By Jennifer Poorman
Pennsylvania’s Day at the Races 2018 was held Saturday, September 1, 2018. It proved to be a great day of PA-Bred racing, featuring $1 million in purses for the first year in the event’s history! Over 110 PA-Breds showcased their talents as they battled down the stretch in each of the card’s 11 races.
The Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association treated Pennsylvania breeders and their guests, owners and trainers to a buffet lunch, complete with a private third-floor view of the track. Raffle prizes included PHBA bags full of PA-Bred swag; a hand-painted cornhole game set, courtesy of J & M Custom Cornhole; and baskets loaded with horse-related items donated by the PTHA and Turning for Home. The winning stakes owners received a leather PHBA overnight bag and the winning stakes trainer received a cooler with the name of the stakes race embroidered on it for the winning PA-Bred, presented in the winner’s circle. All stakes participants received a Patagonia backpack filled with PHBA goodies. All breeders and their guests who attended the luncheon received a PHBA tote bag filled with a blanket, hat and coffee mug.
Kicking off the stakes races of the day was the Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial Stakes, for fillies and mares three and up. Won by Castle Rock-bred Zipper’s Hero, the five-year-old mare by Partner’s Hero broke a step slower than the rest of the field but opened up a clear lead after the opening quarter. She led by two entering the far turn, and held off Risque’s Diamond to win by three lengths. It proved to be the most emotional race of the day. Dr. Teresa Garofalo was the treasurer of the PHBA board before she passed away in 2010 from acute myeloid leukemia. Her equine practice in West Chester, Smokey’s Run Farm, focused on equine reproduction, and the stakes in her name is a special one to the PHBA. Dr. Garofalo’s mother, Vera Vann-Wilson, and brother, Ted Vanderlaan were in attendance to present the winning trophy. “It’s such an honor to be here and I’m grateful to you all for continuing the race in her memory. She would love this,” Ted Vanderlaan expressed to PHBA staff in the winner’s circle. The emotion didn’t stop there. The win brought trainer Eddie Coletti Jr.’s earnings to over $1 million for the year so far for the first time in his career. It was also the first stakes win for the owner of Zipper’s Hero, Mario Mangini, and jockey Johan Rosado had his first stakes win for Ed Coletti, Jr. The biggest celebration of the day was in that winner’s circle! Congratulations to all on their achievements!
The Mrs. Penny Stakes was moved to the main track due to rainfall the night before. The change in surface didn’t deter Mr. and Mrs. Rodman Moorhead’s bred and owned Rose Tree as she continued her incredible comeback year with her second stakes win in a row. About six lengths behind on the backstretch, the four-year-old by Harlan’s Holiday gained from there, taking command at the top of the turn. June’s Lyphard Stakes winner Imply pushed ahead to catch the leader, but Rose Tree dug in and held on for the win. Rose Tree, under regular rider Andrew Wolfsont, and trained by Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, paid $10 to win. “She held on gamely. She’s a very nice filly,” Jonathan Sheppard told PTHA’s Dani Gibson in a post-race interview.
The Banjo Picker Stakes was one of the most anticipated of the day, featuring last year’s winner The Man, bred by Glenn E. Brok LLC. Despite another wardrobe malfunction this year, he proved to be the best again, in more ways than one. Untacked in the walking ring and retacked in the paddock stall with minutes to spare, the cool-under-pressure six-year-old trained by John Servis let everyone know that he really is “The Man”. (Last year’s malfunction came after the race when he stood quietly in the winner’s circle to have a shoe pulled that came partway off during the race.) The Man, with regular rider Jorge Vargas Jr., broke well, picked up a short lead off the turn. Midtowncharlybrown, waited for room, and Pop Keenan made a late run but couldn’t outrun The Man. “We have won nine races out of ten. You cannot ask for a better horse,” said jockey Vargas post-race. This win pushed his record at Parx to 7 for 8.
The first of two upsets came in the Roanoke Stakes. Michael Jester’s bred and owned Grasshoppin, going off at 12-1, had a perfect trip under jockey Edwin Rivera. Trained by Claudio Gonzalez, the seven-year-old son of Cat Thief sat a length back down the backstretch and kept position after fractions of 23.62 and 47.41. He caught up to pace setter Navy Commander around the final turn and opened up in the stretch. Keeping the lead under urging by Rivera, he finished in 1:44.42, paying $27. Grasshoppin finished third in the same race last year, and the connections were thrilled to come back this year and win. “To be able to come back this year… he’s not a young horse, and to run as hard as he does, it really shows you the great athlete he is,” Mike Jester said after the race.
The second of the upsets came in the last stakes race, the Power By Far, run on PA Day at the Races for the first time. Five furlongs on the main track after being moved off of the turf, She’s Chubs, going off at 12-1, finished a length and a quarter in front of Charlybrown’s Rose. Following about two and a half lengths behind leader Captain Sam, She’s Chubs closed the gap after the first quarter mile of 21.67. Under urging from rider Roberto Rosado, she surged ahead at the eighth pole and finished in :58:68. Bred by Rebecca Fawn Stepanoff & John Phillip Taylor Jr., owned by Aurora Vista LLC and trained by Scott Lake, the five-year-old daughter of Albert the Great racked up her first stakes win, paying $26.40. “So happy for the owners. We entered this horse 13 times, couldn’t get a race to go. Last minute we decided we were going to run off the turf and it was just tremendous,” trainer Scott Lake told PTHA’s Dani Gibson.
We extend a sincere thank you to all of our members and guests who attended, as well as the board members and special guests who presented the gifts in each race. We’re looking forward to a successful and productive 2019 breeding season and wish everyone the best of luck in the coming year. Visit www.pabred.com for a full gallery of the day’s photos.
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