03/05/2013 2:20PM

Dick Jerardi: Jax and Jill definitely her mother's daughter

Charles Town
Jax and Jill, a daughter of the super-speedy Rain Song, wins the Rachel’s Turn Stakes at Charles Town last September.

Scott Lake has trained some really fast horses. He was pretty certain he would never train one any faster than Rain Song.

Claimed out of her first start on Nov. 26, 2004, the filly made a clear lead in each of the final 18 races of her career. She won nearly $300,000, including a pair of two-furlong stakes at Calder, the Fast N Furious and the Rocket Man. She nearly won the Rocket Man again in her penultimate race before being run down by Caller One.

Then, last summer, Lake sent out Jax and Jill at Parx Racing. She was so fast out of the gate in her first race that another trainer with a horse in the race looked at the replay certain that the gate must have malfunctioned. It did not. The daughter of Rain Song was just that fast.

“Her mother was unbelievably fast, and I swore I would probably never have a horse as fast as her and she was faster,” Lake said.

Jax and Jill won a 4 1/2-furlong race in her debut when you could have gotten 5-1. She followed that with a four-furlong win at Timonium at 1-10. She ran twice at Charles Town, winning 4 1/2 furlong races by a combined margin of nearly 14 lengths, which does not happen in those dashes. No horse ever got close to her at any stage.

“The first time [Gerald] Almodovar rode her for me at Charles Town, I said, ‘Look, she’s the fastest horse I’ve ever had’ and he looked at me and kind of made a face,” Lake said.

Then Lake told him: “If you’re not holding on to her mane when you break, you’ll be standing on the ground behind her looking at her because you’ll roll right off the back of her. She’s that fast.”

When the rider came back after the race, he told Lake: “I am so glad you said that because she threw me so far back in the saddle I had a handful of mane holding on for dear life.”

Just two weeks after Jax and Jill’s last Charles Town race, owner Robert Cole wanted to run the West Virginia-bred in a six-furlong stakes at Laurel Park in early November.

The trainer was stunned when Jax and Jill was actually beaten to the lead that day at Laurel. But it was not like she got outrun by a slow horse. The pacesetter, Baby J, had a clear lead in her four career races. Each finished far back that day, fifth and sixth, a length apart.

“We threw a lot at her in a short period of time to get her to run three-quarters and just kind of fried her,” Lake said.

Lake sent Jax and Jill to Florida to unwind. She is just now back in training, pointing to an April 25 West Virginia-bred stakes at Charles Town. Don’t blink.

Big day planned at Parx

Parx came out with its 2013 stakes schedule last week. For the second straight year, the track has bundled its two major stakes into one all-star card.

The Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby and Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion will both be run Sept. 21, six weeks prior to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. Other than those Breeders’ Cup cards, this will be the only card in America with two million-dollar races. The supporting feature will once again be the $300,000 Gallant Bob for 3-year-olds sprinters.

Great January at Penn

Penn National set a monthly handle record in January, averaging $1,260,173 per card. The old record was $1,237,341 in April 2009.

The first month of the new year continued a trend established in 2012 when the track handled an average of $1,013,422 for 197 racing days, a 20.6 percent increase over the $840,461 handled for 199 days in 2011.

Those Maryland apprentices

Maryland-based apprentice jockeys, including Hall of Famers Chris McCarron (1974) and Kent Desormeaux (1989), have accounted for nine of the 42 Eclipse Awards for champion apprentice. There could be a dead heat between two Maryland riders in 2013.

Yomar Ortiz, 21, and Trevor McCarthy, 18, are not just the top apprentices at Laurel. They are one-two in the overall rider standings.

Ortiz, a native of Puerto Rico, has already had four three-win days. McCarthy, the son of former jockey Mike McCarthy, has had two four-win days.