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.


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.

BAFFERT’S TWO DISTINCT DERBY RUNS

By Dick Jerardi

Bob Baffert was pretty sure he was never going to get another chance to win the Kentucky Derby after his first runner, Cavonnier, lost America’s race by a nose in 1996. Nearly a quarter-century later, the legendary trainer has now won the Derby a record-tying six times.

It only took one year for Baffert to prove himself wrong when Silver Charm won the Derby in 1997. Real Quiet won it the next year and then, after his big favorite Point Given, was beaten in 2001, Baffert won it the next year with longshot War Emblem.

So, after thinking he would never win it, Baffert won it three times in six years. Then did not win it again for 13 years.

He was wondering if he would ever win it again when his horses famously ran second in all the 2012 Triple Crown races. The night of that Belmont Stakes, after Union Rags came inside the Baffert-trained Paynter to win at Belmont Park, Baffert stopped by a table at nearby King Umberto’s and asked: “Is there a Triple Crown for seconds?’’

No, but there is one for a horse that finishes first in all three races. Baffert could not have known that night that three years later, the night of the 2015 Belmont Stakes the menu at King Umberto would feature “American Pharoah” – “lobster, filet of sole, scallops, shrimp, clams, mussels scampi style with a touch of marinara” – and a “Triple Crown of Veal.”

Nor could he have known that he would win the Derby three more times in six years, starting in 2015 with American Pharoah, then 2018 with Justify and, finally, Authentic in 2020.

So, during those 13 long years when trainers, many with much smaller outfits, were winning at Churchill Downs, Baffert waited. It was Barclay Tagg, John Servis, John Shirrefs, and Michael Matz. It was Carl Nafzger (for a second time), Rick Dutrow, Chip Wooley, Todd Pletcher, Graham Motion and Baffert’s Southern California rival Doug O’Neill. It was Shug McGaughey and Art Sherman. It just wasn’t Baffert. Until it was _ again and again and again.

So, in separate acts, Baffert has dominated the Derby. For any trainer to win it three times in six years is an incredible feat. For a trainer to win the Derby three times in six years twice in this era of gigantic fields, seems almost impossible.

The legendary trainer Ben Jones also won the Derby six times. He won his six from 1938 to 1952, with such racing immortals as Triple Crown winners Whirlaway and Citation. Four of the wins were for Calumet Farm which completely dominated the sport in an era where the average Derby field in those six years was 12 horses.

Baffert, incredibly, has won the Derby with six different owners. His first five Derby winners all won the Preakness. Two of them, Silver Charm and Real Quiet, just missed the Belmont and Triple Crown.

Three years after that night at King Umberto and that Triple Crown of seconds, Baffert won the Triple Crown with American Pharoah and, three years later, with Justify.

He can’t win a third Triple Crown in this bizarre year, but he could win the Preakness for the eighth time in three weeks. His five Derby winners and two Derby losers that deserved better, Point Given and Lookin at Lucky, all came back two weeks later to win the Preakness. Baffert has also won the Belmont Stakes three times, giving him 16 Triple Crown race wins, a record all his own.

AMAZING LABOR DAY WEEKEND AT PARX AND FOR PARX

By Dick Jerardi

It was quite a Pennsylvania Day at the Races on Labor Day at Parx, with five stakes races for state breds, including a moment after one that perfectly explains the emotion surrounding the people and their horses. It was an amazing Sunday for Parx when trainer Butch Reid won his second Grade I at Saratoga. Oh by the way, they finally ran the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. And, yes, trainer Bob Baffert won it for a record-tying sixth time.

No surprise that trainer Eddie Coletti and owner Bob Hutt’s Uptowncharlybrown Stud won the first two stakes with sons of the great sire Uptowncharlybrown.

It was the tough 5-year-old Wait for It over the tough 7-year-old Someday Jones in the Storm Cat. The two horses, sons of Pennsylvania’s top sire and the state’s favorite horse (Smarty Jones), have now combined to win 20 races and more than $1 million in purses.

“He’s got such a great personality,’’ Coletti said of Wait for It. “Everybody around here loves him. And when you put the tack on him, he comes out here and tries.’’

Hutt loves Wait for It and really loves Uptowncharlybrown.

“He’s proven himself the top stallion in Pennsylvania and probably the mid-Atlantic region,’’ he said.

