Jason Servis hopes to join brother John as Derby-winning trainers

Jason Servis hopes to join brother John as Derby-winning trainers
Kentucky Derby 144

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Trainer Jason Servis has already been to the Kentucky Derby several times.

The 61-year-old native of Charles Town, W.V., has even made it all the way to the Kentucky Derby Winners' Circle at Churchill Downs, celebrating with his brother, John, when he captured the Run for the Roses in 2004 with Smarty Jones.

Now, Jason Servis is back with his own shot to win the Derby with longshot Firenze Fire.

"I don't think brothers have ever won the Derby," Servis said with a smile. "It's tops on my bucket list.

"I love this and I want to not only be here this year but come back. I told (owner) Ron (Lombardi) we're coming back. I would like to do that."

Servis said he remembers when he was younger that he would ride horses and his brother, John, was the groom at one-day events at Waterford Downs, which is now called Mountaineer Park.

"We were raised next to Charles Town," Jason Servis said. "We were always around the track and I just always wanted to be around horses."

Joe Servis, the brothers' father, was a jockey who won the first race ever at Charles Town and spent 40 years there as a state steward.

Jason Servis took out his trainer's license in 2001 and reached the seven-figure mark in yearly earnings for the first time in 2004. He said he wants to keep a smaller stable "by design" to "try and keep it real. I'm not old, but I'm not 20."

"I like what I'm doing; there are so many big operations out there," he said. "I keep it more managable."

Servis' best Derby memory to date, of course, is when his brother won the roses and then the Preakness with Smarty Jones. His sister was part of the ownership in 15th-place finisher Itsmyluckyday at the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

After picking up his 1,000th victory of his career in April, Jason Servis now has a horse in the starting gate at the Derby. The winner of the Grade III Sanford Stakes and Grade I Champagne Stakes last year as a 2-year-old, Firenze Fire opened this year with a win in the Jerome Stakes before a second in the Withers and fourth-place finishes in the Gotham and Wood Memorial.

"There were 20,000-something foals that year and we are one of 20, so that really means a lot," he said. "He wasn't dazzling in the mornings but when he won the first time would be what I would call a sleeper.

"When we were at (Saratoga), then I knew we had the real deal. We have been leaning on him a little bit. It would have been nice if I could have spaced (his races) out a little. But he's doing good. We'll give it the college try."

And a win would mean the Servis' brothers would make a big piece of Derby history.

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