PARKER GETTING CLOSER TO 11,000 WINS; NEEDS JUST 13 MORE
In an outstanding career that began in the late 1960’s Billy “Zeke” Parker, Jr. is approaching a milestone that only six others in the history of the sport have met …and passed.
After two more driving victories at Monticello Raceway on Thursday June 27th Parker now has 10,987 career wins—seventh best all time-- and he needs just 13 more to reach an incredible milestone.
What makes his reaching 11,000 career wins so much more special is that he did it by driving at just one track daily and not like today’s catch-drivers (there’s got to be a better phrase) who drive at two tracks nearly every day of the year.
Parker’s first winner on Thursday came behind a Gary Messenger trained trotter Sin To Win ($4.30) in a 1:59.2 clocking. His other was with the Sam Fava –trained pacer Western Mac ($13.60) in 1:57.4.
Now with 109 winners thus far in 2013 Parker is way behind his norm in races won this season.
“I believe I’m driving as good as I always have,” Parker admitted , “ but I’m just not getting the amount of live drives as I used to in the past. “
Still Zeke has nothing to be ashamed of, and of course he isn’t, but he’s used to being the king of the hill.
He has won driving titles at every racetrack he competed at on a regular basis. Born and raised in the Pine Tree State he was tops at Scarborough Downs, Lewiston Raceway and Foxboro Raceway prior to coming to Monticello in 1984. Here he’s won 18 driving titles.
“I just had my 2000th win before I came here,” Parker recalled.
For two years –around the turn of the century he I raced regularly at Yonkers Raceway and was leading driver there, too. But over 8500 of his winners have come here at Monticello.”
Asked why he discontinued racing at Yonkers , Parker explained that his life was in crisis his during that period.
“My wife TJ had cancer and she was slowly, and painfully dying,” Parker said as tears began to fill his eyes. “I had to be with her as much as possible. She was my rock and when I lost her my life was in turmoil.
“We had two young boys and when she (TJ) died they had no mother. It was hard and I couldn’t be running up and down the highway (to Yonkers) so I stayed put here at Monticello.”
Although the industry has been recording driving victories with relative accuracy since the 1950’s, it wasn’t so for training wins.
In 1977, with the assistance of computers, the USTA began registering driver and trainer wins on its Driver/Trainer Performance Report.
Not to overuse a cliché , ‘in the old days’ horsemen were both drivers and trainers and Parker certainly fit that bill. In fact he still trains a small stable of horses, but not nearly as many as he did prior to the turn of the 21st Century.
To accompany his 10,987 driving wins he has recorded 1223 training victories.
Bruce Aldrich Jr. a four time driving champ and current leader at the Mighty M, admittedly used to idolize Parker when he was a youngster growing up in Battleboro Vermont, just a stones’ throw from the old Hinsdale (N.H) Raceway where he began his career.
“Zeke is an outstanding driver and he could get more out of a horse than almost anybody,” Aldrich said.
“When I was kid and growing up in New England , I idolized him. He not only was a leading driver, he was also a top trainer, and in his early days he always had a big stable.
“He‘s been racing horses for parts of five decades and he has always been a complete horseman.”