Jamie Ness has been one of the winningest and most consistent trainers in the country for more than a decade, and on Tuesday at Parx Racing he went 2 for 2 to reach the 3,000-win plateau.
Ness runs a blue-collar stable. When he comes up with the occasional stakes horse, it’s usually one who has improved under his care to reach that level. On Tuesday, he won the fourth race at Parx, a conditioned $7,500 claiming race, with Make the Rules ($8.60). He came back to score his milestone win two races later with Late Breaking News ($5.20) in a conditioned $25,000 claimer. Jockey Navin Mangalee was aboard.
When reached after Late Breaking News’s victory, Ness was excited about his 3,000th. It hasn’t been an easy road, and he’s had to make his own way since he won his first race with Blue Rocket at Canterbury Park on Aug. 21, 1999.
“When I was starting out, I lost my first 40 races and I said ‘this is hard.’ And it is, it’s hard to win a race,” Ness said. “That makes 3,000 special. It’s been a grind. I’ve been all over the country. Canterbury, Turf Paradise, up and down the East Coast, Florida, Beulah Park in the winter, living in all these hotels.
“But I love it. I’m a junkie. I wasn’t at Parx today because I had to pick up my kids from school, and after I got them, I was thinking if I could make it to Parx in time for the race, but I couldn’t.”
Ness may have started out slow but he quickly picked up speed. In 2009, he was the fourth winningest trainer in North America. With the powerful Midwest Thoroughbreds supplying him with horses, he finished second in 2010 and 2011 before sending out 395 winners in 2012 to top the standings.
Ness, 46, won nine consecutive Tampa Bay training titles from 2007 to 2015. He began spending his summers at Delaware Park in 2010 and since 2012 has won seven training titles there, including the last five. He scored his 2,000th win with Caylee’s song at Laurel on Nov. 28, 2013.
“We don’t have the big Midwest Thoroughbreds numbers any more but the stable is pretty strong now,” Ness said. “I have 32 at Parx, 30 at Laurel, and a lot of layoffs. This summer I’ll have my major string at Delaware and cut the numbers back at Parx and Laurel.
“Delaware works out well because my farm is in northern Maryland and it’s easy to get to.”
Through Tuesday, Ness had started 12,285 horses in his career, winning at a 24 percent clip while earning purses of more than $50.6 million.
“It’s been a great run,” he said. “This is a team thing and we’re not going to be stopping anytime soon. This is what we like to do. I’m going to claim one in the next race at Parx.”
Sure enough, in race 8 Ness took These Blues for $8,000 on behalf of Jagger Inc., the stable he operates with some partners. The path to 4,000 had begun.
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