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.


THE FLORIDA MYSTERY

By Dick Jerardi

If something happens once, perhaps it’s a coincidence. If it happens twice, you start to wonder. If it happens three times, it starts to become a pattern.

It is no secret that Parx-based horses have headed out from the track to win major stakes in the last three years – in 2018 Jaywalk won the Frizette and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies while Maximus Mischief won the Remsen Stakes. In 2019, Spun to Run won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. In 2020, Vequist won the Spinaway and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

When 2019 began, Maximus Mischief and Jaywalk were among the favorites for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks respectively. When 2020 began, Spun to Run was aiming for the Pegasus World Cup. When 2021 started, Vequist’s goal was the Kentucky Oaks.

All four horses were sent to South Florida so they would not miss any training time due to weather in the northeast _ Jaywalk, Spun to Run and Vequist based at Palm Meadows Training Center, Maximus Mischief at Gulfstream Park.

Jaywalk went 4-for-5 in 2018, but just 1-for-6 in 2019 before being retired. Maximus Mischief was 3-for-3 in 2018, but raced just once in 2019, a dull third, before being injured and retired to stud. Spun to Run appeared poised to run in and win some of the best races in the country, but, after sustaining an injury, never ran in 2020 and was retired. Now, Vequist, brilliant in 2020, with two wins and two seconds in four starts, began her 3-old season last Saturday as the 1-2 favorite against an undistinguished field in the Grade II Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. After getting great position early under champion jockey Irad Ortiz, Vequist could not keep up on the turn and eventually finished ninth, beaten by 26 lengths as a 52-1 shot won the race.

If Ortiz had asked Vequist in the stretch, she probably could have finished closer. But she was never going to come closer to winning and the jockey eased her up late to protect her.

So what is going on here?

The three trainers of the four horses are among the very best at Parx – John Servis (Jaywalk), Carlos Guerrero (Spun to Run), and Butch Reid (Maximus Mischief, Vequist). They did not forget how to train horses because they were in Florida. Servis, of course, trained Cathryn Sophia in Florida to win the 2016 Kentucky Oaks and famously trained Smarty Jones in Arkansas before the Parx legend won the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

“She came back and scoped a little dirty and had some mucus and stuff like that,’’ Reid said the morning after Vequist’s inexplicable defeat.

“You’ll get a lot down here in South Florida, but other than that she was sound, jogging around good this morning. We’re going to kind of give her a mulligan on that one. I appreciate that Irad didn’t really beat her up the last part of it. He could have made her fifth, beaten 5 (lengths), but that doesn’t prove anything.

“That’s why we have first races. We were looking for much better than that obviously. The horse is still sound. We’re happy with her. We’ll fall back with her, regroup, and go on the next.’’

Next is to be determined, but, for now, the goal remains the April 30 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. Perhaps, a decision will be made to get Vequist out of the Florida heat to Keeneland where she won her Breeders’ Cup race. She could then run in the April 3 Ashland at Keeneland where, obviously, a much-improved performance would be needed. And if she is back to the old Vequist, the Oaks will be just 27 days and a short van ride away.

It’s become an accepted fact that training on the Parx surface gets horses incredibly fit, one of the reasons so many have been so successful out of town in recent years. Is it the old what happens at Parx only works if the horse stays at Parx?

Don’t know the answer, but, at least, it is a question that needs to be asked.

MIGUEL PENALOZA WINS BIG ONE AT LAUREL

By Dick Jerardi

Like so many others in the sport, Parx trainer Miguel Penaloza had a rough 2020. After his stable had 37 wins and earned $1,261,787 in 2019, it was just nine wins last year.

Last Saturday, however, that was Penaloza in the winner’s circle at Laurel Park after 6-year-old Share the Ride won the Grade III $250,000 General George Stakes impressively.

“That was pretty awesome,’’ the trainer said.

