By Dick Jerardi
Now that we are into 2019 and there is time to reflect on what happened in 2018 with star Parx horses, the year was every bit as amazing as it seemed.
Jaywalk, Discreet Lover, Imperial Hint, and Maximus Mischief were all stabled at Parx. Aztec Sense was not stabled at the track, but ran at Parx four times. What a group. Consider that they won a combined 21 races, including 15 stakes—five Grade I, two Grade II and one Grade III, with combined earnings of $3,656,065.
Two-year-old Jaywalk won the most money ($1,384,200) and the biggest race, the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs. She also won the Grade I Frizette at Belmont Park and the White Clay Creek Stakes at Delaware Park after breaking her maiden at Parx on July 24. She ran five times at five different tracks (she finished second in her debut at Monmouth Park). Jaywalk did not just win her races; she blew away her rivals, winning the two Grade I stakes by a combined 11 1/4 lengths. She is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as two-year-old filly champion.
The amazing sprinter Imperial Hint won the Grade I Alfred Vanderbilt at Saratoga and the Grade I Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park, as well as the Grade II True North, also at Belmont. He was at less than his best when third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Imperial Hint, who won $767,500 in 2018, is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter.
When 2018 began, Discreet Lover had run 45 times. The horse had run in many stakes, but had not won any of them. That changed when he won the Grade III Excelsior at Aqueduct, a prelude to what was arguably the most exciting win by any Parx horse in 2018. Discreet Lover was 45-1 in the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. He was way back early, but when the leaders began to tire in the stretch, there was Discreet Lover rolling down the center of the track to get up by a neck. The horse won $903,825 in 2018, not bad for a $10,000 purchase.
Aztec Sense won all eight of his starts and $408,540 in 2018. He won four times at Parx, three times at Gulfstream Park and once at Monmouth. His five stakes wins included the Turning For Home Stakes, the PTHA President’s Cup and the PA Derby Championship, all at Parx. The horse capped off his year by winning the Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream. Perfect seasons are quite rare in horse racing, especially for horses whose first win was in January and last win was in December. Even though he was not stabled at Parx, the horse has Parx connections as owner Joseph Besecker runs horses at Parx regularly.
The horse on the list that raced the least has the most promise of all. Maximus Mischief may have been the most impressive first-time winning two-year-old in the history of Parx when he ran like the wind on Sept. 29, co-incidentally the same day Imperial Hint won the Vosburgh and Discreet Lover won the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He backed that maiden win up with a dominating allowance win against two overmatched opponents and then finished his short season on Dec. 1 with a visually impressive win in the Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. The colt is now at Gulfstream Park getting ready for his first start as a three-year-old, likely the Feb. 2 Holy Bull Stakes.
So there you have it—Jaywalk, Imperial Hint, Discreet Lover, Aztec Sense and Maximus Mischief. Who knows what 2019 may bring, maybe even Maximus in the Pennsylvania Derby and Jaywalk in the Cotillion, with a Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks on their resumes.