State-breds were in the spotlight on Tuesday at Parx Racing as a pair of stakes races for horses bred in Pennsylvania highlighted the eleven-race card. Undefeated Chub Wagon kept her perfect record intact and rolled to her fifth straight victory in Tuesday’s $100,000 Unique Bella Stakes and Wait for It won the $100,000 Page McKenney Handicap.
In the $100,000 Unique Bella Stakes, Chub Wagon broke alertly under jockey Jomar Torres and repelled an early challenge from I’m the Talent. She widened her lead in the stretch under confident handling and won by 7 1/2 lengths, completing the seven furlong contest in 1:22.21 over a fast track in her third start of the year.
Trained by Guadalupe Preciado, Chub Wagon was making only her second start against Pennsylvania-breds and won against open company at Aqueduct last time out in front-running fashion.
Owned by Daniel J. Lopez and George Chestnut, Chub Wagon went off as the betting favorite at 1-2 odds and returned $3.00 to win. Promised Storm rallied from just off the pace to grab second while Ujjayi finished third.
Chub Wagon was bred in Pennsylvania by Joe-Dan Farm and George Chestnut and the four-year-old filly by Hey Chub has now pushed her career earnings to $172,800.
The stakes action continued in the $100,000 Page McKenney Handicap and Wait for It added his 11th career victory to his impressive resume with a win from off of the pace.
Wait for It, ridden by Anthony Nunez, dropped down to the inside and sat off of a sharp early pace set by Admiral Abe who ultimately faded to sixth. Despite some traffic in the stretch, Wait for It found room and launched a bold late rally to prevail by one-length, completing the seven furlongs in 1:21.72. Chilly in Charge finished second while favorite Breezy Gust ran third.
Owned by Uptowncharlybrown Stud LLC the winner returned $17.60 to win. Trained by Edward Coletti Jr. and bred in Pennsylvania by Fantasy Lane Stable, the six-year-old gelding by Uptowncharlybrown pushed his career earnings to $559,828 and notched his sixth victory at Parx.
By Dick Jerardi
He has been riding for two decades now. Has won more than 3,400 races. Got his first Grade I win last year.
Saturday, Kendrick Carmouche, unquestionably one of the best jockeys in the near 50-year history of Parx Racing, will ride in his first Kentucky Derby.
His earliest Derby memory is watching the race with his family, “just us sitting around, betting the race between the family. I never won. I didn’t know what I was doing then.’’
He knows what he is doing now.
That was Carmouche coming from last to win the Wood Memorial on 72-1 shot Bourbonic for trainer Todd Pletcher and Calumet Farm.
“There was one person that thought that horse was going to win,’’ Pletcher said. “Kendrick.’’
The jockey has an incredible talent to go along with a great attitude and self-confidence. He just believes he will find a way.
Put him on a live horse and he will give the horse every chance.
Carmouche has ridden at Churchill Downs “four or five times,’; but this will be different, very different.
Carmouche will ride Gazelle Stakes runner-up Maracuja in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks for trainer Rob Atras. He is on Parx-based Three Two Zone for trainer Marya Montoya in the Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard.
“The only time I really think about the Derby is when I’m going to sleep,’’ Carmouche said. “I think about it a lot when I go to sleep.. Whenever I’m riding, I’m locked in. When that day comes, I’ve got to be ready for that day. But for right now, I’ve got to be grinding it out. Having a clear mind about everything.’’
He is, he said, “more of a Bob Marley, just chill, think about one thing. If the other thing pops up later, we think about that one. You don’t overthink situations.’’
When Carmouche left Parx for New York in 2015, it was for moments like this. He just wanted to give himself a chance to get into the barns that have the horses that run in the major stakes races around the country.
“Man, I’m hungry,’’ Kendrick Carmouche said. “I see the tide is turning.’’
Bourbonic won’t be 72-1 in the Derby, but he will be very long odds again. Carmouche, however, does not read the tote board. He reads the race and cautions not to assume his horse will be so far back this time.
“Just because that was my strategy last time does not mean it will be my strategy this time,’’ he said.
Some jockey is going to win this race.When it was suggested, why not you, Carmouche readily concurred.
“That’s the way I’m thinking,’’ he said. “I ain’t thinking no other way. I’m going to get them roses. I’m going to get the pink ones before too. Don’t count my filly out.’’
And that right there is the essential Kendrick Carmouche. He is a believer.
By Dick Jerardi
He has called horse races at 10 tracks around the United States. He has traveled the world as the announcer for the Globetrotters. On April 12, Chris Griffin called his first race at Parx.
Keith Jones retired in December after 34 years as the track’s announcer. After a search, Griffin, a native of Santa Monica, Calif and most recently the announcer at Sam Houston Race Park, was chosen to be the track’s voice.
“You don’t replace Keith Jones, but you try to emulate him, his professionalism, the way he went about things,’’ Griffin said. “I’m excited about it. It’s a great opportunity.’’
An earned opportunity.
“My story starts, my dad used to take me to the track,’’ Griffin said. “I’m a west coast guy so I grew up at Santa Anita and Pomona (Fairplex). Some of my early memories as a kid, just picking colors and horses…
The journey for me has been really interesting. I actually thought I was going to run restaurants for a long time…I got out of that business.’’
And he got into drag racing and then, for six years, became the announcer for the Harlem Globetrotters.
“I always loved horse racing, very passionate, loved watching it, always kept track of it,’’ Griffin said. “You would find the one or two guys who were in your age range at that time that really like horse racing and we’d just cruise up to Hollywood Park on Friday nights and the whole deal.’’
Griffin met up with now Santa Anita announcer Frank Mirahmadi one meet at Los Alamitos, ended up in the booth and asked Mirahmadi: “what does it take to do this?’’
Mirahmadi said: “I’ll get you a job.’’
So he did.
Larry Swartzlander, the executive director of the California Authority of Racing Fairs, called and, despite never having heard Griffin call a race, hired him to be the announcer at the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale, Calif. because Mirahmadi said he could do it.
So he did it.
“Frank says you can do it so let’s give you a shot for 7 days,’’ Swartzlander told him.
Griffin remembers that first call vividly
“I shaking, I was nervous,’’ Griffin said., “I was thinking `okay thoroughbreds, the backstretch, they’re going to go into the turn’ and my first race was a 220-yard mule race during the fair circuit with a 1-9 shot on the rail that broke last that I was prepared to call the winner the entire way.’’
If you can survive that, you have a chance.
Griffin’s race track journey has taken him to call races at Portland Meadows. Los Alamitos, Gulfstream Park West and Monmouth Park among other tracks. He was the regular announcer and marketing manager at Sam Houston from the fall of 2018 until its meet that just ended.
His life journey included all those trips around the country and the world with the Trotters. It was seven months on the road (six and sometimes seven days a week, with doubleheaders on many weekends), five months of PR appearances. They were sponsored by Greyhound so Griffin saw the country by bus. He also thinks he visited 23 countries.
“To see the world and not have to pay for it, it’s a fantastic thing,’’ Griffin said.
So why Parx?
“I think it was the region for me,’’ Griffin said. “I think it was the appeal for some great quality racing. For me, it was time to make a move. I really appreciated my time in Houston and in that region and was proud of what we built there.
“But I know that the east coast, this is a market that I wanted to be in. I wanted to be at Parx Racing because there are big races, just the feel of you’re stepping up to a bigger moment for me. When I’m doing that, that’s where I want to be career-wise. I think we always want to strive to reach the top of the game. That’s why I’m here.’’
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: