Park Heights starts Serpe's double Trainer posts his 500th victory in Saratoga's Forego Handicap

August 16, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Within 10 minutes, New Jersey-based trainer Phil Serpe won stakes yesterday on two fronts and reached a career milestone.

His wife Tina represented him at Pimlico Race Course, where the Serpe-trained See Yu In Court under Joe Rocco out-sprinted a large field of fillies and mares and won the $50,000 Park Heights Handicap in near record time at five furlongs on the turf.

A few minutes later, she watched on TV as her 34-year-old husband saddled his 500th career winner. The 17-hand Birdonthewire wore down De Francis Dash runner-up Lion Cavern and then out-fought Harlan for a victory in the $100,000-added Forego Handicap at Saratoga.

Bowie-based Flaming Emperor and his local jockey, Larry Reynolds, were outrun in the Forego and finished seventh.

Still carrying a bucket and a sponge that she had used to wipe the sweat off See Yu In Court after the race, Serpe seemed like she hugged everyone in sight to celebrate the outfit's "great day."

She said she knew it was going to be a lucky day after she talked her way out of a speeding ticket driving to Pimlico from the Serpes' Monmouth Park stable headquarters.

Though they compete on the New Jersey-Florida circuit, Phil Serpe occasionally sends runners to Maryland. He won the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico last year with Captive Miss and was second with her this spring in the Gallorette Handicap.

The Park Heights also-rans had their share of traffic problems. Trainer Jimmy Murphy said that runner-up Bezelle got in "a little trouble on the turn." Her rapid late rally fell 1 1/2 lengths short of catching front-runner See Yu In Court.

Then trainer Kevin Cremins, apparently by mistake, accused jockey Larry Saumell on Kinetigal of running up on the heels of his entry, Cassandra, which resulted in a shouting match between the men at the jockey scales after the race.

The Park Heights has been a particularly useful spot for some fast grass fillies from New Jersey.

Three of the past four winners -- Klassy Briefcase, Besmirk and See Yu In Court -- have been Monmouth Park shippers.

Owner Albert Vermeire, a tile contractor from Piscataway, N.J. purchased the winner for $24,000 as a 2-year-old at the Florida sales.

Tina Serpe said See Yu In Court had previously equaled track marks for five furlongs at Garden State and Monmouth Parks.

Her time of 57 1/5 seconds yesterday was four-fifths of a second off the Pimlico record set two years ago by My Frenchman.

Notes

Favored No Fat Chicks was a late scratch from the seventh race because she was wearing raised toe grabs on her front shoes. Paddock horseshoer Phil Thommen tried to rasp them down, but couldn't get them finished by post time. Horses are only allowed to wear flat shoes on the grass to save wear and tear on the turf course. Melee Melee, the third-place finisher in the race, wore no shoes. . . . Maryland has a new stallion. Country Life Farm has purchased a son of Seattle Slew named Compelling Sound. The horse is a graded stakes winner and once beat Best Pal in the Silver Screen Handicap at Hollywood Park. . . . Two Maryland amateur riders, Christy Clagett of Harwood and Robin McCue of Ellicott City, competed Saturday night in an amateur flat race at the Birmingham Turf Club in Alabama. The track ran a mixture of 25 live horse and dog races. . . . Rocco Belmonte, 35-year-old former assistant to trainer Sonny Hine, was recently awarded a bonus check for saddling the highest win percentage (33 percent) during the Pimlico spring meet. Belmonte won with five of 15 starters. Belmonte trains principally for owner Frank Weiss. . . . Pimlico/Laurel operator Joe De Francis and Lenny Hale, vice president of racing, have been at Saratoga the past few days attending meetings of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations and the Triple Crown tracks.

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