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Contributed Photo | Geri Schwarz

Sons Brandon, 11, and Brody, 3, joined Billy ”Zeke” Parker Jr. in the winner’s circle after his milestone victory on Monday, May 17 at Monticello Raceway.

‘Zeke’ Parker joins
the 10,000-win club

By John Manzi
MONTICELLO — May 21, 2010 — Count him in. Billy “Zeke” Parker Jr. is now a member of the elite 10,000-win club.
On Monday, May 17, Zeke joined eight other harness drivers who have won 10,000 or more races in their careers when he guided Race-2 Win Stable’s Deliver Val to a 2:00 triumph at Monticello Raceway.
Last week, Parker needed just four more wins to reach the coveted milestone, but he only managed to win three races over the three days that he competed here then.
“I don’t think I’m pushing too hard or really feeling any pressure, but I put many of them [the horses] in the right place to win but they never fired,” Parker said at the end of the final card last week.
He began Monday, May 17 needing just one more victory to reach the coveted milestone and though he attained his goal, he took his time reaching it. Not that he wasn’t anxious for a victory, but a second-place finish and a third-place finish in the earlier races was all Zeke could muster prior to the 12th race.
In that event – a $4,000 claiming pace – Parker cut all the fractions with the Bob Lounsbury-trained Deliver Val and then held off a bevy of late charges to win his 10,000th race.
He took his time returning to the winner’s circle, which allowed for three van loads of drivers and trainers to come from the paddock to the winner’s circle for the ceremonies. The drivers were joined by Parker’s sons, Brandon (11) and Brody (3), his sister-in-law, Patty Magie, and his mother-in-law, Betty McCullough, along with some other family members and close friends.
Notably lacking from the photographs and the ceremonies was the “rock” of Parker’s life, his late wife T.J., who succumbed to breast cancer 15 months ago.
“I know she’s looking down at us today,” Parker said as he wiped the tears from his eyes. “She’s the main reason why I am standing here today and this [reaching the milestone] is somewhat empty without her. Still, I’m real proud to have won 10,000 races and be one of only a few who have done it.”
When asked if he had felt any pressure that afternoon, Parker said that he probably did since he had his family here to join him when he won his 10,000th.
“I really thought I had a good chance in five races today, so I wanted my boys and my family to be with me,” Parker said. “But when he reached the 10th race and I didn’t get a winner, I felt some pressure and wondered if I would make it today.”
But Parker didn’t have to wait too much longer. And though he was in an all-out drive to win the 12th race with Deliver Val, still he raised his whip to acknowledge his 10,000th victory.
Despite needing just two more wins for 10,000, Parker begged-off the 11 drives he had for the day on a rainy and muddy day last week.
“I’ve been driving for over 40 years and I didn’t want to win it [his 10,000th] on a rainy and muddy afternoon,” he said.
After the hoopla with the winner’s circle ceremonies, Parker was back in action in the 13th and final race on the Monday, May 17 card. And when the judges posted the official sign, Parker had win number 10,001.
Harness Drivers with 10,000 or more career wins (as of Monday, May 17.):
1. Herve Filion – 15,179
2. Cat Manzi – 13,722
3. Dave Palone – 13,691
4. Tony Morgan – 13,444
5. Dave Magee – 11,168
6. Walter Case Jr. – 11,038
7. John Campbell – 10,255
8. Mike Lachance – 10,110
9. Billy Parker Jr. – 10,001.

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