The full brothers, Uptowncharlybrown and Midnightcharly, ran 1-2 in the 2019 Banjo Picker Sprint. They did it again this year, the 6-year-old again beating the 5-year-old.

“They’re both competitive,’’ Coletti said. “Obviously, Midnight likes a little more distance. The three-quarters probably ain’t his game.’’

The brothers have won a combined 17 races and are closing on $1 million in earnings. Coletti keeps them apart in training because they are just too competitive. It shows when they run.

It was entirely appropriate that Jamie Ness and Mychel Sanchez teamed up to win the Mrs. Penny as they are the runaway leaders in the Parx trainer and jockey standings respectively.

The 7-year-old mare Its a Journey got a brilliant ride from Sanchez to get up just in time. It was her 15th win in 47 starts, her seventh win since Ness claimed her for $35,000 just over a year ago. She had run twice on grass before the Mrs. Penny, eighth in a 2015 optional claimer at Indiana Downs and fifth in a Pa-bred stake at Penn National last year. She was ready for grass this time.

“She doesn’t have a lot of speed so I saved all the ground I could,’’ Sanchez said. “The hole opened up and we got through.’’

When Pink Caddy came around horses to win the Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial, it was impossible for her trainer Randy Allen not to feel emotional. After all, the filly is co-owned by Gregory Quick and the Club Risque Stable of Parx Hall of Famer Nick Saponera who passed away last December.

“This is more than extra special,’’ Allen said. “I’ve been talking to him all day. As you can tell, I’m a little choked up over it. He was like a father to me. We did everything together. For the last 14 years, I ate lunch at his house every day. We went over to dinner every Friday and Saturday night.’’

And Pink Caddy?

“He would love this,’’ Allen said. “I told him `I don’t know if you’re up there watching today, but we could use a little help if you wouldn’t mind giving us some.’’’

The Critical Way was the only horse on the also-eligible list when the Marshall Jenny was drawn. Two scratches got the 6-year-old into the field and the Jose Delgado trainee dominated the race from in front with jockey Rubin Silvera.

“I was surprised,’’ Silvera said. “It looked like there was a lot of speed in the race. He broke really sharp and there was nothing to do. He win easy.’’

The day before Pa. Day at the Races, it was Parx Day at Saratoga when Reid unleashed the maiden Vequist in the Grade I Spinaway Stakes for 2-year–old fillies. All she did was crush the field by 9 1/2 lengths, giving Reid his second GI at the Spa after Poseidon’s Warrior won the 2012 Vanderbilt.

“It’s always been one of my favorite spots as a fan.’’ Reid said. “To actually be a participant. Both Grade I’s were for Tom McCrath, a local guy who has only been in the business about 10 years.’’

McGrath’s Swilcan Stable bred Vequist. The dam, Vero Amore, who cost just $15,000 at the Timonium 2-year-old sale, lost the 2014 Black Eyed Susan Stakes in a photo. There was no camera needed in the Spinaway.

After losing her debut by a neck in fast time at Parx, the owner sold an interest in Vequist to top national owners Gary Barber and Adam Wachtel.

Reid will consider the Alcibiades and Frizette for her next start. Then, the hope is the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.

And the day before, they finally ran the Derby. The only likely scenario that could get 3-5 favorite Tiz the Law beat was if the Baffert-trained Authentic could clear the field and keep going. That is exactly what happened. John Velazquez could not have ridden Authentic any better and Baffert could not have had the colt any more ready, after losing one serious contender after another all year culminating in the final minutes before the race when Thousand Words flipped in the paddock and was scratched.

So Baffert was down to his last horse. Turned out that was the only one he needed.

KENTUCKY DERBY FINALLY HERE

BY Dick Jerardi

The Kentucky Derby is only four months late. In 2020, that’s progress

The three favorites in May would have been Nadal, Charlatan and Tiz the Law.

“The’’ favorite in September will be Tiz the Law.

Nadal and Charlatan finished first in divisions of the Arkansas Derby on what would have been Kentucky Derby Day in May. Nadal was injured in training shortly thereafter and retired. Charlatan had a less-serious injury but needed surgery and will miss the Ky. Derby.

Tiz the Law has missed nothing. The New York bred colt won the Belmont Stakes in June and the Travers in August, making him the first horse in history to win the Champagne, Florida Derby, Belmont and Travers. Tiz the Law will be a heavy favorite in the Derby.

