mother and son run on pa. derby day at parx

By Dick Jerardi

Get Set, making the fourth start of his career, finished an impressive second in the second race on Pennsylvania Derby Day at Parx. Two and a half hours later, his mother, Enthusiastic Gal, ran seventh in the Turf Amazon, the seventh race on the card.

Something strange is going on here. Yes, it is true. Mother and son are each stabled at Parx with trainer Steve Klesaris and both are racing.

So, what is the deal?

Enthusiastic Gal injured a tendon after racing four times from September 2015 to January 2016 when she was trained by Ben Perkins, Jr. for three races and Shug McGaughery for one race.

“The owner (Joe Imbesi’s Briardale Farm) actually did some research and found by breeding them, the stem cells that the foal and the mare share together heals tissue in the mare,” Klesaris said.

So, in 2016, Enthusiastic Gal was bred to Awesome of Course. Her foal, a Pennsylvania bred like Enthusiastic Gal, was born in 2017. And made it to the races on June 26, 20 days after his mother ran in a Grade III stakes at Belmont Park.

“She came to me after she had dropped the foal,” Klesaris said. “She’s been really perfect ever since. You wouldn’t even know she had a tendon. There’s certainly something to be learned from this.”

Enthusiastic Gal has won three races and $150,000 the last two years. Each of her four career wins and all but one of her 17 starts have been on grass.

This was a first for Klesaris and perhaps a first in the 45-year history of Keystone/Philadelphia Park/Parx.

“I’ve seen mares have foals and come back and run, but I’ve never had the mare and the foal,” Klesaris said. “This is pretty unique. I’ve never seen it before. She (Enthusiastic Gal) has a sister in the barn and a brother which makes him the uncle to the foal.”

And all of them are with Klesaris at Parx.

The mare Twiggles is the mother of all those siblings, including Enthusiastic Gal. The brother, two-year-old Buy Land and See, won the third race on that Pa. Derby Day card, winning by 8 1/4 lengths and setting a course record (1:30.03) for 7 1/2 furlongs on grass in just his second start. Like Get Set, Buy Land and See is a two-year-old. Klesaris thinks he may turn out to be the best of the bunch.

“There is a lot to be said for the mare who’s thrown nothing but runners,” Klesaris said. “Twiggles was hand selected in the (auction) ring by Joe’s daughter Amanda because she liked the looks. Joe raised his hand and bought her for a ham sandwich, three or four thousand dollars.’’

So it was Twiggles who foaled Enthusiastic Gal (who in turn foaled Get Set) and all his relatives.

The trainer has high hopes for Get Set as well. The gelding has two seconds in four starts.

“He’ll be a useful horse in his own right,” Klesaris said.

And the answer to a question that had probably never been asked at Parx before: What is the name of the horse that ran on the same card as his mother?

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