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.


2018 PARX STAR HORSES

By Dick Jerardi

Now that we are into 2019 and there is time to reflect on what happened in 2018 with star Parx horses, the year was every bit as amazing as it seemed.

Jaywalk, Discreet Lover, Imperial Hint, and Maximus Mischief were all stabled at Parx. Aztec Sense was not stabled at the track, but ran at Parx four times. What a group. Consider that they won a combined 21 races, including 15 stakes—five Grade I, two Grade II and one Grade III, with combined earnings of $3,656,065.

Two-year-old Jaywalk won the most money ($1,384,200) and the biggest race, the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs. She also won the Grade I Frizette at Belmont Park and the White Clay Creek Stakes at Delaware Park after breaking her maiden at Parx on July 24. She ran five times at five different tracks (she finished second in her debut at Monmouth Park). Jaywalk did not just win her races; she blew away her rivals, winning the two Grade I stakes by a combined 11 1/4 lengths. She is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as two-year-old filly champion.

The amazing sprinter Imperial Hint won the Grade I Alfred Vanderbilt at Saratoga and the Grade I Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park, as well as the Grade II True North, also at Belmont. He was at less than his best when third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Imperial Hint, who won $767,500 in 2018, is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter.

When 2018 began, Discreet Lover had run 45 times. The horse had run in many stakes, but had not won any of them. That changed when he won the Grade III Excelsior at Aqueduct, a prelude to what was arguably the most exciting win by any Parx horse in 2018. Discreet Lover was 45-1 in the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. He was way back early, but when the leaders began to tire in the stretch, there was Discreet Lover rolling down the center of the track to get up by a neck. The horse won $903,825 in 2018, not bad for a $10,000 purchase.

Aztec Sense won all eight of his starts and $408,540 in 2018. He won four times at Parx, three times at Gulfstream Park and once at Monmouth. His five stakes wins included the Turning For Home Stakes, the PTHA President’s Cup and the PA Derby Championship, all at Parx. The horse capped off his year by winning the Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream. Perfect seasons are quite rare in horse racing, especially for horses whose first win was in January and last win was in December. Even though he was not stabled at Parx, the horse has Parx connections as owner Joseph Besecker runs horses at Parx regularly.

The horse on the list that raced the least has the most promise of all. Maximus Mischief may have been the most impressive first-time winning two-year-old in the history of Parx when he ran like the wind on Sept. 29, co-incidentally the same day Imperial Hint won the Vosburgh and Discreet Lover won the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He backed that maiden win up with a dominating allowance win against two overmatched opponents and then finished his short season on Dec. 1 with a visually impressive win in the Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. The colt is now at Gulfstream Park getting ready for his first start as a three-year-old, likely the Feb. 2 Holy Bull Stakes.

So there you have it—Jaywalk, Imperial Hint, Discreet Lover, Aztec Sense and Maximus Mischief. Who knows what 2019 may bring, maybe even Maximus in the Pennsylvania Derby and Jaywalk in the Cotillion, with a Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks on their resumes.

SERVIS WINS FIRST PARX TRAINING TITLE

By Dick Jerardi

“How did that happen?”

That was John Servis’s answer when asked for his reaction to winning the 2018 Parx Racing training title.

He was not showing false humility. He was just being realistic. He typically does not have enough horses making enough starts during the year to win the title. This year really wasn’t that much different in that respect. It is just that when the horses did run, they won at a high percentage from January to December.

Servis finished with 71 winners at Parx to 68 for runner-up Patricia Farro. He started 255 horses; she started 423. He won with 28 percent of his Parx starters and his stable won $2.5 million.

Servis was part of several Parx training titles when he was Mark Reid’s top assistant before his training career officially began in 1984. But his only other personal title was in 1989 at Garden State Park.

“Joe Orseno and I were going back and forth,” Servis remembered. “I think I was one win up going into the last day. Joe had five in and I had two in. Joe won three races and took a two-win lead. Then, both my horses won and one was in the last race. So we ended up in a tie.”

This title kind of snuck up on Servis.

“A month ago, my assistant (Jennifer Hamm) came up to me and said ‘you know, you’re leading trainer,’” Servis said. “I go, ‘really, I didn’t even know.’ She said, ‘we got a shot to win this.’ I said, ‘we’re not going to win this.’”

