09/25/2012 12:55AM

PA Derby day 2012 - making history at Parx

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Parx Racing made US history on Saturday when, for the first time other than a Breeders' Cup, a racetrack held two million-dollar events on the same card.

That remarkable feat lured some of the country's best 3-year-olds to the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion.  It also lured us to the attractive Bensalem, PA, property for a truly enjoyable day.  Parx, and the horses, of course, put on a memorable show!  (extra credit points to anyone who can tell me...what do the initials P a r x stand for... PA (Pennsylvania) R (racing) X (casino)??)

Above:  Early in the day, 2-year-olds headed down the homestretch in the second race - Hard to Name (left), Fly Eagle Fly (center) and English Manor (rail).  And the winner was.....

Above/below:  ...Hard to Name (Hard Spun - Affluenza, by Giant's Causeway).

Above/below: John Bisono and Hard to Name return to the winner's circle, where they are greeted by winning trainer John Servis (below).

Above:  Who's having more fun: John Servis (foreground) or the dude in the background?

Above:  The start of the 5th race.

Above/below:  Ramon Dominguez guided the grey gelding Crushing to victory in the 5th race allowance.  The Giacomo gelding is trained by Chad Brown.

Above/below:  Crushing barely defeated Arlo (above), and Ramon Dominguez flashed a winning smile after the race (below).

Above/below:  A grey gelding theme continued as a fantastically-named (!) horse named Livingston Street easily won the 6th race, a starter allowance, for Winning Move Stable, Peter Walder (part-owner, and trainer), Ultra Championship Racing LLC and jockey Ramon Dominguez.  Livingston Street is a 6-year-old stakes winner by Mr. Livingston.  Go, Livingston Street!

Above:  Angel Castillo seemed to enjoy the day.

Above:  Alex Cintron looked serious, heading to the paddock.

Above/below:  Those following a theme should have bet on the grey gelding Hello Lover in the 7th.  The regal son of Not for Love dominated in the optional claiming event.

Above:  Hello Lover was near the back of the pack early in the race....

Above: ...but all alone at the finish - well, other than Irad Ortiz, Jr., that is.

Above:  Winning trainer Butch Reid enjoyed the moment.

Above:  The amiable Irad Ortiz, Jr. had one heck of an afternoon.

Above:  Hello Lover heading to the test barn.

Above:  Angel Arroyo is the leading jock at Parx this season - with 98 victories (through 9/18), vs. 77 for Frankie Pennington.

Above:  Roadhog!  Yep, this Bowman's Band gelding is named Roadhog, and he ran in the Alphabet Soup Handicap.

Above:  The start of the Alphabet Soup Handicap.

Above:  As they headed into the homestretch, Philly Ace (third from left) tracked the leaders.

Above/below:  A determined Philly Ace (#2, by Smart Strike), trained by Christophe Clement, holds off Roadhog.

Above:  Kendrick Carmouche gave Philly Ace a pat as they headed to the winner's circle.

Above:  The crowd was very upbeat for the biggest day in Parx's (formerly Philadelphia Park) history.

Above:  Trinniberg, always hard to miss with his cute red pom-pom, entering the paddock for the Gallant Bob.

Above:  Well Spelled before the Gallant Bob.

Above/below:  In the Gallant Bob, Trinniberg (rail) was run down by the Ben Perkins, Jr.-trained Well Spelled (Spellbinder - Well, by Well Decorated).

Above:  Pablo Fragoso and Well Spelled after the race.

Above:  Pablo Fragoso.

Above:  OK, so some might disagree...but I think Parx's color scheme is delightful.

Above:  The Cotillion featured only four runners, in large part due to the intimidating presence of multiple Grade I-winning Questing. 

Above:  The multiple stakes-placed filly Moment in Dixie gave it a try (Jimmy Toner, trainer)....

Above: ...as did Prince of Wales' winner Dixie Strike (Mark Casse).

