Keith Jones

Dick Jerardi is an award winning sports writer as well as a radio/television host and commentator, and is arguably best known for covering the sport of Horse Racing.

Though his work as a journalist at The Philadelphia Daily News, Dick has covered every Triple Crown race since 1987 (he is a five-time winner of theRed Smith Award for Kentucky Derby coverage). Dick Jerardi famously chronicled the remarkable Smarty Jones during the Triple Crown chase of 2004 s the Thoroughbred won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes for trainer John Servis.

Since 2011 Jerardi has been an on-air analyst for the live television broadcasts of The Pennsylvania Derby from Parx Racing, most recently for NBC Spots Philadelphia.

Many fans know of Dick Jerardi’s work from the long running Let’s Go Racing TV program where he works alongside fellow Parx Hall of Fame members Keith Jones and producer Bruce Casella.

Dick also continues to provide color commentary for the live broadcasts of Penn State basketball.


LUPE PRECIADO GETS 2000TH WIN

BY Dick Jerardi

Guadalupe Preciado’s first win as a trainer came at Philadelphia Park on June 4, 1989, with a first-time starter named Broadway Bouncer. His 2,000th win came at Parx Racing on Nov. 16, 2000, with a first-time starter named Chub Wagon.

It was the same footprint where he had first won 31 years before. His 12 graded stakes wins and amazing run to the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint with Favorite Tale came in between those milestones for the man who first attended the races as an 11-year-old in Mexico City.

Two days after Preciado got 2,000, he got 2,001 at Parx with a horse ridden by Mychel Sanchez. Where is the 2,001 sign, Sanchez asked Preciado with a smile.

Every win has been earned by a man who has trained 20 horses with more than $200,000 in earnings, including Caught in the Rain, Mr. Nasty, and Favorite Tale, a $1 million earner who won the 2014 Gallant Bob at Parx and 2015 Smile Stakes before running third in the BC Sprint. Preciado has started 11,909 horses with those 2,001 wins, 1,829 seconds, 1,722 thirds and $44,714,767 in earnings. It has been some career.

“Mr. Nasty ran against the best horses in New York every time,’’ Preciado remembered. “He won the Tom Fool. He beat Rubiano.’’

It was July 13, 1991, when Mr, Nasty, ridden by the great Angel Cordero, wired the field and upset favored Rubiano in the Tom Fool. Mr. Nasty was owned by Jack Mondel who Preciado has long credited with giving him his start and some of his best horses.

Mr. Nasty, Preciado remembered fondly, won races with Cordero, Julie Krone, Jerry Bailey, and Mike Smith, Hall of Famers all.

Preciado worked with trainer J. Bowes Bond when he first came to the United States. Later, he went to Churchill Downs with 1981 Kentucky Derby favorite Proud Appeal, the colt trained by Stanley Hough. Then, he worked with his wife Wendy Mutnick when she trained the horses. He took over as the trainer when she had their first child. They can be seen at their Parx barn together every day.

The trainer has 18 horses in his barn these days, many fewer horses than he had in years like 1994 when he won 116 races, 1997 when he won 120 and 2004 when he won 118, 30th best in the country. This year, it’s 125 starters with 25 wins, 20 seconds, and 16 thirds. In his career, he has won with a solid 17 percent and 47 percent in the top three.

Preciado’s first starter came two weeks before his first win. That was at Garden State Park on May 20, 1989. So he has lasted 20 years longer than the track where his first horse ran, a perfect tribute to the man who started winning early in his career and never stopped.

THE 2020 FINISH LINE

By Dick Jerardi

In mid-March, when nearly every track in the country, with the notable exceptions of Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park and a few others, shut down for weeks or months, it was unclear if the Triple Crown or the Breeders’ Cup would even happen.

It was uncertain what racing would look like when or if it returned. It was several months before racing at Parx came back. It was unfortunate, but understandable, that the Pennsylvania Derby, Cotillion and other open stakes did not happen in 2020, the purse money going to the owners who support the track all year long. With the casino also closed and the slot money that supports 85 percent of the purse structure turned off for several months, it absolutely made sense for any purse money to be reserved for the horsemen that call the track home.

So we did not have our championship September at Parx, a month that has gotten the track into the national conversation with all the important stakes races that culminate with Pennsylvania Derby Day where some of the country’s best 3-year-old colts and 3-year-old fillies race in the track’s two Grade I races.

