PA Derby Offers $1 Million Opportunity

Blessed with another Triple Crown winner this season in Justify, and knowing that at year’s end his career would move to the breeding shed, racing fans across America were anxiously awaiting news regarding the undefeated colt’s final series of races before the ride was over. When the initial news came from the Justify camp that he was dealing with an ankle problem, most of those close to the game who know how it’s played expected the worst. And indeed those fears were realized when the dreaded word “retirement” finally came down. A meteoric rise to stardom, a racing career that lasted all of 111 days, a sweep of the spring Classics to become a Triple Crown champion would become his full and final resume. And now, for the others, opportunity knocks.

While his departure leaves a great void in the 3YO division and racing in general, what it does do is create tremendous opportunity for any number of talented young horses to add prestigious wins to their records and of course, the accompanying cash that goes along with a major trip to the winners circle. The heir apparent is most certainly last year’s 2YO champion, Good Magic. The Curlin colt may go down in history with his name alongside the likes of Sham and Alydar, outstanding horses in their own right, but born into a crop that included a racing superstar. Big things were expected of Good Magic after the brilliance he displayed in winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile last November, but that was months before Justify’s big blip first appeared on our radar screens. While a top three year-olds accomplishments are largely measured by his record at Churchill, Pimlico and Belmont, when looked at closely, what Good Magic has done this year cannot be undersold. He won the G2 Blue Grass Stakes, a major prep on the way to Kentucky. No one was beating Justify that first Saturday in May, but Good Magic ran huge, running a terrific second and then going all out in the Preakness, trading blows with the champ for 14 of 15 rounds, before finally succumbing, but in truth, finishing a mere one length behind. And now, rested after the taxing spring campaign, returning to the races with a thoroughly convincing victory in the G1 Haskell to remind us of indeed how talented he is. Having won the race just 2 years ago with Connect, trainer Chad Brown may find the G1 Pennsylvania Derby, its $1 million purse and bonus money in play, too hard to pass up and bring his horse to Bensalem September 22nd.

Event Details

Pennsylvania Derby & Cotillion Day
Saturday, September 22, 2018

Featured Races:
$1 Million G1 Pennsylvania Derby
$1 Million G1 Cotillion Stakes
$300,000 G3 Gallant Bob
$150k PA Derby Champion Stakes
$100k Alphabet Soup Stakes

Gates Open: 11:00am
First Live Post: 12:25pm

Join us for free family fun in the picnic grove featuring pony rides, face painters, moonbounce, temporary tattoos and more from 12pm – 5pm! Live Music 1pm – 5pm, Free souvenir photos in our digital photo booth! View guest photos from our Photo Booth on Kentucky Derby Day, Jockey tee shirt toss after the first 7 races, souvenir merchandise available on the first floor, horseshoe decorating with a $5 donation. Plus, a variety of BBQ and food & beverage specials will be available.

Broadcast Details

Featured on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Derby Broadcast:
Saturday, September 22, 4:30pm – 6pm EST

Parx PA Derby Hat Giveaway valid while supplies last and one hat per guest. Must be 18 or older to wager at Parx Racing® and must be 21 or older to gamble. Management reserves the right to change or cancel events and promotions at any time.

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Scott Lake Closing On 6,000 Winners

Dale Baird. Steve Asmussen. Jerry Hollendorfer. Jack Van Berg. King Leatherbury.

Those are the only five names on a list of trainers with 6,000 career winners in North America.

By the end of this year or early next year, Scott Lake, a member of the inaugural Parx Racing Hall of Fame class and the man who has trained more winners at Parx than anybody else, will become the sixth name on that list. With 5,931 winners, he is just 69 away.

“It’s the one goal I’m reaching for,” Lake said. “Anything after that is fine. It’s a pretty good club to be in.”

Lake has a full barn at Parx and a nearly-full barn at Delaware Park. There was a time in the early 2000s when he had full barns everywhere. At one point, he was training 287 horses at seven different tracks while driving anywhere from 90,000 to 120,000 miles per year.

From 2000 to 2009, he had 4,130 winners, an average of 413 per year. In 2006, he had 528 winners. In 2007, he had 2,345 starters. It was exhilarating and exhausting. So Lake began to cut back.

“It was a combination of things,” Lake said.

The operation had gotten so big it was hard to keep up with all the bills. He wanted to spend more time with his kids. And his accountant stole more than $1 million from him.

“It was a conscious thing to scale back,” Lake said.

Lake got his start at Penn National, but it was when he came to Parx nearly 20 years ago that his career blew up.

“E & G (Stable) asked me to move there and it was the best thing ever for me,” Lake said.

Lake has won 1,828 races at Parx. Being at Parx gave him the opportunity to find more owners or, actually, for more owners to find him. At his peak, Lake thinks he may have had more than 100 owners.

