By Dick Jerardi
When post positions were drawn Monday for the 35th Breeders’ Cup, five horses stabled at Parx Racing were among the horses entered for the 14 races this Friday and Saturday.
We knew about the three “Win and You’re In” horses: Imperial Hint, Discreet Lover and Jaywalk. They will be joined at Churchill Downs by Always Sunshine and maybe Order of Law.
Let’s go in race order.
Jaywalk, who is owned by Leonard Green and Chuck Zacney and is trained by John Servis, will start from post position 7 in the Juvenile Fillies. The race will be run late Friday afternoon. The GI Frizette winner has won three straight after finishing second in her first start. The first four finishers in her Aug. 22 stakes win at Delaware Park all came back to win their next starts, making the 6-1 odds for Jaywalk in the Frizette look even better in retrospect.
Like Jaywalk, favored Bellafina, who drew post 10, finished second in her first start and since has won three straight, all stakes, including two Grade Is.
Servis has won some of the biggest races in the sport, including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Kentucky Oaks. This would be his first Breeders’ Cup win. He rarely runs in the major races unless he believes his horse can win. Jaywalk absolutely can win.
Order and Law is second on the also eligible list for the Juvenile Turf, the race after the Juvenile Fillies. He will need two horses to scratch if he is going to make the field. Trained by Lou Linder, Jr., and owned by Bran Jam Stable and David Clark, Order and Law won the Laurel Futurity in his only grass try.
Imperial Hint follows in the great tradition of Parx sprinters from four decades ago, Eclipse Award winners My Juliet and Gallant Bob. If he wins Saturday’s Sprint—and he will be favored—Imperial Hint will be the first Parx-based Eclipse Award winning horse since Smarty Jones in 2004.
Imperial Hint drew the 5 post in the nine-horse field. Trained by Luis Carvajal, Jr., and owned by Raymond Mamone, the little horse is simply the fastest horse in the country. He has won seven of his last eight 6-furlong races, with the only loss being in last year’s Sprint when he finished second to Roy H.
Roy H is back to try to defend his title and he drew the 9 post. His stablemate, the fast but overmatched Distinctive B, drew post 7 which could make Imperial Hint’s jockey Javier Castellano have to make some early decisions. One thing is certain. If Imperial Hint gets a free run during the race, some horse is going to have to run an incredible race to beat him.
Always Sunshine, the tough horse from Ned Allard’s barn, will start right next to Imperial Hint in post 6. Frankie Pennington, going for an unprecedented fifth straight Parx riding title, will be riding the horse for the 14th time in the horse’s 25th start. Always Sunshine has won three stakes and $517,650 for owner Stonehedge LLC.
Finally, there is the $10,000 horse that will be making his 45th and likely final start in the $6 million Classic, the last race on Saturday. Discreet Lover, owned and trained by Uriah St. Lewis, will be taking on a field of horses that has won a combined $41 million in epic races in the United States and around the world.
Discreet Lover won his way into the race with one of the great moments in Parx Racing history when he came from way back to get up in the final jump to win the Sept. 29 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. He ran the mile and a quarter in 1:59.99, shading the magic two minutes with nothing to spare.
Discreet Lover’s career began July 12, 2015 at Parx when he finished fourth in a maiden race at 56-1. Since then, he has seven wins, seven seconds and seven thirds, with earnings of $1,374,685. He was 45-1 in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He is listed at 20-1 in the morning line for the Classic and will almost certainly go off at longer odds than that.
Discreet Lover drew post 13 in the 14-horse field with morning-line favorite Accelerate just to his outside and the last two Pennsylvania Derby winners, McKinzie and West Coast, right next to each other in posts 6 and 7.
None of what Discreet Lover has done should be possible, but somehow it all happened. Whatever the Classic result, the $10,000 horse has beaten all the odds in a sport where it is hard to win any race, much less the races where everybody is paying attention. Everybody who loves the sport will be paying very close attention Friday and Saturday.