Phlash Phelps Back to Defend Find Title
June 24, 2016 11:08am
Phlash Phelps wins 2015 Find Stakes
Photo: Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

Visiting Laurel Park last fall for the annual Maryland Million Day festivities, satellite radio personality and Baltimore-area native Phlash Phelps smiled as a large crowd that gathered around him began shouting his name.


As it happened, they were cheering for his namesake, Hillwood Stable-owned Phlash Phelps, who won the Maryland Million Turf by three-quarters of a length for a fourth straight victory to cap his 4-year-old campaign.


“I’m watching the race and people are yelling, ‘Go, Phlash, go’ behind me and I thought that was the weirdest thing, to have people all cheering for him. It was really cool to hear that,” Phelps said. “One lady stopped me and I said I had a horse in the race. She asked which one and I said, ‘Phlash Phelps,’ and she said, ‘Oh, I love him!’ I said, ‘Which one, the radio one or the horse?’ It was the horse.”


Phlash Phelps, the man, shares more than just his name with the popular gelding. Both were bred in Maryland and are based in the Mid-Atlantic; Phelps at SiriusXM’s studios in Washington, D.C. and the horse with trainer Rodney Jenkins at Laurel.


Each have developed a passionate following and both took several tries before finding success. The human Phelps was fired 17 times over a radio career that began in 1984 prior to landing his current gig 16 years ago; the equine Phelps needed seven tries to break his maiden and has since won five of his last six starts.


“It’s been a really cool thing. That’s how I really got into the horse racing part of it after that,” Phelps said. “I wish I knew a lot more about it or had the money to actually own a horse. That would be neat, but its’ been really fun following him especially when he’s been winning.”


Bred by Carol Kaye, Phlash Phelps was purchased for $85,000 by Ellen Charles of Hillwood from Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic 2012 Eastern Fall Yearling Sale in Timonium. He has five wins, two seconds, a third and $242,105 in purse earnings from 12 lifetime starts.


On Saturday, he is the 1-2 program favorite from post 1 in a field of six for the $75,000 Find Stakes, one of five turf stakes worth $330,000 on Maryland-Virginia Breeders’ Day at historic Pimlico Race Course. Phlash Phelps is the defending Find champion.


Unlike last fall, DJ Phlash Phelps doesn’t expect to be on hand to see the race live. Having just turned 50, he is in the midst of an ‘All 50 at 50’ tour where he is visiting each of the 50 states to mark his personal half-century. Already, he has driven 19,000 miles since it kicked off April 11 and has been to 30 states, with Ohio penciled in this weekend as No. 31.


“Usually every weekend I’m gone. I’ve been traveling 1,800 miles a week so the odds are that I will probably not be in town. I will have to watch to find out how he does,” Phelps said. “I usually don’t see it live but I’ll look to find out what happened as soon as he’s done and then I’ll post it on my site if he wins. If he doesn’t win I don’t post it, but he’s been winning so there’s been a lot of posting.


“There’s a lot of people that listen and call in to ask me to let them know when he’s running again so they can bet on him,” he added. “It’s fun. There’s some people out there that actually watch.”

Phelps hosts the Phlash Phelps’ Phunny Farm morning show weekdays from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on SiriusXM’s ‘Sixties at 6’ channel. He was hired on Aug. 21, 2000, more than a year before XM Radio’s official launch on Sept. 21, 2001. XM and Sirius merged in 2008.


“When I first started out they said if you want to be on the radio you’re probably not going to be able to start here in Baltimore because it’s too big. You have to go to a smaller radio station and that’s when I started all my radio stations across the country,” he said. “I finally ended up in Washington state and that was where I had a friend ask me if I was interested in satellite radio. I asked what it was and he said it’s this new thing coming where they broadcast and it’ll shoot to cars all over while they drive.


“I didn’t even know this was possible,” he added. “He said, ‘You don’t have to do anything. I’m going to send a video of you down to D.C. where one of the companies is.’ I got an email back saying, ‘You’re our kind of nut,’ and I ended up getting hired.”


            Introduced to racing in his youth through an uncle that frequented Laurel, Phelps remembers interviewing former Triple Crown track announcer Dave Johnson on air in the mid-1990s.


“He did his, ‘And down the stretch they come … and it’s Phlash Phelps on the inside …’ and I said it would be really cool someday to have a horse with that name,” Phelps said. “I work with Cousin Brucie and there’s a horse named Cousin Brucie, and that was when the whole thing started.”


Phelps said current Maryland Jockey Club track announcer Dave Rodman, whose friendship with Phelps dates back to their days together at XM, got the ball rolling when it came to finding a horse.


“I made a comment on air about wanting a horse with my name and the next thing you know, Dave heard it and said he knew Carol Kaye and she may do it,” Phelps said. “That’s how it ended up happening. It was really cool that Carol thought it would be a great name for a horse. It really worked out.”


Phelps watched the horse in person several times without success, but couldn’t resist seeing him run in person on the popular Maryland Million Day, which enters its 31st year this fall. Out of equal parts fear and respect, he didn’t give anyone but Rodman the heads up that he’d be in attendance.


“It was so close, I didn’t even know what happened. All of a sudden he won, and Dave said to go to the winner’s circle. I went down and here comes Ellen because Carol wasn’t there that day,” Phelps said. “Ellen said, ‘If he would have lost, it would have been your fault.’ I said, ‘I would have walked out. You wouldn’t haven even seen that I was here. I wouldn’t have let you know.’”


Phelps posed for the winner’s circle photo with his namesake, Charles, jockey Victor Carrasco and Jenkins, among others.


“That was a good day to be there. He sure seemed to have a good time,” Jenkins said. “He was very polite and I was polite to him and that was about it. They say he’s a very nice guy. Dave Rodman really likes him and I like Dave a lot, so that’s good enough for me.”

Source: Maryland Jockey Club


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