We all missed the enjoyment and exposure that month and those races have brought the track. But it’s 2020 so we take what we get, have to be thankful racing came back at all and everybody has had a chance to earn a living.

It is no secret that the Triple Crown is the biggest thing in the game. Not sure what 2020 would have been like without it. Thankfully, the races all happened, if out of order and at the wrong times. But think about it: with the mid-June Belmont Stakes, the early September Kentucky Derby and early October Preakness, we got to see memorable performances by Tiz the Law in New York and Authentic in Kentucky, ending with the Swiss Skydiver-Authentic epic in Maryland.

When Tiz the Law dominated the Belmont and Travers, there was talk of a Triple Crown and, if it happened, would it be the same? It wouldn’t have been the same obviously, but nothing has been or could be the same in 2020. If Tiz the Law had gone on to win the Derby and Preakness, it would have been an incredible achievement, especially with the Travers in the middle of it.

But Authentic’s early speed and a classic Bob Baffert-training job put Authentic in the Derby winner’s circle. Tiz the Law’s Derby race would have been good enough most years, but not against a talented colt readied by a master trainer, Authentic getting the dream trip alone in front.

Tiz the Law dropped out of the Triple Crown after the Derby, trainer Barclay Tagg opting for more time to get the colt that had won the Holy Bull, Florida Derby, Belmont and Travers ready for a run at Horse of the Year in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

So it was on Authentic and the filly Swiss Skydiver to give us the race of the year in the Preakness, the filly winning a stretch-long duel by a neck.

As the moveable feast that is top-class horse racing arrived at Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup, everything was on the line in the $6 million Classic – Horse of the Year, 3-year-old champion, all of it.

A wonderful 10-horse field, including the 2019 Derby winner for 20 minutes Maximum Security, the hottest older horse in the country Improbable (the 2019 Derby and Preakness favorite), Tiz the Law and Authentic, lined up for the final showdown.

It was once again Authentic’s early speed that carried the day. Immediately in front, Authentic looked like a winner the whole way, running away from stablemate Improbable’s
challenge in the stretch, giving Baffert a 1-2 finish in America’s richest horse race and the great jockey John Velazquez his first Classic.

So Authentic, winner of the Sham and San Felipe, second in the Santa Anita Derby, winner of the Haskell and Kentucky Derby, second in the Preakness and dominant winner of the Classic will be 2020 3-year-old champion and Horse of the Year.

The colt has been retired to stud, along with many of the other big names which made this unprecedented year so special.

Tiz the Law is the only horse to win the Champagne, Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes and Travers. But the wonderful colt, who was clearly uncomfortable running inside horses in the Classic and finished out of the money for the first time in his career, will end 2020 without any championships which almost seems unfair.

The good news is that Tiz the Law will race on in 2021, his first goal the Pegasus at Gulfstream Park in January. The New York bred will have a new jockey, the man who was on Authentic, the colt that cost Tiz the Law the 3-year-old title. Johnny V. will ride Tiz the Law and, perhaps 2021 will be the year the colt gets a championship.

PARX WINS AGAIN AT BREEDERS CUP

By Dick Jerardi

It is becoming an annual fall tradition, be it at Churchill Downs, Santa Anita or Keeneland. A horse trained at Parx arrives at the Breeders’ Cup, gets ignored in the betting and dominates a BC race.

It was Jaywalk in the Juvenile Fillies two years ago at Churchill, Spun to Run in the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita last year and, last Friday, the brilliant Vequist in the Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.

Three of the best at Parx trained the winners: John Servis (Jaywalk), Carlos Guerrero (Spun to Run) and Butch Reid (Vequist). It was actually Reid’s second BC win as Afleet Again ran away from the field in the 2011 Marathon.

Few deserved this win more than Butch and his wife Ginny, linelong race trackers who looked like they had their horse of a lifetime heading into the 2019 Triple Crown season. Maximus Mischief was easily the best 2-year-old stabled at Parx since Smarty Jones. The colt was a real threat to win the Kentucky Derby. Then, he got hurt and the dream was over almost as soon as it started.

The Reids have been winning races together for years. They had that BC win and a Grade I win with Poseidon’s Warrior, but they don’t have zillionaire owners who spend millions at the sales for horses that win the seven-figure races.
But they do have terrific owners like Tom McGrath’s Swilcan Stable. It was McGrath who, on Reid’s recommendation, bought Vero Amore for $15,000 at the 2013 Timonium Sales. She finished second in three stakes, including losing a photo in the 2014 Black Eyed Susan Stakes.

