By Dick Jerardi
It was quite a Pennsylvania Day at the Races on Labor Day at Parx, with five stakes races for state breds, including a moment after one that perfectly explains the emotion surrounding the people and their horses. It was an amazing Sunday for Parx when trainer Butch Reid won his second Grade I at Saratoga. Oh by the way, they finally ran the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. And, yes, trainer Bob Baffert won it for a record-tying sixth time.
No surprise that trainer Eddie Coletti and owner Bob Hutt’s Uptowncharlybrown Stud won the first two stakes with sons of the great sire Uptowncharlybrown.
It was the tough 5-year-old Wait for It over the tough 7-year-old Someday Jones in the Storm Cat. The two horses, sons of Pennsylvania’s top sire and the state’s favorite horse (Smarty Jones), have now combined to win 20 races and more than $1 million in purses.
“He’s got such a great personality,’’ Coletti said of Wait for It. “Everybody around here loves him. And when you put the tack on him, he comes out here and tries.’’
Hutt loves Wait for It and really loves Uptowncharlybrown.
“He’s proven himself the top stallion in Pennsylvania and probably the mid-Atlantic region,’’ he said.
The full brothers, Uptowncharlybrown and Midnightcharly, ran 1-2 in the 2019 Banjo Picker Sprint. They did it again this year, the 6-year-old again beating the 5-year-old.
“They’re both competitive,’’ Coletti said. “Obviously, Midnight likes a little more distance. The three-quarters probably ain’t his game.’’
The brothers have won a combined 17 races and are closing on $1 million in earnings. Coletti keeps them apart in training because they are just too competitive. It shows when they run.
It was entirely appropriate that Jamie Ness and Mychel Sanchez teamed up to win the Mrs. Penny as they are the runaway leaders in the Parx trainer and jockey standings respectively.
The 7-year-old mare Its a Journey got a brilliant ride from Sanchez to get up just in time. It was her 15th win in 47 starts, her seventh win since Ness claimed her for $35,000 just over a year ago. She had run twice on grass before the Mrs. Penny, eighth in a 2015 optional claimer at Indiana Downs and fifth in a Pa-bred stake at Penn National last year. She was ready for grass this time.
“She doesn’t have a lot of speed so I saved all the ground I could,’’ Sanchez said. “The hole opened up and we got through.’’
When Pink Caddy came around horses to win the Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial, it was impossible for her trainer Randy Allen not to feel emotional. After all, the filly is co-owned by Gregory Quick and the Club Risque Stable of Parx Hall of Famer Nick Saponera who passed away last December.
“This is more than extra special,’’ Allen said. “I’ve been talking to him all day. As you can tell, I’m a little choked up over it. He was like a father to me. We did everything together. For the last 14 years, I ate lunch at his house every day. We went over to dinner every Friday and Saturday night.’’
And Pink Caddy?
“He would love this,’’ Allen said. “I told him `I don’t know if you’re up there watching today, but we could use a little help if you wouldn’t mind giving us some.’’’
The Critical Way was the only horse on the also-eligible list when the Marshall Jenny was drawn. Two scratches got the 6-year-old into the field and the Jose Delgado trainee dominated the race from in front with jockey Rubin Silvera.
“I was surprised,’’ Silvera said. “It looked like there was a lot of speed in the race. He broke really sharp and there was nothing to do. He win easy.’’
The day before Pa. Day at the Races, it was Parx Day at Saratoga when Reid unleashed the maiden Vequist in the Grade I Spinaway Stakes for 2-year–old fillies. All she did was crush the field by 9 1/2 lengths, giving Reid his second GI at the Spa after Poseidon’s Warrior won the 2012 Vanderbilt.
“It’s always been one of my favorite spots as a fan.’’ Reid said. “To actually be a participant. Both Grade I’s were for Tom McCrath, a local guy who has only been in the business about 10 years.’’
McGrath’s Swilcan Stable bred Vequist. The dam, Vero Amore, who cost just $15,000 at the Timonium 2-year-old sale, lost the 2014 Black Eyed Susan Stakes in a photo. There was no camera needed in the Spinaway.
After losing her debut by a neck in fast time at Parx, the owner sold an interest in Vequist to top national owners Gary Barber and Adam Wachtel.
Reid will consider the Alcibiades and Frizette for her next start. Then, the hope is the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.
And the day before, they finally ran the Derby. The only likely scenario that could get 3-5 favorite Tiz the Law beat was if the Baffert-trained Authentic could clear the field and keep going. That is exactly what happened. John Velazquez could not have ridden Authentic any better and Baffert could not have had the colt any more ready, after losing one serious contender after another all year culminating in the final minutes before the race when Thousand Words flipped in the paddock and was scratched.
So Baffert was down to his last horse. Turned out that was the only one he needed.