By Dick Jerardi

Trainer Rafael Schistl was likely destined to be in horse racing. His path to Parx Racing, however, has not been straight, but, now that he is here, he is regularly finding his way to the winner’s circle.  His first seven starters at Parx in 2023: three wins, four seconds.

Schistl’s grandfather was involved with horses. His father and two brothers are trainers.

“It’s just generations coming along together,” Schistl said. “We all love it…I didn’t even want to go to school. I always wanted to be with horses when I was a kid.”

Before his weight proved too difficult to overcome, Schistl was, by his own thinking, a “decent jockey,” riding horses in “New Zealand, France, Germany, all over the small countries overseas,” after doing his apprenticeship in Brazil.

“It was very good to take chances,” Schistl said. “I never let the chance go by me without giving it a try.”

With his jockey days behind him, Schistl journeyed to the United States.

“I said I want to break yearlings,” Schistl remembered. “I went to work for Eddie Woods in Ocala, one season for him.”

Then, he met an owner who wanted him to train some of his horses. He ended up at Tampa Bay Downs in 2021. Through early 2023, he had started 344 horses with 49 wins, 45 seconds and 41 thirds.

According to Schistl, owner Kingdom Racing has a lot of New York breds and after considering a few tracks, decided to bring his horses to Parx.

“We came with five horses, now we’ve got about 12,” Schistl said. “The place has been good for us.”


By Dick Jerardi

Mike Pino won his first race on Aug. 13, 1983 at Atlantic City. He got win No. 2,000 at Parx on Jan. 30, 2023, nearly 40 years later.

We talked the day after he got win No. 1,999 with Pontiffany just 107 minutes before No. 2,000 with Holdtheflight.

It has been some journey for the man who grew up around horses in West Grove, Pa., learned the trade in Maryland under one of the masters, Richard Dutrow, got his best horse for a $14,500 claim just three years after he started (a horse, by the way, that got kidnapped, keep on reading) and may very well have trained the 2022 Parx Horse of the Year, a horse he claimed for $50,000 that sadly was found dead in his stall on a Sunday morning just a week after winning the Maryland Million Sprint.

Jockey Mario Pino, Mike’s brother, retired in 2021 with 7,001 winners. I can’t imagine there is another set of brothers in the 7,000/2,000 club. The total North American wins title goes to the Asussmen brothers – trainer Steve is closing fast on 10,000, jockey Cash won 923.

The third Pino brother, blacksmith Mark, is just as good in his field as Mike and Mario are and were at theirs.

“The blacksmiths aren’t really in the spotlight,” Mike said. “Not because he’s my brother, but I’d put him up there with the best around.”

It was Jan. 20, 1987 when Mike claimed Ten Keys for owner Charles Linhoss. The horse was still a maiden when Pino put up $14,500 of the owner’s money. After the claim, Ten Keys ran 50 times, with 21 wins, six graded stakes wins and earnings of nearly $1.2 million.

“He had a presence like a good horse,” Pino said.

Ten Keys actually began his career at Parx before racing mostly in Maryland. When the son of Sir Ivor Again started winning stakes, Pino took on him on the road – Suffolk Downs, Meadowlands, Bay Meadows, Santa Anita. Rockingham Park, Fair Grounds, Arlington Park, Churchill Downs, Keeneland – before his final race at Laurel on Oct. 21, 1990. All told, Ten Keys visited 15 race tracks.

“We were all over the place,” Pino said. “When we ran at Keeneland, they didn’t have a track announcer.”

But it was a visit to Bay Meadows in Northern California that was most memorable.

“We all went out to dinner and when we came back, (Ten Keys) was gone,” Pino said. “He was stolen.”


Seriously, the horse was kidnapped.

“I looked at every stall at Bay Meadows,” Pino remembered.

No Ten Keys.

After 24 hours, the horse was found at Pleasanton. To this day, Pino does not exactly know how the horse got there. He just knows he was thrilled to get him back.

Ten Keys was actually featured on the old Paul “and that’s the rest of the story” Harvey radio show. The Ten Keys story was good enough for Mike Pino. The rest of the story was a bit much.

There was the saga of Ten Keys back in the day and the saga of Fortheluvofbourbon in this day.

Pino claimed the horse for owner Dan Ryan on May 29, 2020 at Churchill Downs. It was smack in the middle of the pandemic when Ryan’s $50,000 was put into an account.

“I jumped into the car and drove down there,” Pino said. “They did the shake outside because you couldn’t go inside.”