Vero Amore was a nice race horse, but she will be known into the future as the dam of the 2020 2-year-old filly champion, Vequist, a McCrath homebred. The brilliant daughter of 2016 Derby winner Nyquist got the trip in the BC she did not get when second to Dayoutoftheoffice in the Frizette. Jockey Joel Rosario never left the live rail with Vequist and ran by the filly in the stretch she could not catch at Belmont Park.

The Reid entourage was supposed to end up at the Breeders’ Cup event Friday night to celebrate, but it wasn’t really their style.

“It was a little too stodgy,’’ Butch said.“Everybody’s got jackets and ties. We got (brother) Brian and the crew. It wasn’t really the right crowd for us.’’

So they took good care of the manager, got a nice table at Jeff Ruby’s in Lexington and had “plenty to eat.’’

So where does this win rank?

“That was the biggest, plus it gets you the champion,’’ Butch said. “I wasn’t sure I’d ever train a champion in my career.’’
Hopefully, there will actually be a 2021 Eclipse Award ceremony that the Reids can attend when Vequist is officially named division champion.

After her first race, an inch loss at Parx, Gary Barber and Adam Wachtel bought interests in Vequist. She was sent to the Grade I Spinaway as a maiden and and blew away the field by almost 10 lengths. She finished second by 2 lengths in the Frizette. But there was no doubt about the Juvenile Fillies. Dayoutoftheoffice got an easy lead on a speed-favoring track, but Vequist was always in range. When Rosario asked her to go through a tiny hole between the leader and the rail, she was very eager and powered home a decisive 2-length winner.

Vequist left Kentucky for Florida Sunday where she will hang out at Dr. Barry Eisaman’s farm for 45 days before Reid meets up with her at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Fla. She will train there over the winter, hoping to return to Kentucky next spring for the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

 THE BEST TWO DAYS IN SPORTS

I have been to 33 Kentucky Derbys, 27 Final Fours, three World Series, two Summer Olympics,, two NBA Finals, one Super Bowl, the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, and Fiesta Bowl. But whenever anybody asks me about my favorite annual event on the sports calendar, the answer is always the same: the Breeders’ Cup.

My only regret is that, once it starts, I can’t pause it on occasion to savor the moments. By the time one of the 14 championship races over two days ends, it always seems like the post parade is underway for the next one.

I missed the first one in 1984 at Hollywood Park, but attended every one from 1985 to 2011. Superstorm Sandy got me in 2012 as planes were grounded most of that week and I could not get to Los Angeles. I did not make it the next year either or in 2016. Other than those four years, I have been at every Breeders’ Cup. This will be miss number five.

This will be the Breeders’ Cup that just about everyone that is not a participant will miss. But I will be at Keeneland vicariously and I won’t miss a minute on television Friday or Saturday, from the Juvenile Turf Sprint right through the Classic.

Santa Anita and Churchill Downs have played host the most times. This will be Keeneland’s second Cup after American Pharoah left everyone searching for adjectives in 2015.

I always enjoyed the Cup at old Gulfstream Park. It is a shame it has not been at Belmont Park since 2005. Hollywood Park is the only Cup track that is no longer a track, having been torn down to make way for the spectacular new football stadium where the Rams and Chargers play. Few remember anymore that the second Cup was at Aqueduct. It was a little drab and dingy that day, but the racing was, as always, sensational.

Aqueduct is among the tracks that have hosted just once. They also include Woodbine (1996), Arlington (2002), Lone Star (2004), Monmouth Park (2007), Keeneland and Del Mar (2017). I have special memories of everyone.

The Cup returns to Del Mar next year and then back to Keeneland in 2022. If you said it could be only once placed, I would vote for Santa Anita. It’s big enough that it doesn’t feel crowded. The San Gabriel Mountains backdrop is spectacular. And the weather is always wonderful.

Parx, of course, has become a major Breeders’ Cup player the last few years with Jaywalk winning the Juvenile Fillies in 2018 and Spun to Run the Dirt Mile last year. Vequist won’t be favored in the Juvenile Fillies Friday, but she has a big chance against a terrific field.

It won’t be the same without being there, but the good news will be that the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup were held in 2020. And they will be held in 2021, hopefully with huge crowds again.

