By: Dick Jerardi,

When Jose Antonio Gomez was growing up near Penn National, he knew nothing about Eclipse Awards for top apprentice jockeys. He only knew he wanted to ride horses.

He rode so many horses so well in 2022 that during the annual Eclipse Awards Ceremony at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla. on Jan. 26, 2023, he heard his name called when they announced the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice jockey in 2022.

“I just said `yes,’’’ Gomez said Tuesday afternoon at Parx where he spends the early part of each week before heading to New York to ride at Aqueduct. “It was a great feeling. Filled me up with happiness.’’

Gomez had 1,312 mounts in 2022. He won with 153 of them, was second 162 times, with 156 thirds. His total mount earnings were more than $7.6 million. It really was an incredible year for a young rider who was a virtual unknown when the year began.

Once he began riding regularly, his talent was clear. Using veteran agent Bob Martel at Parx and legendary jockey/agent Angel Cordero, Jr. in New York, Gomez became well known very quickly.

“The year 2022 treated me well,’’ Gomez said. “For sure, Saratoga was one of the greatest moments of my young career. Winning a stake up there was a great feeling.’’

Gomez’s mother was a long time groom, his father an exercise rider. So he was bred right into the game.

But Eclipse Award for top apprentice? Not even a thought.

“I knew about (the Eclipse) for older (jockeys),’’ Gomez said. “But I never thought about winning it as an apprentice.’’

He first learned about the award from retired rider Richard Migliore.

“He was always talking about the Eclipse,’’ Gomez said. “Slowly, I had the year I had and it started looming in the back of my mind.’’

The Parx/New York commute, Gomez said, will continue “as long as I get business anywhere. I’m willing to travel.’’

Cordero, he said, taught him a lot about riding and Martel taught him how to talk to trainers.

Watching his mother work so hard with the horses “really motivated me to become somebody’’ Gomez said.

When asked about what he likes most about being a jockey, Gomez replied: “riding the horses. That’s it. It’s an adrenaline (rush). Angel always told me: `it’s like a dance, with you and the horse.’ The riding is the best.’’

When asked about his favorite horses so far, Gomez mentioned several including Reggae Music Man, a win machine in New York.

So young, so accomplished with an award for a lifetime.

So what’s the next goal?

“Get another one this time as a journeyman,’’ Jose Antonio Gomez said.


By: Dick Jerardi

The best performances and best performers at Parx in 2022 will be celebrated at appropriately enough Celebrations Ballroom on the evening of Friday, Feb. 24.

 As one of the voters in each of the categories and for Parx Horse of the Year, I thought this was a bit more difficult than some other years. It was so close in several of the categories that I am not sure there was a right answer.

Even though Winning Time beat Gordian Knot in the Pennsylvania Nursery, I thought Gordian Knot’s overall body of work was sufficient to get my vote as best 2-year-old male. Winning a stake at Parx followed by another at Presque Isle before finishing a solid third in the Nursery was just enough to trump Winning’s Time’s emphatic Nursery win.

In addition to getting my vote as best 2-year-old female, Flor de Sombra, with a stakes win at each of Pennsylvania’s three thoroughbred tracks and going 4-for-5 overall, had something else in common with Gordian Knot. The two Pennsylvania breds are owned by Joe Imbesi and trained by Parx Hall of Famer Lupe Preciado.

 Girl Trouble, who won her first race of 2023 in the same dominating fashion she won her last two races of 2022, would be a worthy winner for 2-year-old female in most years.

 I found it just about impossible to separate Scaramouche and That’s Right for top 3-year-old male. Scaramouche went 6-for-10 and earned nearly $400,000 for owner Nick Cammarano and that man Preciado. That’s Right went 4-for-9 and earned just over $300,000 for owner Jim Shannon and trainer Michael Moore. Each horse won a graded stakes on Pennsylvania Derby Day and two stakes overall. Scaramouche won his races on dirt, That’s Right on grass. Scaramouche has positional speed. That’s Right is all speed.