Communication with all of them was complicated. Lake was training horses from New York to West Virginia. He was running horses at all those tracks just about every day. There simply were not enough hours in the day.

When asked how much longer he wants to train, Lake said, “Why would I ever retire? This is the greatest game ever played. It beats you down sometimes. There’s days that I go ‘man, I’m moving to Hawaii, I’ll live in a little studio apartment and (ride) a moped and I’ll be happy’.”

Meanwhile, Lake continues to train his horses. Wins have been very hard to come by at Parx this year, but horse racing is a game of streaks and with 6,000 in sight Lake is not stopping now.

“It’s something you never even thought about,” Lake said. “You see these guys (on the list) as you’re growing up and they’re your idols. To win 6,000 and be in that group, it’s mind-boggling for me. It means a lot.”

His kids don’t really follow the sport, but last year, Lake’s son came to him and asked, “Dad, you’re the sixth all-time winningest trainer ever?”

“I was like ‘yeah,’” Lake said. “He was like ‘no way’.”

Now, with “Alexa” in his kitchen, he will occasionally ask, “Alexa, who is Scott A. Lake?”

The answer is the trainer with the sixth-most wins in the history of North American racing.

Lake’s oldest daughter is 19 and in her second year at Lehigh University. His other daughter is about to turn 15 and his son is 12.

And it’s all true: their dad really has won all those horse races. Those horses have accounted for $114 million in career earnings and have started in 27,702 races.

The numbers really are quite amazing, as is the milestone that is just over the horizon for Scott Lake.

Smarty Jones Day

Smarty Jones Day

$300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes GIII
$100,000 Salavatore M Debunda PTHA President’s Cup
Saturday, August 25, 2018 • Gates open at Parx: 11am • 
First live post: 12:55pm

Enjoy free family fun in the Picnic Grove, souvenir merchandise and instant tote winners for a souvenir Smarty Cup at Parx Racing® and the Turf Clubs!

Free Family Fun In the Picnic Grove featuring pony rides, face painters, moonbounces and more from 12pm – 4pm!
Live Music By Common Courtesy 1pm – 4pm
Souvenir Merchandise Available on the first floor
Food & Beverages A variety of BBQ and food & beverage specials will be available
Horseshoe Decorating with $5 donation

Must be 18 or older to wager at Parx Racing® and must be 21 or older to gamble. Management reserves the right to change or cancel events and promotions at any time. Visit Parx Racing® for more details. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler.

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Labor Day

Labor Day

$300,000 Turf Monster GIII
$200,000 Greenwood Cup GIII

Monday. September 3, 2018
Gates open at Parx: 11:00am • 
First live post: 12:55pm

Enjoy free family fun in the Picnic Grove, souvenir merchandise and a Selfie Stick Giveaway at Parx Racing® and the Turf Clubs while supplies last! Plus, we’ve got handicapping with “Hudg” offering free picks and handicapping tips on Parx races.

Free Family Fun In the Picnic Grove featuring pony rides, face painters, moonbounces and more from 12pm – 5pm!
Live Music By Jess Zimmerman Band 12pm – 4pm
Jockey Tee Shirt Toss After every live race
Souvenir Photo Booth FREE souvenir photos in our digital photo booth! View guest photos from our Photo Booth on Kentucky Derby Day.
Souvenir Merchandise Available on the first floor
Food & Beverages A variety of BBQ and food & beverage specials will be available
Horseshoe Decorating With $5 donation

Come, Play, Win

Doors Open: 11am | Post Time: 12:55pm | Simulcasting: Noon – Midnight daily

Selfie Stick Giveaway valid while supplies last and one selfie stick per guest. Must be 18 or older to wager at Parx Racing® and must be 21 or older to gamble. Management reserves the right to change or cancel events and promotions at any time.

Ned Allard Wins Again At Saratoga

After Ned Allard was reminded how long it had been since he won at a stake at Saratoga, he did not take it as a negative. It actually brought back a lot of great memories.

When Always Sunshine, trained at Parx by Allard, won the Aug. 10 Tale of the Cat Stakes at the Spa, it was 33 years to the day from when his greatest horse, the 1985 Filly Triple Crown winner Mom’s Command, capped off her amazing season with a win in the Alabama at Saratoga.

That actually wasn’t the last stake Allard had won there, but it had been long enough that it was an event when he won another.

“It felt super,” Allard said. “The icing on the cake for a racehorse trainer is winning stake races because nice horses are like watching Academy Award winners. They’re exceptional individuals and they’re fun to watch and even more fun to train.”

Back in the day when he was based in his native New England, Allard once won 28 stakes in a single year. Finding those kinds of horses has become much tougher because many of his major owners have passed away in recent years.

