06/24/2014 10:30AM

Jerardi: Brown red-hot at Parx

Barbara Weidl/Equi-Photo
Falling Sky wins the Donald LeVine Memorial on Saturday at Parx.

There may be no such thing as a sure thing at the track. Chad Brown’s starters at Parx Racing in 2014, however, are about as close as you will ever get to certainty in an uncertain sport.

From March 17 through June 16, Brown started 10 horses at Parx. Nine won, and the other was second. Few were secrets, but 90 percent winners is going to equal a solid return on investment regardless of the prices. The Brown ROI at Parx this year is $4.65, according to DRF ’s Formulator.

The trainer won with three first-time starters, one at 2-1, another at 1-1, and a third at 9-10. The “best” prices came with horses off very long layoffs. Crushing had been off 408 days when he won at 5-2. The Candidate was 3-1 when he won after a 372-day layoff. A 121-day layoff resulted in an 11-10 winner. The fans were not fooled by a 100-day layoff, sending that winner off at 6-5.

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Top Parx jockey Kendrick Carmouche, back after spending the winter at Gulfstream Park, rode six of the winners. He also was on the only loser, a 1-10 shot who finished second, proving that, in fact, there is no sure thing no matter the percentages or the odds.

Stakes winners from 2013 Derby

It has been more than a year, and horses who were on or in the vicinity of last year’s Kentucky Derby pace are still winning stakes races all over the country. Consider that five of the first six horses after a quarter-mile have won stakes – and not just any stakes.

Palace Malice is probably the best horse in America. He won the Belmont Stakes last year and the Metropolitan Handicap this year. Goldencents won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Verrazano won the Haskell. Oxbow won the Preakness. That is four horses winning five Grade 1 stakes.

And that is not it from that Derby pace. Remember Falling Sky? He was chasing Palace Malice and Goldencents through those crazy fractions. He finished last, beaten 53 lengths by Orb. It would have been no shock if the colt never recovered from that beating. In fact, Falling Sky did not run again until November, when he had a bad start in a Laurel stakes and finished far back.

The colt re-emerged at Gulfstream Park this winter, getting consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures when second in an optional claimer and in a dominant win in the Gulfstream Park Sprint.

Falling Sky was overmatched in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, won by Palace Malice, and in the seven-furlong Churchill Downs Stakes on Derby Day.

Last Saturday at Parx, Falling Sky, a Pennsylvania-bred, was perfectly placed and perfectly ridden in the $100,000 Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap. Edgar Prado put the colt just behind two dueling leaders, made his move on the turn, and held off the closers to get the latest stakes win of the Derby pace horses.

The LeVine is named for one of the great people in the history of Keystone/Philadelphia Park/Parx. Don LeVine, who was a longtime steward at Parx and Atlantic City, did just about everything in the sport. He also was married to Grace Kelly’s sister.

By the way, the only horse not to win a stakes after being in the top six of that 2013 Derby after a quarter-mile is Vyjack. The best he has done so far is win an optional claimer. There is still time.

◗ Daniel Centeno and Alex Cintron are in a virtual dead heat after the Delaware Park meeting’s first five weeks. Centeno has 20 wins, Cintron 18.

◗ We are nearing the midway point of the season for the yearlong meets. Technically, the trainers’ standings at Penn National and Charles Town could change at the top, but don’t count on it. Jeff Runco already has 63 wins at Charles Town, 15 more than second-place Ronney Brown. Tim Kreiser is ahead by many lengths at Penn, with 41 wins, 19 more than second-place Bernie Houghton.