Owner Silvino Ramirez had been watching Share the Ride for a while hoping that someday the horse would be entered in a claiming race. That day was July 5, 2020, at Monmouth Park. The claiming price was $16,000. Ramirez pounced and Share the Ride, who has been training at Parx with Penaloza, has gone on to win the Mr. Prospector Stakes at Monmouth, finish second in the Grade III Bold Ruler at Belmont, win the Grade III Fall Highweight at Aqueduct, finishing second in the Fire Plug at Laurel and third in the Grade III Toboggan at Aqueduct.

Not bad for a $16,000 claim. Penaloza has 12 horses in his barn at the moment, but there is no doubt about the star. That would be Share the Ride. The horse has won nearly $388,000 since the claim.

“Basically, it’s teamwork with the owner,’’ Penaloza said.

They never really thought Share the Ride would be in a claiming race, but when he was, they were ready. The rest is history.

“We always remember that,’’ Penaloza said.

Some of Penaloza’s other good horses in his career include Wildcat Combat and Crazy Daisy. Those horses won a combined 15 races and more than $500,000 in their careers, the bulk of their accomplishments coming with Penaloza as the trainer.

“I’ve been lucky,’’ Penaloza said. “I’ve had a couple of horses, we’ve made it from claiming to stakes. But this one is special.’’

That would be Share the Ride who has taken his owner and trainer on quite a ride over the last seven months.

“This horse is different,’’ Penaloza said. “It feels really good. We’re always thinking positively. The owners always believe in me,’’

Which is how you get from a down year to a $16,000 claim that has done nothing but run great ever since.

 

 

SENATOR TOMMY TOMLINSON CONFIDENT RACE HORSE DEVELOPMENT FUND IS SAFE

By Dick Jerardi

State Senator Tommy Tomlinson has been in the Pennsylvania legislature for 30 years, first in the House of Representatives and now serving his seventh term in the Senate, representing Bucks County. He knows precisely how the government works and certainly understands Harrisburg.

When Gov. Wolf announced his budget a few weeks ago, he revealed a plan to raid the Race Horse Development Fund, almost exactly the same proposal he made the year before. It went nowhere then and Tomlinson is very confident it is going nowhere now

“We were here a year ago,’’ Tomlinson said when I interviewed him for our “Let’s Go Racing’’ television show. “He did do this last year. We told him he couldn’t do it last year. We didn’t let him do it last year. We changed the law in 2017. We made it impossible. This money is in a trust fund. It’s for the horsemen. It’s $204 million.’’

The governor has proposed to take $199 million from the fund to use for college scholarships in the state system, certainly a noble cause.

But those of us with long memories remember that when Act 71 became law in the summer of 2004, it was after a long process spearheaded by the racing industry that had been badly hurt by surrounding states with alternative gaming that was supplementing the purses at those race tracks.

The state legislature and then Gov. Rendell made a decision that because of the competition, slot machines, with a percentage of the winnings reserved for the horse racing industry, should be legalized in the commonwealth. It has been a big success for horse owners, trainers, breeders and everybody in the business. It spurred breeding in the state. It also has been a huge windfall for casino owners and the commonwealth as well as a very good thing for property owners who have seen their taxes reduced because of a rebate designated to help them.

The law has worked exactly as designed so why would anybody want to change it?

Tomlinson knows the history because he has lived it. Many others do not know the history.

“This money has impacted all over the state,’’ he said. “It’s preserving over 100,000 acres of open space. It keeps farms going. It keeps agriculture going. It’s not like somebody is just getting this money. You have to race for it, you have to earn it, you have to win it. You have to pay your grooms, you have to pay your trainers, you have to pay for feed. This money’s just not sitting there stagnant.’’

No, it is not. In fact, it is estimated that the horse racing industry creates an annual economic activity of $1.6 billion in Pennsylvania when you consider every aspect of it.

“There are 20,000 employees (in the state connected with horse racing),’’ he said. “It’s really money well spent…Because Parx has been here almost my whole life, I want to see this race track stay here. The horsemen live in my community, work in this area. This has a lot of economic impact on my community. So it was important for me to make sure that we preserve horse racing as we developed more gambling to compete with Atlantic City. This money is part of the original deal. They’re trying to break the original deal. We’re not going to let them do it.’’

Tomlinson has talked to his colleagues in Harrisburg. He has a good sense of what they are thinking.

