08/18/2009 11:00PM

Philly Park riders join Thistledown colony


With Philadelphia Park taking its annual summer break, two of its leading riders, Rod Madrigal Jr. and Frankie Pennington, are competing at Thistledown.

Madrigal rode here for many years before leaving for Philadelphia. His father, Rod Madrigal Sr., rode here for almost 20 years before becoming a trainer. He is currently in pursuit of his 1,000 training victory and had 993 winners through Tuesday's card. The father-son combination teamed up for a winner Monday.

Pennington is the stepson of top Thistledown trainer Rodney Faulkner. He began his riding career here and after winning several races moved on the Philadelphia. His mother, Peggy, owns horses along with her husband.

* It is not stretching the truth to say that jockey DeShawn Parker, who won his 3,000th career race Monday night at Mountaineer Park, literally grew up in racing. His father, Daryl Parker, is a steward at Pinnacle Race Course. But when DeShawn, 38, was born, Daryl Parker was working as a calltaker on the Daily Racing Form crew at Thistledown. There were many days when he baby-sat his son in the DRF room when DeShawn was just months old. Warming his bottle and changing his diapers was routine, and the whole DRF crew helped out.

Daryl Parker became the first African-American steward in history when he was named to the position at Thistledown in 1986. DeShawn Parker, who stands at 5 feet, 10 inches, finished second in the nation in wins in 2008 with 333, trailing only Russell Baze. He rides primarily at Mountaineer and has been on 186 winners so far this year.

* Thistledown's annual golf outing is set for Sept. 2 at Aurora Country Golf and Country Club. Entry fees are $55 per golfer and foursomes are due Aug. 24.

* Through 22 days of the 76-day meet, jockey Ernesto Oro and trainer Gerald Bennett are the leaders in their respective divisions. Oro has an 18-winner edge, 37-19, over David Cardoso, and Bennett is six winners in front of Jamie Ness, 15-9.

* First-year trainer Joe Kasmerski made a sharp claim when he put $4,000 in the box for Take Ahike Mike on May 27. He is unbeaten in four starts for Kasmerski.