They won it.

“The fact that we did, I’m so happy for my help,” Servis said. “I have such a good crew. They’re team players. I’m so happy for the owners too, not that the owners get anything out of it other than having a good year, but they can blow their horn a little bit.”

Overall, Servis won 111 races with nearly $6 million in earnings in 2018. It was, in many respects, the second-best year of his career. It will be hard to top 2004 with Smarty Jones, but Servis is poised to have a great 2019.

Servis won the Grade I Frizette and the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Jaywalk. She is at Palm Meadows in Florida gearing up for a 2019 campaign that may begin in March at Gulfstream Park and Servis hopes will take him back to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Oaks, a race he won in 2016 with Cathryn Sophia.

He also has a very talented colt named Lucky Lee who won twice at Parx and is being pointed to the Feb. 2 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. Servis is really high on Lucky Lee; so high that he is thinking he could be good enough to get on the Kentucky Derby trail and stay there.

Servis will be spending much of his time this winter at Palm Meadows with a stable of horses he has there. The Parx horses are being overseen by his very capable assistants Hamm and Jesus Santiago.

Servis just went over 10,000 starters for his career. He has won 1,755 races. His horses have earned $57.4 million. He has won eight Grade I races and 28 graded stakes.

And now John Servis has his first Parx training title.

PENNINGTON WINS RECORD FIFTH STRAIGHT TITLE; GETS FIRST BIG HORSE

Dick Jerardi

Frankie Pennington arrived at what was then called Philadelphia Park in 2004, just in time to get a front-row seat as the track’s then-dominant jockey Stewart Elliott was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime with Smarty Jones.

Now, Pennington, who has just become the first jockey in Parx Racing history to win the rider’s title for five consecutive years, is about to embark on his first journey into horse racing’s high society as his mount Maximus Mischief is preparing at Gulfstream Park for a run at the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

Pennington, 31, rode his first race on Sept. 8, 2003 at Thistledown in Ohio. After a month, he moved east to Penn National and then came to Parx. He has never left and has no plans on leaving. He will, however, be more than happy to take a day off here and there to be wherever Maximus Mischief might be running.
That he was around Elliott and watched “Smarty Mania” unfold can only help, as he gets a similar chance to what Elliott experienced with wins in the Derby and Preakness and to within a heartbreaking length of the Triple Crown.

“Stewie was the man,” Pennington remembered. “I looked up to Stewie a lot. He was winning a lot of races. I remember thinking that coming from Philly Park, it was just a dream for me, being a horse from here, a trainer (John Servis) from here. I remember being amazed.”

Now, it could be Pennington, Maximus Mischief and trainer Butch Reid, another Parx trifecta.

So, how hard is it to concentrate on the usual daily work when he knows that in five weeks or so, Maximus Mischief likely will make his three-year-old debut, with the Derby looming just over four months down the road?

“To actually be in that situation, having one of the top horses going towards the Derby trail, I still get excited,” Pennington said. “Sometimes, I got to think, is it really true?

“I’ll go through a normal day and then I (suddenly) think Maximus is over there. It gets me excited. That’s what we all work for, to get a horse like that.”

Maximus Mischief left Barn 4 for the long van ride to South Florida on Dec. 16, so Pennington isn’t so close to the unbeaten colt anymore.

“That’s what I told Butch, I’m like ‘Butch, you want me to take a ride on the van with him?’” Pennington said. “He was laughing. I also told him ‘look, if he ever goes to work and you want me to come down, I’d be more than happy to come down and work him.’”

Their time is coming. Meanwhile, Pennington just keeps winning races at Parx.

He will be about 40 wins clear at the end of the year for that fifth straight title. He will finish 2018 winning with 23 percent of his mounts, his best-ever percentage. He will also finish with a career-best $8,000 per start. He is closing in on 13,000 career mounts and 2,350 wins. His mounts have earned almost $65 million. And he may not have not ridden in any of the nationally-televised races, but neither had Elliott until 2004.

It is called horse racing, not jockey racing. Give a really good jockey the best horse and that horse is usually going to win. Pennington has been a really good jockey for a really long time. He gave Maximus Mischief a picture-perfect ride in the Dec. 1 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. That was Pennington’s first Grade II win. If Maximus Mischief is good enough, a Grade I win is coming soon for horse and rider.

