By Dick Jerardi
Steve Krebs figures he was out of high school for like a week when he went to work for Parx Hall of Famer Bob Camac during the period the trainer had several serious stakes horses in his barn, including Class of 2013 Parx Hall of Famers Fire Plug and Cagey Exuberance (combined 46 wins in 95 starts and $1,342,942).
That was 3 1/2 decades ago. Krebs has been at the track ever since, working out of Barn 3 at Parx where he trains nine horses at the moment. He was actually around horses even before he came to the track full time.
“When I was like 5-years-old, my dad was given a free thoroughbred stallion,’’ Krebs said. “I got a picture of him somewhere. The poor horse was tied to a tree in somebody’s backyard, skin and bones. My dad took him and nursed him back to health. I guess he liked it so much he ended up buying this whole chicken farm down in Williamstown (New Jersey), 25 acres and made a farm out of it. The next thing you know, we had 10 broodmares and went from there. My childhood was pretty much spent on the weekends at the race track and in the summertime at the track track.’’
Krebs’ first starter as a 22-year-old trainer was on June 18, 1990 at Atlantic City Race Course. The horse, Immitation, was beaten by 35 lengths. Eighteen days later, Imitation came back, won and paid $85.
Krebs did not have that many horses to train through the 1990s, but he eventually became an assistant to trainer Scott Lake when Lake was winning hundreds of races each year.
“It was a really hard decision (to leave Lake when he was approached about taking on some new owners as their trainer),’’ Krebs said. “We were on an unbelievable roll, making money. I had a few of my own horses.’’
His two best horses after he went out on his own full time were for owner Danny Limongelli who passed away on Jan. 18, 2021. They claimed Parx Hall of Famer Banjo Picker for $15,000 on Aug. 21, 2004. All the Pennsylvania bred did for them was start 40 times, with 15 wins, 5 seconds, 6 thirds, earnings of $619,026 and a win at 47-1 in the Grade III Gravesend Handicap on Dec. 18, 2005 at Aqueduct. Banjo Picker was ridden in all 40 of those starts by Tara Hemmings; the trainer and rider have been together for 20 years now.
“She did a great job with him,’’ Krebs said.
Krebs is known for his exuberance when cheering his horses home. The Gravesend, he said, may have been his best “root’’ of all.
“I watched the race down in the horsemen’s lounge at Aqueduct and I’m screaming and screaming and screaming,’’ Krebs said. “I thought he won. I ran out the door. I got halfway down the hallway, turned around and came back to watch the replay. And Billy Turner of Seattle Slew fame is sitting there watching and I’m going `did he win, did he win?’ And he was just laughing at me.’’
Banjo Picker won by a neck.
Krebs’ second best horse was Lothar, also owned by Limongelli. In the fall and winter of 2002, Lothar won six consecutive races.
Krebs won 65 races in 2006, 39 in 2015. But it has not all been smooth sailing. There were some years when wins were hard to find.
“It’s tough,’’ Krebs said. “I just had to pick myself off the canvas. Right now, I have some really good owners. They let me do what I have to. They put some money up to get some horses. I’m enjoying it again.’’
Tara is right there exercising Steve’s horses. Now, all they need to do is find another Banjo Picker.