“It was a nonstarter last year; it’s a nonstarter this year,’’ Tomlinson said. “I’m going to take it as a constructive statement that we need more help for the state system, we need more money for the state system. But you don’t take money from one pot that has nothing to do with that and put it in another pot where it’s not really going to fix the structural problem that they have.’’

Obviously, losing the fund would be a disaster for horse racing in the state. Owners and breeders who have invested so much for so long would see the value of their investments decrease dramatically. As Tomlinson said, that would not be fair nor would it make economic sense. And, like he made very clear in the interview, he sees no way it’s going to happen.

CAPO KANE THIRD IN THE WITHERS AFTER SETTING THE PACE

By Dick Jerardi

There are several ways to look at Capo Kane’s third-place finish in Saturday’s Grade III Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

The 3-year-old colt seized the lead at the start, still held a comfortable lead in the stretch and then tired in the final 200 yards. While that is certainly true, it is also true that the three horses chasing Capo Kane finished last, next to last, and next to next to last.

It was Parx-based 66-1 Mr. Doda who applied early pressure to Capo Kane. It was Mr. Doda who also finished a bit more than 66 lengths behind at the finish of the mile and an eighth race.

Risk-Taking from the powerful Chad Brown won the race convincingly, but perhaps the son of top stallion Medaglia d’Oro got the winning trip on that surface that day.

Capo Kane threw down solid quarter miles of :24.02, :24.69, 24.46 and 25.30 before that final eighth that he ran in just :14.50.

Perhaps, the 9 furlongs is a bit beyond Capo Kane’s scope. Also possible that missing three days of training because of snow removal at Parx was an issue. However, it is also true that the winner, stabled at Belmont Park, also missed two days of training that week.

“I got away with some nice fractions,’’ Capo Kane’s trainer Harry Wyner said. “He just got a little tired the last 70 yards. I thought he ran a great race.’’

Hey, they paid $26,000 for a horse that has won stakes and is now graded stakes placed. Not a bad deal.

Capo Kane got an 84 Beyer figure when he won The Jerome, an 81 for his third in The Withers.

Next up for Capo Kane is the March 6 Gotham Stakes, also at Aqueduct. That is a one-turn mile with 50 Kentucky Derby points on the line, more than enough to get the winner a place in the Derby starting gate, should the connections want to go.

The Derby, Wyner said, remains the goal. The trainer does not think The Withers distance was the issue.

“I think it was the track,’’ he said. “The track was playing to closers and it was a little heavy…It was the first time going a mile and an eighth. He missed a couple of days of training.’’

It generally is not a straight line from the Derby Dream to the Derby. The eventual winners do not all show up unbeaten.

“We’re still alive,’’ Wyner said. “The best horses get beat. Secretariat got beat.’’

Capo Kane has now raced four times, with two wins, a second, a third and earnings of $144,500, more than five times his purchase price.

So, a great deal whether the colt is good enough for Derby or not. We will know more about that part in a month.

VEQUIST CROWNED CHAMPION 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY

By Dick Jerardi

In the end, the vote was not close. Vequist got 212 votes for champion 2-year-old filly; turf star Aunt Pearl got 24.

Thus, a Parx-based horse has been named champion 2-year-old filly for the second time in three years. First, it was Jaywalk who got her start at Parx with trainer John Servis. Now, it’s Vequist who got her start at Parx for trainer Butch Reid.

The championship was a career highlight for Reid. It’s something he always hoped for, but could not be sure he would ever get.

“It was a box we weren’t sure we were ever going to check,’’ Reid said. “It’s really cool to have one that you know is the best at what she does. To be somehow involved with that is really outstanding.’’

Butch and his wife Ginny have been a great team at the barn for decades. That they are getting such a wonderful payoff only seems fair.

It almost didn’t happen. Vequist was in a weanling sale in November 2018, but was pulled before the sale. She was offered at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale by owner/breeder Tom McGrath’s Swilcan Stable, with a reserve of $120,000.