Reid called Pennington this summer to ask him to work a two-year-old he really liked. The first time he worked Maximus Mischief, “my feet were by his ears trying to slow him down,” Pennington said.

Pennington knew instantly that Reid was not engaging in hyperbole. The big colt could run. He showed it in the morning. He has now shown it three times in the afternoon.

Now, Pennington finds himself watching some of the other top two-year-olds because it’s never too early to check out the competition.

“Maximus is a special horse,” Pennington said. “He’s the kind of horse, (if) you give him a task, he’s going to do everything to do it, which makes me ride with a lot of confidence when I’m on him.”

Whenever he could, Pennington watched all the big national races through the years, hoping—naturally—that one day everybody would be watching him on a horse with a chance. That time has come.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

By Dick Jerardi

The sign in front of the wire fence reads: “No houses here thanks to Pennsylvania Horse Breeders’ Fund.”

courtesy of Kate DeMasi

Richard Simoff put the sign in front of a recently-acquired 10 acres at his Twin Ponds Farm, which is south of Oxford, Pa., not far from the Maryland border.

“I have 35 acres; I’ve been here for 30 years,” Simoff said. “About five years ago, a real estate agent called me and said, ‘there’s 10 acres bordering your fence and they are going to put three houses there.’ I cashed in the IRA, and put the down payment on the land.”

So, he now has 45 acres and he saved some of Pennsylvania’s disappearing open space.
“This is preserving land,” Simoff said. “It’s doing a lot of good so I put the sign out.”

Simoff, like so many in the commonwealth’s horse business, is frustrated by the numerous false misconceptions that are making the rounds in the state legislature. He notes that the Pennsylvania horse racing industry is anything but rich Arab sheiks coming to Pennsylvania to take all of the money from the Pennsylvania Derby while everybody else is left behind. It is actually quite a huge business with money flowing through it that creates thousands of jobs.

“I have a half-mile track,” Simoff said. “I used to run horses off the farm… Now I mostly break horses, maybe 100 yearlings a year, 2-year-olds. And then I had some broodmares that I left turned out. I leave them out 24 hours a day and bring them in when they foal. If you have the land, it doesn’t cost as much. You just feed them twice a day.”

Simoff thinks he is going to get almost $100,000 in breeder’s awards this year.

“It’s not my bread and butter, but it helps,” he said.

He had one filly win in September at Parx when the purse was $70,000. She was PA-sired “so it was 40 percent to me, so my check from one race was like $23,000.”

He is not touting himself as a breeding genius. He knows better.

“A lot of this is just plain, dumb luck,” he said.

You just hope the horse you breed gets with the right people who know what they are doing and you can get some of that breeding bonus money on the back end. Simoff will not sell to just anybody. He really wants to sell to smart people who plan to race in Pennsylvania.

“There’s a big difference in trainers,” Simoff said.

Simoff bred the good three-year-old filly Smokinpaddylassie, who is trained at Parx by Eddie Coletti, Jr., and owned by newcomer Ed Bruzek.

He bought Smokinpaddylassie’s dam in foal at Keeneland for $6,200. He ended up selling another foal before Smokinpaddylassie won a stake at Laurel in March. And then the mare sadly died not long after.

“That’s what happens,” Simoff said, “It was a triple whammy. At least I got some breeder’s awards. I only get 20 percent because they were sired out-of-state.”

Regardless of the individual success or failures, it’s people like Richard Simoff who make the business “go” in Pennsylvania. He promotes open space with his farm. He helps young horses get ready for training. He breeds horses. He sells horses. And he proudly placed a sign on his fence that should serve as a reminder for everybody.

FROM LONG-HAUL RIGS TO GREAT SAMARITAN TO BARN WIFE

By Dick Jerardi

Jackie Gordon was a cross-country tractor-trailer driver for 38 years. When she “retired”, she found a way to help anybody that needed help with anything. And she kept hearing about jobs at the racetrack. Finally, she heeded the call, and went to the Parx Racing backstretch where she began working for Michael Pino. She quickly became the trainer’s “barn wife”.

So how did she get from there to here?

Read on.

She drove for more than a million miles. She owned five trucks. She taught people how to drive the rigs. She knew what she wanted to do from the time she was nine years old.

