Scott Lake became just the sixth trainer in North American racing history to register 5,000 victories when Communicator captured the first race Wednesday at Laurel Park in Laurel, Md.
After notching win No. 4,999 on Saturday at Laurel with Nervous Marvin, Lake had failed to hit the 5,000 milestone with his next seven starters until Communicator, ridden by Malcolm Franklin, captured the $5,000 claiming race by four lengths.
"It's a tremendous thing," Lake said by phone from Laurel. "I couldn't be more proud of the horses I've trained, my staff, my clients, everybody. This is really a special moment."
The late Dale Baird is the all-time winningest trainer in North America with 9,445 victories, followed by Jack Van Berg, King Leatherbury, Jerry Hollendorfer, and Steve Asmussen, all of whom are still active.
Communicator, a 6-year-old gelding owned by James and John Orfanelli, was never seriously threatened in the six-furlong Wednesday opener at Laurel. Sent away the odds-on favorite as part of a Lake entry with Gallant Gulch, he led by three lengths after a quarter-mile and maintained a similar lead all the way to the wire to return $3.40 to win. Gallant Gulch finished fourth in the field of 11.
Lake, 45, has been based at a number of East Coast tracks since beginning his career in 1987. He has led the nation in wins four times, most recently in 2006, when he won a career-high 528 races when training nearly 300 horses at eight different tracks. He currently trains about 70 horses, most of them at Parx Racing in Philadelphia.
"We accomplished so much, and it came so fast," Lake said in a recent Daily Racing Form profile. "You don't appreciate it while it's happening. It's a huge accomplishment. I owe it to all my owners and help and every horse that I've trained -- they're the key players."
Lake, a native of Harrisburg, Pa., lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, former jockey Jenny Stisted, and their two young children. He is a two-time Eclipse finalist whose other accomplishments include more than 100 stakes wins and a runner-up finish with Thunderello in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Lake said 6,000 wins is among his next major goals -- and he got a jump on that when he saddled Flight to Eden ($4.80) to capture the second race Wednesday at Laurel, giving him win No. 5,001.
All-time leading trainers by wins
1. Dale Baird - 9,445
2. Jack Van Berg - 6,405
3. King Leatherbury - 6,313
4. Jerry Hollendorfer - 5,831
5. Steve Asmussen - 5,684
6. Scott Lake - 5,001