Gentleman Gerry Gives Trainer Kelly Breen 1,000th Career Win
N.J. Native Reaches Milestone With Lone Starter on Thursday Card
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Edge Racing’s Gentleman Gerry, a 3-year-old son of 2017 Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming, edged past pacesetting Rio Moon approaching the wire to give trainer Kelly Breen his 1,000th career victory Thursday at Gulfstream Park on opening day of the Royal Palm Meet.
Ridden by Paco Lopez, who has teamed with Breen for much success over the years, Gentleman Gerry ($6.20) covered one mile over a firm turf course in 1:36.45 to win the maiden claiming event for 3-year-olds in his fifth career start.
Breaking from Post 4, Lopez settled Gentlemen Gerry in mid-pack as Rio Moon took the nine-horse field through a quarter-mile in 23.46 seconds and a half in 47.84. Lopez moved up to third on the far turn and remained on the rail before tipping out two wide in the stretch to run down the leader.
Gentleman Gerry, sent off as the 2-1 betting favorite, was Breen’s lone starter on Thursday’s eight-race program.
“It’s a little bit of a monkey off my back because it’s been over three weeks in between wins and a lot of seconds,” Breen said. “I have to [give credit] to my whole crew. I have a crew in New York and I have a crew down here. We all work hard. It’s not just me, it’s a team. It’s awesome.”
Breen, 53, grew up in Old Bridge, N.J. as the youngest of four children and was introduced to racing at the age of 12 when his father would take him to nearby Monmouth Park. A standout schoolboy wrestler and soccer player, he initially wanted to become a jockey, working as an exercise rider for leading trainer Walter Reese.
A growth spurt curtailed his dream of becoming a jockey, but by the time he was 18 Breen was working as an assistant to trainer Scooter Dickey. Soon he was exercising horses as an assistant to trainer Jon Forbes, while splitting time between the racetrack and his family’s steamfitting business.
Breen operated a small stable from 1992 to 1994, winning his first race with Contarito Oct. 24, 1992 at The Meadowlands. After working as an assistant to trainer Ben Perkins Jr. from 1994 until Perkins’ retirement in 2000, Breen went out on his own again and became a private trainer for George and Lori Hall and the end of 2006.
Based at Monmouth Park, where he was leading trainer in 2005, 2006 and 2020, he achieved national recognition when the Halls’ Ruler On Ice pulled off a 24-1 upset of the 2011 Belmont Stakes (G1) – his first career stakes win after a third in the Sunland Derby (G3) and a second in the Federico Tesio.
Ruler On Ice would go on to run second in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2), third in the Haskell (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and fourth in the Travers (G1). That same year, also for the Halls, Breen won the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Pegasus (G3) and ran ninth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) with Pants On Fire.
Now operating a public stable, Breen has won more than two dozen graded stakes with horses such as Bern Identity, Stonetastic, Miss Sky Warrior, Valedictorian and Firenze Fire.
“I think it means more because I knew my time would have been limited if I ever even was to ride or race or anything like that. I wouldn’t have been around for a career,” Breen said. “My heart is in horse racing. I’m here to stay.”