02/11/2014 12:09PM

Dick Jerardi: Will Schwartz enjoys big day as owner

Debra A. Roma
Joint Return wins the Busher Stakes on Feb. 1 at Aqueduct, giving owner Will Schwartz his first stakes victory.

In the 17 years Will Schwartz owned horses, he had never won a stakes race. When he woke up on Saturday, Feb. 1, he was eager to sit by a television and watch a few of his horses perform. But he had no idea what he was about to see.

Perhaps, the omen came when his mare, Code Variance, a half-sister to Justin Phillip, Keyed Entry, and Algorithms, gave birth to a Pennsylvania-bred colt by Big Brown at 3 a.m.

At 1:25 p.m., one of Schwartz’s homebreds from his SMD Stable, Charm City Dancer, left the gate at Park Racing in a maiden race and romped home by 4 1/2 lengths.

At 3:20 p.m., Joint Return left the gate at Aqueduct in the Busher Stakes. Schwartz has an ownership piece in the filly with Main Line Stable. She won by 4 1/4 lengths, giving Schwartz his first stakes win.

At 7:28 p.m., first-time starter Ifyougotthenotion left the gate at Penn National. Another son of Code Variance, Ifyougotthenotion romped by three lengths.

On the 10-year anniversary Smarty Jones Kentucky Derby-winning season, it was only fitting that all three winners were trained by John Servis.

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Schwartz owns Intech Construction, which is across from 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. He lives nearby off Rittenhouse Square.

“I was in my home office, wagering, watching,” Schwartz said. “It just unfolded perfectly. I had some pretty good feelings about two of the races. The last one was more of a surprise, because John Servis wasn’t really touting that one too much.”

They had gelded Charm City Dancer before the start prior to his win. His Beyer Speed Figure went up 22 points. He ran right back to that number when he won his maiden.

“Each of these horses won by three or four lengths,” Schwartz said. “It wasn’t even close. That was the kind of day it was.”

Code Variance, who was unraced, has had foals by Smarty Jones, Any Given Saturday, Dance With Ravens, and Great Notion. They had all won, but nothing big. Schwartz decided to give her a shot with Big Brown because “her page was looking pretty good.”

But it was that stakes win in New York that really resonated.

“John picked up this filly by Include at a yearling sale,” Schwartz said. “At the time, we thought she’s got no pedigree. John felt we should be offering the 60 grand that we paid for her. His comments were ‘she’ll make her own pedigree.’ ”

She is “the star of the barn for us right now.”

Joint Return was third in her debut at Parx on Oct. 5. That was in the mud. She has been dominant in her three starts on fast tracks, winning her maiden by four lengths at Parx on Nov. 19 and then coming from 19 lengths back with an amazing turn move to win a first-level allowance by 4 3/4 lengths at Parx on New Year’s Day.

Joint Return was 7-1 in the Busher. Last early, she inhaled the field with another big move and won with complete ease.

“We temper our enthusiasm a little because it was a slow time,” Schwartz said.

In fact, Joint Return got a 73 Beyer.

“We are excited, but we are reserved,” Schwartz said.

They are excited enough that Joint Return just got on a van to join Servis at Palm Meadows. They are looking at the March 2 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park, if it comes off the grass. If not there, it could be the March 8 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park.

Joint Return’s Beyers have gotten better with each race. And Joint Return has that move, not unlike another Pennsylvania-bred filly that won the 2013 Busher Stakes. That would be Princess of Sylmar.

Princess of Sylmar’s owner, Ed Stanco, handed over the 2014 Busher trophy to the winning owners.

“I thought it was kind of neat to watch the King of Prussia Stable hand the Main Line Racing Stable the trophy,” Schwartz said.

Princess of Sylmar did not run particularly fast when she won the Busher last year. She just ran fast when she needed to run fast.

Will Schwartz and his partners are at least thinking big, just wondering where their filly might take them, waiting to see what’s next.