past Marconi and War Story in mid-stretch, almost like they were standing still, and rolled home a full three amazing lengths in front.

Owned by Blue Max and off at 50-1, Adventist returned his backers a win price of $103.00, covering the mile and a half on a fast track in 2:33.4.

Coal Front fends off Diamond King in Parx Dirt Mile

Making his first start in two months, Coal Front won a stretch long duel with Diamond King and took the $153,500 Parx Dirt Mile for trainer Todd Pletcher and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith Saturday at Parx Racing.

Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, Coal Front surged past 2-1 second choice Diamond King and jockey Jose Ortiz as the two horses ran nearly as a team the entire length of the stretch. Coal Front, on the inside, dug down and would not allow his rival to pass.

Owned by Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners, Coal Front won by three quarters of a length and was timed in 1:37.53. The 5-year-old son of Stay Thirsty was making his first start since July 20 when third in the Monmouth Cup at Monmouth Park.

Forewarned, last seen running off the board in the Whitney and Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, was 1 1/4 lengths behind Diamond King in third.

Winning jockey Mike Smith: “He was very aggressive leaving there. He was OK tracking, he jumped like a rabbit leaving there and I pretty much just stayed out of his way. I was off the rail a little bit. You don’t have to be on top of it all the way around there I guess. On days like today it seems like it gets a little fairer. Sometimes it will play an outside bias, but today it seems to be playing both ways, it’s all right.”

On stretch duel with Diamond King: “I had horse, he doesn’t care to be down in there (inside). He’d probably would have preferred to be out, but I wasn’t given that opportunity, so he still ran good.”

Jockey Jose Ortiz (Diamond King, second): Second best. The other horse just dug in. My horse ran a hell of a race. No complains and no excuse, just second best. You could see, those two horses went to the rail and finished. People pay a lot of attention to that (any perceived outside track bias) but that was back in the day. The track changed a lot. What you saw there were the two best horses down on the rail. Where were the horses on the outside here? If a trainer, owner want me to stay off it I do but if I’m sitting there are two guys in front of me and they open up and I have the opportunity to go through I’m going to take it.”

Coal Front #6 with Mike Smith riding won the $150,000 Parx Dirt Mile at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania on September 21, 2019. Photo By Taylor Ejdys/EQUI-PHOTO

Trace of Grace leads 1-2 finish for Houghton in Plum Pretty

WMT Stable’s Trace of Grace held off a late inside run from stablemate Trolley Ride to win the $100,000 Plum Pretty Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares Saturday at Parx Racing.

The 6-year-old Petionville mare, the longer-priced of two runners sent out in the 1 1/16-mile stakes by trainer Bernie Houghton at 7-2, won by a half-length for her eighth victory in 35 career starts. Mill and Gloria finished 1 3/4 lengths back in third.

Ridden by Inoel Beato, Trace of Grace came in off a fourth in a Laurel Park allowance and a third in the Dr. Teresa Garafalo Memorial Stakes against state-breds at Parx. She improved to 5-for-16 at Parx.

Winning trainer Bernie Houghton: “I thought all three fillies had a shot. I was a little disappointed at Imply, with a horse like that on the grass, we thought maybe she doesn’t like the dirt anymore, but all three came in good to the race”

“One thing about Trace of Grace, she loves this racetrack. She does her best right here at her Philadelphia Park. I was a little worried about my other horse, which was good. She was coming on too, but this one is a little more special. I own this horse, and it’s named after my son, so it’s special.”

Winning trainer Inoel Beato: “I had a had a real good trip. I didn’t think I was going to get caught (in the stretch) because she is very strong. I knew she had a lot left.”

Trace of Grace #8 with Inoel Beato riding won the $100,000 Plum Pretty at Parx Racing in Bensalem, PA.  Photo By Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Street Band punches ticket to Breeders’ Cup Distaff with Grade 1 Cotillion victory

By Anthony Affrunti

Bensalem, Pa. – Street Band circled a field of one of the strongest groupings of 3-year-old fillies assembled in 2019 to win Saturday’s $1 million Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing, earning Sophie Doyle her first Grade 1 victory and securing an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Street Band #3 with Sophie Doyle riding, won the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania on September 21, 2019. Photo By Bill Denver /EQUI-PHOTO

The Larry Jones-trained Street Band, making her seventh start this year and sent off at 7-1 in the field of 11, tracked the field from the back of the pack early while Jaywalk set a quick opening quarter-mile in :22.75. The field progressed through a half in :46.27 and 6 furlongs in 1:11.19 as Bellafina took command.

“I was very glad to hear (Parx announcer Keith Jones) say ‘very fast quarter’ because we were way back,” Jones said. “We knew there was a lot of speed in here and I was waiting to see those fractions and he called it. By the time I could locate her he already said ‘very fast’ so I said, ‘ok, we’re still alive.’