 In the end, I went with Scaramouche in a photo. Scaramouche won the Grade II Gallant Bob in the race after That’s Right won the Grade III Turf Monster. I thought the Gallant Bob was the slightly more difficult race this year so that is what got me to Scaramouche. But That’s Right ran like a champion too.

 Morning Matcha was a relatively easy choice for me as the top 3-year-old female. She won a stakes, finished third in the Grade III Delaware Oaks, the Grade III Comely and the Cathryn Sophia as well as a terrific second to runaway winner Society in the $1 million Grade I Cotillion.  She raced from January until November and earned more than $400,000 for owners Glenn Bennett’s LC Racing, Chuck Zacney’s Cash Is King, Gary Barber and trainer Butch Reid.

 So many talented older males. Buy Land and Sea won two grass stakes, one at Penn National and another at Parx. Violent Turbulence won the Parx Dash.

 Ridin With Biden and Fortheluvofbourbon, however, separated from the pack.

  Ridin With Biden had a wonderful year for Cash Is King, LC Racing and Butch Reid with nearly $300,000 in earnings. The horse won three stakes, including the Grade III Greenwood Cup on Pennsylvania Derby Day. He only had one poor finish all year and that was more due to circumstance than ability.

 Fortheluvofbourbon raced nine times with seven wins and a second. The horse, trained by Mike Pino for Dan Ryan’s Smart Angle LLP won three stakes at Parx and another at Laurel with earnings of more than $360,000.

 I ended up voting Fortheluvofbourbon as my winner, but am not at all sure I have it right. Ridin With Biden, after all, did have that graded stakes win and was winning around two turns and in the case of the Greenwood Cup, three turns. Bottom line, I went with sprint star Fortheluvofbourbon because winning 7 of 9 in this sport is incredibly difficult no matter the level or distance.

Love in the Air, trained by John Servis for Lou Bucky’s Main Line Stable, is my choice for top older female. She won the Plum Pretty and Mrs. Penny at Parx while also finishing second in the Lyphard at Penn and third in the Doc Penny at Parx. Turf or dirt, the daughter of Constitution came with a big effort just about every time.

 My top claiming horse and outstanding claim are one and the same: Exit Right. The horse, trained by Jamie Ness for Morris Kernan, Yo Berbs Racing and Jagger Inc, went 8-for-10 between March and August while winning $200,000. That is the very definition of a top claiming horse and an outstanding claim.

 I gave consideration to the well named Get the W (15 starts, 7 wins, 5 seconds) for claiming horse and the incredible Ruby Bleu for outstanding claim.

 My Parx Horse of the Year is Fortheluvofbourbon. If it ends up being Ridin With Biden, I will have no issues for the reasons cited in the older male section – two really good horses who had great years at Parx and wherever else they raced.


By Dick Jerardi

Bobby from the Bronx is 77 now.
He is the president and CEO of Twenty-First Century Group LLC, a structured settlement company. He has been an owner and breeder for 37 years and is the president and CEO of Uptowncharlybrown Stud LLC. He is a producer of  “Back To The Future, The Musical” which will debut on Broadway this summer at the Winter Garden Theater.

And that is just what Bob Hutt, recently elected as PTHA president, is doing these days.

There was his upbringing by a World War II master sergeant who “raised me like a soldier which I resented and I went the other way with my children where I gave them everything without earning it. Quote me to any parent who made the mistake I made `Dad, up in heaven, you were right and I was wrong.’ You don’t know that until you learn life’s

“There was his teenage stint as a general in color wars/camp counselor at Makowsky’s in the Catskills.
“That was Camelot for me,” Hutt said.

When he was 16, there was his first visit to a race track, Monticello Raceway. “I bet $2 to show on a trotter named It’s Freezing,” Hutt said.

Unfortunately, the horse broke and ended up on a highway next to the track. “$10 million later, I’m still trying to get even,” Hutt said. He later spent time at Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceway before going to Belmont Park with a friend who had had some high class horses there.

Around 1985, Hutt bought his first horse, a maiden $15,000 thoroughbred.

