11/09/2017 5:57PM

Trainer Serpe reaches 1,000-career-wins milestone

NYRA photo
Phil Serpe, who notched his 1,000th training win Thursday at Aqueduct, has been training since 1984.

Phil Serpe sent out his 1,000th winner as a trainer Thursday at Aqueduct when he won the ninth race with Wingman under jockey Junior Alvarado.

The win was the second in two days at Aqueduct for Serpe and owners Chester and Mary Broman. Serpe won the fifth race Wednesday for the Bromans with Land Mine.

Serpe, 58, has been training since 1984. A native of Montclair, N.J., he worked with saddle horses as a youngster and went to work as a groom at the Meadowlands in 1976.

He cut his teeth as a trainer at Monmouth Park, where he led the standings in 1988, before transitioning to the New York tracks in the early 1990's.
Serpe has 158 career wins at Monmouth and 188 at the Meadowlands. He has won 184 races at Belmont, 98 at Saratoga, and his Thursday win was his 96th at Aqueduct. Serpe winters in Florida and has 101 wins at Gulfstream Park. He has smaller win totals at other tracks.

Serpe had a large stable in his younger days, but Thursday's win was his 17th of the year and he has not had a 20-win season since 2012.

"I'm humbled and happy this happened," Serpe said. "In 1993, I got my 500th win and had already won two Grade 1's. I was a young guy and we were rolling. I thought, 'This is going to be easy.' And it took me 24 years to get the next 500."

Serpe went on to say, "There are a lot of ups and downs in this game." He mentioned the death of his owner and friend Carl Lizza in 2011, and then how this year the Bromans gave him the opportunity to train some of their horses.

"We lost Mr. Lizza a few years ago, and it was awful," Serpe said. "And then this year, Mr. Broman came along and gave me a big opportunity. I appreciate all of my owners and what they have done for me."

Serpe has won 13 graded stakes. His first Grade 1 came with Captive Miss, who won the 1992 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland. The following year, Serpe won the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont with Birdonthewire.

Birdonthewire and Weekend Hideaway, who is still in training, have been Serpe's best horses, but there are a number of others he fondly remembers.
Serpe recalled Klassy Briefcase, a female turf sprinter he trained who was very popular with the fans in New Jersey. She set a world record and won 18 of 42 starts over four seasons.

"I remember the little guys, too," Serpe said. "I had a 10 claimer named Ensign Benson, who tried so hard every race. He was special.

"There was a horse named Royal Ninja. I feel like I spent half my life with him. I trained him from the time he was 3 until he was 10."

Birdonthewire had three different trainers before he came to Serpe as a 4-year-old in 1993.  He won five races with Birdonthewire that year, including consecutive victories in the Grade 2 Tom Fool at Belmont, the Grade 2 Forego at Saratoga, and the Vosburgh.

Weekend Hideaway, 7, is 12 for 43 in his career with earnings of more than $1 million. The eight-time stakes winner has raced for Serpe since he was 2.
Serpe has a career win average of 13 percent and stable earnings of more than $28.7 million.