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Year leaves Servis with a smile

November 19, 2006|by LARRY YANOS

Jason Servis found the grass is greener at The Meadowlands.

The former Charles Town, W.Va., native was the leading trainer at the recently concluded thoroughbred meet at the racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J.

The 49-year-old Servis sent 68 horses to the starting gate and posted 20 wins, 20 second-place finishes and 10 third-place finishes to claim the track's trainer title for the second straight year. Servis' horses earned $628,830 in purses, with a 29 percent win percentage while finishing in the money 74 percent of the time.

Trainer Patricia Farro finished second with 11 victories, followed by conditioners James Ryerson and Gregory Sacco with 10 wins each.

"I had a great meet, things went very well," said Servis, the son of veteran West Virginia racing official Joe Servis. "The only downside was it was very demanding. I saddled eight horses one night, seven another. I was very active."

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Servis plans "to slow the pace" this winter while still maintaining the winning ways.

He will stable most of his horses at Belmont Park and race at the Aqueduct during the winter session.

This has, indeed, been a good year for Servis.

It started with Servis ranking among the leading trainers at the Monmouth Park.

The highlight of the Meadowlands campaign came when Camacthemagnificent won Nov. 4's New Jersey Futurity. The colt earned $63,147 for owner Dennis Drazin.

"Between Monmouth Park and The Meadowlands, my horses earned over $1 million," Servis said. "I'm real happy with that."

He trained 36 horses this summer and fall but will take 30 to New York.

"I have a mixture of allowance and claiming horses, some stakes horses," Servis said.

Servis, a 1975 graduate of Jefferson High School, earned his jockey's license and has spent most of his horse racing career as a valet at Monmouth Park.

Servis rode at Monmouth Park in 1976 and then found a new position at the racetrack.

"They needed someone in the jocks' room. I took a job as a valet and was there until 2001," Servis said. "Then I decided to get my trainers license."

The trainer hopes to come "home" one of these days.

"I've run a few horses at Charles Town but haven't had any success," Servis said.

Fun while it lasted

Even though he have a winner, Maryland-based trainer Graham Motion enjoyed the Breeders' Cup Championship Day experience at Churchill Downs earlier this month.

Motion, who won his 1,000th career race last Thursday, sent two horses to the game at the fall racing festival and collected a pair os seconds.

Better Talk Now placed second behind Red Rocks in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf and Film Maker trailed Ouija Board in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

"(Better Talk Now) ran huge," Motion said. "He's so game this horse. Everyone had written him off. This is not a fluke. He's just that good. We finally got what we needed - we got pace, we got the distance. We got a great ride."

"He really tried hard," said Jockey Ramon Dominguez. "He won this race two years ago and, at the eighth-pole, the winner tried to run away from us and he picked it up again. He really wanted to win."

Motion was equally impressed with Film Maker's performance.

"Our filly ran a tremendous race but Ouija Board is one of the all-time greats," Motion said "That's three years in a row we've tried to beat her. I thought if ever we could beat her, it would be today. Edgar (Prado) gave her every chance, and if Oujia Board had been stopped anywhere, my filly could have won."

"She had a beautiful trip," said jockey Edgar Prado. "She broke well, saved ground on the first turn ... very comfortable. I thought I had a hell of a chance when the rail opened up. My filly was trying real hard to get there. The winner is just really nice."

Less than three weeks after the Breeders' Cup success, Motion got his 1,000th carer winner. It came at Laurel Park when Lucky Bachelor ($3.80) captured the eighth race.

Two races earlier, Motion got career winner 999 when Everyman ($5.20) reached the finish line first.

Motion won his first career race with Bounding Daisy at Laurel Park. He is now one of the elite trainers in the nation - routinely saddling horses in the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup races.

Fast company

Three of the top five finishers from the Breeders' Cup Sprint are among the 21 pre-entries for Saturday's 17th running of the Grade I $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park.

The Dash, one of only five Grade I 6-furlong sprints in the country, headlines the Fall Festival of Racing card of eight added-money races.

With more than $1 million in purses, it is the fourth most lucrative day on the Maryland racing calendar, behind the Preakness, Pimlico Special and Maryland Million events. Post time is 12:10 p.m.

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