By Dick Jerardi
The second “Parx Madness” on the first Monday and Tuesday of March featured seven $75,000 stakes races over the two days and on Tuesday, eight overnights named after the Philly Big 5 schools as well as Drexel, Penn State and Delaware Valley. Several former basketball players and coaches from the schools enjoyed the day in the Cotillion Room, telling stories and betting on a few races. Legendary La Salle coach Speedy Morris was there for the second consecutive year. The former players included Mike Vreeswyk, Derrick Brantley, Kevin Clifton and Jerome Dowdell from Temple as well as La Salle’s Keith Morris, Saint Joseph’s Rashid Bey and Penn State’s Ben Luber, now the head coach at George School in Newtown.
The four stakes races Monday were won by four different jockeys and trainers, but, with different tactics in the first stakes, it likely would have been a trainer/jockey combination winning two of the races.
Jockey Paco Lopez, known for being aggressive, made a rare tactical error in The Main Line for 3-year-old fillies going 1 mile and 70 yards. Girl Trouble was 1-5. She had won two stakes at Parx and just finished second in a New York stakes. She had the rail. She had the speed. Only Lopez did not ask Girl Trouble for any speed leaving the gate and she was stuck behind two other fillies who were going very slowly.
“I figured Girl Trouble would be on the lead and hopefully, I could sit off her and that’s how this horse usually runs,” said jockey Frankie Pennington who was riding 6-1 Social Success. “I went to the lead, my horse’s ears went in the air and I was like, “this is good.”
It was very good as Social Success never gave up the lead and got away in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths for Penn National trainer Bruce Kravets and owner Shirley Lojeski.
Girl Trouble checked in a troubled third. Her trainer Butch Reid was understandably not thrilled with the ride, but got the ride he wanted three races later in the mile and 70-yard Brotherly Love (3-year-olds) when Lopez and 1-5 Ninetyprcentmaddie went right to the front from the rail and dominated, winning by 9 3/4 lengths.
“The filly’s trip a couple of races ago was a little disappointing so I was glad to get him out there,’’ Reid said. “Paco got him in a nice cruising speed. I thought all along he could get a route of ground. The Withers was just a throwout. It was a good rebound for him.’’
In his previous race, Ninetyprecentmaddie prompted the pace in the Withers before backing out and losing by 56 lengths. The margin was simply a function of jockey Abner Adorno saving Ninetyprcentmaddie for another day. That day was Monday and judging by the result; there will be more days like it.
Ninetyprcentmaddie is a son of Weigelia whose offspring have done so well for Reid’s stable.
“I didn’t find him until late in life,’’ Reid said. “He’s like (22)-years old this year, Weigelia, but he’s been a great stallion for us and we’ve won a lot of races along the way.’’
Chickieness, trained at Parx by Jamie Ness, and Tappin Jose, trained at Laurel Park by Horacio De Paz, vied for favoritism in the 6 1/2-furlong Society Hill for 3-year-old fillies. The public eventually settled on Chickieness at 6-5 over Tappin Josie (8-5). At the finish, it was Tappin Josie and jockey Kevin Gomez over Chickieness by three-quarters of a length.
Tappin Josie was claimed two races back for $50,000 at Laurel by owner Darryl Abramowitz.
“I liked that she’s a Pennsylvania bred,’’ Abramowitz said. “I know the trainer she came from and usually he drops horses like that. And I liked the form on her and everything else. Obviously, in this game, you take a lot of chances. This one paid off.’’
Anthony Nunez turned 25 Monday. The jockey got some birthday presents from hot 3-year-old No Confession for owner Kingdom Racing and new trainer Linda Simon in the 6 1/2-furlong Rittenhouse Square.
“He does everything easily,’’ Nunez said of the colt he had ridden three times, all no-doubt-about-it-wins.
No Confession took eight starts to break his maiden, but has been unbeatable since then after winning The Rittenhouse Square by 4 widening lengths at 7-2. The three wins have been by a combined 16 1/2 lengths.
The best race of the two days was on Tuesday between 9-5 Twisted Ride and 7-2 Smooth B in The Fishtown going 6 furlongs. The pair hooked up on the far turn and ran together the entire length of the stretch, Twisted Ride and jockey Andy Hernandez barely ahead most of the way and just a head in front at the finish; the race finally declared official after an endless inquiry that involved the winner who was bumped by one horse into the path of another horse.
Owned by Kasey K Racing Stable LLC, Michael Day and Final Turn LLC and trained by Michael Moore, Twisted Ride got his third consecutive win.
“It was long, it was tough, we didn’t really think he should come down, we thought the horse outside of him forced him in,’’ Moore said of the inquiry. “(Twisted Ride) has really matured. He was a handful when he was a little younger. He’s real tough. You could see he battled all the way down the stretch.’’
Disco Ebo was a very talented 2-year-old filly with seemingly unlimited promise in late 2021.
“She got loose one morning and it was traumatic for everybody involved,’’ her trainer Butch Reid said. ‘She got the reins hooked around her hind foot and just kept slamming herself on the ground. She cut herself up bad, but it was mostly superficial injuries. I think psychologically it took her a while to get over that.’’
Well, she is way over it after dominating the 6 1/2-furlong Penn’s Landing for older females at 3-5, winning by 6 3/4 lengths under jockey Frankie Pennington. It was her fifth win in six starts and the most impressive yet for owners Cash is King and LC Racing LLC.
“She’s really moved to a new level,’’ Reid said. “She’s back now, so look out.’’
Forewarned has made the vast majority of his nearly $1 million in Ohio Bred races, but owner/trainer Uriah St. Lewis found a spot at home for his 7-year-old making his 58th start. Coming with his customary late rally from the back under Dexter Haddock, 5-1 Forewarned caught 3-1 Prince of Rain very late to win the 1 mile, 70-yard Washington Crossing by one-half length. That brought Forewarned’s earnings to $981,483.
“Usually, we don’t get a race for him here,’’ St. Lewis said. “When we do get it, we are happy to get it. He did what he had to do.’’
And to have a second millionaire in the barn along with 2018 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Discreet Lover…
“We pray he can make it over a million,’’ St. Lewis said. “He’s just trying; he’s working, he’s working. He’ll get there.’’