By Dick Jerardi
One of the best big-race Pennsylvania bred combos at Parx was on full display when owner-breeder Joe Imbesi and Hall of Fame trainer Lupe Preciado took down two undercard $100,000 state bred races on Penn Mile Night last Friday.
First, it was the brilliant 6-year-old Buy Land and See dominating the $100,000 With Anticipation at 1 1/16 miles on Penn National’s grass course. Under Parx’s leading jockey Mychel Sanchez, Buy Land and See hit the front out of the gate and was never in any danger, winning by 5 1/2 lengths.
The horse has now run seven times at Parx or Penn without a single loss. His earnings have now passed $500,000, a testament to the horse’s talent and consistency as well as the lucrative Pa. breeding program.
Less than two hours later, Imbesi and Preciado took down The Danzig with the 3-year-old sprinter Gordian Knot. Ridden by Parx mainstay Silvestre Gonzalez, Gordian Knot circled the field and won by a comfortable 1 3/4 lengths at 6 furlongs.
Gordian Knot has now won stakes at each of the commonwealth’s thoroughbred tracks. In just six starts, Gordian Knot is closing on $300,000 in earnings.
Two Parx-based horses ventured across the Delaware River to Monmouth Park and were both 9-5 in Sunday’s Smart N Classy for Jersey breds. Girl Trouble, a 3-year-old filly racing against her elders, was a slight money favorite over Beach Daze.
Girl Trouble was with the early pace for trainer Butch Reid and Paco Lopez, but faded late in the 1 mile race. Beach Daze came rolling in the stretch and just got up at the wire for trainer Farrel Mann and owners All In Racing Stables and JPS Stables, giving jockey Adam Bowman his first stakes win.
Parx horses will be well represented on Saturday’s spectacular Belmont Stakes Day undercard, with its six Grade I stakes. And the Pennsylvania bred Kentucky Derby favorite has a real chance to win the Belmont Stakes.
Repo Rocks figures to be the second choice behind the amazing Cody’s Wish in the $1 million Grade I Metropolitan Handicap. All Repo Rocks has done since coming to trainer Jamie Ness’s Parx barn last fall is run six times, with five wins and a second. Those wins include blowouts in the Grade III Toboggan and Grade III Westchester when the horse got Beyer figures of 111 and 109, respectively.
Ness loves the 7 post in the 9-horse field, especially with Cody’s Wish drawing the 1. That should give jockey Ruben Silvera many options on the versatile Repo Rocks who is going to need to run back to those big numbers again to get Ness his first Grade I win,
Owner/trainer Uriah St. Lewis got his first Grade I win back in 2018 when Discreet Lover upset the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Discreet Lover was also his first millionaire.
Forewarned comes into the Grade II Brooklyn with $999,258 in career earnings. The 8-year-old Ohio bred has made most of his money in his native state, but St. Lewis has managed to pick up some checks with him in other states along the way. Get another check in his 61st start and Forewarned will pass the magic $1 million mark.
And then there is Angel of Empire, a solid third in the Derby as the 4-1 favorite after wins in the Arkansas Derby and Risen Star. At the urging of jockey Flavien Prat, trainer Brad Cox has decided to outfit Angel of Empire with a set of blinkers for the Belmont.
If Angel of Empire wins, he will become the first Pa. bred since Foxfield in 1891 to win the Belmont. Of course, we all know Smarty Jones “deserved’’ to win the 2004 Belmont, but that is another story for another day.
Angel of Empire is part of a closely matched Belmont foursome that includes 2-year-old champion Forte, Preakness winner National Treasure and Blue Grass winner Tapit Trice.
Hope to see some or all of them on Sept. 23 at Parx for the $1 million Grade I Pennsylvania Derby.