By Dick Jerardi
Scott Lake-trained horses have started 28,813 times. Lake, who began training in 1987, has won more races at Parx than any trainer and was a member of the inaugural Parx Hall of Fame class, has sent out 6,104 winners and those horses have earned $118.6 million in purses.
But, like most of his compatriots in the mid-Atlantic, Lake has been stuck on those numbers for several weeks as nearly everything in society has come to a halt. Whenever racing returns, Lake will have a serious star in his Parx barn ready to win stakes.
Lake claimed Senior Investment for $50,000 on Sept. 9, 2019 at Delaware Park for owner Richard Malouf. The horse was 2-1 that day, the only time in a 31-race career he has been favored.
“We were just hoping he was a solid 50 horse and we ended up winning a shake on him that day,’’ Lake said. “He turned out really good.’’
On March 14, Lake sent Senior Investment to Laurel Park for the $100,000 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial. The 6-year-old went right to the front and blew the field away, winning by 5 lengths and getting a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure.
Before he claimed Senior Investment, Lake called the horse’s original trainer, Kenny McPeek. It was McPeek who was training the horse in 2017 when he won the Lexington Stakes and was third in the Preakness.
“Kenny told me the horse never had any issues whatsoever,’’ Lake said.
The Johnson Memorial was Senior Investment’s third consecutive win and fourth straight big speed figure, numbers the horse had not hit since he was a 3-year-old.
“I’ll tell you what really moved him up,’’ Lake said. “Two things. The groom (Hermenio Guevara) that I have who rubs on him is fantastic and Josue Arce gallops him and he’s a tough, tough horse and Arce’s got him going beautifully.’’
Senior Investment has already won $120,590 in 2020. The horse won the majority of his $702,367 in 2017 and now has 7 wins, along with 4 seconds and 4 thirds.
Senior Investment was the final horse Lake started before the last of the mid-Atlantic tracks closed. Now, like everybody else, he waits.
“As of right now, we’re just training and keeping our fingers crossed hoping for the best,’’ Lake said. “I’m trying not to get the horses too geared up, like they’re totally coming out of their skin and then not being able to run. So we’re spacing our works a little bit, just keeping them going until we have some kind of an idea of when we are going to start running. I’ve sent probably five or six horses out to the farm.’’
When horses go to farms, it’s a bit cheaper for the owners, but the trainers get fewer day rates and the help has less to do. No racing affects everybody and everything.
“It cuts into everybody,’’ Lake said.
Horse owners have only expenses and no income from purses while their trainers are trying to figure out how to keep their operations going.
“I’m still paying the help and trying not to cut their pay,’’ Lake said.
The only long-term answer is get racing back, but when that happens is as unpredictable as how and where the Covid-19 virus will spread. There remain many more questions than answers.
Lake has 16 employees at Parx and another six at Pimlico.
“Every day, I go to the barn and watch them train, go home and binge watch Netflix,’’ Lake said. “The highlight of my day the other day was washing the linens off my bed.’’
Lake should be scouring condition books, entering horses and watching races. Instead, he’s watching South Park.
This is difficult for a trainer with just a few horses. For a trainer like Lake who thrives on the action and won an incredible 528 races in 2006, this has to be disorienting.
“It’s culture shock,’’ Lake said. “It’s only been two weeks and it feels like months and months and months.’’
The days, which flew by, now seem endless. Life in fast forward has been paused.
“My cats think I’m out of my mind because I’m chasing them all around the house,’’ Lake said.
He is not out of his mind. He is just out of his comfort zone, like most everybody these days.