By Dick Jerardi
It was not quite an invasion over Memorial Day weekend, but the Parx stable gate was quite busy as the first of what will be hundreds of horses that had been stabled elsewhere were permitted into the barn area to join the horses that have remained in training at the track during the shutdown.
It is not quite a return to racing, but it is a start, with more stalls filling up. When racing will return remains unclear. Bucks County moves into the state’s yellow zone in early June so it is getting closer. New York racing returns June 3 at Belmont Park. Live racing returns to Delaware Park June 17, pending state approval. Looks like they are close at Laurel Park in Maryland, but nothing definite yet. Racing returns to Belterra Park in Cincinnati June 4.
Gotham Stakes winner Mischevious Alex will be returning from South Florida to Parx for trainer John Servis to get ready to run in the 7-furlong, Grade I Woody Stephens June 20 at Belmont Park. If all goes well there, Servis may look at the Indiana Derby. Depending on that result, Servis may also look at the Kentucky Derby in September.
Yes, the Triple Crown has been reconfigured with the longest race now the shortest and the last race now the first, but an actual schedule gives us all hope that something approaching normal is closer.
In addition to Mischevious Alex, owned locally by Chuck Zacney and Glenn Bennett, there is a chance for a second horse with Parx connections to be a player in the Triple Crown races.
Ny Traffic, owned by John Fanelli, Zacney and Bennett, just keeps getting better. The horse, who made the first three starts of his career at Parx, finished third in the Risen Star Stakes, second in the Louisiana Derby and, last Saturday, second to unbeaten and highly-touted Maxfield in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. His Beyer figures have gone from an 82 to an 89 and now to a 95.
Was nice to see 2018 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Discreet Lover back to the races for owner/trainer Uriah St. Lewis. The horse, who had not raced in 13 months, ran 11th of 12 at 102-1 in the Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs. Hopefully, now that Discreet Lover has had a race, there will be better days ahead.
AN ADDITION TO THE BEST AT PARX LIST
I knew I was going to miss a few on my list of the best horses to run at Parx since the track opened in 1974.
I forgot the 2016 Pennsylvania Derby that featured the winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Nyquist and Exaggerator.
The horses did not run well at Parx, with Nyquist sixth and Exaggerator seventh. But they both had wonderful careers. Nyquist, the 2015 2-year-old champion, earned $5.1 million and won five Grade I races, including the Derby, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Florida Derby. Exaggerator earned $3.5 million and won three Grade I races – the Preakness, Santa Anita Derby and Haskell. He finished second in the Kentucky Derby.