CHUB WAGON, WAIT FOR IT WIN STAKES RACES TUESDAY AT PARX RACING

State-breds were in the spotlight on Tuesday at Parx Racing as a pair of stakes races for horses bred in Pennsylvania highlighted the eleven-race card. Undefeated Chub Wagon kept her perfect record intact and rolled to her fifth straight victory in Tuesday’s  $100,000 Unique Bella Stakes and Wait for It won the $100,000 Page McKenney Handicap.

In the $100,000 Unique Bella Stakes, Chub Wagon broke alertly under jockey Jomar Torres and repelled an early challenge from I’m the Talent. She widened her lead in the stretch under confident handling and won by 7 1/2 lengths, completing the seven furlong contest in 1:22.21 over a fast track in her third start of the year. 

Trained by Guadalupe Preciado, Chub Wagon was making only her second start against Pennsylvania-breds and won against open company at Aqueduct last time out in front-running fashion.

Owned by Daniel J. Lopez and George Chestnut, Chub Wagon went off as the betting favorite at 1-2 odds and returned $3.00 to win. Promised Storm rallied from just off the pace to grab second while Ujjayi finished third. 

Chub Wagon was bred in Pennsylvania by Joe-Dan Farm and George Chestnut and the four-year-old filly by Hey Chub has now pushed her career earnings to $172,800.

The stakes action continued in the $100,000 Page McKenney Handicap and Wait for It added his 11th career victory to his impressive resume with a win from off of the pace. 

Wait for It, ridden by Anthony Nunez, dropped down to the inside and sat off of a sharp early pace set by Admiral Abe who ultimately faded to sixth. Despite some traffic in the stretch, Wait for It found room and launched a bold late rally to prevail by one-length, completing the seven furlongs in 1:21.72. Chilly in Charge finished second while favorite Breezy Gust ran third.

Owned by Uptowncharlybrown Stud LLC the winner returned $17.60 to win. Trained by Edward Coletti Jr. and bred in Pennsylvania by Fantasy Lane Stable, the six-year-old gelding by Uptowncharlybrown pushed his career earnings to $559,828 and notched his sixth victory at Parx.

CURRENT REALITY AT PARX RACING

By Dick Jerardi

In my 33 years covering horse racing at the “Philadelphia Daily News,’’ I was never shy about criticism when criticism was necessary. When I set out to right a perceived wrong, I made certain to research a subject so my viewpoint could be supported by facts.

Does horse racing have significant issues on a national and local scale? Absolutely.

Have too many in positions of power in the game been too comfortable for too long? No doubt.

So, as there were when I started writing about the sport, unresolved issues remain. But there has been progress in making racing safer for the horses and caring for those horses as their racing careers come to an end. Any objective look at where the sport was a decade ago and where it is now would uncover that fact.

Embarrassingly, however, the “Inquirer’s’’ recent story on racing at Parx specifically and Pennsylvania in general got too many basic facts wrong. When you can’t get facts right, your credibility becomes the issue.

The story conflated statistics, which was either sloppy reporting or deliberately misleading. A chart that accompanied the article told a story very different than the one the author was trying to make. The chart showed the progress in horse safety that has been made in recent years while the author, focusing on just one outlier year (2019), was arguing the opposite.

It is a sad fact that some horses suffer catastrophic injuries during races. I was at Belmont Park in 1990 when Go For Wand broke down yards from the finish line at the Breeders’ Cup. I was there at Pimlico in 2006 when Barbaro’s right hind ankle shattered just yards into the Preakness. I have been there on regular race days when a horse breaks down. It is always heartbreaking, more so for the people that care for the animals that anyone else. In a perfect world, the number of breakdowns would be zero. It is not a perfect world, but the object is to get as close to zero as possible.

For some unknown reason, there were more racing deaths at Parx in 2019 than the four years that preceded it, but still significantly down from 2013 and 2014.

“The horsemen, the racing commission, the vets, we all started to take steps,’’ said Sal DeBunda, the president of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “That’s all been outlined by the commission, all the different things we did.’’

DeBunda told the author how the industry responded should be part of the story, that “we’re heading back toward zero.’’ Nothing DeBunda told the writer about the steps taken appeared in the article.

In fact, the writer conflated the 2019 numbers and essentially ignored a dramatic decrease in racing-related deaths in 2020. In 2019, horses made 12,312 starts at Parx, with 32 racing-related deaths. There were also six deaths during training and 22 at the barns from diseases such as colic which can happen to horses whether they are in training or not.

The writer took all 60 deaths and concluded there were 4.9 deaths per 1,000 starts. The actual number was 2.6 deaths per 1,000 starts, not acceptable, but nearly 50 percent lower than the writer erroneously stated.

In 2020, there were just 8,284 starts at Parx as the track was closed for three months due to the pandemic. There were nine racing-related deaths at Parx or just 1.1 per 1,000 starts.  Those numbers were not included in the article.

The “Inquirer’’ story would suggest that almost every horse in training is on some illegal drug and thus susceptible to breakdowns. The suggestion is not supported by anything other than a few anecdotes and generalities.

The article quotes Lee Midkiff who “owned Animal Kingdom when the stallion won the 2011 Kentucky Derby,’’ saying he was so disgusted with the drug use he left the sport.

