by Claire Novak
Jockey Anthony Black earned his 5,000th career victory when he piloted the Robert Seeger-trained Actcentric to a 12-length victory in the fifth race at Philadelphia Park May 1.
Black has been a regular at the Bensalem Township, Pa., racetrack since it opened under the name of Keystone Race Track in 1974.
"I have so many people to thank," the 54-year-old jockey said during a winner's circle presentation, in which he was presented with a commemorative Rolex watch. "There are so many components to winning 5,000 races. I want to thank the horsemen and the guys who take care of these animals. Philadelphia Park has a special place in my heart."
A former high school wrestling champion, Black won his first race June 15, 1970, aboard 52-1 longshot Stand By Me at Liberty Bell Park, once located several miles from Philly Park. He went on to become a leading rider on the Mid-Atlantic circuit with riding titles at Philly Park and racetracks in nearby southern New Jersey.
His 5,000th winner wasn't a longshot; Actcentric paid $3.40 as the heavy favorite.
Black has amassed 98 stakes victories (15 of them graded) during his 36 year riding career, the highlight of which was riding the Gene Euster-trained filly My Juliet to victory over Bold Forbes in the 1976 Vosburgh Handicap at Aqueduct. Black also won the Pennsylvania Derby with Devil's Honor in 1996 and rode in three Triple Crown races--the 1973 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and the 1981 and 1996 editions of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Currently eighth in the Philly Park jockeys' standings, Black has a 26-13-19 record from 116 starts since Jan. 1. He is the 20th jockey in North American Thoroughbred racing history to hit the 5,000-win mark; according to Equibase, only four active riders have more victories. Russell Baze (9,310), Earlie Fires (6,366), Mario Pino (5,671), and Edgar Prado (5,593) top the current standings, while former jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. is the all-time leader with 9,530 wins.