uncle heavy to the preakness

By Dick Jerardi

Mike Milam and Mark Reid have been friends for decades. Mark used to train horses for Mike’s father and Mike used to follow Mark when he was a high school wrestler in New Jersey. A few years ago, after a successful career in the insurance business, Mike decided to get a few claimers and asked Mark to train them. They won a few, they lost a few.

“He said, ‘all they do is eat up money and not big enough purses,'” Reid remembered.

So Reid suggested he go to the sales for Milam and buy some young horses, saying “you have a chance at least to come up with something.”

Reid came up with a yearling filly he liked a little bit at Timonium in the fall of 2021. He was the last bidder at $25,000. The filly was eventually named Neecie Marie after Milam’s late wife Denice who everybody called Neecie.  After winning the Beaugay Stakes last Saturday with an incredible last to first stretch rally, all Neecie Marie has done is win five times with two seconds in 10 career starts for earnings of $361,950.

When Reid offered Milam a chance to buy another young horse for a modest price, one bred by Reid’s wife Barbara on their farm in Chester County, Milam agreed. That would be Uncle Heavy, named for Reid himself. All Uncle Heavy has done is win three times in five starts and earn $323,580. And all he will be doing Saturday evening a little after 7 p.m. is coming out of the starting gate in the $2 million Preakness Stakes.

Reid retired from training a few years ago and turned Uncle Heavy over to his brother Butch, the dominant stakes trainer at Parx. It is Butch who trains Neecie Marie. And it will be Butch who will be talking to champion jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the paddock just before the Preakness.

Speaking from a car as they were driving to the Preakness post position draw Monday in downtown Baltimore, Milam still seemed quite amazed by it all.

“It’s just unreal,” he said. “I don’t even know how to describe the feeling. It’s ridiculous.”

Milam and Mark Reid’s last win together at Pimlico was “for a nickel.” This will not be for a nickel.

After Uncle Heavy won the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct, Milam sold a piece of the colt to Glenn Bennett’s LC Racing. Bennett said he has 20 Preakness tickets so far, but “it’s still early.”

So, there will be quite a Parx-related contingent heading south for the Preakness.

If they get there Friday, they will see the Butch Reid-trained Carmelina in the Miss Preakness, the Kate DeMasi-trained All That Magic in The Very One and the Reid-trained Jeanne Marie in the Black Eyed Susan.

Reid has the wonderful Disco Ebo in the Skipat on Saturday. The Uriah St. Lewis-trained Deposition is in the Sir Barton Stakes. Smooth B (Reid), Boat’s a Rockin (Matty family). That’s Right (Michael Moore) and Witty (Liz Merryman) are all entered in the Jim McKay.

The Preakness is loaded. Bob Baffert (Arkansas Derby winner Muth, Imagination), Wayne Lukas (Just Steel, Pat Day Mile winner, Seize the Grey), Chad Brown (Tuscan Gold ) and Kenny McPeek (Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan)  have won the Preakness an incredible 17 times among them.

The combo of Milam and Bennett along with University of Maryland graduates Mark and Butch Reid will be trying for their first.

“Butch told me he’s never seen (Uncle Heavy) any better, and he thinks if there’s ever any time to take a shot, now is the time,”  Milam said.

So why not them?

“We’re going to try,” Milam said. “I know we’re chasing some of the best horses in the country, but maybe we are. Who knows?”


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