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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stonestreet Pledges Ten Percent of Graded Earnings to Backstretch Charities

Beginning January 1st 2015 and continuing throughout the year, Stonestreet Stables will donate 10 percent of all Graded Stakes income earned.

“Horse racing has given me so many thrilling moments and brought so much joy to my family” says Barbara Banke, “we thought it would be a good way to give back to the people who are so dedicated to providing exemplary care on the backside”

The charity funded will vary depending on the location of the race and focus on the needs of backside workers and their families. Stonestreet continues to assist various equine welfare organizations via direct donations.


Monday, January 26, 2015

DeShawn Parker Named Jockey of the Week

Deshawn Parker won 10 races, including 4 on Tuesday at Sam Houston Race Park, to be named the Jockeys' Guild Jockey of the Week. The title goes to the week's outstanding jockey in the opinion of a panel of industry experts, plus a public vote. They looked at races run from January 20-25.

The 44-year-old jockey also picked up 2 seconds and a third from 16 mounts to earn $96,832 for the week. A $2 pari-mutuel ticket on each of his winning mounts returned an average payout of  $7.54.

Born in Cincinatti, Ohio, Parker began riding professionally in 1988. His father, Daryl Parker, was the first African American hired in the US to be a steward in 1986.

Deshawn Parker got his start at Thistledown. At 5'11'', the lanky jockey once said, "The challenge was getting trainers to put me on horses, especially when I’d walk up to them and I’m taller than they are. But when they see how low I can get on a horse, it’s not been a problem."

He established himself as the all-time leading rider at Mountaineer Park and has won more than 4,700 races during his career to become the winningest African American jockey in history.

In 2010, he was the nation's leading rider of winners with 377 from 1,552 starts. He won his 4,000th race on May 6, 2012, riding Cuban Carmen at Mountaineer Park.

In 2012, he was honored by the Jockeys’ Guild with its Laffit Pincay Jr. Award and has twice been a finalist for the George Woolf Award.

Parker is currently ranked first in wins and third in earnings at Sam Houston.

The Jockey of the Week is the centerpiece of, a new website offering a unique blend of news, features, social media and statistics that will appeal to racing's casual fans, as well as seasoned handicappers.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Paraplegic Former Jockey Anne Von Rosen: ‘I Will Walk Again’

“A man does what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures—and that is the basis for all human morality.” John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage

Paraplegic former jockey, Anne Von Rosen, is writing her own chapter.

“I’m determined to fight and not give up,” she said from her apartment in Phoenix, Ariz. “Doctors never flat out told me I’d be paralyzed the rest of my life, but I accepted it to some degree. But I have said from the beginning that I will walk again.”

For paraplegics, the shocking new and complicated lifestyle of being wed to a wheelchair is virtually always balanced with hopes for a divorce. Reality versus hope is a theme common to us all. Yet, catastrophically injured former jockeys, who measure themselves by their physical and mental ability to get a racehorse to the finish line before others wearing identical goggles, soon learn this balance is precarious. And to radically tip either way is brutal for body and mind.

On March 11, 2014, Von Rosen finished second aboard Quarter Horse Panchita Bonita at Turf Paradise in Phoenix. “I don’t remember the race,” she said. “But I remember galloping out thinking the mare had run a huge race. The next thing I know, I’m lying on the ground. I couldn’t feel my legs, but the strange thing was it wasn’t scary. I knew what had happened, and I accepted it. I always have. I think people don’t know how dangerous this sport is.”

While there is no exact data this writer could find, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which supports riders with many kinds of catastrophic injuries, has since its founding in 2006 assisted some 71 permanently disabled jockeys. Approximately 70% (49) have suffered paralysis or other spinal cord injuries severe enough to end their careers. This in a group barely larger than the number of players in the NFL.

Hours after the accident, a seven-hour emergency surgery dealt with her leaking spinal fluid. Two days later, another surgery stabilized her spine.  Her T5 vertebra was severed. Medically termed “complete,” its healing at this point in time is virtually impossible, according to most doctors.

“I knew mine was complete, but maybe I just blocked it out,” she said. “I did a lot of visualization and visualized myself walking to the barn. From the beginning, I said I’d still walk.”

For Von Rosen, determination seems built in. Intelligent and personable, she is also known as a hard worker and independent. She worked on a breeding farm in her native Germany before moving to Italy, France and England, where she exercised horses at several major tracks. She gained a job as a vet tech at prestigious Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Ky., became an assistant trainer, and then decided to become a jockey, first riding at bush tracks in South Dakota in 2001. As a seasoned veteran, she raced chiefly at Turf Paradise and Canterbury Downs, riding 5,000 races and winning a respectable 666.

Von Rosen, now 43, soon moved to Denver’s Craig Hospital, renowned for helping those with severe spinal cord injuries.  She refused counseling along with anti-depressants.  “I didn’t like it there,” she said. “They are good at getting you independent in a wheelchair, but I wanted to do other things, medically.”

Those things included the homeopathic medicine practiced by her father—a doctor in her native Germany— acupuncture and the stem-cell therapy that reportedly in 2011 healed a paralyzed donkey.  She said Craig Hospital doctors were not cooperative, with one saying homeopathic medicine would interfere with the blood-thinners they prescribed.

“So much of this injury is psychosocial,” she said. “If you take away things I believe in, how can I get well?  If it helps me, why take it away?”

After two weeks, Von Rosen moved back to her home and family in Germany where she underwent rehabilitation at a facility in Frankfurt while her father treated her with everything from reflexology, raindrop therapy (aromatherapy and massage with essential oils), and electroacupuncture — a form of acupuncture where a small electric current is passed between pairs of acupuncture needles.