“Vequist went through the (Yearling) sale, but didn’t draw any interest,’’ Reid said. “Sixty people looked at her and not one person vetted her. There was something they didn’t like about her.’’

When she first ran last year, there was so much to like about her that top owners Gary Barber and Adam Wachtel contacted McGrath to buy a piece. A deal was done. Vequist won the Grade I Spinaway, finished second in the Grade I Frizette and won the Grade I BC Juvenile Fillies, clinching the championship.

Vequist’s dam Vero Amore has since given birth to two more fillies. The 2-year-old will be heading Reid’s way when the weather breaks. And the yearling should be on her way next year.

After winning the BC race at Keeneland on Nov. 6, Vequist was sent to Florida for a bit of rest. She has been back in training at Palm Meadows Training Center for several weeks. Last Saturday, she had her third breeze since returning, 5 furlongs in 1:00.95. She will have three more works before her first race of 2021.

That race to start her 3-year-old campaign is planned for the Davona Dale on Feb. 27 at Gulfstream Park, a one-turn mile. Then, the plan is for one more race prior to the Kentucky Oaks on April 30, the day before the Kentucky Derby.

“It’s a good place to come back,’’ Reid said.

Vequist, the trainer said, “looks fantastic. She’s eating everything in sight. The weather is so good. She’s put on weight. Her body has really matured even since last year. I’m really excited with how she’s doing right now.’’

DANNY LIMONGELLI, OWNER OF BANJO PICKER, PASSES AWAY AT 74

By Dick Jerardi

Danny Limongelli’s last winner, Quiet Please, entered the Parx winner’s circle shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 18. The longtime horse owner, with 450 wins and nearly $9 million in earnings over a career that spanned 20 years, passed away later that afternoon at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

His longtime trainer Steve Krebs, fellow owner Joe Besecker and his family in a poignant obituary remembered a man who would do anything for anybody.

After serving in Vietnam with the U.S. Army – F Troop, 17th Cavalry, 196th Brigade – Limongelli returned to the Wilkes-Barre area to his family and one of his other loves – cars.

Limongelli started Jo-Dan Motors with his father in 1971. Later, he was heavily involved in warranty companies. Even later, he was able to fulfill his dream by opening Jo-Dan Buick GMC in Moosic, Pa., the franchise dealership he had always wanted.

He owned classic cars, including his favorite, a 1958 Impala. According to his obituary, he loved to attend car shows, spend time on the family farm and, of course, hang out at the track with his friends, his family and his horses.

It was at what was then called Philadelphia Park on Aug, 21, 2004 that Krebs and Limongelli claimed Banjo Picker for $15,000.

“We just claimed him because he was a Pa. Bred,’’ Krebs said, “We figured maybe we could win (a first-level allowance) with him.’’

All Banjo Picker did after the claim was run 40 times, with 15 wins, five seconds, six thirds and earnings of more than $600,000. All but eight of those starts came at the track now known as Parx, with the final race on Nov. 24, 2009.

Tara Hemmings rode Banjo Picker in each of his starts for Limongelli, including a memorable win in the Dec. 18, 2005 Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct when the horse was a cool 47-1. Banjo Picker also won four Pa. bred stakes at Parx – the Lyman, Devil’s Honor, Power By Far and Le Grand Pos.

“He just kept getting better and better,’’ Krebs said, “He just kept right on going.’’

Limongelli had so many friends because he was so friendly,

“He loved all the action,’’ Krebs said.

Krebs and Limongelli had Lothar who won six in a row in 2002. That was one of the first horses they had together. Soon, there were 20 of the owner’s horses in the barn.

“Danny was a trainer’s dream,’’ Krebs said. “Danny was a family man first. He always talked about his family. In fact, he named several horses after all his grandkids.’’

There was Pop-Pop’s Jimmy and Nicky Blue Eyes among others.

“His horses and their well-being came first,’’ Krebs said.

Besecker had known Limongelli for five or six years, but only met him two years ago.

“Just a prince of a man,’’ Besecker said.

When Joe found out Danny was a car dealer, they talked cars. And soon enough, Danny was giving Joe a deal on a pickup that ended that night with them at dinner.

