08/12/2014 11:11AM

Jerardi: Lake continues to rack up wins with scaled-back stable

Trainer Scott Lake currently has 80 horses at two tracks, Parx Racing and Delaware Park.

In the first decade of the 2000s, Scott Lake trained the winners of 4,130 races. His stable won 417 races in 2005, 528 in 2006, 485 in 2007, and 421 in 2008, when he had a peak of 287 horses at seven tracks, with 30 more horses on the farm. One year, Lake drove 100,000 miles in three different vehicles.

It was really quite insane.

“I just grew into that,” Lake said. “The phone would ring at 4:30 in the morning; you’d start making the training chart. It would take an hour and a half to do all the training charts.”

When training ended, “it was like going to war – 10 o’clock in the morning was battle. Call every track, go through every extra.”

Those days are done. After his accountant blew through millions of Lake’s money, the trainer had to declare bankruptcy. He downscaled his stable dramatically.

“We had the problem with my accountant, and it set us back,” Lake said. “My kids were little, and I decided it is more important to scale back a little bit, concentrate, be able to be around them a little more, just cut back and do a little bit better product for my owners.”

These days, Lake has 80 horses at two tracks, Parx Racing and Delaware Park. And he is still winning races. Two weeks ago at Delaware Park, Lake, 49, won career race No. 5,500, good for sixth all time in North America.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Lake said. “It just kind of happened. It was going so fast.”

It has slowed down now. Lake won 149 races in 2013. He is closing in on 100 wins this year.

“I can do this in my sleep,” Lake said.

There was no grand design. The buildup just happened.

“When I was a kid, I just wanted to be in horse racing,” Lake said. “I never knew I wanted to be a trainer, I just wanted to be around horses. When I first started training, I thought Penn National was the place. There was no scheme to get out of there.”

Then, he got offers at Parx, in Maryland, and in New York.

“And it just snowballed,” Lake said.

Lake made his name as a claiming trainer, but he has won some big races. Unlike most of his brethren, his goal has never been the Kentucky Derby. It is the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

And in 2002, he did everything but win it at Arlington Park with Thunderello, a 48-1 shot. The horse got the lead at the start and kept it to the final yards before being run down near the wire by Orientate, trained by Mr. Breeders’ Cup, D. Wayne Lukas.

“You’d never think you could feel so good but yet so bad at the same time,” Lake said. “A year and a half before that, I was stabled at Penn National. The next thing you know, I’m at the Breeders’ Cup and get beat a head [actually, a half-length, but that’s quibbling].

“I’m holding my oldest daughter at the time, she was like 3 or 4 years old, and she’s screaming and had no idea what she was screaming for. It was just an unbelievable moment.”

And the best moment came a few minutes after the race.

“Lukas was one of my heroes growing up,” Lake said. “He walked out onto the track, just ignored everybody, walked over to me, gave me a hug, and whispered to me, ‘You have no idea what you just did. What you accomplished was better than what I did with my horse.’ To me, that was one of the defining moments of my career.”

Lake is within 1,000 wins of Jack Van Berg and King Leatherbury. Jerry Hollendorfer and Steve Asmussen are still winning, so he is not catching them. And it’s not likely that anybody is ever going to catch Dale Baird (9,445).

With another decade like 2000-09, Lake would have been closing fast on Baird. But that really was a bit crazy.

“I’d like to get to about fourth,” Lake said.

That would be a nice spot for a kid from central Pennsylvania who just wanted to be around horses.

TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
I liked the comments of Mr Lake up until the lukas part. very best wishes for you and your family Scott!
Bob More than 1 year ago
With all of the hype that has surrounded needle men like Richie Dutrow and now the Steve Asmussen/Scott Blasi duo, the ones like Scott Lake have had the good sense to back off and lay low....notice what it does for the win percentage?
Bill Ware More than 1 year ago
The "Saucemaster General" himself! How in God's name can you blow thru the MILLIONS OF $ in purses and have to go bankrupt? Sure.... Blame it on your "accountant"! Just Cannot feel sorry for guys like this..... Who give the sport a BLACK EYE!
Richard Kennedy More than 1 year ago
Always have to WATCH the Accountants. The great Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton lost millions to his "Brother-In-Law accountant."
wolfgirl1 More than 1 year ago
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Congrats to Mr. Lake on his milestone. Try to ignore the haters posting here. I admire his desire to scale back and spend more time with his children while they're growing up, and confine his operations to two tracks. Best wishes for continued success.
Andy Adinolfi More than 1 year ago
Scott Lake got Spooky Mulder, and perhaps countless others for all I know, off the track and into a soft post-racing landing spot. As far as I'm concerned, that's a greater accomplishment than all of his 4,130 wins...
Bill Kaup More than 1 year ago
flash gordon More than 1 year ago
Mulder was as tough a sprinter as the come
flash gordon More than 1 year ago
I remember when Lake and Dutrow were king at aqueduct. Bet on any of those two guarantee to cash a ticket.How I miss the good old days.
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
lake never did well at aqueduct
Philip Conforti More than 1 year ago
Typical hater. Hates everything about this crooked sport but at the Otb every weekend talkin to anyone who will listen how everyone cheats and he knows for sure but still bets every race . Get a life !
Raycing W More than 1 year ago
Just keep on drinking the kool-aid while racing dies. Btw, don't be ignorant in life, he has been busted numerous times for clen overages.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
dude, racing will never die. I can bet a race in Zimbabwe for crying out loud right from my bedroom in Pa.
Raycing W More than 1 year ago
Scott is proof that the liberal use of clenbuterol and pain killers can win MANY races. I find articles like this hard to read. It reminds me so much of all the years that Lance Armstrong was glorified. Only difference is everyone in the game knows how Scott won his races (he will even tell you how much he loves clenbuterol). http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/22/us/at-the-track-racing-economics-collide-with-veterinarians-oath.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 DRF should do articles on the good guys in racing, they just don't have the impressive statistics that a "good" trainer like Lake has.
georget More than 1 year ago
"cited seven times in four states for overages of clenbuterol"
kmunster2003 More than 1 year ago
This is a typical Jerardi article. He praises these "super" trainers such as Lake, Kreiser and Kevin Patterson(43% percent win record out of nowhere). The mid-atlantic states such as Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland are where these "trainers' end up because of lax medication testing. I totally agree with you on Clembuterol because he was praising it on TVG one or two years ago when interviewed . He uses it for a steroid effect on building muscle mass. I just told a friend last week Lake is winning again unlike the last 2 or 3 years.Watch him he is not a throw out anymore I was at the Penn National Mile and saw Jerardi there in the paddock talking to Penn National bigwigs and I was going to say something to him about his ridiculous articles praising "super trainers" but i didnt want to spoil the mood of a nice day. Take care > Kevin M.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
80 Horses is scaling back. I dunno no. Seems he should be age 65. looks 35, how old is he? well looking and seeing Scott around a few times, he don't look like the type to let a wimpy accountant take him down. Tell you what he's proof these guys can get rich in the game.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
49 I missed that. he works out a lot.