FOREWARNED DOES IT AGAIN

When Uriah St. Lewis purchased Forewarned for $40,000 in December 2018, the 3-year-old had four wins and three seconds in 11 starts, all racing on the Ohio circuit (Thistledown, Belterra Park, Mahoning Valley).

The now 5-year-old horse has raced 19 times since the purchase. Based at Parx with his owner/trainer, Forewarned has run at his home track seven times, Aqueduct, Saratoga, Belmont Park, Laurel, Pimlico, and Charles Town. The horse has run in such prestigious races as the Whitney, Woodward, Cigar Mile, and Pimlico Special. He has also returned three times to Ohio where he was born.

Last October, Forewarned was at Mahoning Valley for the $150,000 Best of Ohio Endurance Stakes. Running against Ohio breds instead of horses like McKinzie and Vino Rosso and going off at 7-5 instead of prices like 89-1, 97-1, and 135-1, Forewarned, running at a mile and quarter, won convincingly by 2 3/4 lengths.

Saturday, a year after that last visit to Mahoning Valley, Forewarned did it again in the same race. Sent off at 1-1 and coming from well off the pace, Forewarned hooked up with fellow Ohio bred Wicked Warrior at the top of the stretch and the pair raced together for the wire, Forewarned eventually prevailing by a half-length. The third horse was 12 3/4 lengths behind.

So that $40,000 purchase has now earned $380,920 in his two years with St. Lewis. Like most of the trainer’s horses, Forewarned does not have much early speed, but endurance is never an issue, the farther the better.

And you will know right where to look for Forewarned in late October 2021 _ at Mahoning Valley against those Ohio breds going for a threepeat.

INCREDIBLE SATURDAY FOR PARX HORSES

By Dick Jerardi

Now, “that’’ was a Saturday afternoon.

Parx-based and/or -connected horses that cost a combined $93,000 at the sales or via the claim, win five stakes worth $415,155.

New York Showcase Day at Belmont Parx may just as well have been run at Parx, with some of the track’s best trainers following each other into the winner’s circle all day. And the Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park was won by last year’s Parx champion 2-year-old colt or gelding.

Trainer Danny Velazquez, who spent the summer at Delaware Park and will soon be returning to Parx, had the best day of all, the best day of his young career.

He teamed up to win the $150,000 Maid of the Mist Stakes with Parx Hall of Famer Kendrick Carmouche riding Laobanonaprayer. That was good news. The best news was that Velazquez also owns the 2-year-old filly he purchased for just $15,000 at the Timonium sale in May. She crushed her field by 5 ½ lengths and earned a cool $82,500 for the owner/trainer, less the jockey commission.

Just 35 minutes later, Velazquez was back in the winner’s circle with (on a day for New York breds) the aptly-named Brooklyn Strong. The 2-year-old gelding, a $5,000 purchase at an April sale in Florida, is owned by Mark Schwartz. Like his stablemate, he made a strong run from the back and pulled away to win the $150,000 Sleepy Hollow by 2 1/4 lengths.

Ten Strike Racing (Marshall Gramm/Clay Sanders) claimed Lucky Move for $30,000 on April 30, 2019, at Churchill Downs. The now 6-year-old mare won Obeah at Delaware Park in June when she was sent off at 42-1. She was only 4-1 in the $175,000 Empire Distaff Handicap but made a similar rally from the back that she made at Delaware Park to win going away. Trained by Carlos Guerrero, Lucky Move earned $96,250 to push her over $200,000 in 2020.

The wildest run of the day came from Collegeville Girl in the $125,000 Iroquois. The 4-year-old filly, trained by Richie Vega, looked hopelessly out of it on the backstretch. Then, she began moving on the turn. Her jockey, Joel Rosario, lost his whip. No matter, the strongest finisher in the sport just kept pushing and Collegeville Girl kept lengthening her stride. Sent off at 23-1, she got up in the last few jumps to win by a half-length.

Collegeville Girl earned $68,750 for owners Bob Brittingham, PTHA President Sal DeBunda and dentist to the stars Steve Appel. The filly cost just $18,000 three Octobers ago. She has now earned $270,526.

Exactly 20 minutes after Collegeville Girl crossed the finish line at Belmont Park, Monday Morning QB finished off a tour de force in the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic, leaving no doubt as he won by 3 1/4 lengths.

The 3-year-old colt was purchased for $25,000 two Octobers ago. His MM Classic win was worth $85,155, pushing his career earnings to $225,155 for owners Chuck Zacney (Cash Is King) and Glenn Bennett (LC Racing).