“I was a really smart businessman,” Hutt said. “I think I paid $38,000.” Hutt decided to get out of the claiming game and concluded he wanted “new cars, not used cars.”

The theory was he would buy young horses at auction and they would head right to the races without any expenses.

“I want everybody to understand you’re not born with wisdom or experience,” Hutt said while laughing at his naivete.

So he went with his trainer Richie O’Connell to a February 2- year-old sale in Florida. He had a budget of $150,000. Wanted to buy four horses. They bought three and Hutt had around $25,000 left. Without his trainer’s input, he decided to start bidding on a filly. He eventually got her for $24,000. The trainer was not pleased.

The other three either could not run or got injured. Hutt said he was just about out of the game

The fourth horse, named Midnight Destiny, raced 105 times, with 25 wins, 29 seconds and nine thirds from 1989 until 1995.

She was on the Jan. 28, 1992 DRF cover, the article about an upcoming race at Garden State Park titled “A Date With Destiny.”

There was Carey’s Gold, the horse that nearly swept the 2001 Florida Stallion Series. There was R Betty Graybull who won stakes in New York and New Jersey.

And there was and is Uptowncharlybrown the colt that dominated in his first two starts in late 2009 and early 2010, the tragic death on April 12, 2010 of the colt’s trainer Alan Seewald and the subsequent brilliant stallion career that has made his owner proud and certainly would have made his original trainer just as proud.

“Alan was one of the greatest guys you’ll ever meet, both as a trainer and as a human being,” Hutt said. “Everybody who knew Alan loved him.”

Seewald was his friend and racing mentor.

“Without Alan Seewald, Bob Hutt wouldn’t be here today racing,” Hutt said.

Seewald told Hutt early on that Uptowncharlybrown “is the best horse you’ve ever owned.” Seewald just called him “the Chestnut.”

Like all of his horses, Uptowncharlybrown was selected for Hutt by legendary Monmouth Park clocker Gate Artis who Hutt can’t praise enough for his insights into young horses. The colt was sold at OBS April for $57,000, doubled that on the track and has been paying off ever since at stud with such outstanding progeny as Wait for It, Downtowncharlybrown, Midtowncharlybrown, Midnightcharly and Dixie Serenade.

And there is 2023, why Hutt ran for PTHA president and, now that he has been elected, his vision for the future.
“I’ve had a good life and I’m in the last chapter,” Hutt said. “I look forward to every day. I decided I would like to give something back to the next generation the same as my father gave to me.”

“That was the reason. I feel that change was needed. I’m a transparent guy. What you see is what you get. I’m Bobby from the Bronx. I’ve been in business for a long time. I built three businesses from scratch without any help. I look forward to the challenge in working with the staff of the PTHA, the board and Jeff Matty. I think we are going to accomplish a lot.”

If there is live racing at Parx, Hutt is never hard to find. He sits at the same spot every day with his trainer Eddie Coletti and however many people can fit at the table.

“I make no concession to age whatsoever,” Hutt said. “I think with age you acquire wisdom.”

So, now that he is president, what would Hutt like to accomplish?

Specifically, he would like to help lower the average age of the racing fan.

“What I would like to do is introduce a new generation of racing fans to the game, give some education and the best way to do that is to get them to ask questions,” Hutt said.

Hutt would love to see a “Breakfast at Parx” when the warmer weather comes while having some of the owners, trainers and jockeys get interviewed to show “that we’re not like the other professional sports where you have to pay for an autograph.”

And perhaps, Hutt said, by sharing what it is like to win a race, a new generation might become interested enough to get involved in the sport.

“For me and anybody that’s ever walked into that winner’s circle, you’re actually walking on air and I don’t care if it’s winning a graded stake or it’s a low level claimer,” Hutt said. “Every time feels like the first time for me and I think that’s the way every owner feels.”

“It’s a sport that we love. We’re a family on the backstretch. We celebrate together. We grieve together. And I just want to make this a better place.”