But Gilbert Campbell has both Always Sunshine and Abiding Star in Allard’s barn. Combined, the two horses have won 17 races and $885,040. Always Sunshine has won four stakes. Abiding Star won the 2016 Parx Derby.

“They’ve been two very uplifting horses for me the last three or four years and they’ve been great,” Allard said.

Always Sunshine will likely race next in the Sept. 15 DeFrancis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park where he may meet up with another Parx sprint star, Imperial Hint. If everything goes perfectly for Always Sunshine, Allard has the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in the back of his mind.

“The whole business is all a dream and you hope it comes true,” Allard said.

Allard, 72, has been training horses for nearly 50 years. He has won 2,691 races. He remembers running a horse on opening day at Keystone in 1974. He came to Parx full-time more than 20 years ago. He has won 586 races at the track.

Getting to train Mom’s Command was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and Allard has not forgotten those days.

“Good memories last forever,” he said.

Always Sunshine especially is creating new ones. The horse won his debut at Parx on July 14, 2015. Allard has had to manage him delicately because he develops foot issues that need time, but when he is good, he is really good. And the 6-year-old is really good now.

Always Sunshine runs his absolute best when Frankie Pennington rides. The champion jockey at Parx got his first Saratoga win in the Tale of the Cat. Since that first career victory, Always Sunshine is 7-for-13 with Pennington and 0-for-9 with all other jockeys.

“They have a love affair going I think, in a silly way,” Allard said. “The horse really seems to enjoy Frankie on his back and Frankie really loves the horse.”

Pennington did not make two trips to Belmont Park earlier this year when it was obvious Always Sunshine was going to be a big price in two stakes. He finished third in one and fourth in the other.

Pennington was there on Delaware Handicap Day when Always Sunshine won an undercard stake. And, of course, he made the trip to Saratoga.

When Allard mentioned where Always Sunshine was going next, Pennington told the trainer: “I’m going wherever he’s going.”

Memories of Jose Flores Everywhere

The Aug. 4 races were 253 miles and 129 minutes apart. One was a $100,000 stake at Parx, the other a $1.2 million stake at Saratoga. What tied the races together was Jose Flores.

The Jose L. Flores Memorial at Parx was more than just a 6 1/2-furlong race for some very accomplished 3-year-old fillies with a $100,000 purse. It was a race to honor one of the very best jockeys in the history of Parx – and on his birthday, no less.

And it was only appropriate that Frankie Pennington, the dominant rider at Parx for years now, was on the lead in the stretch with favored Bronx Beauty. Just when it seemed certain she would be passed by Grade III stakes winner Dixie Serenade, Bronx Beauty dove for the wire and got there by a head.

When Pennington got to the winner’s circle, he was greeted by Jose’s wife Joanne McDaid, many family members and friends and what seemed like the entire Parx jockey colony. They were all there to pay tribute to Flores.

It was March 19 when Jose suffered massive cranial and spinal injuries in a racing accident at the track. He was taken off life support and died three days later. That first night, several of the Parx jockeys, including Pennington, conducted a vigil at the hospital, hoping for a miracle.

So what did it mean to win the race in his friend’s honor?

“It means everything,” Pennington said after the winner’s circle ceremony. “Jose was a legend here. He was a great person and friend. I know he’s up there looking down knowing a lot of people are thinking about him right now. It gave me chill bumps when (track announcer Keith Jones said Jose’s name); it was nice to win that one.”

Life can’t ever be the same for Joanne, but she was very appreciative of the turnout to honor her husband.

“It was awesome,” she said. “He touched a lot of people.”

He did, indeed.

And one of those people was his good friend trainer Uriah St. Lewis, who certainly would have been in that Parx winner’s circle if he was not otherwise occupied at Saratoga.

The Whitney was delayed by 45 minutes because of a violent thunderstorm. There is nothing that can delay Discreet Lover from his duties on the race track. The 5-year-old, owned and trained by St. Lewis, was ridden in half his 42 starts by Flores. When others did not believe in the $10,000 purchase, Flores never stopped believing.

So all Discreet Lover did on the day Jose was honored was run the best race of his life, a fast-closing third, just four lengths behind winner Diversify and a half-length behind Mind Your Biscuits, both Grade I winners. Discreet Lover was 6 1/4 lengths clear of 2017 Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit, who finished fourth.

The $120,000 pushed Discreet Lover’s career earnings to $941,560, not a bad return on that $10,000 investment.

St. Lewis, who has been stabled at Parx for decades and lives in Bensalem, plans to send Discreet Lover those 253 miles again for the Sept. 1 Woodward on closing weekend at the Spa. Manny Franco will be riding Discreet Lover for the fifth consecutive time, but the spirit of Jose Flores will be right there with them.