There were two people in that shake and Pino won it.

The horse won twice right after the claim, had a solid 2021 and blew up in 2022, with seven wins from nine starts, four stakes wins and earnings of $361,680.

And then that Sunday morning, it was over.

“They said he had a twisted colon, but it was weird,” Pino said. “He ate all his food, stall was completely good and he was just laying there, no thrashing.”

After that, Pino said: “I walked around in a daze for a couple of weeks. He was such a good horse.”

It was a long way from win No. 1 to win No 2,000

“A lot of rough years,” Pino said.

Even with a wonderful claim like Ten Keys early in his career, Pino never got the big owners with the better horses. So, his rise has been slow and steady.

“I’m not the greatest promoter, probably my fault.” Pino said. “There were a lot of mornings I had to reach out and grab my collar and get myself out of bed.”

The numbers, however, are the numbers.

Pino remembers jockey Kendrick Carmouche was riding when he got win No. 1,000 as a trainer. He trained the horse that gave Carmouche his 1,000th win. He trained the winner when brother Mario won No. 6,000 at Laurel.

So many milestones. Such a great run.

Pino has 28 horses in the barn now. He lives near Fair Hill, Md. He rises at 3 a.m. for the trip to Parx. He gets a room near the track after days when he has horses in the later races. For 40 years now, day after day, horse after horse, race after race, Mike Pino has been consistent. He shows up and his horses show up.


By: Dick Jerardi,

When Jose Antonio Gomez was growing up near Penn National, he knew nothing about Eclipse Awards for top apprentice jockeys. He only knew he wanted to ride horses.

He rode so many horses so well in 2022 that during the annual Eclipse Awards Ceremony at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla. on Jan. 26, 2023, he heard his name called when they announced the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice jockey in 2022.

“I just said `yes,’’’ Gomez said Tuesday afternoon at Parx where he spends the early part of each week before heading to New York to ride at Aqueduct. “It was a great feeling. Filled me up with happiness.’’

Gomez had 1,312 mounts in 2022. He won with 153 of them, was second 162 times, with 156 thirds. His total mount earnings were more than $7.6 million. It really was an incredible year for a young rider who was a virtual unknown when the year began.

Once he began riding regularly, his talent was clear. Using veteran agent Bob Martel at Parx and legendary jockey/agent Angel Cordero, Jr. in New York, Gomez became well known very quickly.

“The year 2022 treated me well,’’ Gomez said. “For sure, Saratoga was one of the greatest moments of my young career. Winning a stake up there was a great feeling.’’

Gomez’s mother was a long time groom, his father an exercise rider. So he was bred right into the game.

But Eclipse Award for top apprentice? Not even a thought.

“I knew about (the Eclipse) for older (jockeys),’’ Gomez said. “But I never thought about winning it as an apprentice.’’

He first learned about the award from retired rider Richard Migliore.

“He was always talking about the Eclipse,’’ Gomez said. “Slowly, I had the year I had and it started looming in the back of my mind.’’

The Parx/New York commute, Gomez said, will continue “as long as I get business anywhere. I’m willing to travel.’’

Cordero, he said, taught him a lot about riding and Martel taught him how to talk to trainers.

Watching his mother work so hard with the horses “really motivated me to become somebody’’ Gomez said.

When asked about what he likes most about being a jockey, Gomez replied: “riding the horses. That’s it. It’s an adrenaline (rush). Angel always told me: `it’s like a dance, with you and the horse.’ The riding is the best.’’

When asked about his favorite horses so far, Gomez mentioned several including Reggae Music Man, a win machine in New York.

So young, so accomplished with an award for a lifetime.

So what’s the next goal?

“Get another one this time as a journeyman,’’ Jose Antonio Gomez said.


By: Dick Jerardi

The best performances and best performers at Parx in 2022 will be celebrated at appropriately enough Celebrations Ballroom on the evening of Friday, Feb. 24.

 As one of the voters in each of the categories and for Parx Horse of the Year, I thought this was a bit more difficult than some other years. It was so close in several of the categories that I am not sure there was a right answer.

Even though Winning Time beat Gordian Knot in the Pennsylvania Nursery, I thought Gordian Knot’s overall body of work was sufficient to get my vote as best 2-year-old male. Winning a stake at Parx followed by another at Presque Isle before finishing a solid third in the Nursery was just enough to trump Winning’s Time’s emphatic Nursery win.