“I have nine uncles,” she said. “Eight of them were tractor-trailer drivers.”

She used to cry because she was too small to get up in the trucks. They got her a step ladder to get in as well as some phone books on the seat so she could reach the string to pull the horn.

And she did, over and over and over until she became old enough to drive one. And then she drove and drove and drove until it was time to “retire” to her calling.

Earlier this year, Jackie was nominated for the Godolphin Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards’ Community Award. No wonder.

She opened a seasonal water ice stand nine years ago in her Northeast Philly neighborhood of Parkwood to “keep the little children safe”. She started it by purchasing a freezer for $240. She sells chips, pretzels, funnel cake, soda and candy. The kids don’t have to cross busy roads to get to the 7-11 or Wawa.

“I have anything a child could want to keep them from running out in the street, getting hurt,” Jackie said. “I’m a mother away from the mothers while they are at work.”

When it’s time for the kids to go back to school, she takes all the proceeds, “buys backpacks, fills them up with water ice and gives them to the children”. On Thanksgiving, she “goes into the leasing office, (and) asks for three less-fortunate families that are struggling to pay their rent. I will present them with a Thanksgiving basket.”

There are 522 apartments and 112 townhomes in her complex. She knocks on every door and gives every child a toy from Miss Jackie’s water ice stand.

When the nomination letter arrived in her mailbox, the most selfless person around said, “I was stunned. When I opened up the letter, my eyes got big as 50-cent pieces. I was like ‘no, are you serious?’”

They were serious.

“Tears started rolling down my face,” Jackie said.

If somebody from another country is new to the neighborhood, they are sent to Miss Jackie so she can help them. If somebody needs clothes, she finds them. If she needs to give the clothes off her back, she will.

Even with all that, she was looking for a part time job. Somebody suggested the racetrack. The application sat on her table for three weeks.

“I was sitting at the water ice stand one day and I heard God tell me ‘them people need you on that race track, fill out that application,’” Jackie said.

They did. And she did.

“I was on the track at 3 o’clock every morning in the cold waiting for somebody to hire me,” Jackie said.

She got hired in 2012. She was told to arrive at 5. She got there at 4:30. She’s been there ever since, working for the same man, Mike Pino.

So what does she do?

Everything, it turns out.

“If Michael Pino was to take two Tylenols a day, I am his glass of water,” Jackie said, summing up her role as only she can. “If Michael Pino needed ketchup on his cheesesteak sandwich, I am there to squeeze it.”

It was Pino who termed Jackie “his barn wife”. His family has become her second family.

Jackie started as a hotwalker. She graduated quickly to barn paperwork. She picks up checks, deposits checks and writes checks. If something needs to be done around the barn, she does it.

Then, she goes home and does whatever she can to help her community. Which is, basically, whatever is needed by anybody who needs it.

MAXIMUS MISCHIEF AS GOOD AS ADVERTISED IN REMSEN

By Dick Jerardi

When Maximus Mischief was getting ready to leave the Parx stable area at 5 a.m. Saturday, Ginny Reid sent a text with a video of the horse leaving Barn 4 and getting on a van, and then a photo of the horse safely in his spot on the van.

Just an hour and 45 minutes later, she sent another photo of Max in his Aqueduct stall, the first big race of his career just over eight hours away.

If you have been around horses for decades as Ginny and her husband, trainer Butch Reid, have been, you always hope a two-year-old with speed, talent and the right disposition will appear in your barn one day. Well, they knew almost from the moment they saw Maximus Mischief on the track, this was the one.

Saturday’s Grade II Remsen Stakes, however, was the “proving” race. Yes, Max had run really fast and won big in his two starts at Parx. This, however, would be his first time shipping, first time at a different track, first time around two turns, first time against better horses and first time at a mile and an eighth. To move into 2019 as a serious Kentucky Derby contender, Maximus Mischief would have to prove all of it in less than two minutes.

“So nervous,” Ginny texted a bit more than an hour before the race.

Well, the brilliant two-year-old, easily the best at Parx since Smarty Jones 15 years ago, proved all of it in the Remsen under a confident, calm ride from Parx Hall of Famer Frankie Pennington.

Max, as he has done in all his races, broke very sharply. Pennington let a no-chance longshot take the lead and then, when he felt a challenge from his outside by another longshot named Tax during the early part of the run down the backstretch, put Maximus on the lead.

