very good 2023 for top parx trainers and jockeys

By Dick Jerardi

As 2024 commences, I decided to check out the 2023 Equibase statistics, searching for how the best at Park stacked up nationally. It was a fascinating experiment as I found a few nuggets I was not expecting.

How about this one? Only two trainers among the top 44 earners had more wins than starters (not starts obviously, but horses that made starts). They were Parx-based Jamie Ness (283 starters/347 wins) and Butch Reid (56 starters/57 wins).

Ness, of course, won his fourth consecutive Parx trainers title with 152 wins after 166 in 2022, 186 in 2021 and 109 in 2020 (the pandemic year when the track was closed for several months). His Parx winning percentages have come down from an other-wordly 34 percent in 2021 to 28 percent last year and 25 percent this year. But his operation which is also winning titles in Maryland and Delaware and now is a major player at Tampa Bay Downs rolls on.

Ness finished second nationally to Steve Asmussen in wins. Asmussen had 379 wins, but had 2,152 starters to Ness’s 1,362. Brad Cox won the earnings title with $30.9 million, much of that from all the graded stakes he won. Cox’s horses earned $32,137 per start. Ness finished 10th in earnings ($11.1 million) and did it the hard way, with just $8,208 per start.

Reid had his third consecutive record earnings year. When Carmelina won the Gin Talking Stakes at Laurel Park Saturday, Reid’s stable went over $4 million in earnings for the first time. And he did it with just 263 starts.

Three other Parx trainers finished in the top 100 in earnings _ Scott Lake (No. 70, $2.9 million), John Servis (No. 81, $2.7 million) and Kate DeMasi (No. 92, $2.39 million).

Lake and Ness continued to move up all the time wins’ leader list. Lake now has 6,370 wins, good for sixth all time. He will be fourth within a few years. Ness now has 4,178 wins, good for 14th all time. If he continues to win 300 or more races per year for the next decade, he is going to be right up there with Lake in the top 5.

Mychel Sanchez won the Parx jockeys’ title with 145 wins. He finished 2023 with 212 wins overall, one of just 11 riders in the country with 200 or more wins. Sanchez says he is shooting for 300 in 2024.

Sanchez finished 27th nationally in mount earnings with $7.7 million. (An agent told me once that, as a general rule, you can figure out a jockey’s actual earnings by taking 8.5 percent of the mount earnings).

So Sanchez had a very good year, as did five other Parx mainstays who finished in the top 100 – Ruben Silvera (No. 33, $6.5 million), Frankie Pennington (No. 64, $4.6 million), Silvestre Gonzalez (No. 71, $4 million), Dexter Haddock (No. 83, $3.7 million) and Abner Adorno (No. 100, $3.3 million).

Two Parx semi regulars, Paco Lopez (No. 15, $12.1 million) and apprentice Sofia Vives (No. 93, $3.5 million), also cracked the top 100.

Parx Hall of Famers Stewart Elliott and Kendrick Carmouche are still getting it done at high levels out of town, Elliott in the midwest, Carmouche in New York, with occasional stops at Parx which he will always consider home.

Carmouche finished 20th nationally in earnings with $9.6 million. He had 134 wins. And look out in 2024 when he will be riding potential grass superstar Integration in some major stakes, including potentially the Pegasus Turf on Jan. 27. Elliott finished 59th in earnings with $4.9 million.

Elliott continues to move up all the all-time wins list. He is now No, 26 with 5,626 wins. No. 32 Tony Black, who is threatening to come back for one more win, has 5,211. Carmouche has now moved into the top 100 with 3,778 wins, good for 97th.

And, as we start a year that will be celebrating the 50th year of the race track and the 20th year since Smarty Jones put the race track on the national map, Smarty Jones is still in the top 30 all-time in earnings with $7.6 million, good for 28th, but always No. 1 around here.

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