09/02/2014 10:22AM

Jerardi: Reid returns to training with new perspective

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Ben's Cat (left, white cap) finishes a narrow second to Sharp Sensation (orange cap) in Monday's Turf Monster at Parx.

When Mark Reid saddled his last horse in 2000, he had accumulated 1,674 wins in a career that began when he worked under Dickie Dutrow in Maryland not long after graduating from the University of Maryland in the early 1970s. Reid’s best year was 1992, when he won 216 races. He had the multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter Mr. Nickerson while training mostly out of Garden State Park and Philadelphia Park, with successful forays into New York and more than a few summers at Saratoga.

He gave up the game for a time, but the track lured him back. His second career was buying horses for well-heeled clients and turning them over to Bobby Frankel. Medaglia d’Oro and You were among the most successful in that venture. Reid was the stable manager for Bill Warren when Saint Liam became the 2005 Horse of the Year. He parlayed some of that money into the purchase of Walnut Green sales company.

Now, Reid is back at the track with a few 2-year-olds, getting them ready to race.


“Long nights of foaling and raising horses, and I got a little tired of watching grass grow,” Reid said. “I came up on the racetrack, and I missed it. It’s that simple.”

Reid is downsizing Walnut Green and training some horses for old friends.

“I got a half a dozen here now,” Reid said. “I’m going to build it up a little bit, maybe have 15 or 20 when I’m done. It’s a little different now. I’ll work for people that are friends of mine. I’m looking to win and do well, but I’m also looking to have a little more enjoyment. I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I should have the first time.”

Being around training wizards like the late Frankel and the brothers Dutrow (Tony and Rick) has given Reid a different perspective.

“That’s really going to help this time around,” Reid said.

Given his last decade in the game, there really is no aspect of it Reid does not know.

“I can offer a full array for the guys that want to breed and race with us,” Reid said.

Reid lives on a farm in Chester County, Pa., not far from Delaware Park and Fair Hill, where he plans to take the horses after Delaware Park’s stable area closes at the end of the year. The new/old trainer said it will be a few weeks before he sends out his first starter in 14 1/2 years.

Spectacular September at Parx

“Spectacular September” is what they are calling this month at Parx Racing. It got off to a $1 million start with four stakes on Labor Day and will continue the next two Saturdays with stakes of local significance before culminating Sept. 20, when Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome and Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable are scheduled to run in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby and $1 million Cotillion.

Owner Joe Besecker, chronicled in this space earlier in the summer, was so certain that he had the biggest win of his career in Monday’s $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes that he started running with his horse Classic Giacnroll in the final yards. Besecker was 20 yards up the stretch from the finish. His horse had taken a clear lead in the final 100 yards and really looked like the winner – until Protonico passed both Besecker and his horse in the final yards to win by a half-length.

“I’ve never been so sure I was going to win a race and not win,” said Besecker.

Ben’s Cat just short

When Ben’s Cat comes to Parx, he always fires. Prior to Monday, the Maryland legend had raced at Parx seven times, with five wins, a second, and a third, all in five-furlong grass stakes. Ben’s Cat won the Turf Monster in 2011 and 2012 before finishing third last year.

Ben’s Cat beat all the horses he had to beat in this year’s $300,000 Turf Monster, running by them in the stretch. The problem was that 16-1 Sharp Sensation, with just four lifetime wins to Ben’s Cat’s 27 and zero grass wins to Ben’s Cat’s 17, had opened up a big lead in the stretch. Ben’s Cat, as always, came with his run but fell a neck short, a rare photo-finish loss for a horse who specializes in the frantic winning finish.