Tax was still just outside Maximus on the far turn, ratcheting up the pressure. Pennington, however, waited. He knew what was under him. And when he asked Maximus Mischief at the top of the stretch, the big colt with the beautiful stride gained instant separation.

It was no longer a question of whether Max was going to win the Remsen, it was a question of how far he would win by. The answer was 2 1/4 lengths over a late-running Network Effect from the powerhouse Chad Brown barn. Tax tired late to finish third. The rest were nowhere.

Maximus Mischief had officially established himself as the best two-year-old in the east; somewhere on any top five list of 2019 Kentucky Derby prospects.

The horse was back in his stall that night. Butch Reid said he’ll give him four or five days to recover, train him for a few more days at Parx and then arrange a flight to South Florida where the horse will go to Gulfstream Park to gear up for a 2019 campaign.

The main goal is obviously the Derby. Reid suggested the March 30 Florida Derby as the final prep, with either the Feb. 2 Holy Bull or the March 2 Fountain of Youth as the race to get the horse to the Florida Derby. He is thinking just two races because the horse takes hard training so well.

“I thought his performance was very good,” Butch said. “The part that impressed me the most was how he acted in the paddock and on the way over there. Pre-race, he can be a handful. He’s a big, strong guy…I wasn’t sure how he would react, but he was a perfect gentleman the whole way, never got up on his hind legs, stood there perfectly to get the tack on.”

Reid was amazed when he had to send the valet back for another, bigger girth. Even though he had trained him very hard for the last month, Maximus, already quite a big horse, had actually put on weight.

“That’s just incredible to me,” Butch said. “He’s still expanding.”

The Aqueduct surface was very slow early in the card, but got faster later after some maintenance. So it is a bit difficult to put the final Remsen time of 1:51.34 in a proper context because of the changing conditions. Still, it computed to a 97 Beyer speed figure, showing that Maximus Mischief is fast sprinting or going long. Visually, it was equally impressive.

Owners Chuck Zacney and Glenn Bennett were naturally thrilled. It is one thing to have a good horse; it is quite another to have horse on the Derby path.

“He certainly showed a lot of heart,” Zacney said.
Zacney is not only a majority partner in Maximus; he is a partner in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Jaywalk, who was also stabled at Parx with trainer John Servis before relocating to Florida after the Breeders’ Cup.

“I think I will be spending a lot of time in South Florida this January, February, March,” Zacney said.

And then if all goes right, he will be in Kentucky for the Oaks and Derby on the first Friday and first Saturday of May.

“It was awesome, being there with two of my three daughters and my dad and my mom,” Bennett said.

Now, they can all think of what might be on the horizon.

“That’s half the fun,” Bennett said. “It’s just the constant talking about it. Life is good at the moment.”

MAXIMUS MISCHIEF READY FOR HIS FIRST BIG TEST

By Dick Jerardi

The darkness had barely lifted Monday morning when Maximus Mischief appeared on the track a bit after 7 a.m. Trainer Butch Reid and wife Ginny were on the Parx apron along with the two-year-old sensation’s owners Chuck Zacney and Glenn Bennett.
This was going to be Maximus Mischief’s final workout before a van ride on Saturday to Aqueduct for the Remsen Stakes. His first two races, Sept. 29 and Oct. 20, both at Parx, had been as easy as they were impressive, winning by a combined 14 3/4 lengths and getting Beyer figures of 94 and then 98, serious numbers for a two-year-old at Parx or, really, anywhere.

With Parx champion jockey Frankie Pennington up, this was going to be an easy half mile, with the hard work, six furlongs in 1:12 on Nov. 18 and five furlongs in :59 on Nov. 12, behind him. Still, it was a sight when the big colt came rolling off the far turn, changed leads perfectly again, cruised through the stretch and galloped out strongly around the first turn.

“He went awesome,” Pennington said as he brought the horse back in front of the grandstand on the way to his home in Barn 4.
Maximus Mischief had gone the half mile in :47.4, but the time was largely irrelevant. Everybody knows how fast this horse is. It is now a question of how far he can run fast. The Remsen is at a mile and an eighth and there will be serious competition.

“He’s maturing,” Butch Reid said. “The big part of the race Saturday is going to be how he handles the ship up there and how he acts in new surroundings, but it’s stuff that he has to experience. There’s got to be a first time for everything.”

