BENSALEM, Pa. — Joseph Besecker’s Aztec Sense took command coming off the final turn and then drew away in the last furlong to win the $100,000 Turning for Home Stakes by three and a half lengths on June 23 at Parx.

The race was the centerpiece of an afternoon dedicated to the Turning for Home program, now celebrating its 10th anniversary. Turning For Home is the racing industries leader in finding and providing new homes and new careers, having now placed over 2,500 retired thoroughbred race horses.

Coming off three consecutive front running victories, Aztec Sense, a 5-year-old gelded son of Street Sense, was expected to be on or near the lead again. However, with a quartet of others all being aggressive in the run to the first turn, winning jockey Paco Lopez instead opted to take back with Aztec Sense, sitting in the clear and fifth on the outside  in the opening stages.  He wouldn’t stay there for long.  Entering the backstretch, Aztec Sense made a sudden move and quickly went from fifth to second just to the outside of early leader, Thirtysilverpieces with about five furlongs to run. Long shot Moon Gate Warrior (34-1) was also making an early move up the backside, slipped through on the inside of Thirtysilverpieces nearing the half mile pole and took charge after an opening half of 48.83.

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Moon Gate Warrior and Aztec Sense remained one-two racing to the far turn, beginning to get some separation on the rest of the field.  Aztec Sense moved to engage the long shot leader midway on the final turn and was roused to the lead at the head of the stretch.  Quickly moving clear, Aztec Sense never seemed fully extended through the last eighth of a mile and cruised home a solid three and a half lengths in front.

The win was the fourth straight for Aztec Sense.  Since being claimed for $12,500 out of a start last October by trainer Jorge Navarro, who also won the Turning for Home in 2017 with Maritime Pulpit, Aztec Sense has won five of six and is now a multiple stakes winner. He was sent off as the heavy favorite at 3-5 and paid $3.40, 2.40 and 2.10. Moon Gate Warrior was making his first start after a $5,000 claim by trainer Lou Linder and ran big in defeat, 12 lengths clear for second, returning 21.60 and 11.00. Ruby Bleu (9-1) out finished the others for third and paid 4.60 to show. The final time for the one mile and 1/16 on a track labeled good was 1:47.53.

According to its website:

Turning for Home, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit created through the foresight of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (PTHA), which revolutionized the model for racehorse retirement. Responding to the need for a better system that addressed the uncertain future for the retiring equine population at Parx Racing, the PTHA rallied horsemen to support the program. Turning for Home became the first on-track retirement program at a year-round racetrack.

The majority of our funding comes from Parx horse owners. Parx jockeys, the PTHA, racetrack management, and the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association also strongly support Turning for Home. The Jockey Club and other national organizations have called Turning for Home a model program for other racetracks around the country.

Owners who wish to place a horse with Turning for Home need only fill out an information sheet and sign over the foal papers. The papers are then sent to The Jockey Club and stamped as “Retired from Racing”, thus ensuring every horse placed with our program will never be able to race again. Every eligible horse is accepted into the Turning for Home program.

Many of the leading equine surgeons in the region such as Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center, Hogan Equine, Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center and Unionville Equine Associates work with Turning For Home to examine screening sets of x-rays for horses that are entered into the program.

Parx Racing’s has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sending a horse to slaughter. Any owner, member of an owner partnership, or trainer who is found responsible for sending a horse or horses to auction where they could be purchased by dealers/kill buyers for slaughter, or for sending a horse to slaughter will have his/her backstretch privileges revoked, will be denied entry to race for all horses owned in whole or in partnership, and said horses must be removed immediately from the Parx backstretch.

For more information about Turning For Home see

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