Limongelli had horses at Laurel, Penn National and Parx.

“He liked to go to Parx,’’ Besecker said. “He was a guy who supported everyday racing. He was very knowledgeable. He was one of us, a really good person; looked out for other people in the business. I know he helped out backside people. He was the kind of guy that would slide a hundred to the waitress.’’

When Danny came to the track, he often came with his friends and family.

“He made it fun for everybody,’’ Besecker said. “He usually had his gang with him. And they were a colorful gang. He loved the game.’’

VEQUIST AN ECLIPSE AWARD FINALIST

By Dick Jerardi

Vequist, who began her career at Parx and trained there before she won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland, was announced on Jan. 16 as a finalist for the 2-year-old filly Eclipse Award. The other finalists are Dayoutoftheoffice and Aunt Pearl. Vequist finished second to Dayoutoftheoffice in the Frizette before turning the tables in the Breeders’ Cup. Aunt Pearl waa dominant on the grass and won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The winners in all the categories will be announced Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. on TVG. Vequist, trained by Butch Reid, is a huge favorite to win the award. There was a similar situation two years ago when the John Servis-trained Jaywalk won the BC Juvenile Fillies and the brilliant, unbeaten Newspaperofrecord won the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf. Each was a finalist. The voting was not close. Jaywalk got 214 votes; Newspaperofrecord just 31.

There were 249 eligible voters this year. A total of 238 returned their ballots.

The Horse of the Year finalists are: Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Authentic, Improbable and Monomoy Girl. Authentic is a lock to win it. The top three on my ballot were Authentic, Improbable and Swiss Skydiver. Nothing against Monomoy Girl, but she raced just four times. Swiss Skydiver had a throwback campaign that I thought was more impressive.

By the way, in case you didn’t know, the Eclipse Awards are named for Eclipse, a 17th Century English horse that did not start racing until age 5. The horse, foaled April 1, 1764 and named after the Solar Eclipse, raced 18 times and won them all.

CARMOUCHE STAYS HOT

Parx Hall of Famer Kendrick Carmouche won his first Grade I and first New York meet in early December. He was hot when the fall Aqueduct meet ended. He is even hotter now that the Aqueduct winter meet is in full swing.

Carmouche, with 38 wins through Jan. 18, is 16 clear of second-place Eric Cancel. Last Saturday, he won four, three for trainer Todd Pletcher. Those three included the $100,000 Ladies Handicap on Thankful. The winter meet ends March 28.

It’s very early in the year obviously, but Carmouche is second nationally to Joel Rosario in earnings and second to Irad Ortiz, Jr., in wins.

FINAL 2020 PARX STANDINGS

Mychel Sanchez won his first Parx jockeys’ title in 2019 when he tied with Frankie Pennington. Sanchez won it outright in 2020 with 131 wins. Ruben Silvera finished second with 115.

Jamie Ness ran away with the trainers’ title. He had 109 wins to second-place Joe Taylor’s 50.

Jagger Inc., one of Ness’s main owners, won the owners’ title with 42 winners. Top North Racing was second with 24.

CHARTCALLER LEW ZAGNIT RETIRES AFTER 45 YEARS

By Dick Jerardi

The track was nearly enveloped in darkness late in the afternoon of Dec. 30. There were two lights still shining atop the Parx grandstand after the last race of the day.

There were the lights from the announcer’s booth as Keith Jones bid his farewell. On the floor above, Lew Zagnit, after nearly 40 years at Parx and 45 years in the business, was finishing up his work for the day.

But the fans never heard Zagnit. They just saw his work in the charts and the past performances. He called the horses as they hit the poles, separating them by heads and lengths, never permitted to skip a horse. That 10th race on Dec. 30 was his last race too, even if, as was his custom, he did it with no fanfare.

Zagnit got his start at “Daily Racing Form’’ in the late 1970s, learning the trade from Mike Mercer at what was then called Keystone. He estimates he’s called charts at 30 tracks and “about 10 of them are closed.’’

There was Centennial in Colorado, Bowie in Maryland, Commodore Downs (Erie, Pa.) and Garden State Park. There was River Downs (now Belterra Park) in Cincinnati, Latonia (now Turfway) in Kentucky.

