09/03/2013 12:23PM

Dick Jerardi: Jockey Elliott appropriate hero at Parx Racing on Smarty Jones Day

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Barbara Weidl/Equi-Photo
Stewart Elliott guides Edge of Reality to victory in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx. Elliott was the regular rider of Smarty Jones.

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Favorites won three of the four stakes at Parx Racing on Labor Day. That was not a shock. The one favorite who did not win was Ben’s Cat. That was a shock.

It was Smarty Jones Day at Parx with the purses bumped way up throughout a day that culminated with a pair of $200,000 stakes and two $350,000 stakes.

The star of the day was Stewart Elliott, the man who rode Smarty Jones in every start of his career. The Parx veteran won the $350,000 Smarty Jones Stakes on the favorite just after producing a huge upset in the $350,000 Turf Monster on a 28-1 shot.

Hard to believe it is nearly 10 years since Smarty made his debut in November 2003 at what was then called Philadelphia Park. None of the fans in eastern Pennsylvania has forgotten. Neither has Elliott.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s been 10 years,” Elliott said. “It’s still fresh for me. I think it about all the time.”

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Elliott is closing on 29,000 rides in his career. He has won more than 4,500 races, and his mounts have earned nearly $90 million. He has been a really good rider for a really long time. But it was his short time with Smarty Jones that will be long remembered. And Elliott is fine with that.

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Smarty’s owner, Pat Chapman, presented the trophy to the connections of Smarty Jones Stakes winner Edge of Reality. She especially enjoyed posing with Elliott.

If Edge of Reality, trained by Tony Dutrow, was no great surprise in the Smarty, Stormofthecentury was the very definition of a surprise in the Turf Monster. The 5-year-old had 12 fewer grass starts (two) than Ben’s Cat had grass wins (14). Seemed like a tough spot to make his stakes debut.

With 200 yards to go, it was going to be the super fast Tightend Touchdown in front, Stormofthecentury chasing, or Ben’s Cat closing. You might still have gotten 20-1 on the eventual winner at that point. But he got it done, and it did not look like a fluke.

King Leatherbury, trainer of Ben’s Cat, his horse of a lifetime, seemed a bit bemused by the whole thing. He just figured like the rest of us that Ben was going to win.

“He was close enough, made his run, and I don’t know,” Leatherbury said. “He’s made up that much ground many times, but, damn, the race seemed like it was over with so quick.”

Ben ended up third, just behind Tightend Touchdown. Elliott, however, took nothing for granted when he caught the front-runner.

“I knew I could get the horse in front, but you don’t know where Ben’s Cat is,” Elliott said. “He could show up last second.”

Ben’s Cat had won the Turf Monster the last two years. He has won a Maryland Million race the last three years. But there is no turf sprint on Maryland Million Day at Laurel Park this year. Ben will be there anyway.

“They killed me,” Leatherbury said. “They took that race out completely. It was my race. So now I have an opportunity to either run on the dirt six furlongs or on the turf going a flat mile. So I’ll enter in both of them and then decide which one looks like the best.”

Dale Romans, the 2012 Eclipse Award winner as America’s leading trainer, made a brief stop at Parx to take down the $200,000 Turf Amazon with favored Silverette. He liked the ambience. Might he want to bring a string to the track someday?

“I told [director of racing] Sal [Sinatra] all he’s got to do is tell me he’s got one of these good barns ready and I’ll be here,” Romans said. “This is a nice place.”

The amazing Eldaafer, one of the great claims in history, won the 1 1/2-mile Greenwood Cup by a desperate nose over Indian Jones.

The 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner, trained by Diane Alvarado, was claimed for $20,000 in January 2009. His Greenwood Cup win pushed his career earnings beyond $1 million.

Blow-up performances

Blimey was running for the 26th time when Scott Lake claimed the horse for $5,000 on July 31 at Delaware Park. On Aug. 28, Blimey, running for $6,250 at Delaware, cooked six furlongs in 1:08.18 and won by eight lengths.

A. P. Cino was 3 for 13 when he was entered in a first-level allowance at Penn National on Aug. 17. The 3-year-old promptly won by 11 lengths.

Lucy’s Bob Boy dominates again

Not much went right when Charles Town star Lucy’s Bob Boy ran fifth in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park. Back home in the $50,000 Gall Memorial, Lucy’s Bob Boy won by 5 1/4 lengths. In 18 lifetime races, he has 14 wins and 3 seconds.