Lexington, KY — Sunday afternoon’s (May 29) $100,000 Commodore Barry Invitational Pace at Harrah’s Philadelphia is stacked with horses that have been winners their entire careers, none more so than Wild Wild Western, who brings a six-race win streak in the top-class event at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows into the contest. Wild Wild Western will start from post five with Mike Wilder driving for trainer Norm Parker.
It was that last victory at The Meadows on May 14 that led to Parker pondering a possible start in the Commodore Barry. Wild Wild Western was parked four wide through the first eighth and then parked to the :25.4 quarter before securing the lead. He then held on to win the $16,000 event by a half-length in 1:50.
“After our last race I started thinking I wasn’t going to be able to get a race at home and thought it’d be nice if we could get in a race like that,” said Parker, whose stable is based at The Meadows. “Luckily enough they considered him.”
Wild Wild Western posted seven wins and five seconds in his last dozen starts in 2021, returning to the track this year in late February. With regular driver Mike Wilder wintering in Florida, Parker turned to Brady Brown to direct the 6-year-old son of Western Ideal, and after finishing third and fourth in photo finishes his first two starts, Wild Wild Western won his third time out, the first of his current six-race streak into the winner’s circle.
“The first time we raced him off the pace and he got beat three-quarters of a length, and in the second start I thought he was going to win and he got carried out in the stretch and got beat a neck in fourth,” said Parker. “Brady drove him while Mike was in Florida and did a nice job with him. Mike drove him the majority of his starts and went around the country with me. He knows the horse like he would train him himself.”
Purchased as a yearling for $55,000 by owners Jacobs Creek Racing (Jeff Weaver), Andrew Altobelli and John Deters, Wild Wild Western brings a bankroll of $446,885 into the Commodore Barry. Unraced at two, Wild Wild Western has gone on to win 28 of 78 starts, missing only two checks his entire career.
“I can’t say that he’s ever gone a bad race for me,” said Parker. “He’s been a wonderful horse for us, that’s for sure.
“When we bought him we were hoping we’d get him for $30,000 or $40,000. He was such a good-looking animal and I kind of figured we might not, that’s how we got John (Deters) involved. Jeff Weaver was planning on buying him for around $30,000 and I said ‘Jeff, we’re not going to get him for $30,000.’ He started recruiting partners and that’s how he got John and (Andrew) Altobelli.”
Parker said although Wild Wild Western has been consistent his entire career, he believes it was last August when things really began to blossom.
“He was always good and it seemed like he finally matured a little bit and finished off the miles, where in the past he hadn’t,” said Parker. “It seems like it clicked for him. He turned the corner and got better.”
In addition to racing, Wild Wild Western was also bred to three mares this spring, getting all three in foal. Pennsylvania has rules in place that require a waiver to ship to racetracks away from where the horse is stabled, although Parker admits he was unsure if that included racing at other tracks in the state.
“Pennsylvania has a rule you have to have a waiver to leave the place you’re at, so I had to get permission to go to Philadelphia to race,” explained Parker. “I train him at The Meadows and shipped to Linwood Farm to breed, which they consider one and the same. I probably didn’t have to ask, but I followed the rules. July 4 is when the breeding season ends and then you can go wherever. So we can take him for other races later in the year.”
Other horses in the Commodore Barry field include defending champion Nicholas Beach, who will start from post two for driver Joe Bongiorno and trainer Jenn Bongiorno. The 6-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding comes into the race off a 1:47 victory on May 21 at The Meadowlands, the fastest mile paced thus far in 2022 in North America.
The 2019 Little Brown Jug champion Southwind Ozzi brings a four-race win streak into the Commodore Barry. The 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere will start from post six for driver David Miller and trainer Bill MacKenzie.
Ignatius A, who won last time out over a “sloppy” track on May 14 at The Meadowlands in 1:48.3, will start from post eight for driver Andrew McCarthy and trainer Noel Daley. The 8-year-old son of Roll With Joe has four wins in six starts this year since shipping from Down Under to Daley’s barn.
Workin Ona Mystery, whose 1:48.1 score on May 7 at The Meadowlands is tied as the fourth fastest mile this year, will start from post one with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Ron Burke.
“My horse has a certain racing style but he’s capable of doing whatever, and I hope he steps up and can go with these,” concluded Parker.
The Commodore Barry is part of a star-studded card at Harrah’s Philadelphia that also includes the $100,000 Maxie Lee Invitational Trot, which features two past Dan Patch Award winners in Amigo Volo and When Dovescry, and the $100,000 Betsy Ross Mare Invitational Pace, with Dan Patch Award-winning pacer Lyons Sentinel making her 5-year-old debut.
Action begins at 12:40 p.m. (EDT) at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The Commodore Barry is race 13 on the 15-race card, preceded by the Betsy Ross and Maxie Lee. For complete Sunday entries, click here. Free program pages will be available at the PHHA website.