Pork Chop Pete has connections on an upswing

Thoroughbred owners, trainers and breeders know the Sport of Kings often features peaks and valleys. Currently trainer Javier Contreras and owner-breeder O’Sullivan Farms are on the ascending side of the equation following a brief venture into the valley in February.

Contreras saddled Pork Chop Pete to a sharp career debut in a one-turn maiden special weight event for state-bred three-year-olds March 21 at Charles Town for the team’s latest triumph. Contreras has won with five of 22 starters in the last three racing weekends; only Tim Grams, Jeff Runco, and Anthony Farrior, all with six wins, have more in that timeframe.

Under jockey Juan Nunez, Pork Chop Pete, a Golden Years gelding, shook off early pressure then romped home 2 3/4 lengths clear in 52.26 for co-owners O’Sullivan Farms and Alex Kazdan, with the show horse nearly 10 lengths farther back. Later on the same card, Baytown Frosty prevailed as the solid favorite in a one-turn allowance for older runners in 52.85, underscoring the sharp effort of the Contreras debut winner.

“He had been training really good and I knew he was not going into that race short,” Contreras said. “I had entered him one other time before, but the track came up sloppy so I didn’t want to try him on that and risk him getting hurt. He broke really well the other night and he was being confidently ridden when that other horse came to him, so I wasn’t worried. He finished up great and he galloped out tremendously.”

John Funkhouser of O’Sullivan Farms pulled a couple of factors together to come up with the name for Pork Chop Pete. Funkhouser recalled that the employees at the farm always referred to the son of Golden Years as ‘pork chop’ because of the structure of his jaw.

He also discovered a synergy in the family of his breeding partner, Kazdan.

“From the time that he was a weanling, everyone at the barn referred to him as ‘pork chop’,” Funkhouser said of Pork Chop Pete. “When I spoke with my partner, Alex, about a possible name he told me that he had a nephew named Peter whose nickname was ‘pork chop,’ so we agreed the horse should be named Pork Chop Pete.”


Thus, a name was born. On March 21, perhaps, so, too was a star.

Pork Chop Pete
Pork Chop Pete won his career debut for trainer Javier Contreras and owners O’Sullivan Farms and Alex Kazdan. Photo by Coady Photography.

“He always had a lot of ability, but I’ve never believed in rushing the two-year-olds, so we gave him time to develop,” Funkhouser said of his promising three-year-old. “That was a really good debut.”

Contreras, who sports 12 wins from 73 starters this year through March 27 with earnings of over $260,000, has sent out Mama Marge and Runaway Beauty to allowance victories this year for O’Sullivan Farms.  He also owns a win with one of his homebreds, Margarita Sunset.

In his career, Contreras has recorded 893 winners with over $16.2 million in earnings. His roster is led by multiple graded stakes winner Late Night Pow Wow, who earned over $700,000 while winning two graded events.

“We’ve always believed in giving horses time off if they need it,” Funkhouser said. “And Javier is one of those trainers that agrees and he’s never going to push a horse early. We didn’t start a lot of two-year-olds last year and Pork Chop Pete is the perfect example of what can happen when you’re patient and give them time to mature. That was a very impressive effort. We had a really good start to the year, then we hit a rough patch and now the horses are doing well. That’s the nature of the game.”