ZEKE PARKER CLOSING IN ON 6TH PLACE ALL TIME IN WINS
Just a few weeks ago when Billy “Zeke” Parker, Jr. notched his 11,000th career victory there was nearly as much to-do about the blanket he was presented in the winner’s circle that stated his milestone as there was for his accomplishment.
In case you missed it, the blanket was to be stated “11000 wins-7th Best All Time. But, an error occurred when the maker of the blanket left off one zero making it read 1000,and a not-so-accurate quick fix was chastised by some when the saw the last zero was not the same size as the other three.
Trivial, you say. Why of course. Errors happen in life and that one was insignificant. What was import ant was that 11000 career wins placed Parker as one of seven drivers to ever top the 11000-win plateau. Still 11000 wins didn’t move him up the ladder, so to speak he still remained seventh all time in driving victories.
For Parker, 59, who began an illustrious career in Maine, his native state, his accomplishment seems somewhat diminished because there are those who take 11000 wins lightly since most were at smaller racetracks and among those it is hard to find any ‘classic race’ victories. And some say he didn’t drive against the best. That may be true if you consider Walter Case, Jr. Jimmy Doherty, Teddy Wing, Jimmy Morrill and Bucky Day, as ‘non-starters’.
It’s not unreasonable to think that 11000 wins is an outstanding accomplishment especially when only six others in the history of the sport have risen to that plateau.
Although Zeke is arguably in the twilight of a great career, he has not hung up his whip yet.
Just yesterday (August 12) the bearded wonder reined three winners on the card at the Mighty M. He scored behind his own 4 year old trotter, Morey, in a 1:58.3 clocking and the won with the Dr. Donald Roth-owned trotter, Con Brio Hall in 1:59.3 and with Philip Schultz’s pacer, Diamond Tiara in 1:56.3.
Those three wins keep Parker in third place (140) on the local leaderboard, one which he topped an incredible 18 times.
Asked if he won driving titles at other tracks Zeke thought for a moment and said: “ Lewiston (Raceway), Scarborough (Downs), Foxboro (Raceway) and I also won two crowns at Yonkers Raceway, the only two season I raced there.”
With his three victories on Tuesday Zeke is now just 20 wins behind fellow Pine State native, Walter Case, Jr.,who has recorded 11,038 driving victories.
“To me passing Casey is sort of sad since he hasn’t driven a horse in 10 years, except for a few drives he had at Plainridge (Racecourse) a couple of years ago. It’s shame he can’t get back racing. He’s a great driver,” Parker said.
It may take a few weeks but when Parker reins his 11,039th winner he’ll be the sixth winningest driver the sport has ever known, at least in North America. And although the U.S. Trotting Association only records training victories since 1991 to which they accredit 1225 to Zeke he’s had plenty more because Parker was prolific prior to the catch-driving phenomenon.
He trained a large stable of horses since the mid-1970’s when drivers basically raced their own stock. He figures he’s probably had somewhere between 2000 and 2500 training wins to go along with his 11,000 plus driving victories.