Back then, there were not many year-round circuits so chart callers would follow the horses.

Zagnit was told he would be working the 1981 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and “then you would be on your way home’’ to Pennsylvania.

“I packed enough clothes for a week,’’ Zagnit.

While he was at the Derby, he was asked to go to Centennial. He was there for six months.

On the way home, he stopped at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and “worked a meet there.’’

“Probably about 11 months later, with my week’s worth of clothes, I came back,’’ Zagnit said.

It was that kind of life until he settled in to be the regular chartcaller at Parx in the mid-1980s. He was there until he decided to retire.

There were times when Parx and Garden State were running simultaneously so he was calling charts seven days a week.

Lew and his brother Bruce got into chart calling through their cousin, Herb Goldstein, a DRF columnist back in the day. Bruce still calls charts at Penn National.

Bruce worked as a groom for the great Don Levine at old Garden State, but Lew had no horse racing background.

“My first day at work was my first day at a race track,’’ Lew said.

Zagnit estimates he called 80,000 race charts.

He had a call taker for most of his tenure, somebody who would listen to Zagnit calls the horses and then write down on a sheet where the horses were at different points of call. Lew would always write the footnotes that would accompany the charts. And those charts, of course, became the basis for the past performances the next time the horses in a race would run.

“Mike Mercer was a great teacher and a great chart caller,’’ Zagnit said of the man who became the longtime publicity director at Keystone/Philadelphia Park.

Like announcers, chart callers have to memorize a group of names for 8 or 9 or 10 races per day, immediately forget them and repeat the process all day.

“To this day, if you introduce yourself, within three minutes, I would forget your name,’’ Zagnit said.

He remembers calling a 15-horse field going 5 furlongs at RiverDowns. His brother was the call taker.

“I got every horse,’’ he said.

And he had to get every horse.

“It wasn’t like if we got stuck, we could stop at the sixth horse,’’ Zagnit said.  “We’ve got to keep on going.’’

He called the great All Along winning the

1983 Washington D.C. International at Laurel. He called Spend A Buck at Garden State in April 1985 before the colt won the Derby and returned to win the Jersey Derby and a $2 million bonus. He called Smarty Jones’s first two races at Parx in 2003.

“I did the best job I could every day,’’ Zagnit said.

And he did it very well. He was dedicated, accurate, and consistent. If you saw a Lew Zagnit chart or read his footnotes, you did not need to see a replay. He painted a picture of exactly what happened.

He won’t be at the track, but he will still be working at his Animal Rescue. Lew and his wife Karen have adopted out more than 300 dogs. He has been a volunteer for Trenton Animal Shelter.

“I will keep myself busy,’’ Lew Zagnit promised.

CAPO KANE WINS JEROME ON NEW YEARS DAY

By Dick Jerardi

One Kentucky Derby prospect clearly is not enough at Parx in 2021.

On the first day of the new year, trainer Harry Wyner sent newly turned 3-year-old Capo Kane to Aqueduct, aka Parx north, for The Jerome.

The colt immediately hit the front; let 7-5 favorite Swill hang around until the stretch and then ran away from the field, winning by 6 1/4 lengths and running the mile in 1:38.02 which computed to a Beyer Speed Figure of 84.

It was the first stakes win of Wyner’s career. And it sets up a potential showdown between Parx-based Brooklyn Strong (trainer Danny Velazquez) and Capo Kane in the Feb. 6 Withers Stakes, also at Aqueduct.

When it was suggested to Wyner that it would be nice if the Parx horses ran 1-2, he said: “Hopefully and hopefully me on top.’’

As for the $150,000 Jerome, when Capo Kane opened up in the stretch, Wyner said: “I was screaming so loud, I nearly fell off a balcony. I knew the horse was going real well. I figured I could be in the top three, but I didn’t think he’d win like that.’’

Capo Kane won like there is more winning in his future.

After finishing second in his debut on Oct. 28, Capo Kane wired a field of maidens going a mile and 70 yards on Nov. 25. Those races were at Parx.

