By Dick Jerardi
The top 3-year-old filly and 3-year-old colt in the Parx stable area were both out of town Saturday, with mixed results.
The filly Project Whiskey, who won the July 4 Delaware Oaks at 38-1, ran another terrific race in the Grade III Monmouth Oaks. But, after running 7-5 favorite Lucrezia out of the race with her speed and stamina, she had to settle for second behind Hopeful Growth from Vinny Viola’s powerful St. Elias Stable.
Frankie Pennington has ridden Project Whiskey in each of her three wins, but he was unable to ride as many jurisdictions are only letting local jockeys ride at their meets because of Covid-19. Jorge Vargas rode the filly well enough, but Frankie knows her best.
Trained by Butch Reid and owned by Glenn Bennett’s LC Racing and Chuck Zacney’s Cash Is King, Project Whiskey had an amazing four weeks, winning and then placing in two Grade III stakes. The filly, who cost just $35,000 at the 2018 Timonium Yearling Sale, has now earned $362,580.
Mischievous Alex, also owned by Zacney and Bennett and trained by John Servis, tried the Grade I Allen Jerkens at Saratoga. The colt, winner of the Grade III Swale and Grade III Gotham this winter, was put right into the 7-furlong race by top jockey Irad Ortiz, sitting third early behind frontrunner and Grade I Woody Stephens winner No Parole and the Bob Baffert-trained Eight Rings. Those two backed out at the top of the stretch. Mischievous Alex was still in the race at the eighth pole, but could not keep up in the final 200 yards, eventually finishing sixth behind runaway winner Echo Town.
Mischievous Alex, a $75,000 purchase at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, has earned $360,730.
Servis was looking for ninth Grade I stakes win and 33rd graded stakes win overall. It would have been his first in a Grade I sprint stake which are hard to come by because there are so few.
MARSHALL GRAMM ON A ROLL
Prominent Parx owner Marshall Gramm, whose Ten Strike silks are so familiar at the track, is one of the country’s best handicapping contest players.
Gramm really liked Echo Town in the Jerkens and parlayed that opinion into a second-place finish in a NYRABETS contest. That got him $14,000 in cash and an entry into the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (a $10,000 value). In addition to the BCBC, Gramm has already qualified for the 2021 Pegasus Contest and has two entries for the 2021 NHC in Las Vegas. Those three are the highest-value contests in the country.
SANCHEZ AND NESS HARD TO CATCH
As we hit August in this bizarre year where we missed four months of racing, Mychel Sanchez and Jamie Ness have huge leads in the Parx jockey and trainer races respectively.
Sanchez leads Pennington 61 to 37. Last year, they tied with 146 wins each.
Ness leads last year’s winner Joe Taylor, 40-23.