News & Barn notes

Mario Serey Jr. Trying To Savor Success As Monmouth Park’s Leading Trainer Entering Four-Day Race Week That Starts On Thursday

July 03, 2024

Mario Serey Jr. said he never set winning the training title at Monmouth Park this summer as a goal upon his return to the Jersey Shore track following a five-year absence.

It’s still not the goal, Serey insists, even as he enters a four-day holiday racing schedule that starts with an eight-race card on Thursday, July 4, atop the trainer standings.

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t confident in his ability to sustain what he has going.

“I started the meet with 25 horses,” said Serey, a 53-year-old native of Santiago, Chile. “Now I have 45. And I am going to keep claiming. I’m a claiming trainer. So maybe I will have 60 horses soon.

“But I am not going crazy about winning the training title. I want to enjoy the success we have and whatever happens will happen. But I know I will be competitive.”

Serey, who took out his trainer’s license in the United States in 2008, has won one title during his career. That was at Pimlico’s nine-day boutique meet last September.

But there is a family history of training titles. Serey’s uncle, Juan Serey, won five straight Monmouth Park training titles from 1995-99.

“It would be exciting to join my uncle by winning a training title here,” he said. “But first I want to enjoy the success. What fun is winning if you cannot enjoy it?”

Serey enters this week with 16 winners (along with 11 seconds and 11 thirds) from 66 Monmouth Park starters. He leads Jorge Delgado by four winners with Claudio Gonzalez, seeking a third straight Monmouth Park training title, sitting third with nine winners.

“I’m not surprised,” he said. “I knew we had a chance to do something good at Monmouth Park this year (after being based in Maryland the past five years). The competition is different than the last time I was here. After I looked at the condition book at Monmouth Park with the horses I claimed in Maryland I knew I had a chance to do well.”

Serey, a fourth generation trainer, has served as the agent for the father of Monmouth Park jockey Jorge Hernandez and also worked in the racing office in Chile prior to joining his uncle’s stable in 1991. He has 535 career wins, and with 31 overall this year is on pace for his best season since he won 94 races in 2016.

“It’s discipline, working hard every day and getting up early every morning that makes you successful,” he said. “You also have to know your horses and where they fit. And I have a great team.”

Serey said his penchant for claiming a horse and running it back quickly – and winning – traces to his racing experience in his native country.

“In Chile you can run a horse two or three times a week,” he said. “That’s normal there. A lot of people don’t know that. It’s not normal here. That’s why I can claim a horse and run him back in five days and win. That’s how I am used to doing things.”

Serey has three horses entered on Thursday’s eight-race card that starts at 2 p.m. He has one entered for Friday’s eight-race card, also a 2 p.m. first post.

First race post time on Saturday and Sunday is 12:50 p.m.