Dylan Davis rode Capo Kane in The Jerome.

“I told Dylan in the paddock, look this horse has speed, just see where you lay and ride your race, you know the race track better than I do,’’ Wyner said.

Bottom line, Davis was on the right horse.

“Dylan said he had so much horse, it was unbelievable, even after the race, he couldn’t pull him up, he just wanted to keep going,’’ Wyner said.

Capo Kane was purchased for owners Lenny Liberto and Tony Como at Timonium last year.

“We had no intentions of even looking at him,’’ Wyner said, “but he came into the ring and I went `wow, this horse looks great.’’’

The plan was to go $20,000 and then stop. That is what they did. The bidding ended there, but the reserve was $30,000.

So they went back after the sale and tried to make a deal. They settled on $26,000 and they got themselves a stakes winner for that $26,000.

Capo Kane is a California bred by 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense out of an unraced mare by Hard Spun, the Grade I winning Pennsylvania bred who finished second in that Derby to Street Sense.

Wyner had NY Traffic in his barn last year. He knew early on that horse had Derby potential. But then he was sent south to Saffie Joseph and Wyner had to watch the horse run in the Derby last September.

“I was kind of upset because I knew that horse was a nice horse too,’’ Wyner said. “Obviously, I wanted to take a shot at the roses myself. Here I am a year later with another shot. It’s unbelievable. People dream about this, right.’’

HAKIM STABLE HAVING A GREAT YEAR AT PARX

By Dick Jerardi

There is no racing where he lives and works 20 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina. So Gabrielle Hakim, who learned to love horse racing in his native Venezuela, has slowly built a powerful stable at Parx with trainer Mario Dominquez.

“We do everything together,’’ Hakim said of his trainer. “He does everything inside the barn…I find the right horses to claim, put them in the right spots.’’

As we hit the final days of 2020, The Hakim’s Stable LLC has the most starts (138), third most wins (22) and fourth best earnings ($449,709) at Parx in 2020.

The Hakim horse racing business began in 2015. The owner got together with Dominguez in 2018. They had six horses then, 21 now

“My dad owned horses in Venezuela,’’ Hakim said. In fact, he has some pictures from 1980 when he was at the track with his father.

His friend, Parx jockey Angel Castillo, told him about the racing at Parx.
Hakim owns a residential remodeling company, a business he began in 2006. It was almost a decade later when he started claiming horses and has slowly built up his stable.

Back in 2016, Hakim claimed Broadway Bay for $10,000 at Parx. The horse won five races in seven starts over a four-month period before he was claimed for $8,000. The horse won nearly $150,000 for Hakim. The New York bred was still winning races last year in a career that included 17 wins in 59 starts. But nobody had a run with him like Hakim.

In 2020, the stable has had a similar run with Petulant Delight. He was claimed for $7,500 in November 2019.

“He’s a great horse, has a big heart,’’ Hakim said.

In his seven starts this year, the 5-year-old has three wins, a second and two thirds for earnings of $48,890. Hakim actually had the horse for one race in 2019. After he claimed the horse for $12,500, Petulant Delight won right back by 6 lengths for $16,000. But he was claimed again.

When the horse was in for $7,500 nearly four months later, Hakim put in a claim slip, but there was more than one claim and he was outshook. When the horse was back in for the $7,500 three weeks later, Hakim again dropped a claiming slip. He was alone this time and got the horse back.

“I love this horse,’’ Hakim said “When I claimed him the second time, he come with a big issue.’’

The horse had a little fracture. So, the owner gave him time to recover.

“I wait for him for seven months,’’ he said.

On July 14, Petulant Delight was back in for $7,500, There were no takers. The horse won by 7 lengths. He has not been in for a claiming tag since.

Fran’s Worrier was another great claim. After the stable claimed the horse for $7,500 in November 2019, the horse won five of nine starts this year before being claimed for $8,000 a year and a day after they got him.

Hakim comes to Parx every other week to watch his horses run.

“My plan next year is to get us some babies,’’ Hakim said., “I want to go step by step.’’

So far, so good.