Day At The Track

Local hopefuls seek $475,000 Adios Orchids

04:10 AM 20 Jul 2019 NZST
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The Delvin Miller Adios Pace For The Orchids at The Meadows
The Delvin Miller Adios Pace For The Orchids at The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, July 19, 2019 -- With its rich purse and tradition, the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows usually attracts a mix of top national performers and emerging local harness racing hopefuls. Such is the case with the 53rd edition of the Adios this year. The 26-horse field loaded with prominent talent includes two locally connected contenders, Wild Wild Western and Volley Ball Beach, each trained by The Meadows-based Norm Parker.

"I've been pretty lucky over the years to come up with horses for the Adios," Parker says. "We're here, it's our home track, and it's nice to take the shot."

The $475,000 Adios kicks off Saturday at The Meadows with three $25,000 eliminations (races 7, 8, 10); the top three finishers in each elim return for the final. The card, which begins at 1:05 PM, also features a pair of stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers.

The $400,000 final anchors a July 27 program that includes a total of six Grand Circuit stakes as well as a $50,000 Invitational Pace. Foiled Again, who retired as the richest Standardbred all time with more than $7.6 million in earnings, will lead the post parades for the Adios and the Invitational, which has been named in his honor. First post Adios Day is 11:25 AM, with the Adios final scheduled as race 15.

Locally based horses long have made noise in the Adios, but it wasn't until 1986 that one of them, Barberry Spur, captured the orchids. Team Spur -- including owner Roy Davis and trainer/driver Dick Stillings -- campaigned Barberry Spur. The late Davis' business, Royal Travel, was headquartered just off the main entrance to The Meadows, so Barberry Spur couldn't have been much more local.

When Pine Valley won the 2001 Adios for The Meadows-based trainer David Knight, his ownership group included western Pennsylvanians Daniel Miller and Charles Gajda. And the Burkes of nearby Fredericktown have won a pair of Adios titles -- in 2007 with May June Character when family patriarch Mickey Burke headed the operation, and last year's event, won by Dorsoduro Hanover for Mickey's son Ron, harness racing's perennial leading conditioner.

Parker has started four horses in the Adios before this year, with mixed success. In 2013, Mattamerican failed to reach the final but took the consolation; he continues to perform in fast classes today. In 2015, Angelo J. Fra reached the final but broke stride there and finished ninth.

On paper, the Adios elims look wide open, and Parker considers his horses live.

"There are a lot of competitive colts in here -- that's why we got 26 of them," Parker says. "I know neither one of my horses is the best, but they're competitive with the others. They could make it interesting."

Unraced at 2, Wild Wild Western (race 7, post 6, Mike Wilder) has earned more than $112,000 this year, third best in his elimination. Jacobs Creek Racing, Andrew Altobelli and John Deters purchased the son of Western Ideal-Caila Fra for $55,000 as a yearling. Deters, by the way, is no stranger to big races. He was part of the ownership group for Numeric Hanover when she won the 2003 Jugette.

Wild Wild Western winning a March 15 late closer series leg at The Meadows

Wild Wild Western took a Pennsylvania Sires Stake leg this year; in another, he was second to the speedy Southwind Ozzi, the morning line favorite in the third Adios elim.

"He has good gate speed, but gate speed is relevant to who else is in the race," Parker says. "He's calm and well mannered. I'm looking forward to racing him for years to come. You know how hard nice horses are to come by."

Bred and owned by Bob Key, Volley Ball Beach (race 8, post 8, Tony Hall), has blistering speed, which Parker calls "the best and worst attribute at the same time" for the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Alladorable (a full sister to Mattamerican).

"When you move with him," Parker says, "he wants to go 1,000 miles per hour the rest of the way -- even if a horse is covering him up. We've made a lot of equipment changes to try to get him to respect the way we want him to race. Our job is to get him to use his speed at the right time."

While Parker is confident his colts can go with their opponents, he's more worried about a more traditional foe -- the weather. With forecasts calling for a 100+ heat index for the next few days, Parker has trained his horses earlier in the morning, reduced their workload and increased their fluid intake.

By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association


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