I was hoping the Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita would provide clarification as I finalized my Eclipse Award ballot. Other than Horse of the Year, the 3-year-old male champion division is the most glamorous category. And why wouldn’t it be, given that the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes are the country’s most well-
known races.
I think the Breeders’ Cup Classic is more important, but the general public is not paying the same amount of attention in early November as they are during the Triple Crown from early May to early
When Taiba won the Malibu decisively, my initial instinct was to go with Taiba as the Malibu made him the only 3-year-old with three Grade I stakes wins. I thought his Pennsylvania Derby win at Parx was against the strongest field of 3-year-olds in 2022 other than the Kentucky Derby itself. The Pa Derby had Cyberknife (winner of the Arkansas Derby and Haskell), Zandon (Blue Grass) and White Abbario (Florida Derby) as well as the winners of the Fountain of Youth
(Simplification), West Virginia Derby (Skippylongstocking), Peter Pan (We The People) and Ohio Derby (Tawny Port). And Taiba was a no-doubt-about-it winner.
Epicenter won just a single Grade I race in 2022, but it was at Saratoga in the Travers, the most important 3-year-old race outside the Triple Crown.
Still, three Grade I wins should trump one Grade I win. That is a reasonable argument, but I thought it too simple so I decided to examine the records of each horse from the start of the year to the end. Taiba did not make his career debut until March 5 when he won a maiden race by 7 1/2 lengths at Santa Anita and got a 103 Beyer.

Incredibly, the horse came back 35 days later and won the Santa Anita Derby with a 102 Beyer. It was really impressive to watch, but looking back now, it turned out there was not much in that race. It was a Grade I race with a Grade III field.
I put a line through Taiba’s 12th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. It was way too much and far too soon. It was just a bad decision by the connections and should not be held against the horse. Taiba got a long rest after the Derby before running a strong second to Cyberknife in the Haskell while getting a 101 Beyer, winning the Pa. Derby with a 108, running a distant third to Flighline in the BC Classic with a 110 Beyer and winning the Malibu with a 106 against a field that was so weak Taiba went off at 2-5. So six races where Taiba actually had a chance with four wins, a second and third – three Grade I wins, two Grade I placings, a maiden win, a tremendous year. Epicenter began 2022 by finishing second in the Grade III Lecomte (88 Beyer) before dominating wins in the Grade II Risen Star (98 Beyer) and Grade II Louisiana Derby (102 Beyer), all at the Fairgrounds. I saw no difference in the La. Derby and Santa Anita Derby fields so even though only one is a Grade I, I don’t give Taiba extra credit there.
Epicenter separates a bit because of his performances in the Derby and Preakness. He ran a winning race in the Derby and finished second to impossible 80-1 Rich Strike shot while earning a 100 Beyer. Epicenter got a strange ride in the Preakness and again finished second (102 Beyer) to Early Voting. Epicenter ran against Early Voting again in the Grade II Jim Dandy and Travers, decisively beating the Preakness winner while winning both races, getting a 102 in the Jim Dandy and a 112 in the Travers. Rich Strike was 5 1/2 lengths behind Epicenter in the Travers. I thought Epicenter’s Travers win was the most impressive performance by a 3-year-old in 2022. Epicenter was injured in the BC Classic and subsequently retired. I gave that performance the same weight I gave Taiba’s Derby – none.
So Epicenter in 2022 – one Grade I win, three Grade II wins, two Grade I placings (in two of the most important races) and a Grade III placing in the seven races where he had a chance. Not sure there is a right answer between Taiba and Epicenter. There are some who actually prefer Modern Games who appeared in North America twice and came away with wins in the Grade I Woodbine Mile and Grade I BC Mile. While I am a huge Modern Games fan, two races is not enough for me and I think this is an award for dirt horses unless there is some overwhelming evidence to go with a grass horse.
In the end, I decided on Epicenter because he ran so well in the Derby and Preakness. He did not win, but I thought he ran winning races in races that just matter more. I loved his consistency from January until
August. If Tailba ends up winning the championship, I will not complain. He is a terrific horse who, at this point, looks like the early favorite for 2023 Horse of the Year.


