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.

IT’S A JOURNEY WINS THRILLER IN MRS. PENNY

Jockey Mychel Sanchez and Trainer Ed Coletti Each Win Two

Labor Day Monday, Parx Racing celebrated the 20th renewal of Pennsylvania’s Day at the Races. The holiday program, run strictly for horses bred here in the Commonwealth,
featured five $80,000 stakes for state-breds with purses for the day totaling $740,000. Jockey Mychel Sanchez and trainer Ed Coletti were the stars of the day, each winning two stakes, Midtowncharlybrown won his second straight Banjo Picker Sprint and It’s a Journey captured the afternoon’s tightest finish.

The Mrs. Penny Stakes for fillies and mares three and up at one mile and one-sixteenth on the turf produced the most exciting finish of the afternoon. It’s a Journey, brilliantly ridden by Mychel Sanchez, came from the back of the pack, split horses late and got up to win in the final strides. Reserved early, It’s a Journey had inside position going into the first turn but had only one horse beaten in the field of eleven. Sanchez found room on the rail during the run up the backstretch, improved a couple of spots, and drew within about five lengths of the leader with a half mile to go. Moving to the far turn, though, with traffic in front, he again lost those spots, and nearing the quarter pole, was again next to last and still a good five to six lengths behind. Turning for home, the horses in front of It’s a Journey fanned to the outside and left room on the inside for the 7 year-old daughter of Jump Start to start making a run. And make a run she did. She shot through on the inside, and then angled between horses for running room late and got past the favored Puca Penny just before the wire to win it by a head. Owned by Gap View Stables and Jagger Inc. and trained by leading trainer Jamie Ness, It’s a Journey went off at 5-1 and paid $12.80 to win. Her final time on a firm course was 1:44.48.

The Storm Cat Stakes went to front running Wait for It. Allowed to control leisurely fractions under jockey Anthony Nunez, the 5 year-old gelded son of Uptopwncharlybrown finally shook loose of longshot Tudox Expectations coming to the quarter pole, opened a clear lead turning for home and then pulled away late to win by a comfortable two and a quarter lengths. Owned by Uptowncharlybrown Stud and trained by Ed Coletti, Wait for It went off as the public’s choice at 7-5 and paid $4.80 to win. He covered the one mile and one-sixteenth over a fast track in 1:44.26.

Just after the Storm Cat, the Uptowncharlybrown outfit came right back to win the Banjo Picker Sprint with Midtowncharlybrown. Right on the heels of blazing pace setter Dancing Bull through wicked fractions of 21.55 and 44.11, Midtowncharlybrown fell about three lengths behind as the field came into the stretch. The 6 year-old son of Uptowncharlybrown, however, refused to surrender As the pace began to finally take its toll on Dancing Bull, Midtowncharlybrown started to close the gap again as they passed the eighth pole. He finally surged ahead with about 70 yards to go and then moved away at the end to win by just over a length. It was the second straight win in the Banjo Picker Sprint for Midtowncharlybrown, trained again by Ed Coletti and ridden to victory by Roberto Rosado. Part of a favored entry at 4-5, he paid $3.60 to win and finished the six furlongs in 1:10.65.

Pink Caddy rallied to victory in the Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares three and up. The 3 year-old El Padrino filly got a race set up that suited her style and she ran big to take full advantage. Expected to come from off the pace, Pink Caddy got a three way speed duel in front of her and sat fifth with about a half mile to go. Rounding the far turn, she started top pick off rivals and moved within striking range as they approached the top of the stretch. Well regarded Sunny Dale had inside position turning for home, cut the corner and took the lead with just one furlong to go. Four wide off the turn and in the middle of the race track, Pink Caddy just kept coming. Striking the front with a sixteenth to go, she edged away late to win by a full length. Owned by Club Risque Stable and Greg Quick and trained by Randy Allen, she went postward as the second choice at 2-1 and paid $6.20 to win. Jockey Mychel Sanchez picked up his second stakes win of the day and Pink Caddy covered her six furlongs in 1:10.97.

Had it not been for a pair of late scratches, Monster Racing Stables’ The Critical Way would not have been in the gate for the five furlong turf sprint, the Marshall Jenney Handicap. Drawing in to the field of eleven, the 6 year-old gelded son of Tizway shot out of the gate on top, sprinted away to a clear early lead and never looked back. Leading every step of the way under jockey Ruben Silvera, The Critical Way flashed under the line a decisive four and a half length winner. Trained by Jose Delgado, The Critical Way posted the day’s biggest upset at odds of 11-1 and paid $25.00 to win. He ran the five-eighths on the grass in :57.21.