The highlight of thoroughbred racing in Pennsylvania, betPARX Pennsylvania Derby & Cotillion Day at Parx Race Track, draws top trainers, horses, and jockeys from across the country, but local trainers like Uriah St. Lewis, “Butch” Reid, Lupe Preciado, and John Servis also compete for the rich prizes. Held on Saturday, September 24th 2022, the card consists of 10 stakes, 5 graded including two Grade 1 races, the $1 million PA Derby and the $1 million Cotillion Stakes. Gates open at 11:00 A.M., and post time is 12:05 P.M. and includes free family fun in the picnic area, live entertainment, a racing simulator courtesy of the PHRA, and a hat giveaway while supplies last.

Known for his long shot wins, Uriah St. Lewis isn’t afraid to take chances or to lose races. His unorthodox strategy has gotten him a win in the 2018 Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, a trip to the 2018 Breeders’ Cup, and a win in this year’s Grade111 Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park. This year St. Lewis entered seven horses on PA Derby Day including several 2 year old maidens in the maiden special weight races, War Tocsin in the Grade 111 Turf Monster Stakes, and Forewarned in the Grade 111 Greenwood Cup Stakes.

“I came here from Trinidad when I was 15 and got interested in horses when I was in high school. I was a fan and used to go to Aqueduct and bet on the horses, and after I graduated I worked at NYRA as a computer technician for AmTote. My wife encouraged me to try training, so I went to Oklahoma to work for a trainer and learn the business. I trained in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Illinois, and Santa Fe. I’ve been all over,” explained St. Lewis. Uriah settled at Philadelphia Park in 1987 and has been there ever since. He has 25 horses in his barn now and a few at a farm, and his biggest success came in 2018 when his horse Discreet Lover won the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at 45-1 and earned a trip to The Breeders’ Cup. “I breed one or two to Discreet Lover who stands at stud in Indiana at R Star Stallions in Anderson, IN. It’s expensive to breed, and I own my own horses, so I’m in the business to make money. Feed and everything else is very expensive now and my strategy works for me. I take chances others don’t want to take, and I answer to nobody but myself.”

This year, St Lewis scored an upset victory at 14-1 with Informative in the Grade 111 Iselin Stakes which includes money toward an entry fee in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. “I’ll probably go again, but we’ll discuss it as a family. We are a family business, my wife, Amanda, and my kids all help. Everybody participates. We’ll sit down around the dining room table and talk things over and decide what our strategy will be,” explained St. Lewis.

War Tocsin, entered in The Turf Monster Stakes is a multiple graded stakes placed horse that ran against top horses this year including Jackie’s Warrior, and he faces tough rivals on the turf this Saturday. Forewarned, a graded stakes placed winner, entered in the 11/2 mile Greenwood Cup Stakes was an upset winner last December at Aqueduct, and this April won the Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct. Both horses face stiff competition.

St. Lewis only has 9 wins so far this year, but earnings of over $900,000.”We work hard every day. It’s hard work taking care of the horses, and we don’t leave work until it’s done. I see lots of trainers win races for small purses, and they can’t pay their bills. I do things my way, and I take chances others don’t want to take. It doesn’t cost much to nominate, and if a field comes up light, then I run.”

Very few trainers make it to The Breeders’ Cup or to the winner’s circle of a Grade 1 race, but Uriah has experienced both. Another trip and chance at the Breeders’ Cup is on the agenda, and St. Lewis may surprise with an upset at betPARX Pennsylvania Derby & Cotillion Day. Never count him out.

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