So, in a little more than four hours, those Parx horses came in without fanfare (none was favored) and left with, if not all the money, more than enough of it.

THE 2019 HORSEMEN’S AWARDS

By Dick Jerardi

They were held in the Parx paddock on a dreary race day in mid-October instead of at nearby Celebrations in mid-March. In 2020, however, we have learned to be thankful for anything that resembles normal.

So the 2019 Parx Horsemen’s Awards served to honor the best horses and people at the track and reminded us just how well so many performed last year.

Spun to Run was brilliant from January through December, running in four states from ocean to ocean. Four of his five wins came at Parx and the one out-of-town win will be remembered as long as they run horses at the track.

The colt really announced himself as one of “those’’ horses when he crushed some of the best older horses at Parx in the M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile. Yes, he won the Smarty Jones Stakes and finished third behind Maximum Security in the Haskell, but it was the day in October when the possibilities increased dramatically.

Just three weeks later, Spun to Run was at Santa Anita and did to some of the fastest milers in the world exactly what he did to the best older horses at Parx _ crushed them in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. It was at that moment when 2019 Parx Horse of the Year no longer became a thought, but a conclusion.

“He was a dream horse to train,’’ Spun to Run’s trainer Carlos Guerrero said. “He knew who you were. You hug him, you kiss him, give him candy, he just knew who was involved with him.’’

Spun to Run’s owner Robert Donaldson rightly called the colt “a horse of a lifetime, To get one like him that just had the heart, was well bred, had the speed, just laid it out there for you every time.’’

Spun to Run not only earned $1,140,660 in 2019; the colt also earned the distinction of being the best 3-year-old at Parx since Smarty Jones 15 years before.

There was Horse of the Year. There were all the divisional winners. And there were jockeys, trainers and owners who won more than their peers at the track in 2019.

The top 2-year-old colt or gelding was Monday Morning QB, trained by Butch Reid and owned by Chuck Zacney’s Cash Is King and Glenn Bennett’s LC Racing.

“We really appreciate the group showing us the appreciation,’’ Reid said. “He’s been a really good horse…He was relatively inexpensive down at the yearling sale, but from the beginning he was a sharp horse.’’

The top 2-year-old filly was the Club Risque/Gregory Quick-owned Pink Caddy who was dominant in her wins.

“She’s been a star ever since she walked into the barn,’’ trainer Randy Allen said. “She has tons of talent; she never wants to get beat. There’s not much to say other than watch her races.’’

Spun to Run was obviously also named champion 3-year–old colt or gelding.

Gotta Be Strong, from the powerful Jamie Ness barn, was voted 3-year-old filly champion. She ran 14 times in 2019 with five wins, five seconds and earnings of $280,090. She was also the Claim of the Year.

“I was approached by the owner Gap View Stables, `what about this horse?’’’ Ness said. “I said `I don’t know, $50,000 is a little out of our range.’ She checked all the boxes so we took a shot.’’

Indeed, they did.

“I guess the odds for the Claim of the Year were in our favor because we probably claimed the most horses,’’ Ness said. “But she was the claim of a lifetime for sure for us.’’

Someday Jones, son of the great Smarty Jones and trained, like Smarty, by John Servis, was the best older colt of geldling.

“It’s a great thrill to have a horse like that,’’ co-owner Charles Asensio said.

The horse has won more than $600,000 in his career.

“He’s 7-years-old and he’s still out there thinking he’s 3,’’ Asensio said.

The top older filly or mare was Wildcat Combat for trainer Miguel Penaloza. She won nearly $200,000 last year after recovering from an injury.

“It took several months for her to recuperate,’’ owner Lyno Maraspin said. “She earned it so she’s very dear to us.’’

Fix Me a Sandwich was the Claiming Horse of the Year and the Winningest Horse of the Year. All he did in 2019 for owner John Fanelli and trainer Joe Taylor is win seven times and earn $150,800.

“We’re blessed to be in a position to get some good horses with Joe Taylor,’’ Fanelli said. “The horse just shows up every time. The toughest thing with him is hoping to get the saddle on.’’

Jack Armstrong was leading owner with 43 wins and $1.1 million in purses.

“I didn’t start (2019) with very many horses,’’ Armstrong said. “Into the year, I started to add horses and it just ended up being a really good year. As they were running, I just kept adding more and more.’’