There won’t be many horses in the Remsen, but there will be quality.

Network Effect, who broke his maiden at Saratoga, was second in the Nov. 4 Nashua Stakes for dominant New York trainer Chad Brown.

Each of the two races Maximus Mischief has run is faster by the numbers than anything the other two colts have gotten to this point. And Maximus Mischief will have the additional edge of being faster early in the race than the other colt. Still, there are many unknowns.

Zacney is no stranger to top two-year-old colts, but it’s been awhile since Afleet Alex’s great two-year-old season in 2004.

“It’s pretty cool,” Zacney said. “It’s been since 2004 and 2005 with Alex. It’s been a little dry spell between, but to come back and have a nice horse like this and have a great ownership together makes it that much better.”

Bennett is beyond thrilled to be part of the team.

“Everybody’s fired up,” he said.

Bennett had had decent horses, but “not even close to this. It’s a different level. Met Butch a few years ago and things got better. Met Chuck and things got really good so we’re having a lot of fun.”

Maximus Mischief is the kind of horse that gives everybody around him big dreams. When asked if he’s ever had a two-year-old switch leads so effortlessly, with barely a wasted motion, Reid quickly said: “none, certainly none his size I can tell you that much. He does flying lead changes like no horse I’ve ever seen, very fluid, got a great way of going.”

Even in his daily gallops, Maximus Mischief wants to beat any horses near him.

“He’s got that killer instinct,” Reid said.

The Remsen will be the final race this year for the colt. Then, it will be off to Florida to gear up for a three-year-old campaign that everybody around Maximus Mischief hopes will include a trip to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. The colt was 26-1 in the first Kentucky Derby future-book offering that closed Sunday. If he wins the Remsen, those odds will be tumbling down in 2019.

PARX HALL OF FAMER WALTER REESE DIES AT 88

By Dick Jerardi
Tony Black called Walter Reese “like a second father to me”.

And no wonder. When Black, a Parx Hall of Famer with 5,211 wins, came back to ride after “getting clean and sober in 1990,” few believed he would stay straight.

“A lot of people said ‘you’ll never stay sober, you’ll (mess) it up again,” Black remembered. “(Reese) and (Bob) Camac were the first two guys I went to and they said come to the barn, get on some horses, we’ll find something for you right away.”

They did. Black had a magnificent second act. And the jockey never forgot.

When Reese’s wife Cynthia called Black recently to tell him that her husband was in the hospital after a stroke and was not going to make it, Black went to see his friend.

“I always used to kiss him on his cheek and say ‘Walter, I love you,’” Black said.

Even though Reese was unconscious, Black greeted him like he always did.

“He made three or four sounds like he knew it was me,” Black said.

After a few days in the hospital, Cynthia brought Walter home to his beloved Timber Creek Farm in Upper Freehold Township, N.J., where he passed away.

“I’ll really miss him,” Black said. “I loved the guy.”

Black was in the first Parx Hall of Fame Class in 2011. Reese was in the second class in 2012.

Reese started training horses in 1963 and accounted for 1,530 winners in his career, with 45 percent finishing in the money.

He was the first trainer for 1991 Horse of the Year Black Tie Affair, losing the horse only because a new owner purchased him. Reese had many memorable wins, but none more so than when Pennsylvania-Bred Devil’s Honor won the 1996 Pennsylvania Derby.

After going unbeaten in his first four starts and winning them by a combined 36 lengths, Formal Gold was the 11-10 favorite that Labor Day, at what was then called Philadelphia Park. Devil’s Honor, after winning three stakes as a two-year-old and three more as a three-year-old, was 9-2.

Mike Smith rode Formal Gold; Black was on Devil’s Honor.

The inside was the place to be that day. Black, with the home track advantage, knew it. Smith did not.

“Mike Smith came to me; I was on the lead, and he thought he was going to blow by me,” Black said.

Formal Gold actually did get a head in front at the eighth pole, but Black and Devil’s Honor were not finished.

“Mike and I were talking about this when I saw him at the Pennsylvania Derby (in September),” Black said. “And he tells all the kids in the jocks’ room the story how ‘I came to him and he carried me out…and then he opens up on me.’”