Above: Steve Asmussen brought his 2011 champion juvenile filly My Miss Aurelia....

Above:  ...and Scott Blasi guided the filly before the race.

Above/below:  My Miss Aurelia, with Corey Nakatani up, looked pretty as a picture in the post parade.

Above: Questing looked great, too, under Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Above/below:  When the field broke, Questing quickly sprinted to a short lead over My Miss Aurelia.

Above:  Questing, the first time by.

Above:  My Miss Aurelia, the first time by.

Above:  My Miss Aurelia stalked Questing around the first turn.

Above/below:  Swinging into the homestretch, Questing swung very wide (did it remind anyone else of the 1980 Preakness?), but My Miss Aurelia wasn't intimidated.

Above:  And down the stretch they came in the Cotillion....in one of the best head-to-head displays of heart and determination in recent memory.

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Above:  At the wire, the champion My Miss Aurelia won in a squeaker.  What a great race between two remarkably game fillies.

Above:  My Miss Aurelia and Corey Nakatani heading back to the winner's circle.

Above:  Barbara Banke and George Bolton shared a moment.

Above/below:  My Miss Aurelia and her happy connections headed into the winner's circle.

Above:  Here she is, Aurelia....part-owner George Bolton's mother.  She sure seems to enjoy her namesake.

Above: Barbara Banke's admiration for My Miss Aurelia was crystal-clear.

Above:  A joyous Corey Nakatani planted one on Steve Asmussen....

Above: ...and then chatted with the media on his way back to the jockeys' room. 

Above/below:  Scott Blasi sure seemed to enjoy the race - but didn't have long to revel in the win.

Above:  Scott was back to work for the next race, the Pennsylvania Derby, with the Steve Asmussen-trained Macho Macho.  Asmussen is at right, and Corey Nakatani was the rider.

Above:  Macho Macho, the West Virginia Derby winner, looked great in the paddock.  He ran second.

Above:  These ladies made no secret of their PA Derby choice.

Above:  Alpha also looked ready to run.  Kiaran McLaughlin's brother Neal (blue tie) and Ramon Dominguez are at right.

Above:  Handsome Mike came into the race under the radar.  The handsome dark bay Scat Daddy colt, usually trained by Doug O'Neill, ran for O'Neill's assistant trainer Leandro Mora.

Above:  Man, oh man, did it get dark just before the Derby - which did not please photographers.  The first time past, the photo shows Macho Macho, Golden Ticket, Alpha, Handsome Mike and Stephanoatsee (Stephanoatsee, by the way, is Shackleford's - and Lady Joanne's - little brother).

Above:  The first time by, Irad Ortiz kept a hold on Handsome Mike.

Above:  The final turn - Csaba, Golden Ticket, Handsome Mike, Alpha and Stephanoatsee.

Above:  By the time they entered the homestretch, Irad was swinging Handsome Mike past Alpha.

Above:  Handsome Mike rolled home to a two-length victory - and paid $40.40 for the win.

Above:  Golden Ticket, with David Cohen up, ran third.

Above:  The two deadheating Travers' winners - Alpha, left, and Golden Ticket, right - are unsaddled after their 6th- and 3rd-place finishes, respectively.

Above/below:  Handsome Mike, without his blinkers and draped in red carnations, is a handsome sight as he is led to the winner's circle.

Above/below:  Irad Ortiz had a very good day.

Above:   Congratulations to all of the day's winners - and thanks to Parx Racing, including Keith Jones and Kim Pratt, for their kind assistance. 

What a great day at the track!

