By Mint Julep

John Servis Trainer: One Kentucky Derby Winner

smarty jones kentucky derby winner 2004

Join the exciting journey of horse racing trainer John Servis, who achieved great success by training Smarty Jones to victory at the famous Kentucky Derby. Learn about his family’s deep connection to Thoroughbred racing, his historic wins in the U.S. Triple Crown with Smarty Jones in 2004, and other notable accomplishments such as guiding Cathryn Sophia to win the Kentucky Oaks and Jaywalk to triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race. Explore Servis’ passion for the sport, his significant achievements, and well-deserved recognition within competitive horse racing circles.

Early Life and Family Background

John C. Servis, born on October 25, 1958, in Charles Town, West Virginia, hails from a family deeply connected to the Thoroughbred racing scene. His father was a jockey and introduced Servis to horse racing at an early age.

Surrounded by horses and racetracks while growing up, John developed a deep love for these magnificent animals and discovered his passion for training them to become champions.

He absorbed valuable knowledge about horsemanship and racing strategies from a young age. This knowledge would later play a crucial role in his journey towards becoming one of the most respected trainers in the industry.

With his family’s strong ties to equestrian excellence, John set out on a path that led him to climb the ranks and make history with unforgettable wins in horse racing.

Introduction to Racing

John Servis first entered the world of Thoroughbred racing with a humble background, coming from a family deeply involved in horse riding. His journey to success hit its peak when Smarty Jones won the Kentucky Derby in May 2004, instantly making Servis a well-known trainer.

Smarty Jones’ victory wasn’t just luck – it showcased Servis’s dedication and expertise in training top-notch racehorses. This moment marked the start of many more triumphs for Servis, establishing him as one of horse racing’s most respected trainers.

Servis continued to make his mark with wins like Cathryn Sophia at the Kentucky Oaks and Jaywalk at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race. These successes highlighted his exceptional talent in nurturing champions bound for greatness on tracks worldwide.

In addition to winning big races at places like Churchill Downs and Pimlico Race Course, John Servis stays true to his love for horses by prioritizing their care and training. His impact on shaping equine athletes reflects his deep passion for Thoroughbred racing that inspires both experienced professionals and new fans alike.

The Pros & Cons of Triple Crown Triumphs


  1. Gain status and respect in the world of horse racing

  2. Enhance the worth of the winning horse for future breeding

  3. Elevate the trainer's profile and open up career avenues

  4. Opportunity to grow fan following and attract media spotlight


  1. Feeling the pressure to keep up success in upcoming races

  2. Fans, media, and industry peers are closely watching and expecting a lot

  3. Need to be careful not to overwork or push the horse too much after winning the Triple Crown

  4. Could face criticism if performance drops after such a big win

U.S. Triple Crown Wins

In 2004, John Servis made history in American horse racing by winning both the famous Kentucky Derby and revered Preakness Stakes with his outstanding horse Smarty Jones. This incredible achievement put Servis in the spotlight as a top trainer who could lead horses to victory on some of the biggest stages in Thoroughbred racing.

Servis showed his smarts and dedication as he got Smarty Jones ready for these tough tests of speed, endurance, and skill. The bond between trainer and horse was strong, leading to exciting performances that won over fans worldwide. Servis’ careful attention to detail and deep understanding of horses played key roles in securing these important wins, showing that he was a skilled tactician in the sport.

The excitement around Smarty Jones’ amazing victories spread throughout the horse racing world, highlighting John Servis’ talent for nurturing champions destined for success. His expert handling of big races like the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes demonstrated a mix of artistry and knowledge that set him apart from others. With every step towards glory, Servis embodied what it means to pursue excellence relentlessly while respecting the rich traditions of this long-standing sport.

Major Racing Wins

John Servis has made a lasting impact on the world of horse racing with his incredible training abilities. He has guided horses to victory in top races like the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race. His talent for spotting potential and commitment to excellence have led him to win major events such as the Alabama Stakes, Arkansas Derby, and Kentucky Oaks.