Devil’s Honor won the race by three-quarters of a length. Formal Gold was 6 3/4 lengths clear of the third horse. Devil’s Honor won just one more race in 13 tries after that PA Derby. Formal Gold went on to be the fastest horse of the 1990s with Beyer speed figures of 122, 126, 124 and 125 in 1997.

“It was just such a thrill to do it for Walter and Cynthia,” Black said.

Cynthia and Walter were in, many ways, co-trainers.

“They balanced each other out,” Black said. “Cynthia would give horses the easy way, baby them and Walter would get and train them like athletes.”

Black remembers one race where he rode horribly on a Reese-trained horse and got the horse beat. He apologized to Reese.

“You know what he said to me, ‘maybe you won’t (mess) it up next time, don’t worry about it,’” Black said. “That’s exactly the kind of guy he was.”

DEVON DOUGHERTY WINS GODOLPHIN NEWCOMER AWARD

By Dick Jerardi

Devon Dougherty was thrilled to be at Churchill Downs on Wednesday of Breeders’ Cup week as a finalist for the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards, which is sponsored by Godolphin. She was nominated for the Newcomer Award. The La Salle University junior, who is majoring in nutrition, has been working for trainer Roy Houghton at Parx since she got her racing license at 16.

Being one of just three finalists out of approximately 150 people who were nominated was reward enough. Winning the award, which is for people in the business five years or less, comes with a $5,000 prize and a five-day educational tour of Dubai, and was almost too much to imagine.

Until it was announced that Devon had won it. And her presenter just happened to be Bob Baffert.

“It was a total surprise,” said Devon’s mother, Linda, who has written about horse racing for a variety of publications through the years. “I didn’t find out she had even applied for it until she became a finalist.”

Devon saw an ad for it in the PTHA newsletter and showed it to Houghton who nominated her.

After the presentation, Baffert came over to Devon and said, “Hey, I’ll buy that trip to Dubai for 150 bucks.”

Devon wasn’t selling.

“It was totally shocked (when I won),” Devon said. “I was just happy to be a finalist.”

There were two judging panels, one that selected the finalists, and when the three finalists came to Churchill Downs, a second panel that selected the winner.

Devon, 20, did everything anybody who has ever worked at a stable does in her early years with Houghton. What is so impressive about her resume is that she was promoted to assistant trainer at the age of 19 which may be some kind of record and obviously impressed the judges.

Her trip to Dubai will be in March 2019 where she will be joined by other newcomer award winners from several countries where Godolphin has an operation.

So what does Devon know about Dubai?

“Just that they are big into horses and camels and falcons, but other than that…’’ she said with a laugh.

She will be taking a few days off from her duties at the barn and her classes at La Salle. She somehow does both which also had to impress the judges.

“I am at the barn around 4 and I work all morning,” Devon said. “My first class is 11 o’clock. I come back at feed time, make sure everything’s going the way it’s supposed to. I have classes five days a week. Some days, I go back for night classes. Usually, my day is done around 9-9:30.”

Sleep?

“Not much,” Devon said.

So why does she do it?

“I really like horses and animals and being around them,” Devon said.

And when she graduates from La Salle, she wants to work in horse racing.

“I want to do that Darley Flying Start program,” she said.

Trish Bowman, who grew up in Bensalem, worked at Parx for trainer Kate DeMasi and graduated from Holy Family, went through that program several years ago. She has worked for the Jockey Club and is now in the Laurel Park racing office.
Like the newcomer award, there is stiff competition to get into the two-year program, which is really a “masters” in horse racing.

But you don’t get anywhere unless you have goals, and Devon Dougherty has goals.

The long-range goal is to get her trainer’s license.

Short term, the money will go to a good cause.

“I am going to use it to pay for school,” Devon said.

JAYWALK WINS BIG FOR JOHN SERVIS AT BREEDERS’ CUP

BY DICK JERARDI

John Servis has been training horses for 35 years. It was 15 years before he got his first really good horse, a filly named Jostle who won two Grade I stakes.

Servis may train at Parx, but it is at Churchill Downs where his record borders on the incredible. He is 1-for-1 in the Kentucky Derby (Smarty Jones, 2004), 1-for-1 in the Kentucky Oaks (Cathryn Sophia, 2016) and now 1-for-1 in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies after Jaywalk absolutely blew away the field in last Friday’s $2 million race.