“When she was moving that strong, and I know Sophie doesn’t ask that hard that early, when she was going by horses that fast I thought that when we were heading for home, we were going to be close.”

Turning for home Street Band was under a strong drive from Doyle with Guarana to her inside. Street Band took the lead in deep stretch by a head after a mile in 1:37.44, holding off Guarana by 2 1/4 lengths at the finish. Horologist, off her victory in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, finished third 3 3/4 lengths back. Bellafina faded to fourth. Street Band won in 1:44.20 for the 1 1/16 miles.

“I was feeling good right here (into the stretch),” said Jones. “When she was going by horses, she was running. We knew there was a lot of speed and we could let her run the whole way without taking her back. When I saw her come by last, I felt, ‘Boy, Sophie, you took her back pretty good.’ She had been relaxing in her works, it has been something we had been trying to do. Sophie told me she thought we had her where we wanted her. And I told her, if she doesn’t win, it’s her fault!”

Doyle, the former top female apprentice rider in her native England in 2010, moved her tack to the U.S. in 2011. She couldn’t contain her enthusiasm for her breakthrough win and the filly’s trip.

“Honestly my trip, I had to go to Plan B and C,” Doyle said. “She was a little worked up in the post parade. When she broke away from the gate I said, ‘you know what, there’s so much speed in here, I’m not going to rush her off her feet.’ I let her carry me into the race. I let her creep into the race in her own time.

“When we were coming around the home turn I was like, ‘come on girl, let’s get into it.’ She really exploded for me. She gave me everything she’s got. She never gave up. She’s so tough. What an amazing filly. She’s come out here today and really proved how good she is. She deserves to be at these Grade 1 races. My first Grade 1. I’m absolutely over the moon. It’s fantastic. What an amazing opportunity. Fingers crossed now to the big one and the Breeders’ Cup.”

Doyle became the third female to win the Cotillion since its inception in 1969, after Andrea Seefeldt won in 1992 with Star Minister and Rosie Napravnik piloted Untapable to victory in 2014.

The Kentucky-bred Street Band entered off a third in the slop in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes Aug. 17 at Saratoga. The Istan filly split rivals to win the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks at Indiana Grand in her prior race, which followed her seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Guarana, perfect through three career starts after being unraced at 2, won the Grade 1 Acorn by 6 lengths before adding the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks to her resume for trainer Chad Brown.

“She got a pretty good trip,” Brown said. “I thought she was sitting real nice and she was close to a real honest pace. We had everyone where we wanted them. She was just second best. She just won a Grade 1 going two turns so I can’t blame that (the distance). Is she best around one? Probably. I can’t make any excuse. We gave her a little breather since the Coaching Club and maybe she was a little short as well. New track, too. But hats off to the winner. She really ran well. Both fillies did.”

Owned by her trainer, Cindy Jones, Ray Francis, Medallion Racing and MyRaceHorse Stable, Street Band earned her trip to the Nov. 2 Distaff at Santa Anita Park through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series.

Math Wizard springs monster upset in Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby

By Tim Wilkin

Math Wizard, the second longest shot on the board in Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, pulled off a gigantic upset when he won the Grade 1 stakes by a neck at Parx Racing.

Math Wizard #1 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. looks over his shoulder after winning the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania on September 21, 2019. Photo By Bill Denver /EQUI-PHOTO

Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. and trained by 32-year-old South Florida-based Saffie Joseph Jr., Math Wizard rallied down the center of the track and shocked the field that included Preakness Stakes winner War of Will, the beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in Improbable and a colt that came in with four straight wins in Mr. Money.

Math Wizard went off at odds of 31-1 and paid $64.20, $12 and $4.80. He did not become the biggest longshot to win the Pennsylvania Derby in its 40-year history. That distinction belongs to Valley Crossing, who won at odds of 78-1 in 1991.

“I’ve got to retire now!” an emotional Joseph said after Math Wizard became his first Grade 1 winner in first Grade 1 start. “I feel blessed. I’m at a loss for words.”

Math Wizard won for the third time in 13 career starts.

Math Wizard hadn’t won since Jan. 31 at Gulfstream, when he scored by 18 3/4 lengths and was claimed for $25,000 out of that race by his current ownership group led by John Fanelli, who calls Parx his home track.

“This is my biggest win ever,” Fanelli said. “I was screaming so loud, I lost my voice.”

Fanelli owns the son of Algorithms along with Collarmele Vitelli Stables LLC, Bassett Stables, Ioannis Zoumas, Wynwood Thoroughbreds and Joseph.