Parx will be very well represented by the “other’’ New York bred in the race. Ny Traffic only cost $22,000. He has not won a stakes race. But don’t be fooled. This gray colt gets better with every start. If he can make one more jump, he has a chance in the Derby.

Ny Traffic made his career debut on Pennsylvania Derby Day almost one year ago. He broke his maiden in his next start at Parx and remained at the track with trainer Harry Wyner until he was sent to Florida to train with Saffie Joseph and prepare for a chance at the Derby.

If the race had been in May, Ny Traffic would have been in it, but probably would not have had a realistic chance to win. Even though he had won an optional claimer, finished third in the Risen Star and second in the Louisiana Derby, he just wasn’t fast enough.

Since then, Ny Traffic has finished second in the Matt Winn and second in the Haskell, one more jump from catching 3-5 favorite Authentic. The colt has gotten faster in each start. Now, he is firmly into Derby contender territory.

Ny Traffic is 90 percent owned by Parx regulars _ John Fanelli (50 percent), Chuck Zacney (20 percent) and Glenn Bennett (20 percent).

It was Zacney who explained to Fanelli before a maiden race on Oct. 12 at Parx how much he liked his colt Monday Morning Qb, not realizing at first that Fanelli had a horse in the race. Zacney’s horse ran well, but finished second to Ny Traffic. Zacney was interested in buying a piece of Ny Traffic. After Fanelli bought out his original partner, he did sell those percentages to Bennett and Zacney.

Now, all three of them, together with families and friends, will be at fan-less Churchill Downs Saturday to see if their New York bred can beat the other New York bred and the rest of the first (and hopefully last) September Derby field.

Three-year-olds in September are very different from 3-year-olds in May _ more mature physically, more racing experience, faster, just better in every way.

Tiz the Law was already a very good horse in May. He is a way better horse now.

Ny Traffic was a nice horse in May, a really good horse now.

Is that improvement enough to win the Derby? We’ll know by Saturday evening.

Parx Awards Coming Soon

BY Dick Jerardi

No racing for three months. No open stakes. No Kentucky Derby Day in May.

Since March, nothing has been as normal about 2020 at Parx, with even some carryover from 2019.

We all missed the annual Awards Night in March at Celebrations to acknowledge the best horses to run at the track the previous year. The good news is those horses and their connections are still going to be honored with a day at the track (date to be determined) and video tributes to the winners in all the categories.

The voting has been done, but the winners have not yet been revealed. Most of them are fairly obvious, none more so than 2019 Horse of the Year. It has to be Spun to Run, the 3-year-old colt that completely dominated some of the fastest horses in the world when he blew away the competition in the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.

Racing for owner Robert Donaldson and trained expertly at Parx by Carlos Guerrero, Spun to Run was being pointed for the Preakness in the spring until he was sidelined for several months due to an entrapped epiglottis.

Outfitted with blinkers for his comeback, Spun  to Run ran third behind Maximum Security in the Haskell Invitational before winning the Grade III Smarty Jones Stakes on that memorable Labor Day when Smarty Jones returned to the track for the first time in 15 years. It was the first graded stakes win of Guerrero’s career, but it was just the appetizer.

After finishing fifth in a strangely-run Pennsylvania Derby, Spun to Run blew away the best older horses at the track in the M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile. That effort was so good that it was decided the ship Spun to Run west for the Breeders’ Cup. He was 9-1, but ran like 1-9, getting the lead immediately and winning convincingly over heavily-favored Omaha Beach, giving Guerrero his first Grade I win.

Spun to Run finished off his season with a strong second to eventual 3-year-old champion Maximum Security in the Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. All told, Spun to Run won five races and $1,140,660 in 2019. Five of his races and four of his wins were at Parx.

In addition to Parx Horse of the Year, Spun to Run will almost be named top 3-year-old colt or gelding.

There were so many fascinating categories, but none more fascinating than the 2-year-old colts or geldings. What a powerhouse group that includes Monday Morning QB, Johnny Ritt, Ny Traffic and Vanzzy.

Ny Traffic was second by a nose in the Haskell and will run in the Kentucky Derby. Vannzy won the Jersey Derby. The 2020 races, of course, don’t count towards 2019 awards, but it will be interesting to see how the voters looked at the 2-year-old males and all the other categories, including top 2-year-filly, 3-year-old filly, 4-year-old and up males, 4-year-old and up females, outstanding claim and top claiming horse.