The trainer, who lives in Bensalem not far from the Parx stable gate, is compiling a Hall of Fame resume. The Juvenile Fillies was his seventh Grade I win. He has 29 graded stakes wins. In all, he has won 1,738 races, with $56.8 million in earnings, just out of the top 50 all-time.

When asked about the Hall of Fame, Servis has always been modest. But the results are the results.

“It would be great, I’d love it,” Servis said after Jaywalk’s Breeders’ Cup win. “But this business has been so good to me. I’ve been so fortunate to train for people like the Greens and Mr. Zacney and all the owners. I’m just enjoying the game.”

And there is this. If Smarty Jones was left alone on the lead in the 2004 Belmont Stakes like American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018), there is zero doubt Smarty would have won the race and the Triple Crown.

Jaywalk is the latest Servis masterpiece. She finished second in her first race and has not come close to losing in four races since then. She won the Frizette big and the Breeder’s Cup just as big. Her four straight wins have come by a combined 20 lengths.

Owned by DJ Stable (Leonard and Lois Green and son Jonathan) and Cash Is King Stable (Chuck Zacney), Jaywalk is the favorite to be named 2018 2-year-old filly champion. Only a breaking precedent vote for the brilliant grass filly Newspaperofrecord would deny Jaywalk the Eclipse Award. The award typically goes to the best horse on dirt and that is definitely Jaywalk.

DJ Stable, which has been around for 30 years and has just shy of 2,500 winners is named for the Greens’ children, daughter Deborah and son Jon.

“It’s indescribable,” Jon Green said of the feeling after the Breeders’ Cup race. “You get into this game with the hopes and dreams that you’re going to be in a stakes race. And then you ramp it up after you win a stakes race and you get a little greedy and you want to win a graded stakes race and then of course you eventually want to get to the big show which is the Breeders’ Cup or the Oaks or the Derby.”

Winning an Eclipse Award?

“An Eclipse Award is one of those things that you dream about, like hitting a home run out of Yankee Stadium in the seventh game of the World Series,” Jon Green said. “It’s something that you can’t even consider.”

The Greens can now consider it.

Zacney was in England and then Ireland for vacation Breeders’ Cup week. He got off a plane in Philadelphia two hours before Jaywalk’s race, stopped at the Oaks Turf Club to get a Daily Racing Form and replenish his betting account. He watched the race by himself from his Collegeville home.

“Can you imagine the Chuck Zacney double (in May)?” Zacney said.

That would be Jaywalk in the Kentucky Oaks and Maximus Mischief, the hot 2-year-old owned by Zacney and Glenn Bennett in the Derby the next day.

So why does Servis do so well at Churchill?

“I come with good horses,” he said.

The trainer was extremely confident in Jaywalk.

“Going into this race, she trained super well,” Servis said. “I trained her a little differently to see if she’d handle the two turns and I was very confident with that.”

Jaywalk headed south after the Breeders’ Cup, first to Palm Meadows training facility in Florida and then she will go to a farm a bit north in Ocala for 30 days or so to rest and relax. Servis will train her at Palm Meadows for a 2019 campaign with the first big goal to return to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Oaks.

Saturday was not as good as Friday for the other three Parx horses that ran in the Breeders’ Cup.

In three races at Churchill, Imperial Hint has finished 12th, sixth and third in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint. In his other 15 races, the 5-year-old horse has won 12 times. The horse simply does not duplicate his best form on the Churchill surface. When he is at his best, there is no horse faster. Unfortunately, Imperial Hint has never been close to his best at Churchill.

Always Sunshine, who is trained by Ned Allard and also stabled at Parx, was 52-1 under four-time Parx champion jockey Frankie Pennington in the Sprint. Always Sunshine was a close third behind extremely fast early fractions, but seemed to lose his action for an instant and eventually finished last.

Discreet Lover, the $10,000 purchase, was 53-1 in the $6 million Classic for owner/trainer Uriah St. Lewis. Making the 45th and maybe last start of his career, Discreet Lover put in a little run, but could only finished eighth, 7 1/2 lengths back against 13 of the world’s best horses. Regardless of that finish, Discreet Lover, with his body of work and that unforgettable win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 45-1, has done quite enough to be remembered as one of the great success stories in Parx history.