By Dick Jerardi

Gustavo Chacon will never forget the feeling of the Kentucky Derby walkover. He was trainer Derek Ryan’s assistant on May 2, 2009 when he accompanied 19-1 shot Musket Man as the colt headed for the paddock.

“That’s one of the experiences everybody wants to have,’’ Chacon said at his Parx barn. “It was one of the dreams come true. It was like being in the Super Bowl. It’s the biggest thing you ever think when you are in the horse business…The horse ran amazing. I was so happy to be there.’’

Musket Man finished a solid third in the Derby behind Mine That Bird. The horse also finished third behind Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird in the Preakness.. Earlier, Musket Man had won Tampa Bay Derby and Illinois Derby. In 2010, Musket Man finished second in the Met Mile and third in the Whitney.

Chacon, a native of Guatemala, has been training for a decade after coming to the United States in 1989. His first job in horse racing was at Santa Anita Park with trainer John Sadler. His horses have earned $1.5 million.

“I’m really happy to be around horses all the time,’’ Chacon said, “It makes you feel better.’’

He has a very good horse in training now, E. T’s Gypsy Woman, a 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred filly with two wins in three starts and earnings of $67,790.

“We’re thinking about the open allowance race,’’ Chacon said about what’s next. “She just won the Pa. bred allowance…Then, we’re looking at the Pa bred races.’’

Chacon was also the trainer for Exotic Appeal during much of her career which ended after 53 races in 2019 and included $127,540 in earnings.

“She was an excellent filly, but she got really sick,’’ Chacon said. “One day, she was completely down. She was like a 104.5 temperature. I called the doctor. The doctor looked at her and said `I don’t think she’s going to make it.’’’

Chacon was having none of that. He was told it would cost a lot of money to save her. He said “that’s fine. I don’t care how much it costs.’’

He was also told, even if she survived what turned out to be an ulcer on her lung, she would not run again. Chacon wasn’t buying that either. Exotic Appeal was given 200 tablets of medication for 21 days.

“She started coming around.’’ Chacon said.

The owner decided he did not want Exotic Appeal anymore so he sold her to Chacon for $3,000.

She finished third in her first start back, then second and first.

“After they sold her to me, she made about $70,000,’’ Chacon said.

After being retired, she was adopted as part of the Turning for Home program.

“She was very special, a little filly,’’ Chacon said.

The trainer believed in her and was rewarded. Now, he has another nice filly in E. T’s Gypsy Woman. Perhaps, the really big horse will be next.


By Dick Jerardi

Jennifer Truehart grew up around horses in South Jersey, owned barrel horses and quarter horses, but never a thoroughbred. A few years back, her sister brought her to Parx and she decided to buy a yearling Pennsylvania bred filly by El Padrino that would be named Promised Storm.

“On a whim, a friend of a friend was selling her, we took her and took a chance,’’ Truehart said while pointing to Promised Storm in her Parx stall.

A now 5-year-old-mare, Promised Storm has made 21 lifetime starts with six wins, seven seconds and $292,684 in earnings.

“She gives 110 percent every time she goes out,’’ Truehart said. “She’s just been a blessing to me. My kids love her.’’

According to Truehart, the mare will eat anything  _ bananas, pizza, lifesavers.

And she can really run. Trained by Regina Brennan and ridden by either Mychel Sanchez or Luis Ocasio in 2019, she won $201,024 last year.

Truehart also has a newly turned 3-year-old that she likes. Rock on Luke, named after her 6-year-old son. She is also the mother of a 4-month-old.

Brennan does not have many horses, but she does very well with what she has.

“She’s been exceptionally great to me to help me through this,’’ Truehart said of her trainer. “It’s a lot different from our barrel horses.’’

Promised Storm was purchased from her breeder so with the Pa. breeder bonuses, everybody has been winning with the mare.

“She loves to be out,’’ Truehart said. “We’ll take her out of her stall at nightime. She loves to train.’’

And she clearly loves to run.

“She broke her maiden third time out at Penn National,’’ Truehart said. “After that, she just kept climbing.’’

The maiden win was against strictly Pennsylvania breds. The other five wins have come in open allowance and optional claiming races at Parx

Promised Storm will not be entering any races where she could actually be claimed. Truehart has a very small stable, but is considering whether to invest some of those Promised Storm winnings in more horses.

“This is probably going to be her last year racing,’’ Truehart said of Promised Storm “No tag for her. She’s going to go home. We’ll see if we can breed her and continue to keep going.’’

Truehart had always owned geldings until Promised Storm. She grew up in the Mount Holly, N.J. area, but now lives in Bensalem, near the track, near her horses, near her star horse, Promised Storm.