In addition to getting my vote as best 2-year-old female, Flor de Sombra, with a stakes win at each of Pennsylvania’s three thoroughbred tracks and going 4-for-5 overall, had something else in common with Gordian Knot. The two Pennsylvania breds are owned by Joe Imbesi and trained by Parx Hall of Famer Lupe Preciado.

 Girl Trouble, who won her first race of 2023 in the same dominating fashion she won her last two races of 2022, would be a worthy winner for 2-year-old female in most years.

 I found it just about impossible to separate Scaramouche and That’s Right for top 3-year-old male. Scaramouche went 6-for-10 and earned nearly $400,000 for owner Nick Cammarano and that man Preciado. That’s Right went 4-for-9 and earned just over $300,000 for owner Jim Shannon and trainer Michael Moore. Each horse won a graded stakes on Pennsylvania Derby Day and two stakes overall. Scaramouche won his races on dirt, That’s Right on grass. Scaramouche has positional speed. That’s Right is all speed.

 In the end, I went with Scaramouche in a photo. Scaramouche won the Grade II Gallant Bob in the race after That’s Right won the Grade III Turf Monster. I thought the Gallant Bob was the slightly more difficult race this year so that is what got me to Scaramouche. But That’s Right ran like a champion too.

 Morning Matcha was a relatively easy choice for me as the top 3-year-old female. She won a stakes, finished third in the Grade III Delaware Oaks, the Grade III Comely and the Cathryn Sophia as well as a terrific second to runaway winner Society in the $1 million Grade I Cotillion.  She raced from January until November and earned more than $400,000 for owners Glenn Bennett’s LC Racing, Chuck Zacney’s Cash Is King, Gary Barber and trainer Butch Reid.

 So many talented older males. Buy Land and Sea won two grass stakes, one at Penn National and another at Parx. Violent Turbulence won the Parx Dash.

 Ridin With Biden and Fortheluvofbourbon, however, separated from the pack.

  Ridin With Biden had a wonderful year for Cash Is King, LC Racing and Butch Reid with nearly $300,000 in earnings. The horse won three stakes, including the Grade III Greenwood Cup on Pennsylvania Derby Day. He only had one poor finish all year and that was more due to circumstance than ability.

 Fortheluvofbourbon raced nine times with seven wins and a second. The horse, trained by Mike Pino for Dan Ryan’s Smart Angle LLP won three stakes at Parx and another at Laurel with earnings of more than $360,000.

 I ended up voting Fortheluvofbourbon as my winner, but am not at all sure I have it right. Ridin With Biden, after all, did have that graded stakes win and was winning around two turns and in the case of the Greenwood Cup, three turns. Bottom line, I went with sprint star Fortheluvofbourbon because winning 7 of 9 in this sport is incredibly difficult no matter the level or distance.

Love in the Air, trained by John Servis for Lou Bucky’s Main Line Stable, is my choice for top older female. She won the Plum Pretty and Mrs. Penny at Parx while also finishing second in the Lyphard at Penn and third in the Doc Penny at Parx. Turf or dirt, the daughter of Constitution came with a big effort just about every time.

 My top claiming horse and outstanding claim are one and the same: Exit Right. The horse, trained by Jamie Ness for Morris Kernan, Yo Berbs Racing and Jagger Inc, went 8-for-10 between March and August while winning $200,000. That is the very definition of a top claiming horse and an outstanding claim.

 I gave consideration to the well named Get the W (15 starts, 7 wins, 5 seconds) for claiming horse and the incredible Ruby Bleu for outstanding claim.

 My Parx Horse of the Year is Fortheluvofbourbon. If it ends up being Ridin With Biden, I will have no issues for the reasons cited in the older male section – two really good horses who had great years at Parx and wherever else they raced.


By Dick Jerardi

Bobby from the Bronx is 77 now.
He is the president and CEO of Twenty-First Century Group LLC, a structured settlement company. He has been an owner and breeder for 37 years and is the president and CEO of Uptowncharlybrown Stud LLC. He is a producer of  “Back To The Future, The Musical” which will debut on Broadway this summer at the Winter Garden Theater.

And that is just what Bob Hutt, recently elected as PTHA president, is doing these days.

There was his upbringing by a World War II master sergeant who “raised me like a soldier which I resented and I went the other way with my children where I gave them everything without earning it. Quote me to any parent who made the mistake I made `Dad, up in heaven, you were right and I was wrong.’ You don’t know that until you learn life’s

“There was his teenage stint as a general in color wars/camp counselor at Makowsky’s in the Catskills.
“That was Camelot for me,” Hutt said.

