chito having a career year at parx

By Dick Jerardi

It is just the second full week of July, but after winning a race at Parx on each of the month’s first three days, trainer Ernesto Padilla-Preciado, known far and wide as “Chito,” already has 39 wins, just one away from the most he’s had in any one year of his career.

He is a solid second in the trainer’s standings at Parx with 37. He is not going to catch runaway leader Jamie Ness (84 Parx wins), but being second to the man who is going to win his fifth consecutive trainer’s title is tantamount to winning it.

“We’ve had an amazing year,” Chito agreed. “All the horses have been doing good so far.”

Veeson ($240,351) is his best earner. The horse won the $100,000 Jump Start Stakes last year at 21-1. The year before, Veeson was second in the Pennsylvania Nursery at 81-1.

Kingsville, Mr. Roundtree , Jezebel Jade and Malibu Star are among the 12 horses he’s trained with more than $100,000 in earnings. All told, Chito has started just over 1,000 horses, with 152 wins and stable earnings closing on $5 million. And this is just his fourth full year as a licensed trainer.

He learned while working for some of the very best trainers at Parx. He got his start with his uncle Lupe Preciado and then worked for Kate DeMasi, Carlos Guerrero and Scott Lake. He also worked on the starting gate, was a valet in the Delaware Park jockeys’ room and a pony boy.

That he became an exercise rider and now sometimes gallops his own horses has been an invaluable aid to his success.

“You can see the horse from the ground, but it’s not the same as when you get on a horse and you feel them,” Chito said. “I got my help and I got my guys that get on them most of the time, but as soon as we claim a horse, I like to get on him and feel the horse. It’s a big help.”

His nickname came from his father. He is not quite sure why he got it, but he rolls with it.

“They told me when I was little, my dad used to call me Chito,” Padilla-Preciado said. “If somebody calls me by my (real) name, I never respond.”

His family, his owners, everybody at the track calls him Chito. Whatever the name, the results speak for themselves.

Last year, the most horses in his barn was 30. Now, he is closing on a full barn of 40. Success will do that.

“The main thing is the help,” Chito said. “The help we have right now in the barn is amazing. If you have the help and you get the right horses, you’ll be able to compete.”

And the proof of all that is right there in the numbers. Chito is winning with 20 percent of his starters, the horse racing equivalent of baseball’s .300 hitter, the mark of excellence.

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