Coming from a family deeply involved in Thoroughbred racing, John Servis’s love for these amazing animals is ingrained in him. Raised in an environment where horse racing isn’t just a hobby but a way of life, he upholds tradition while also innovating his training techniques. This rich background has played a vital role in shaping him into the outstanding trainer he is today.

Picture witnessing Smarty Jones charging down the track towards victory at the 2004 Kentucky Derby under John Servis’s expert guidance! The excitement of that moment captures what makes horse racing so thrilling—the perfect blend of human skill and equine power coming together seamlessly. Achieving such triumphs requires more than luck; it demands unwavering dedication and an unbreakable bond between trainer and horse.

Cathryn Sophia’s electrifying win at the 2016 Kentucky Oaks stands as another testament to John Servis’s exceptional skills as a trainer. Leading her with precision and finesse showcased why he is considered one of the best trainers around. The cheers from spectators echoed through Churchill Downs—a fitting tribute to both filly and trainer who overcame all challenges.

And then there was Jaywalk crossing first at the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race—a moment etched into history by none other than John Servis himself.With every step taken towards success under his guidance, these remarkable horses have proven themselves not only as champions but also reflections of their trainer’s unmatched expertise in turning raw potential into winners

Racing Phenom: A Legacy of Triumphs

Occupation Born Career wins Major racing wins Racing awards Significant horses
Trainer (1958-10-25) October 25, 1958 2,000+ Horatius Stakes (1998)
Demoiselle Stakes (1999)
Selima Stakes (1999)
Alabama Stakes (2000)
Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (2000)
Coaching Club American Oaks (2000)
Cotillion Handicap (2000)
Delaware Oaks (2001)
Miss Woodford Stakes (2002, 2014)
Oceanport Stakes (2002)
John B. Campbell Handicap (2003)
Maryland Racing Media Stakes (2003, 2018)
Nellie Morse Stakes (2003)
Primonetta Stakes (2003)
Arkansas Derby (2004)
Count Fleet Stakes (2004)
Nashua Stakes (2004)
Rebel Stakes (2004)
Remsen Stakes (2004)
Southwest Stakes (2004)
Acorn Stakes (2005)
Fantasy Stakes (2005)
Honeybee Stakes (2005)
Miss Preakness Stakes (2010)
Maryland Million Sprint Handicap (2013)
Busher Stakes (2014)
Davona Dale Stakes (2016)
Forward Gal Stakes (2016)
Azeri Stakes (2006)
Kentucky Oaks (2016)
Salvator Mile Handicap (2016)
Barbara Fritchie Handicap (2018)
Frizette Stakes (2018)
U.S. Triple Crown wins:
Kentucky Derby (2004)
Preakness Stakes (2004)
Breeders’ Cup wins:
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (2018)
Big Sport of Turfdom Award (2004)
Parx Racing Leading Trainer (2018)
Cathryn Sophia, Jaywalk, Jostle
Round Pond, Smarty Jones

Breeders’ Cup Success

In 2018, John Servis won his first Breeders’ Cup race in a big way when Jaywalk raced to victory in the prestigious Juvenile Fillies event. This triumph wasn’t just an achievement for him but also highlighted Servis’s commitment and smart training techniques that set him apart from others.

Coming from a family deeply involved in Thoroughbred racing, John Servis brought years of experience and enthusiasm to every horse he trained. With strong roots in the sport, he built a foundation for success that allowed him to climb the ranks with skill and determination.

The win at the Breeders’ Cup was another high point in Servis’s successful career. Each victory showcased his ability to connect with horses on a personal level—a bond formed through hours of studying their behavior and guiding them towards greatness.

Jaywalk’s exceptional performance under John Servis’s guidance went beyond just one race; it represented a perfect partnership between trainer and horse that surpassed mere competition—it was a blend of expert coaching and equine talent unfolding on racing’s grandest stage.

As fans admired Jaywalk’s thrilling win at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race under John Servis’s direction, they witnessed not only an incredible accomplishment but also saw the beginning of a legacy created by someone whose name would forever be linked with excellence in horse racing.