Joe Taylor won his first training title with 103 wins and $3.1 million in purses.

“It’s crazy,’’ Taylor said. “I would never have imagined this in my life, really. As I always say, it’s totally my staff. They all make me look good, my hotwalkers, my grooms and everybody…My son works with me every day now. My daughter’s here all the time. I can’t believe it. I get goosebumps.’’

Carlos Soto was the leading B trainer with 23 wins.

“It was a great year,’’ he said.

Wilfredo Garcia was leading apprentice jockey with 23 wins.

Frankie Pennington and Mychel Sanchez tied for leading jockey with 146 wins each. It was Pennington’s seventh title, the first for Sanchez.

“We always try so hard and (are) fortunate enough to ride for all the owners and trainers that we do,’’ Pennington said.

Sanchez is going to win the title outright in 2020, but 2019 was his breakthrough year.

“Hopefully, we can keep going, this year and next year, follow Frankie, good jockey, good person, I learn a lot from him,’’Sanchez said.

VEQUIST ON TO BREEDERS’ CUP

By Dick Jerardi

The brilliant 2-year-old filly Vequist may not have won the Grade I Frizette at Belmont Park, but she ran a winning race while finishing second. So trainer Butch Reid will try to extend the Parx streak of winning a Breeders’ Cup race to three on Nov. 6 when Vequist runs in the BC Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.

“I’m happy with the race, but I would like to have won,’’ Reid said. “I think we were definitely as good as the winner…We couldn’t be any happier, only if we had won the race.’’

The Frizette winner, Dayoutoftheoffice, is unbeaten in three starts. It was trainer Tim Hamm’s first Grade I win.

Vequist already won a Grade I when she dominated the Spinaway closing weekend at Saratoga. The way she ran in the Frizette strongly suggests there are more Grade I wins in her future.

Vequist was not helped by her post position or a passive ride from typically aggressive Luis Saez. The filly, who broke from post 1, stumbled slightly at the start, but was quickly second with a wide-open rail path in front of her. Instead of sending her through to challenge for the lead, Saez just sat there and let Dayoutoftheoffice and her jockey Junior Alvarado get just to their outside, essentially trapping Vequist in place during most of the run down the backstretch and through much of the far turn.

Alvarado moved first and Dayoutoftheoffice quickly opened a 2-length lead coming out of the turn. Saez immediately reacted to that move, but giving a good filly first run was a tactical mistake. Dayoutoftheoffice got that lead and held it to the wire, winning by those same 2 lengths, both fillies running really hard through the wire. It was 10 lengths back to the third horse.

“You get up inside of them and put the (decision) on them,’’ Reid said. “The rail was fine because the horse (Happy Saver) later in the Jockey Club Gold Cup squeezed through on the fence (to win).’’

If the posts had been switched, it may have been Vequist and her jockey who could have controlled the race and gotten first run.

The BC Juvenile Fillies should be some race, with unbeaten Princess Noor coming from the West Coast for Bob Baffert and Simply Ravishing, the super impressive Alcibiades winner for trainer Ken McPeek among the major contenders.

Vequist will train at Parx until she ships to Keeneland a little more than a week before the race so she can get a timed workout over the track.

Reid has run two horses in BC races. Afleet Again won the 2011 Marathon at 41-1. Poseidon’s Warrior, Reid’s other Grade I winner in addition to Vequist, ran last in the 2012 Sprint. So he is batting .500 in the BC, with a chance to move his average to .667.
It was two years ago when Parx-based Jaywalk won the BC Juvenile Fillies for trainer John Servis. Last year, trainer Carlos Guerrero won the BC Dirt Mile with Parx-based Spun to Run. So there is a bit of pressure on Reid.

“I’ve got to keep the tradition going,’’ he said.

Dick Jerardi

Nobody in the Delaware Valley was happier or cheering louder than Let’s Go Racing producer Bruce Casella when the brilliant filly Swiss Skydiver won a stretch-long duel against Kentucky Derby winner Authentic in a Preakness to remember.

Casella and the filly’s trainer Kenny McPeek have been friends for 40 years. They went to different colleges, but were fraternity brothers. They used to play one-on-one while dunking on six-foot rims in McPeek’s Lexington, Ky. backyard, aka, McPeekma. Casella was working in those days for Channel 27 in Lexington.

