12/23/2013 2:10PM

Dick Jerardi: Stephen Got Bud has danced every dance


Just about every track in America has a horse like Stephen Got Bud, the horse who, once he finds his proper level of competition, runs the same race month after month. In a game marked by inconsistency, bettors love the consistent horse.

Stephen Got Bud ran seven times on the main track at Penn National in 2013. He won five and was second twice. He mixed in a win and two seconds at Charles Town this year after he came north from Fair Grounds, where he was claimed March 28 for $5,000 from a race for nonwinners of three races lifetime.

Trainer Jim Tracy has been in charge of the 4-year-old Louisiana-bred son of Stephen Got Even. All told, the horse ran 16 times this year, with seven wins and earnings of $100,185 the hard way.

Stephen Got Bud has won at five furlongs, 5 1/2, six, 6 1/2, and a mile and 70 yards. He was second going a mile.

The gelding was second in a first-level allowance before beating that condition. Lately, he has been winning those starter allowance races for horses who have run for claiming prices of $6,500 or less within a specified time period. His winning Beyer Speed Figures range from 73 to 88.

The horse almost always shows speed, regardless of distance, but has gone wire to wire only once in 28 lifetime starts, a career that began at Delta Downs on Jan. 21, 2012. Imagine a horse who runs 28 times in two years. Stephen Got Bud is that horse.

The horse raced at nine different tracks with modest success before heading north last spring. In 2012, Stephen Got Bud was 1 for 12 and was regularly beaten by huge margins. Whether it was the competition or the surfaces, something changed.

Tracy is having a nice year himself at Penn, with 35 wins from 220 starts and earnings just north of $500,000. The stable star has accounted for 20 percent of the total.

From exercise rider to trainer

At this time in 2006, Kieron Magee was an exercise rider in Maryland.

“I was getting too old to gallop horses for a living,” said Magee, 52. “I broke my back twice, and it was time.”

Owner Bo Williams gave Magee a horse named Magic Maker to train. The horse went 1 for 10 for Magee in 2007, with earnings of $26,210. That got him into the claiming game.

“The first horse my wife and I claimed [Simoom, from John Fisher on Nov. 8, 2007], we maxed out three credit cards, and I had to borrow $1,000 off my mother-in-law,” Magee said. “We won two races with her, then eventually lost the horse for $10,000 at Philadelphia. My wife was in tears, but I was excited because we could start building.”

The trainer had 24 starters in 2007 but has had more than 200 this year. He is third in the fall-meet standings at Laurel Park with 19 winners, trailing Hugh McMahon (26) and Jamie Ness (22). But that’s not the story. McMahon has started 132 horses, and Ness 120. Magee has started just 47 horses at the meet, with 19 wins, 8 seconds, and 7 thirds.

“It has been a lot of fun,” Magee said. “There have been a lot of good claims. People will talk, but we have been making some really good claims. The key has been the influx of new owners. All I could look at the last couple of years were $5,000 horses. I am now claiming up to $20,000, so it gives you room to maneuver.”

◗ Even though he left for Gulfstream Park a month before the meet ends, Kendrick Carmouche (132 wins) has an insurmountable lead on John Bisono (118) in the Parx Racing jockey standings with just a few days left in 2013. It will be Carmouche’s fifth Parx title in six years. He won a record four straight titles before riding at the track much less regularly in 2012.

◗ Trainer Jeff Runco has been so good for so long at Charles Town that his winning big almost gets taken for granted. He has 141 winners from 619 starters at the track this year, with earnings of $2.67 million. His barn has won between $2 million and $3 million every year since 2006.