Training Base at Parx Casino and Racing

John Servis, a famous horse racing trainer, has set up his training center at Parx Casino and Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. This is where he works closely with racehorses to help them improve their skills and get ready for races. Servis pays close attention to every detail and always strives for excellence, making him one of the top trainers in the industry.

Inside Parx Casino and Racing is John Servis’ training facility, where he achieves great success with horses like Smarty Jones, Cathryn Sophia, and Jaywalk. These horses have won big races like the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies thanks to Servis’ expertise. His ability to develop champion horses is truly amazing as it shows not only his excellent training methods but also his deep understanding of each horse’s strengths.

At Parx Casino and Racing, John Servis represents a legacy deeply connected to Thoroughbred racing history. Coming from a family involved in the equestrian world means that Servis brings a lot of knowledge and experience to every training session. His love for the sport shines through as he guides his horses towards victory on their journey to success. By continuing to train future champions at this well-known location, John Servis remains an inspiration for hard work and achievement in horse racing circles.

Legendary stories surrounding a Derby-winning trainer

  1. John Servis – The Trainer Who Led Smarty Jones to Derby Victory

  2. Undefeated Champ: Imagine being 19 or 20 and training a horse like Smarty Jones, who won every race he entered before the thrilling 2004 Kentucky Derby that had everyone talking.

  3. From Rags to Riches: Smarty Jones' journey reads like a fairytale – born from humble beginnings, owned by a teacher, then trained by the skilled John Servis for an epic win at the Derby.

  4. Almost Triple Crown Winner: With John in charge, Smarty Jones triumphed at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes but narrowly missed out on winning all three races when he came second in the Belmont Stakes.

  5. Rise to Stardom: Thanks to his partnership with Smarty Jones, John Servis shot into stardom as one of racing's top trainers – showcasing his talent for nurturing champions and leaving behind an unforgettable legacy full of magic and excitement on the racetrack.

Family Ties in Horse Racing

John Servis is a talented horse trainer, who comes from a family deeply rooted in the world of Thoroughbred racing. His brother, Jason Servis, and his relative by marriage, Edward Plesa Jr., are also prominent figures in this field. Surrounded by such racing royalty while growing up, it’s no surprise that John developed a strong passion for the sport at an early age.

With his exceptional skills and dedication to excellence, John has not just maintained but enhanced his family’s proud legacy in horse racing. He stands out as a master of his craft due to his ability to form strong connections with each horse he works with. Every win on the racetrack reflects years of expertise passed down through generations within his family.

The intertwined paths of John Servis, Jason Servis, and Edward Plesa Jr. paint a picture rich with victories and challenges commonly faced in the unpredictable world of horse racing. Through their shared experiences navigating the ups and downs of this demanding industry, they have sharpened their abilities like skilled craftsmen ready to tackle any obstacle that comes their way.

By combining inherited knowledge from previous generations with their own innate talents, these trainers embody resilience blended with raw skill—a powerful mix driving them towards ongoing success on renowned racetracks across the country. Their admiration for each other’s capabilities showcases a lasting bond forged not only by blood but also by an unwavering love for Thoroughbred racing.

As they continue building impressive careers filled with notable accomplishments year after year, one thing remains evident—their roots run deep within fertile soil cultivated by ancestors before them who set sturdy foundations upon which they now proudly stand tall as pillars supporting the heavy mantle of greatness passed down through familial ties uniting them in pursuit of equine triumphs.

Milestone Achievements

John Servis reached a major milestone in his career on May 1, 2007, when he trained his 1,000th winner at Philadelphia Park Racetrack. This achievement marked a significant moment in his journey as a successful Thoroughbred racehorse trainer. Not only did this victory highlight his skill and dedication to the sport but it also firmly established him among the top trainers in the industry. Accomplishing such a feat demands years of hard work, careful planning, and an unwavering love for horses.

Throughout John Servis’s impressive career, he has consistently shown an exceptional talent for developing talented horses into champions. Perhaps his most famous pupil is Smarty Jones – the fiery chestnut colt who captured hearts worldwide with thrilling wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes back in 2004. The tale of Smarty Jones is one that resonates with many; it’s akin to witnessing an underdog triumph over adversity on that racetrack – a true David versus Goliath story that will forever be remembered in horse racing history.