Math Wizard won with a six-wide move into the stretch. He ran down the early pacemakers Mr. Money and War of Will, rallying into slow fractions. The first quarter-mile went in :24.50, the half in :49.60 and 6 furlongs in 1:13.44.

With fractions that slow, it would not seem ideal for a closer.

“To me, what was surprising was that the pace was not fast and that horse came from out of it,” said Mark Casse, the trainer of War of Will.

The final time for the 1 1/8 mile race over a fast track was 1:50.94.

Ortiz picked up the mount Saturday. Florida-based Edgard Zayas was named to ride Math Wizard at entry time, but he was not at Parx Saturday.

“He ran hard,” Ortiz said. “When I turned for home and I opened the reins and he started taking off, I said, ‘I’m going to get there.”

Math Wizard arrived at Parx Thursday with his trainer. The only horse that went off at longer odds in the field was the maiden Shanghai Superfly, who finished last at odds of 90-1. Every other horse in the field went off at single-digit odds.

“We’ve got the horse going the right way,” Joseph, who is from Barbados. “We just got him at the right time.”

Mr. Money, the 8-5 second choice, finished second for trainer Bret Calhoun and jockey Gabriel Saez and War of Will was third for Casse and Tyler Gaffalione.

“Obviously disappointing,” Calhoun said after Mr. Money’s four-race winning streak ended in his first Grade 1 start. “No excuses. We just got outrun. Kind of surprising to be outrun by a horse we beat pretty handily a couple times.”

Mr. Money beat Math Wizard by 11 3/4 lengths in the West Virginia Derby Aug. 3 and by 4 lengths in the Indiana Derby July 13.

Improbable, the 6-5 favorite, got off to a slow start after acting up in the gate and finished fourth, a neck in front of Spun to Run, who was fifth. Improbable also encountered gate problems in the Preakness and he was a non-factor in that race.

“I don’t know why he does it,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said by phone from California. “He doesn’t do it in California. Mike (Smith) said he was really good and then heard a noise and it set him off. It’s just frustrating when you go that far and he pulls that stuff.”

Street Band punches ticket to Breeders’ Cup Distaff with Cotillion victory

Winning trainer Larry Jones: “I was very glad to hear (announcer Keith Jones) say very fast quarter because we were way back. We knew there was a lot of speed in here and I was waiting to see those fractions and he called it by the time I could locate her he already said very fast so I said, ‘ok, we’re still alive.’ When she was moving that strong – and I know Sophie doesn’t ask that hard that early – and when she was going by horses that fast I thought that when we were heading for home, we were going to be close.

“Coming off that mile and a quarter, she should not have gotten tired and she didn’t. Getting that mile and a quarter race underneath us was a good thing.”

“I was feeling good right here (into the stretch). When she was going by horses, she was running.”

“The biggest thing about this family is that it matures late. I had the whole family and we have not been in a super hurry with her. The only time we really pushed her was at Fair Grounds and see if we could get her ready for the Oaks. And then we could call it the way we would want it and pick our spots … we will see and give her off a little bit to Santa Anita.”

“I trained her mother and she had six foals. Before this one and they ask why do I keep this mare? And I said it was one of the fastest horses I have ever trained. I had her at the same time I had Hard Spun. She is fast as Hard Spun and would outwork him sometimes and but it took a long time to prove it, it’s all good… its very satisfying….

“We knew there was a lot of speed and we could let her run the whole way without taking her back, when you saw her come by last, I felt, ‘boy, Sophie, you took her back pretty good.’ She had been relaxing in her works; it has been something we had been trying to do. Sophie told me she thought we had her where we wanted her. And I told her, if she doesn’t win, it’s her fault!”

Winning jockey Sophie Doyle: “Honestly my trip, I had to go to Plan B and C. She was a little worked up in the post parade, I think you also saw that in the paddock. When she broke away from the gate I said, ‘you know what, there’s so much speed in here, I’m not going to rush her off her feet.’ I let her carry me into the race. As we started heading down the backside a couple of us started drifting away. She was traveling comfortably, within herself. I let her creep into the race in her own time. Then when we started to come down the back the inside started opening up. I had so many people tell me, ‘don’t go near the inside.’ So I just let her naturally take me around the outside. When we were coming around the home turn I was like, ‘come on girl, let’s get into it.’ She really exploded for me. She gave me everything she’s got.

“When she came upside of Guarana she matched her, she put her head down and she was game on all the way to the wire. She never gave up. She’s so tough. What an amazing filly. She’s come out here today and really proved how good she is. She deserves to be at these Grade 1 races.”

“My first Grade 1, too. I’m absolutely over the moon. It’s fantastic. What an amazing opportunity.”