When he was 16, there was his first visit to a race track, Monticello Raceway. “I bet $2 to show on a trotter named It’s Freezing,” Hutt said.

Unfortunately, the horse broke and ended up on a highway next to the track. “$10 million later, I’m still trying to get even,” Hutt said. He later spent time at Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceway before going to Belmont Park with a friend who had had some high class horses there.

Around 1985, Hutt bought his first horse, a maiden $15,000 thoroughbred.

“I was a really smart businessman,” Hutt said. “I think I paid $38,000.” Hutt decided to get out of the claiming game and concluded he wanted “new cars, not used cars.”

The theory was he would buy young horses at auction and they would head right to the races without any expenses.

“I want everybody to understand you’re not born with wisdom or experience,” Hutt said while laughing at his naivete.

So he went with his trainer Richie O’Connell to a February 2- year-old sale in Florida. He had a budget of $150,000. Wanted to buy four horses. They bought three and Hutt had around $25,000 left. Without his trainer’s input, he decided to start bidding on a filly. He eventually got her for $24,000. The trainer was not pleased.

The other three either could not run or got injured. Hutt said he was just about out of the game

The fourth horse, named Midnight Destiny, raced 105 times, with 25 wins, 29 seconds and nine thirds from 1989 until 1995.

She was on the Jan. 28, 1992 DRF cover, the article about an upcoming race at Garden State Park titled “A Date With Destiny.”

There was Carey’s Gold, the horse that nearly swept the 2001 Florida Stallion Series. There was R Betty Graybull who won stakes in New York and New Jersey.

And there was and is Uptowncharlybrown the colt that dominated in his first two starts in late 2009 and early 2010, the tragic death on April 12, 2010 of the colt’s trainer Alan Seewald and the subsequent brilliant stallion career that has made his owner proud and certainly would have made his original trainer just as proud.

“Alan was one of the greatest guys you’ll ever meet, both as a trainer and as a human being,” Hutt said. “Everybody who knew Alan loved him.”

Seewald was his friend and racing mentor.

“Without Alan Seewald, Bob Hutt wouldn’t be here today racing,” Hutt said.

Seewald told Hutt early on that Uptowncharlybrown “is the best horse you’ve ever owned.” Seewald just called him “the Chestnut.”

Like all of his horses, Uptowncharlybrown was selected for Hutt by legendary Monmouth Park clocker Gate Artis who Hutt can’t praise enough for his insights into young horses. The colt was sold at OBS April for $57,000, doubled that on the track and has been paying off ever since at stud with such outstanding progeny as Wait for It, Downtowncharlybrown, Midtowncharlybrown, Midnightcharly and Dixie Serenade.

And there is 2023, why Hutt ran for PTHA president and, now that he has been elected, his vision for the future.
“I’ve had a good life and I’m in the last chapter,” Hutt said. “I look forward to every day. I decided I would like to give something back to the next generation the same as my father gave to me.”

“That was the reason. I feel that change was needed. I’m a transparent guy. What you see is what you get. I’m Bobby from the Bronx. I’ve been in business for a long time. I built three businesses from scratch without any help. I look forward to the challenge in working with the staff of the PTHA, the board and Jeff Matty. I think we are going to accomplish a lot.”

If there is live racing at Parx, Hutt is never hard to find. He sits at the same spot every day with his trainer Eddie Coletti and however many people can fit at the table.

“I make no concession to age whatsoever,” Hutt said. “I think with age you acquire wisdom.”

So, now that he is president, what would Hutt like to accomplish?

Specifically, he would like to help lower the average age of the racing fan.

“What I would like to do is introduce a new generation of racing fans to the game, give some education and the best way to do that is to get them to ask questions,” Hutt said.

Hutt would love to see a “Breakfast at Parx” when the warmer weather comes while having some of the owners, trainers and jockeys get interviewed to show “that we’re not like the other professional sports where you have to pay for an autograph.”

And perhaps, Hutt said, by sharing what it is like to win a race, a new generation might become interested enough to get involved in the sport.

“For me and anybody that’s ever walked into that winner’s circle, you’re actually walking on air and I don’t care if it’s winning a graded stake or it’s a low level claimer,” Hutt said. “Every time feels like the first time for me and I think that’s the way every owner feels.”

“It’s a sport that we love. We’re a family on the backstretch. We celebrate together. We grieve together. And I just want to make this a better place.”