Not content with just one superstar horse under his care, John Servis continued to display his training prowess by guiding other equine talents like Cathryn Sophia and Jaywalk. Cathryn Sophia wowed crowds by securing multiple graded stakes victories including the prestigious Kentucky Oaks while Jaywalk dominated her rivals en route to claiming success at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race. These triumphs speak volumes about Servis’s skilled approach to nurturing young talent and shaping them into champions destined for greatness on tracks across the globe.

Notable Horses Trained

John Servis has trained some incredible horses, such as Cathryn Sophia. She made a huge impact in the horse racing world by winning the 2016 Kentucky Oaks race. Her amazing performance showed how well Servis trains his horses.

Another one of Servis’ top talents is Jaywalk, who won the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race with skill and grace. This victory proved that Servis is an expert trainer who can turn young talents into champions on big stages in horse racing.

One of John Servis’ most famous proteges is Smarty Jones. Their journey reached its peak with unforgettable wins at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2004, capturing hearts around the globe and making history in horse racing.

Throughout his career, John Servis has shown a talent for recognizing potential and helping it reach its full potential. His expert coaching has helped these exceptional horses achieve greatness while earning him respect from others in the competitive world of Thoroughbred horse racing.

Recognition and Awards

John Servis is a highly skilled horse racing trainer who has gained widespread recognition in the industry. In 2004, he was honored with The Big Sport of Turfdom Award, just one of many prestigious awards that highlight his exceptional talent and dedication to the sport. His ability to consistently bring out the best in horses has made him a standout figure in the competitive world of horse racing training.

Furthermore, John Servis’ accomplishments go beyond individual awards to broader recognition within the racing community. In 2018, he was named Parx Racing Leading Trainer, further cementing his reputation as a masterful trainer with an unmatched track record of success. This acknowledgment underscores not only his expertise but also his unwavering commitment to excellence year after year.

The accolades bestowed upon John Servis serve as proof of his significant contributions to Thoroughbred racing throughout the years. These awards are more than just tokens; they symbolize respect from peers and fans who recognize and appreciate his profound impact on the sport. With each victory and every award earned, he continues to make a lasting impression on horse racing history.

In essence, John Servis’ journey from humble beginnings entrenched in Thoroughbred racing heritage to receiving esteemed awards like The Big Sport of Turfdom Award showcases both his innate talent for nurturing equine champions and relentless drive for success in this demanding field. His story serves as inspiration for aspiring trainers while captivating enthusiasts worldwide – illustrating how true passion combined with hard work can turn dreams into reality amidst the excitement of race day’s stage.


1. What is John Servis best known for in the world of horse racing?

Many horse racing fans admire John Servis for his superb training abilities, which have resulted in impressive victories with famous horses like Smarty Jones, Cathryn Sophia, and Jaywalk in prestigious events such as the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race.

2. How did John Servis' upbringing influence his career as a successful trainer?

John Servis developed a strong love and knowledge for Thoroughbred racing from his family, which led to his impressive achievements as a well-known trainer in the sport.

3. Which famous horses has John Servis trained to victory in prestigious races?

John Servis trained famous horses such as Smarty Jones, Cathryn Sophia, and Jaywalk to win big races like the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race.

4. What sets John Servis apart from other trainers in the industry?

John Servis is a top trainer in the horse racing world because he excels at training and leading champion horses to victory in big races. He has helped horses like Smarty Jones, Cathryn Sophia, and Jaywalk achieve success by showing his strong knowledge and passion for the sport of horse racing.

5. How did Smarty Jones' Kentucky Derby win impact John Servis' career?

Smarty Jones won the Kentucky Derby and made John Servis a well-known trainer in the horse racing world. This victory showed that he is skilled at training horses and put him on the map as one of the best trainers around.

6. What are some key milestones in John Servis' illustrious career as a horse racing trainer?

John Servis achieved significant milestones in his career as a horse racing trainer, such as training Smarty Jones to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He also guided Cathryn Sophia to victory in the Kentucky Oaks, and led Jaywalk to triumph in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race.