Casella does not remember McPeek ever having any books when he was a student at the University of Kentucky. But he does remember McPeek always carrying a copy of the “Blood Horse.’’ He was always going to be in horse racing.

The two stayed close when McPeek was training horses at Turfway Park and Casella worked there.

A few hours before the McPeek-trained Sarava became the longest-priced winner of the Belmont Stakes in 2002, Casella went to see his friend on the backstretch. McPeek was asleep in his truck.

“I didn’t really want to run here,’’ McPeek told him. “My owner made me do it.’’

McPeek thought long and hard about it, but, in the end, he wanted to run Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness. The great filly proved her trainer’s assessment correct when she hooked up with Authentic at the top of the Pimlico stretch and would not let the Derby winner by.

Swiss Skydiver has now raced nine times in 2020 at nine different tracks. She has basically been running once a month since her season began at Tampa Bay Downs in January. She has also raced at the Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita, Keeneland, Saratoga, Churchill Downs and Pimlico.

In her last seven starts, she has won one Grade III stake, two Grade II stakes, two Grade I stakes and finished second in another Grade I and a Grade II.

Now that she has won the Preakness, Swiss Skydiver has to be in the discussion for Horse of the Year so McPeek has another decision to make. The Preakness was a “Win and You’re In’’ for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.

So does the trainer try the boys again, not just 3-year-olds, but also the best older horses in a race that will almost certainly decide Horse of the Year? We are talking Maximum Security, Improbable, Tom’s d’Etat, as well as Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law and Derby winner Authentic. Any horse with a top record that wins that race has to be Horse of the Year.

Or does McPeek send his filly to the BC Distaff where she will meet some of the best fillies and mares in training? That decision can wait.

The 2020 Preakness, whether in May or October, is forever.

McPeek had 627 text messages of congratulations by the morning after the Preakness.

“Surreal experience,’’ he texted back.

Two years ago, McPeek purchased Swiss Skydiver as a yearling for owner Peter Callahan. She cost just $35,000, another McPeek sales bargain.

It was McPeek who purchased the great Curlin for $57,000. The two-time Horse of the Year won the 2007 Preakness and earned more than $10 million.

So the man knows horses and horse racing. He did not get to train Curlin, but he has been training Swiss Skydiver all along. As McPeek said after the Preakness, she never gets tired. The filly just runs and runs and wins and wins.

WINNING OUT OF TOWN

BY Dick Jerardi

PTHA president Sal DeBunda and top Parx trainer Jamie Ness had big days out of town Saturday.

One DeBunda homebred won a race at Pimlico and another finished second. Ness, the runaway leader at Parx in wins, won three races on Owners’ Day at Delaware Park.

Foalsfillyspecial (a great play on words of the Nick Foles Philly Special from the Super Bowl), bred by DeBunda’s Dun Roamin Farm and the Rosemore Farms of Harriette Waldron, won the seventh at Pimlico, a maiden $10,000 claimer. There was only one issue: DeBunda pointed out the filly was claimed out of her first start in July, also a maiden $10,000 claimer.

Two races later, Colonel Juan, an older half brother to Foalsfillyspecial out of the DeBunda and Waldron mare Senorita Louisa, finished second in his race. Colonel Juan, still a DeBunda horse, is 5-3-8 from 30 career starts, with earnings of nearly $200,000.

Senorita Louisa has foals with earnings of nearly $1 million. Her dam, Senorita Cielo, also raced by Dun Roamin and Rosemore, was an even better producer. Every one of her foals that got to the races was a winner.

Keeping it all in the Parx family, Colonel Juan finished second at Pimlico to Runningforhome, owned by Chuck Zacney’s Cash Is King and Glenn Bennett’s LC Racing. The horse is trained by Tyler Servis who is having a great 2020, just his second year as a trainer.

Servis is 14-6-6 from 43 starters, a 33 percent strike rate. At Parx, he has won 11 races from 30 starters, a cool 37 percent. He had 12 wins last year so the younger son of John Servis looks like he is on his way.

Ness is already there. The runaway leader at Parx this year, Ness has 64 wins at the track to 32 for second-place Joe Taylor. Overall, Ness is 162-117-110 from 611 starters this year, with earnings of $3.7 million. He is winning with 33 percent of his starters at Parx.

Ness won races 2, 4, and 11 at Delaware. It was V.I.P. Code, followed by Madam Meena and Wild About Deb. Three wins days have been the norm for Ness this year especially since racing stopped for three months. His horses were ready when racing returned and they have stayed ready in the three months since the return.