“How fantastic for the owners of Myracehorse.com. They’ve been huge supporters and have been at every race. I’ve had racing fans come out and joining us. What a fantastic opportunity for those people, along with Larry and Cindy Jones. Ray and Merrick Francis and Medallion Racing, they’ve all been a huge support to all of us. What an opportunity to keep the faith and get us to the top. Fingers crossed now to the big one and the Breeders’ Cup.”

Trainer Chad Brown (Guarana, second): “She got a pretty good trip. I thought she was sitting real nice and she was close to a real honest pace. I can’t complain with the trip. We had everyone where we wanted them. She was just second best today. She just won a Grade 1 going two turns so I can’t blame that (the distance). Is she best around one? Probably. I can’t make any excuse. We gave her a little breather since the Coaching Club and maybe she was a little short as well. New track, too. But hats off to the winner. She really ran well. Both fillies did.”

Jockey Jose Ortiz (Guarana, second): “Very clean trip. I broke running to the turn and I saw Serengeti Empress going, I saw Jaywalk going then I saw Bellafina coming outside of me, too, so just sat off them. Sat off the speed. She gave me a good run. You can see I hadn’t moved yet when I went to the quarter pole. She gave me a decent run.”

Jockey Luis Saez (Horologist, third): “We were following the favorites all the way. Half-mile away I thought we were going to get them. They just got away from us late. She ran her best late, they were just that good. Still she ran really well.”

Street Band #3 with Sophie Doyle riding won the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania on September 21, 2019. Photo By Joe Labozzetta/EQUI-PHOTO

Co-Owner & Trainer J. Larry Jones (2nd R) and Jockey Sophie Doyle hold up the Cotillion Trophy after Doyle guided Street Band to victory in the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania on September 21, 2019. Photo By Bill Denver /EQUI-PHOTO

King Jack leads California exacta sweep in Grade 2 Gallant Bob

King Jack leads 1-2 finish for Californians in Gallant Bob

Michael Stinson’s King Jack flattered Pennsylvania Derby favorite Improbable with a powerful off-the-pace victory in Saturday’s 28th running of the Grade 2 Gallant Bob Stakes at Parx Racing.

Second to Improbable in the 1-mile Shared Belief Stakes last time out at Del Mar and shortening up to 6 furlongs, King Jack rolled past fellow Southern California shipper Landeskog in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths. The 3-year-old son of Jimmy Creed won the $310,000 Gallant Bob in 1:08.89

Saddled by Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, King Jack and jockey Joel Rosaro raced off the pace set by Strong Will through the opening quarter-mile in :21.99. Landeskog, sent to Parx by trainer Doug O’Neill, took over through the half in :44.60 the lane and tried to inch clear under Abel Cedello but couldn’t hold off King Jack.

A $100,000 purchase at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale, King Jack won his debut June 1 at Santa Anita Park going 6 furlongs before another victory at Del Mar going 7 furlongs July 17. Hollendorfer originally considered the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga with King Jack before opting for the Shared Belief. King Jack finished 2 3/4 lengths behind Improbable in the Shared Belief Aug. 25.

The Gallant Bob field was reduced to seven with the gate scratches of Bethlehem Road and Get Hammered.

Winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer: “I thought Joel had him placed perfectly. They had some trouble in the gate early and we got lucky and got out of that. He had him placed perfectly and had enough horse to run him down. A very fast time. We thought the 7 furlongs would fit this horse very well and it seemed like it did. I like to be up close and we thought we would be up close. Looked like we had a lot of horse down the backside, and that proved to be true.

Concern about Landeskog? “I wondered about that, but I thought we had a lot of horse.”

Possible next start? “I don’t know. I just want to get this out off the way.

Breeders’ Cup Sprint? “I don’t know. We like to think those thoughts about a good horse, so we will see.”

Winning jockey Joel Rosario: “I kind of wanted to just get him in the race and then he could be comfortable, but it seems like he was fine and I just tried to not be too wide on the turn. He was giving me everything nice and he was just enjoying his work. When I started riding he just went forward.”

Jockey Abel Cedillo (Landeskog, second): “He was so fresh he broke really fast. I tried to get him to go a little slower, but as soon as he saw the horse outside he started taking off again, and I was like ‘please don’t go too fast, but he wouldn’t listen. He’s the kind of horse that when he feels a horse outside, he just keeps going and going, and that’s what happened.”

Jockey Jose Ortiz (Trophy Chaser, third): “He traveled very well. He broke fine and I felt like I had to rush him a bit to be where I was but that’s where I thought I had to be to win the race. All the credit to those first two horses.”

King Jack #7 with Joel Rosario won the $300,000 Grade II Gallant Bob Stakes at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania on September 21, 2019. Photo By Bill Denver /EQUI-PHOTO