Celebration at Celebrations
-By Dick Jerardi
It was such a legendary year on the national scene for Parx-based horses that the accomplishments of all the other horses at Parx may have been slightly overlooked. That will change on Wednesday, March 27, during the annual Horsemen’s Awards Banquet at Celebrations.
Horses in various categories will be honored for what they did in 2018 at Parx Racing. Some honorees will be fairly obvious before they are announced. Some categories will be very close calls.
Nobody is going to be surprised if Maximus Mischief’s name is called as the Champion Two-Year-old Colt or Gelding. All Max did in 2018 was dominate two races at Parx before winning the Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct.
Trainer Eddie Coletti had a career year in 2018. He has the solid Tara’s Talent nominated in the Two-Year-old Filly category. Two of his very best are nominees for best Three-Year-Old Filly. Dixie Serenade and Smokinpaddylassie combined to win six races and nearly $400,000 last year.
Dixie Serenade gave the trainer his first graded stakes win when she took the Grade III Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont Park on July 8. She was also second in the Jose Flores Memorial on Aug. 4 at Parx and third in the New Start Stakes at Penn National on June 2.
Bred in Pennsylvania like Dixie Serenade, Smokinpaddylassie won the first three starts of her career, including a win in the Beyond the Wire Stakes at Laurel Park. And she started off 2019 as if she is going to have another great year by winning a March 16 allowance at Parx.
Navy Commander won five of 11 starts and $126,303 in 2018 for Butch Reid who also trained Maximus Mischief. The horse, who won the July 7 Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park, is a contender for best Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding.
The Four-Year-Old and Up Colt or Gelding category was especially strong in 2018 with nominees that won a combined 40 races and $1.5 million. Standing out in the category is Aztec Sense, who did not lose anywhere, at any racetrack, in 2018. He was a perfect 4-for-4 at Parx, including wins in three stakes, each in dominating fashion.
The Four-Year-Old and Up Filly or Mare category looks wide open with so many horses that had terrific years, including the Lou Linder-trained Viva Forever. She won eight times from 13 starts and earned nearly $200,000 in 2018. She won her final race of the year on New Year’s Eve.
The Claiming Horse of the Year category includes horses that have won 55 career races, 30 of them in 2018. The voters had a very difficult decision because so many of the nominees had such great years.
The same goes for Outstanding Claim of the Year. Champagne Chuck, who raced 19 times in 2018 with seven wins, three seconds and two thirds, was nominated in both claiming categories. He also captured the title for Winningest Horse at Parx in 2018 with those seven victories.