When Minor’s Gold crossed the finishing line first, winning the second race at the Meadowlands on Saturday night, it was the icing on the cake for trainer Jason Servis. “It’s like a dream,” Servis said. “I should play the lottery!”
Servis completed the Meadowlands fall thoroughbred meet with 15 wins, seven seconds and four thirds from 38 starts and purse earnings of nearly $350,000 to claim his first training title.
“All those years working in the jocks’ room, now my ship’s come in,” he said with a wide grin.
West Virginia-born Servis, 48, is from a horse racing family but most of his career was spent as a jockey’s valet, caring for the boots and saddles of the riders, including Hall of Famers Bill Shoemaker and Julie Krone. He also would gallop horses in the morning and work as an assistant to other trainers.
“I rode for a year – 1975 – at the bushes in Virginia, at Mountaineer and Thistle [Thistledown],” he recalled. “Then I came to Monmouth Park and an opening developed in the room [jockeys’ room].”
Servis’ break came in December of 2001 when Red Bank attorney Dennis Drazin asked him to take a couple of horses he owned to train and race in New York. Servis was up to 40 horses this past summer at Monmouth Park and plans to ship 30 to New York this winter.
“I have to admit I’m a bit surprised,” he said. “We work hard and have great owners, but it does amaze me, too. I can’t thank my owners enough.”
In addition to Drazin, Servis also conditions horses for the LaMarca Stable and the Char-Mari Stable.
Servis’ father, Joe, rode for a dozen years and then helped to run the Jockeys’ Guild before moving into the stewards’ stand at Charles Town in 1972.
He has two sisters – Jodie is a teacher’s assistant married to an airline pilot while Laurie is married to trainer Eddie Plesa.
And there is one brother in the family, John, who has had a pretty good run at training horses, too. He campaigned the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones.
“John took a lot of people along for the ride,” Jason noted. “We went to all the races, and it was a blast.”
Jason Servis and his wife of 27 years, Natalie, live in Eatontown, New Jersey and have two sons. Evan, 19, is a college student and Garrett, 15, is a tenth grader at Monmouth Regional.