By Dick Jerardi
It began on the last Tuesday of March and ended on the first Tuesday of April. As it took a week, Jamie Ness did not realize it was happening until it was almost over.
Since Keystone/Philadelphia Park/Parx opened in 1974, an estimated 100,000 races have been run. There is no record of this exactly, but it is safe to say until Ness did it over four racing days, no trainer had ever won 10 straight races at the track.
“I had five in on Monday,’’ Ness said. “One of my buddies called me from California. He was betting Parx, said `you like anything today.’ I said `Troy, you know what, everything’s got to go right, but I think I’m dead on in all five races today.’ I’ve been there before and been 0-for-5.’’
Ness went 5-for-5. He had won with his only starter the previous Tuesday and then went 2-for-2 on Wednesday. After five days off, he won those five. And the next day, he went 2-for-2 until the streak finally ended when Love In Her Eyes ran into 1-5 Dr. B (named for First Lady Jill Biden) in Race 9 last Tuesday.
The trainer did not know about the streak until somebody said: “man, are you going to lose a race?’’
When somebody wondered how many he had won in a row, they had to look it up and Ness said: “Holy Bleep.’’
“You’ve got to have a little luck,’’ Ness said. “I win two races by a last bob.’’
Factor This In was the fourth of the five winners on Monday. When speedy Petulant Delight missed the break, Factor This In was left alone on the lead. The horse went all the way, holding on to win by a head at 11-1.That was the biggest price among the 10 as the others were so well spotted, they were: 8-5, 3-2, 2-1, 2-5, 2-1, 1-2, 4-5, 3-5 and 3-5. Ruben Silvera, the leading jockey at Parx with 49 winners in 2021, rode seven of the 10 winners.
The horses won at 6 furlongs, 7 furlongs (three times), a mile (twice), a mile and 70 yards (twice), a mile and a sixteenth and a mile and a half. The horses earned $135,000. Four were claimed for another $41,000.
And Ness wasn’t just winning at Parx. He went 4-for-4 over two days at Laurel last week and won two more at Penn National.
One horse ran second at Laurel and got put up. Another is “a stake horse in the mud, 25 claimer on the dirt. I’ll be damned if it didn’t pour raining. He win easy.’’
It was just one of those rolls that you hope never end.
“A lot of times, everything can go wrong,’’ Ness said. “This time, everything went right.’’
Ness has won 3,255 races and his horses have earned $56 million. Today, he has 52 horses at Parx, 21 at Laurel, 22 at Delaware, some layoff horses and 2-year-olds at a Delaware training center.
“Never have we been on a streak like we’ve been on right now,’’ he said.
“I’ve got pretty good horses right now, the best stable that I’ve ever had. It’s like the old saying goes: `I’ve got a good feed program. I feed good horses.’’’
Ness is putting the miles on his car. When gas went up, Ness figured he had to win another race a week. He is doing that and then some.
After easily winning the 2020 trainers’ title at Parx with 109 winners, Ness already has 39 Parx wins in 2021, 22 clear of second-place Scott Lake. Ness has those Parx milestones and now he has a record that should stand the test of time.
Parx Racing has announced a terrific schedule of Stakes Races for the 2021 Racing Season!
The Stakes season kicks off April 27th with the $100,000 Page McKenney Handicap and wraps on December 7th with the $100,000 Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes. The highlight of the season is the Grade 1 September 25th $1.000.000 Pennsylvania Derby! And while we might be biased as it honors our boss, we’re circling September 21st on our calendar for the Michael Ballezzi Appreciation Mile. Attorney Ballezzi serves as Executive Director of the PTHA. A downloadable PDF of the 2021 Parx Racing Stakes
The schedule is available at:
By Dick Jerardi
When 2021 began, there were serious hopes that a Parx-based horse would make the Kentucky Derby.
Well, there won’t be a horse, but there will be a jockey (albeit a graduate), one of the very best in the nearly 50-year history of the track.
Kendrick Carmouche rode 72-1 shot Bourbonic in the Wood Memorial for Calumet Farm and trainer Todd Pletcher. The horse was so far behind during much of the race that it was hard to see him watching the video.
But there the colt was, passing horses one by one, until finally only stablemate Dynamic One was in front of him. In the final strides, Bourbonic got by Dynamic One, winning by a head.
And Carmouche, a member of the Parx Hall of Fame, had his first Derby mount.
“I’m thrilled for Calumet Farm. I won my first Grade 1 with True Timber in the Cigar Mile for them and now I won the Wood for them,” Carmouche said. “These past six months of my career have just been what you dream of.’’
There were three Parx-based horses intended for the Wood. Jerome Stakes winner Capo Kane was not entered after an ankle issue that will keep him sidelined for a few months. Remsen Stakes winner Brooklyn Strong, who missed serious training time this winter due first to an illness and then to weather-related track closures, was admittedly rushed by trainer Danny Velazuez to make the race. Market Maven, who had won two straight at Parx for trainer Penny Pearce, was also entered in the Wood.
Market Maven, under Parx jockey Dexter Haddock, set the pace at 70-1 before fading in the stretch to finish eighth. Brooklyn Strong, sent off at 7-1, was making his first start in four months. The gelding was kind of stuck inside most of the way, never really comfortable. Still, Brooklyn Strong ran respectably, considering the circumstances with just 5 weeks of serious training, finishing fifth, beaten by 5 lengths. Could be better days ahead.
Carmouche was originally supposed to ride Nicky the Vest in the Wood. When that colt was not entered due to an injury, Carmouche got the mount on Bourbonic, a colt Pletcher had not planned on running. But Brad Kelly, owner of Calumet Farm, wanted his colt in a Derby points race, just in case.
So that is how Bourbonic ended up in the Wood Memorial winner’s circle with more than enough points for a spot in the Derby starting gate.
“Todd asked me what I was going to do and I told him I wouldn’t move,” Carmouche said. “I was just going to sit, sit, sit, sit and hopefully get out the last quarter of a mile. I knew he would go on from there. My horse was in a good stride. Each pole I was picking them up one by one without even asking.”
Bourbonic did not run very fast, getting the mile and an eighth in 1:54.49 which computes to an 89 Beyer figure. So the colt will be a huge longshot in the Derby. But, as Carmouche knows better than anybody, you can’t win it if you are not in it.
You can’t make it up. Now, Parx’s favorite son will be riding in his first Kentucky Derby on May 1.
MISCHEVIOUS ALEX WINS GRADE I CARTER
Mischievous Alex, owned by Parx regulars Chuck Zacney and Glenn Bennett, continued his perfect 4-year-old season with a blowout win in the Carter Handicap while getting a career-best 109 Beyer figure.
The colt, a son of Into Mischief, the hottest sire around, broke his maiden at Parx on June 25, 2019. He won the Swale and Gotham last year for trainer John Servis.
Now trained in Florida by Saffie Joseph, Mischievious Alex likely will be pointed for the Grade I Metropolitan Mile on Belmont Stakes Day. There is a reasonable chance he could meet up that day with Charlatan, most recently second in the $20 million Saudi Cup.