2012 Pennsylvania Derby: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dw-Ky65j7LQ

2012 Cotillion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2LO7VclgR4

Kimberly Shugars More than 1 year ago
Barbara, as always lovely photos. I used to visit your old online album quite often and wondered at how amazingly talented you are with a camera. The photo of My Miss Aurelia, the headshot with the eye..OMG..She looks like she is saying, bring it on. I laughed. I only wish I could take photos of my Arab like you do. And Questing, She really looks like her daddy. She has Hard Spun stamped all over her. I loved him when he was racing and have enthusiastically followed his progeny. I wondered if you have any plans to visit Lane's End in the near future to perhaps take photos of their two newest Stallions. Union Rags (love love love this horse) and The Factor. I am dying for new photos of Rag's. He is so unbelievably gorgeous and I know there is no one else who could do that horse justice like you.
William Caple More than 1 year ago
Fantastic photos!!! By the way, I loved seeing My Miss Aurelia continue her winning ways! Breeders' Cup should be awesome. derbydeals.com
laura ban More than 1 year ago
ONE of the many reasons I love your blog Barbara, I take my breaks in here - small amounts of time away from phone, questions, the work day. So I tend to visit often and always see new and brilliant things in your photos that I didn't see the first time around! Love the guy taking a big slug of what I imagine is beer in the background of the photo of John Service! You're always amazing, breathtaking - No doubt as to why you're the best in the world! Take care.
Andie Bicho More than 1 year ago
as always, amazing shots!!!!
Cheryl Yeoman More than 1 year ago
Thanks again Barbara for your great photos,I really enjoyed them as usual ! I didn't expect to see them at Parx.I still can't get used to that name,I still like Philly Park,ran many horses there and always enjoyed going.Great people,the best track kitchen ever and the emplyees back-side were always friendly and welcoming,they always called my daughter and I ,The Sheppard Girls,as we always shipped in from the farm. Especially liked the photos of Handsome Mike,you really captured his beauty,loved his Dad Scat Daddy and have been watching most every one of HM's races ! You are the best Barbara !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Matt Zebriski More than 1 year ago
Your pictures are amazing, but they hide the fact that racing at Parx has become a miserable, pathetic event on a daily basis. While Parx sets a precedent by hosting 2 $1 million dollar events on the same day, they routinely card ridiculous races with horrendous fields. Their turf course is a complete joke. Their condition book is tailored to a group of 5 horsemen, who now control the racing activities and essentially take down most of the enhanced purses which have come on account of the thriving casino. The grandstand is now elaborate, but empty. The pools are horrendous. I would venture to guess that some races actually pay the winners share more than the amount that is actually in the WPS pool combined. The grounds are atrocious. The track maintenance program is non existent. More horses end up with suspensory and knee problems as they train over a track that rarely gets water. Parx is the poster child for how slot money has actually served more harm to the game of thoroughbred racing than was intended. But don't it look grand and exceptional through Barbara's eyes?
DrSmoke120 More than 1 year ago
You are spot on with your assertions about Parx and that Barbara Livingston could make anything look good, she is simply the best.
Ange More than 1 year ago
You actually caught Well Spelled smiling after his win! That's a great shot! Thanks again for those, Barbara. Always awesome pics :)
Yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Not to take issue with the aesthetic sensibilities of an artist, but the Parx color scheme kind of reminds me of that boondoggle of a "thing" thats been sitting empty in the Meadowlands for all these years. Really nice though to see a track like Parx get your special attention, and great to see them have an excellent big day. There's always been something about My Miss Aurelia to me that transcends her past performance lines (which are pretty darn good). I'll be hitched to her wagon come Breeders Cup day. Thanks as always for the great photos.
Gunner More than 1 year ago
Hello Barbara, I suspected that with two Million Dollar Races that you might be there to document the event. So glad that the entire team was there as well. So, of course, the photos are superb and the story carries us all along. The opening "Post Card" shot made me laugh, so the rest was gravy. But when you can the tell those that love the horse from those that love the idea of the horse, well, then laugh away. Located so close to I-95, I always swing by when in the area. It is a very nice track. Thanks, so much, as a great day at the track is always welcome!
kingsailor2 More than 1 year ago
Great ! Those blankets of flowers might have used a dart here or there.