-By Dick Jerardi
If this keeps up, they may put up a sign at the Belmont Park stable gate: “Parx horses too fast, cannot enter.”
Seriously, it has been a Grade I barrage over the past few weeks for horses stabled at Parx. Nobody was surprised that Imperial Hint dominated the Vosburgh. Just about everybody was surprised when Discreet Lover got up to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 45-1. Those races were Sept. 29.
On Oct. 7, it was the two-year-old filly Jaywalk who came from Parx and overwhelmed the field by 5 3/4 lengths in the Grade I Frizette. She was not favored, nor was she a longshot, going off at 6-1.
Like the other two stakes, the Frizette was a Win and You’re in for the Breeders’ Cup. So, three horses will be leaving Parx later this month to compete in the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs. Jaywalk will run in the Juvenile Fillies on Friday, Nov. 2. The next day, Imperial Hint will run in the Sprint and Discreet Lover in the Classic.
Between them, Jaywalk’s owner Chuck Zacney and trainer John Servis have won a Kentucky Derby, two runnings of the Preakness and a Belmont Stakes. That would be the Servis-trained Smarty Jones in 2004 and the Zacney-led partnership that owned Afleet Alex in 2005. Smarty lost the Belmont by 1 length; the same margin by which Alex lost the Derby. So those two horses were that close to a Triple Crown in consecutive years.
Zacney and fellow owner Leonard Green, along with Servis, are teaming up with Jaywalk. She finished second in her first start at Monmouth Park, but then broke her maiden at Parx before winning a stake at Delaware Park and then the Frizette. If she wins the Breeders’ Cup, she will be Two-Year-Old Filly Champion. That will make for another nice Eclipse Award to go along with those that Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex won as Three-Year-Old Champions.
“I’m thrilled to death for the Greens,” Zacney said. “They’ve been in the game for a while and they really haven’t had a whole lot of luck. Obviously, John, I’m thrilled for him too.”
Zacney is actually going to have to miss the big race because he will be flying home from Ireland that Friday. He is going to the Philadelphia Eagles game in London on Oct. 28 and then spending a few days on vacation in Ireland.
“But I am kind of clearing my calendar for May,” Zacney said.
That would the first Friday in May and first Saturday in May, both at Churchill for the Kentucky Oaks that Zacney and Servis won together with Cathryn Sophia in 2016, and the Derby that Servis got with Smarty and the biggest one that got away from Zacney.
If she continues to run well, the Oaks obviously would be a major goal for Jaywalk. And there are huge hopes on the Parx backside for the two-year-old colt Maximus Mischief. Zacney owns the colt along with Glenn Bennett’s LC Racing.
Track announcer Keith Jones said Maximus Mischief’s September 29 debut win was the most impressive he’s seen by a two-year-old in his three decades at Parx. And that would include Smarty Jones.
Maximus Mischief is entered in the fourth race on Saturday (Oct. 20) at Parx. If all goes well for the rest of 2018, the goal is to take the colt to Gulfstream Park this winter and put him on the Derby trail.
The colt is trained by Butch Reid who said right after the colt’s first breeze that it might be time to make reservations for Kentucky in May.
“Baby steps, I keep saying so if everything goes well,” Zacney said.
This game is nothing if not for dreamers. And right now on the Parx backside, the dreams are as big as they have ever been.