Jason Servis didn’t take out his trainer’s licence until 2002 and this year, at the age of 61, he is enjoying the best year of his career. He has a single-year best 116 wins and there are still two months remaining in the season. He has 22 stakes wins this year. Servis has only started four horses in the Breeders’ Cup with Tightend Touchdown finishing second in the 2013 Turf Sprint.
This year, he has five entrants in the Breeders’ Cup including three in the Turf Sprint.
UNCLE BENNY (Juvenile Turf): Though his victory in the Futurity at Belmont Park earned him a fees-paid berth into the inaugural running of the Turf Sprint at 5 1-2 furlongs, Servis opted for the Turf at one mile.
“I don’t want to shorten him up,” Servis said. “The way he ran the other day, I don’t think a mile will be a problem for him.”
Servis was so enamored with this son of Declaration of War at auction, that he convinced owner Ara Aprahamian to $50,000 over budget to purchase the colt when the horse didn’t reach his reserve. Servis bought him privately from the consignor for $180,000.
“I put my neck out there,” Servis said.
RAINBOW HEIR (Turf Sprint): After wins in the Aqueduct Turf Sprint last November and the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint in December, he was bred to 40 mares with the intention of always being put back in training.
In his one start since, he finished third, beaten three-quarters of a length in the Grade 3 Turf Monster at Parx on September 3rd.
“If he had a little bit better trip he wins,” Servis said. “That race is going to help him a lot. What a great story that would be, a horse that is sent to be bred and then you win the Breeders’ Cup.”
VISION PERFECT (Turf Sprint): Servis and owner Rom Lombardi claimed this horse for $80,000 in the spring of 2017 and he’s made more than $250,000 since including a victory in the Grade 3 Parx Dash in July. He finished second, beaten a neck in the Turf Monster, finishing a half-length in front of Rainbow Heir.
Biggest concern may be that his one bad race this year came when he finished sixth in the Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs. Servis did note that he might have bounced off a career best effort in his previous start at Gulfstream Park.
“He was coming off a 105 Beyer Speed Figure,” Servis said. “I would not throw him out as far as him not liking that turf.”
WORLD OF TROUBLE (Turf Sprint): After running well on dirt, this son of Kantharos has really picked it up on turf with listed stakes wins over less than firm ground in Saratoga and Belmont. Servis fretted for weeks about whether this horse would make it into the field and when he did, he was ecstatic.
“I think he could be a special horse,” Servis said. “He’s going to put himself right there and it might be hard to catch him.”
Interesting to note that Irad Ortiz Jr. has elected to ride World of Trouble over Disco Partner, a horse on whom he’s won numerous races and who is the morning-line favorite for this race.
FIRENZE FIRE (Dirt Mile): This 3-year-old son of Poseidon’s Warrior has run distances from five furlongs to 1 1-4 miles, but he is 3 for 4 in one-turn mile races with graded stakes victories in the Grade 1 Champagne at 2, and the Grade 3 Dwyer at 3.
He was also pre-entered in the BC Sprint after his courageous win in the Grade 3 Gallant Bob at Parx where he was savaged by another horse in the stretch, but this race makes more sense for him.
The impressive thing about this colt was how well he’s run the second half of the year after chasing the Kentucky dream the first half. He ran four times before the Derby, finished 11th in the Derby, and has come back with three solid races since including a nine-length victory in the Dwyer.
“I think it’s a testament to him, I was dying to get him a little freshening right after the Derby, he got that freshening and he showed it in the Dwyer,” Servis said. “I didn’t think he’d run that or if he’d win, but I knew he’d run good. He’s a tough horse.”