JUST NEEDED SOME TIME

Remember Improbable, the favorite in last year’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Pennsylvania Derby. The colt finished fifth, sixth and fourth respectively in those races. Turned out the experience needed to catch up to the talent. It has.

Improbable has now reeled off three consecutive Grade I wins _ The Gold Cup, Whitney and, Saturday, the Awesome Again. Improbable likely will be favored in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland. And, if he wins, he will be Horse of the Year.

Maximum Security finished second to stablemate Improbable, but got all the worst of it after being involved in a race-long speed duel. It was only the second time in 13 starts Max has not finished first. Both of those losses were seconds with an excuse. If Max gets a clear lead in reasonable fractions in the Classic, he will be dangerous because he is so hard to pass in the stretch. Even when it was obvious the colt had nothing left Saturday, he refused to let Midcourt pass him for second.

ONE MORE TIME IN THE WINNERS’ CIRCLE

By Dick Jerardi

Bob Corsini decided he wanted to win one more race. So he called the racing office at Delaware Park looking for a trainer. He got a list of three names and the racing office notified the trainers. Scott Lake had a break during training at Parx so he called; the first one on the list to make the call.

Corsini’s last winner was in 1963, a mere 57 years before. He is 88-years-old.

“I just want to get in the winner’s circle one more time before I pass away,’’ Corsini told Lake.

So Corsini got a license and put $30,000 in his account. Lake claimed Confessor, a 4-year-old gelding, for $20,000
on July 6 at Delaware Park off a winning effort.

The trainer then entered the horse in a race that was off the turf so Confessor was 3-5. He was a vet scratch after the post parade.

Lake worked with the horse; ran him in an optional claimer at Delaware on Labor Day. Confessor was 6-1. He battled for the lead the whole way, repelled several challenges in the stretch and won by a half-length while getting an 84 Beyer Speed Figure, a point off his career best, in his 25th lifetime start.

Lake was at Parx for Pa. Day at the Races so he watched the race on television.

“I’m screaming `come on for the old man, come on for the old man,’’’ Lake said.

He called Corsini in the winner’s circle.

The owner told him: “I can’t talk right now. I’m crying.’’

Who wouldn’t be?

“I always liked Scott Lake,’’ Corsini said.

So when Lake called, there was no need for any other calls. He was hired.

Corsini, a housewares salesman who traveled all over, lives in Ridley Township, Delaware County. He was always a horse racing fan.

“I’d be home a week, then I might be a week out in Pittsburgh,’’ he said. “I’d be a week in Baltimore and Washington…When I would be in New York, I would go right by Belmont Park and somehow the wheel would turn. I’d end up at the track. When I was in Baltimore, I would go to either Pimlico or Laurel. While I was working, I would pass and make a few little bets. I’m not a big bettor. I’ve been betting since I was 18-years-old and I’m still a lousy handicapper.’’

But he owns a winning race horse.

The horse’s name is perfect. Corsini’s son Joe is the Chief Financial Officer for the Diocese of Wilmington.

“Catholics go to confession,’’ Corsini said.

Of course they do.

BJP Stable is named for Bob Corsini and his son Bob, Corsini’s other son Joe and daughter Julie as well as Corsini’s late wife Patsy and their daughter Patti.

Corsini, his brother and some friends claimed their original
horse by each putting up $500 in the late 1950s. The horse won four or five races and made a little bit of money for the partners. They had few more horses, some that won, others that did not.

“I told my kids before I die I want to get back into horse racing,’’ Corsini said.

So he did.

He was sitting on a bench watching Confessor win the race
and then greeted his horse in the winner’s circle.

“Outside of my children being born and my wedding, it
was probably the happiest day of my life,’’ Corsini said. “Can you imagine an 88-year-old guy crying?’’
Absolutely.

He has a picture in his basement of perhaps his last winner prior to Confessor, a horse named Thespian who won at Delaware in 1963.

“I hope it’s not another 57 years,’’ Corsini said.

Of course, he is thinking about getting another horse. Winning will do that to a person, even if it’s been 57 years between wins.

“I’m up in years so you never know what’s going to happen,’’ he said. “For me to get that win at my age, unbelievable.’’

And he relives it anytime he wants

“Every once in a while, I open up the laptop and I watch the race again,’’ Corsini said. “Isn’t that super, just to see it? It’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful.’’

It is, indeed.