Animal Kingdom was actually owned by Team Valor, a syndicate run by Barry Irwin. According to Animal Kingdom’s trainer Graham Motion, Midkiff was one of many members of the syndicate that owned Animal Kingdom, but saying he was the owner “would be a stretch.’’

Yes, there are cheaters, but the vast majority of owners and trainers want the cheaters out so as to level the playing field. There are veterinary exams before races, at the gate, and post-race drug tests. Anybody that cheats should be banned.

Could the testing be better and more uniform from state to state? Yes. Will the new federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, signed into law in December, make it better when the United States Anti-Doping Agency takes over testing on a national basis? Hopefully.

For some unknown reason, the “Inquirer’’ article linked indicted for alleged illegal drug use trainers Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro with Pennsylvania racing, saying those two trainers “have raced hundreds of horses at Parx and Penn National.’’

In fact, Servis raced mainly in Florida, New Jersey, and New York. Navarro raced mostly in New Jersey and Florida

In 2020, before he was indicted and ruled off every track in America, Servis started 92 horses. One was at Parx and none at Penn National. In 2019, Servis started 519 horses – 18 at Parx, 3 at Penn National.

In 2020, before his indictment, Navarro had 134 starts, with none in Pennsylvania. In 2019, Navarro started 769 horses – 57 at Parx, 51 at Penn.

The article discusses XY Jet, a horse trained and allegedly given illegal drugs by Navarro. The horse won more than $3 million in 26 career races. None of those races were in Pennsylvania. Marcos Zulueta, a trainer who was based at Parx and was allegedly working with Navarro, was immediately tossed out of the track after the indictments were made public.

 The story mentions the Servis-trained Maximum Security won the first “Saudi Cup in Dubai.’’ Wouldn’t it make more sense for the Saudi Cup to be run where it was actually run – Saudi Arabia?

The writer says as he has in previous stories about horse racing, that attendance is way down at Pennsylvania tracks. The reality is nobody knows the attendance because there is no admission. The other reality is that 90 percent of the money bet on horse racing is bet away from the track and it has been that way for years so “attendance’’ is essentially irrelevant.

DeBunda said he explained to the writer he “believes horses racing are as safe as the horses who are not racing because they are treated like athletes, their temperature is taken, their joints are touched, they’re exercised. If they have a problem, there is a vet called in right away to give them the proper treatment or medication. They are looked at in the morning by a vet to see if they are fit to run in the race. A jockey can scratch a horse at any time. A vet can scratch a horse, even at the gate…If they are out in the field somewhere, they can run into a fence, get hit by lighting, they can run into each other.’’

DeBunda was quoted in the article, but without any of the reasons cited above.

DeBunda also told the writer about Parx’s “Turning for Home’’ program, the now almost 13-year-old horse rescue program that has become the model for the industry.

Horses at the track are regularly examined by TFH’s team of vets. Once an owner or trainer decides a horse is no longer competitive or might be in danger of developing an injury, that horse is retired from racing and Turning for Home’s team then finds a forever home for the horse where he can live out his years on a farm, often with a new career as a fox hunter or dressage horse, something less stressful than racing.

More than 3,200 horses have been retired through the Turning for Home program. The program is largely funded by a $30 per start fee from the owners. If an owner or trainer is caught trying to sell an infirm horse outside the track rather than giving the animal to Turning for Home, they are banned from the track.

There was no mention of Turning for Home in the article. 

Parx Racing Welcomes New Track Announcer

Chris Griffin has been named as the new voice of Parx Racing. Following the retirement of venerable announcer Keith Jones in December, Parx launched an extensive search for their next track announcer.

Chris Griffin


“Keith was here for 34 years,” said Joe Wilson, Chief Operating Officer for Parx Racing. “This was a new process for all of us. Chris is a rising star in our industry with a tremendous work ethic. We are thrilled to welcome him to the Parx family.”


“This is my opportunity to enter a booth that saw a legend like Keith Jones call for so many years,” Griffin commented. “I am grateful to the management at Parx for this incredible opportunity. Being able to call two million-dollar races as well as several other graded races is very exciting.”
A native of Santa Monica, California, Griffin got his start as an announcer for the National Hot Rod Association. After four years of traveling the country, Chris expanded his travels internationally as the full-time announcer for the Harlem Globetrotters.


While at a tour stop in Little Rock, Arkansas, Griffin’s talent captured the attention of veteran race caller Frank Mirahmadi, who was calling the races at Oaklawn Park. Mirahmadi mentored Griffin and helped secure him his first full time racing job at the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale in 2015. He ended up calling races at the various California fair meets, Portland Meadows, Los Alamitos and Gulfstream Park West. In the fall of 2018 Griffin was named the track announcer at Sam Houston while pulling double duty as Marketing Manager.


“I appreciated my time at Sam Houston Race Park, as well as the Northern California Fairs, and other racetracks who have treated me so well.” Griffin reflected. “However, the relocation to a new region is something I am ready for. I am very excited to move to the East Coast and become the full-time announcer at Parx.”


Parx Racing runs Monday thru Wednesday first with the first post at 12:55pm