By Dick Jerardi

It was a week late and a new year, but the man who dominated the Parx stakes action in 2022 started off 2023 with two wins in the five $75,000 post Christmas Stakes that became post New Year’s Stakes after the rain/freeze cycle caused the track to be closed for nearly a week.

Trainer Butch Reid won Tuesday’s Parx Futurity which went from a 2-year-old to a 3-year-old race with the calendar turn and Wednesday’s Kris Kringle for older males.

“She’s really come a long way since she hooked up with Paco (Lopez),’’ Reid said after Girl Trouble dominated the Futurity. “For $15,000 out of the Timonium sales, she’s proved to be quite a bargain.’’

It was her third straight win by a huge margin – 8 lengths, 6 lengths and this time 5 1/4 lengths, all with Lopez riding.

Owned by Tom McGrath’s Swilcan Stable and Glenn Bennett’s LC Racing, Girl Trouble has already returned 15 times her purchase price.

“We’re thinking New York and a little further,’’ Reid said. “They have the series of races for her. And Maryland has a nice series of races too. We’re going to run her sparingly because we’d like to have a nice fresh Jersey bred for the summer at Monmouth Park.’’

Ridin With Biden won three stakes for Reid in 2022 and started off 2023 with another, but just barely in Wednesday’s Kris Kringle. A big stretch lead was diminished to just a nose at the wire, but Ridin With Biden held on.

“Love this horse,’’ said Chuck Zacney of Cash Is King who owns Ridin With Biden with LC Racing. “He just keeps getting better.’’

Lopez rode Ridin With Biden as he has many of the stable’s horses since winning several stakes for them on Pennsylvania Derby Day.

“We’ve had a great couple of months,’’ Zacney said.

Speaking of domination, Jamie Ness won his third consecutive Parx training title in 2022. He started off 2023 by getting a three-quarter length win in The Blitzen on Wednesday with Repo Rocks. “We had him three weeks before the first race, trained well,’’ Ness said.

Ness has 50 employees and he said it takes all of them to make his vast operation work. It works quite well.

The gelding won a Parx Stakes in his first start for Ness. Now, he has two in two starts both with Andrew Wolfsont riding for owner Double B Racing Stables.

“He’s really difficult to ride actually,’’ Wolfsont said.  “He just wants to go, go, go even in the mornings. During the race, it helps that he just breaks a step slow.’’

Repo Rocks actually broke a bit better in this race which helped as Wolfsont said it was a surface where you did not want to be too far back. The first of the five stakes was Tuesday’s Parx Juvenile won impressively by unbeaten (4-for-4) Recruiter. Trained by Cal Lynch at Fair Hill, the colt was ridden by Mychel Sanchez and won by 2 3/4 lengths for owners Nick Sanna Stables, Lynch and Jack Armstrong.

“I think this horse is any kind; when this horse first got into the barn, I was the first one to work him,’’ said Sanchez who was riding him for the first time. “This is preparation for hopefully bigger things for him.’’ Lynch is also thinking big.

“This was a steppingstone today,’’ Lynch said. “We were back and forth. It was between this race and the Jerome on Saturday. We missed a few days at Fair Hill last week because of the weather. I just thought going seven-eights instead of a mile…He’s a lovely horse, does everything right, has a good way about him.’’

Next up likely will be a stakes race at Aqueduct to see if Recruiter is good enough to get on the Triple Crown trail. Jonathan Wong has become a major training force in Northern California and is winning on the tougher Southern California circuit.  Before all that, he had horses at Parx  He brought two back to the track for the stakes finale, Wednesday’s Mrs. Claus. My Kentucky Girl was more well thought of by the bettors at 5-2, but it was 11-1 Empire House who got the lead under Ruben Silvera and never looked back, winning by 2 1/2 lengths.
“She ran awesome,’’ Wong said. “Ruben rode her perfect. The track was favoring speed today.’’

Empire House was with the pace in the Grade III Chilukki at Churchill Downs on Nov. 19 before fading. Back on Lasix at Parx, she ran right back to her best races.