This Adios Hits Different For Parker

Flite Craft
Published: July 28, 2023 12:16 pm EDT

Adios Day has long been a special occasion for Norm Parker and his family and friends. This year, it goes to a whole new level.

Parker will send out Flite Craft in Saturday’s $350,000 Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids, a horse he trains and owns with his son Ryan, cousin Mark, and longtime friends Tom Klosky Jr. and Joe Knodle (an accomplished bowler in western Pennsylvania who races with Parker under the Tenpin Stable moniker).

Flite Craft is the first horse ever owned by Ryan and Joe, and Mark’s first with Parker in a number of years.

“It’s such a thrilling thing to have this happen,” said Parker, who has been based at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows, site of the Adios, for decades and continues his family’s longstanding tradition of hosting an Adios Day picnic on the track’s backstretch hillside for family, friends, horse owners, and others. “It’s fun, and then when you get family involved, it’s really special. I’m giddy about it.

“I’m realistic, I know we need a lot to go well for us to get money. My son, he’s over the top. He’s seen me work hard. I’ve done this my whole life. I’m proud of it, that we’ve had these kinds of horses to get in these races. Boy, would it ever be nice to get lucky and win one of them.”

Flite Craft will start the Adios from post one with driver Mike Wilder and is 20-1 on the morning line. Its My Show, the North America Cup champion who won his Adios elimination last week with a world-record performance, is the 9-5 favourite for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Linda Toscano.

For his career, Flite Craft has won three of 21 races and earned $73,272. He has four second-place finishes this season, including one each behind 2022 Breeders Crown winner Ammo and 2022 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion Fulton (another Toscano trainee, who will start from post nine in the Adios).

Parker, who is approaching 1,100 career training wins, finished fourth in the 2019 Adios, his most recent appearance in the event’s final, with Wild Wild Western. He won the race’s consolation division in 2014 with Mattamerican, who is a member of Flite Craft’s family.

Flite Craft’s family also includes past Parker-trained stakes winners Volley Ball Beach and Terrortina, and Parker trained Flite Craft’s mom, Kitty Kitty Hawk. Flight Craft was bred by Bob Key, who passed away in 2021, and was purchased privately as a yearling by Parker.

“I trained 13 or 14 years for Mr. Key,” Parker said. “So, it does all tie in through Mr. Key, which is why we liked this horse. I’ll be honest, we didn’t expect to have a horse that would qualify for the Adios. We just wanted a nice horse. These guys wanted something they could see race. That’s what we did.”

Flite Craft paced in 1:52.1 last year at age two and in April posted his career-best win time of 1:51 at The Meadows. His fastest beaten time this year is 1:49.3, which he set in his runner-up finish to Fulton in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows. He has hit the board in seven of his past nine races.

“You obviously need to have speed to go with these horses,” Parker said. “But we need more. Hopefully we can find some more somewhere.”

In addition to the Adios, Flite Craft is staked to the Max Hempt Memorial on Aug. 19 at Pocono Downs and the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 21 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio.

“Those are his three big races,” Parker said. “I know they’re all reaches, but he’s got opportunities.”

Parker followed his father, Dwane, into racing. His dad, who trained and raced horses at The Meadows for more than 40 years and started the Adios Day picnic in 1985, passed away in July 2022. Three races prior to the Adios on Saturday, the track will host the Arden Downs for three-year-old female trotters, which has been named in memory of Dwane Parker.

“It’s a proud thing for me that they thought enough of my dad to do that,” Parker said. “I’m sure my mom [Bobbie] is going to be a little teary eyed if she goes over there and presents it. I know [my sisters] Kathy and Sally are excited about it.

“I’m sure my dad will be looking down at us. He started all this, and we’re just trying to continue it and make him proud of us.”

Adios Day begins 11:45 a.m. (EDT). The Adios is race 15 on the 16-race card. All the day’s action will be livestreamed at the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. The livestream show will be hosted by Meadows race-caller Jeff Zidek, prominent harness announcer Gabe Prewitt and Dawnelle Mock of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association. A free Adios Day program is available here in PDF format.


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