Graded winners Page McKenney, Dark Nile top Parx stakes
by Frank Vespe
Graded stakes winners top a pair of Pennsylvania-bred stakes Saturday at Parx Racing, among the first stakes of the year in Bensalem.
In the featured eighth race, the $100,000 Lyman Stakes for three-year-olds and up, Page McKenney, a seven-year-old Eavesdropper gelding, is the 5-2 favorite in the field of 12. The Mary Eppler trainee, based at Pimlico Race Course, will have regular pilot Horacio Karamanos up in the seven-furlong test.
Page McKenney won the 2016 Grade 3 General George for the top win of his career. That victory came in the midst of a streak in which he won four straight, finishing with his head-bobber in the General George, and then ran a game second in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic.
But Page McKenney, who suffered minor issues following the race at Charles Town, has made just two starts since that April race, winning the Native Dancer at Laurel Park in January before running second in the John B. Campbell at the same track. The winner of the Campbell, Bodhisattva, recently ran fourth at monster odds in this year’s Charles Town Classic. For his career, Page McKenney has 17 wins, and the winner’s share here would push him past $1.5 million in earnings.
His top rivals here look to include Someday Jones (7-2), trained by John Servis, and John Salzman, Jr. trainee Tale of E Dubai (4-1). The former, a Smarty Jones colt, has won five of eight in his career, all but one over the Parx strip. Someday Jones enters off an allowance win and will have regular pilot Jorge Vargas, Jr. up. The latter has been first or second in three consecutive allowance races and will carry Edgar Prado.
Also signed up Moe Trouble, part of an entry conditioned by Mario Serey, Jr. Moe Trouble (8-1), who’ll have Hector Caballero up, has won three of five, including two straight easy scores. Serey recently was suspended for clenbuterol positives; his suspension will begin May 1 and continue through August 13.
One race earlier, the $100,000 Foxy J. G. will be contested at the same distance for fillies and mares three and up.
Dark Nile, an Arnaud Delacour trainee who won last year’s Grade 3 Delaware Oaks, is the 2-1 favorite in what is scheduled to be her four-year-old season debut. Dark Nile won four of her first five starts, including a pair of stakes, before running up the track in last summer’s Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga, a race won by the great Songbird. Dark Nile will have Joe Bravo in the irons.
A pair of veteran mares are among her main rivals. Disco Chick (3-1), another Mario Serey runner, has earned nearly $700,000 in her career and enters having placed — though not won — in sex consecutive stakes. The six-year-old will have Caballero in the irons. Five-year-old Rowd E Allie, trained by Kelly Breen, enters having won four of five, most recently an allowance test at Laurel Park. The only blemish in that skein was an eighth-place finish in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie. Luis Ocasio will ride.
Also in the field is Jonathan Sheppard trainee Rose Tree (8-1). The three-year-old Harlan’s Holiday filly won her first two starts impressively, taking a maiden race by nine lengths and the Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies, at Penn National, by nearly four. She hasn’t raced since November but enters here off a bullet work at Delaware Park and will have Andrew Wolfsont up.