Last September, she spent six weeks at Dr. Osvaldo Font’s Pain Clinic in San Juan, Puerto Rico, receiving controversial electroneuromedular treatments. Long acupuncture needles are inserted deep inside the spinal cord, then connected to an electrical stimulus strong enough to cause sharp pain in previously unfeeling extremities. Several Latin and South American doctors perform this treatment, and claim that in some cases, it restores nerve connections inside injured spinal cord tissue. The practice is not yet approved in the U.S.

“The needle goes in deep,” said Von Rosen. “It hurts in the places where I can feel pain and it’s dangerous. I can’t yet feel pain in my legs which would be great. But it’s helped. I’m starting to get my pelvis to work. There is no sensation yet, but I can still feel things inside. I can feel things move. It’s hard to explain, but I believe it will help me walk again.”
She had treatments in Puerto Rico again in June, went back to Germany, moved to Phoenix last fall and plans to receive the same treatment in September.

In the meantime, her day-to-day battle goes on. It’s a battle familiar to many. Former jockey Jackie Fires, a paraplegic since a horse he was exercising fell on him in 1977, said the first year after the injury is the hardest. “Your whole life changes,” he said. “You have to learn to live all over again. Your legs are gone so you have to use your hands and arms for everything. It’s like being born again.”

For Von Rosen and other former jockeys now paraplegic, this new birth is often painful. There are high risks for developing dangerous urinary tract infections and pressure sores from sitting so much. And there are catheters to deal with, something Von Rosen said means getting up in the middle of the night to empty the catch bag.

“I still have pain in my upper body; my back actually. One of my ribs won’t stay in place, and I have spasms in my legs when I move in my sleep. The pain wakes me up.”

Doing things most of us take for granted becomes lengthy, often impossible. “Just certain things you can’t do,” she said, “like taking the dog for a walk, going into the kitchen and throwing together something to eat, getting ready and going out the door in twenty minutes. Everything takes so long. It’s frustrating to do the little things you never thought about before.”

For Von Rosen, life has been reduced to dealing with her injury and healing from it. She gets up at 9:00 a.m., when various friends show up to help her get into the Swiss-made exercise machine her father purchased to help build her muscles. She spends hours on it each day. Three days a week, she goes out for physical therapy. She does standing exercises in a special frame at least a half-hour twice a day. She also hooks up her Acuscope, a device reported to have pain management properties.

She recently took time off to attend a day held in her honor at Turf Paradise, something she said was rewarding; most rewarding because she stood in leg braces for the world to see. Her voice turns cheery when she talks about the Doug O’ Neill-trained Get Back Anne, who raced at Santa Anita, and a thoroughbred weanling named Running for Anne.

She does not feel forgotten. Ten months after her injury, friends still show up at her apartment to help in many ways. Because she does not yet have a hand controlled auto, they take her to physical therapy, help her shop, and assist with dishes and laundry.

I’m grateful and thankful for all the people around me to help me get through this; to my family in Germany and my family in racing.”

While grateful, she’s dislikes needing the help. “I’ve been lucky because the support is still there,” she said. “But the hardest part is having people take care of me because I’m so independent. It’s frustrating because everything takes so long. But it’s something I just have to bear.”

And yes, sometimes there are tears. “Some days I feel alone and cry.”

For Von Rosen and others like her, that delicate balance between hope and despair, lament and positive affirmation, giving in and going on is daily fare. She currently resides at the intersection of perspiration and aspiration.

Jockeys know the risks and accept them. Still, the exhilaration of being atop a half-ton racehorse, traveling inches apart at 40 MPH, with a paycheck, adulation and another “win” beside your name waiting at the finish line, is something never easy to give up. When it’s snatched away too soon and replaced by a permanent lifelong injury, it’s traumatic.

The same courage needed for the former is essential in the latter. Despite the daily battle, frustration and sometimes sadness, Von Rosen is not about to give up. Encouraging words are helpful, she said. Active on Facebook, she relishes chats, post comments, and especially prayers.

The “why it happened?” remains a work in progress. ”I know there is meaning in what happened to me. I think God had a reason, I just don’t know what it is. I do know that whatever happens, there is a purpose out there for me. I am going to get out of this chair. I don’t know when, but I will.”

Rev. Eddie Donnally, a former Eclipse Award winning writer and author of the bio, “Ride the White Horse,” is one of five former jockeys who founded “Jockeys and Jeans,” dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of race riding. The inaugural Jockeys and Jeans event last winter at Tampa Bay Downs raised more than $22,000 for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund, and the second event is set for May 30 at  Indiana Grand Racing and Casino.   

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Napravnik Relishes New Role

Two months after she announced her pregnancy and subsequent racing retirement to the world, nationally renowned jockey Rosie Napravnik was taking a rare break in the Fair Grounds office of her trainer/husband, Joe Sharp.

On Dec. 29 at 10 a.m., Napravnik and Sharp already had been in the stable area for five hours — tending (with staff) to the 28 horses currently under the care of former jockey Sharp. The 30-year-old went out on his own last fall after nine years as an assistant trainer — first for Mike Stidham, then Mike Maker.

Napravnik, 26, now is Sharp’s official assistant trainer — a role she has fully embraced.

“It’s great to be able to work alongside Joe,” she said. “I try to be as useful as possible, and I’m learning a lot from him. It took a little while to get with the flow of things, because it’s been a long time since I’ve really been active in the barn. I had to get back in touch with my horsemanship side.”

That side dates to her youth, when she rode in various non-racing equestrian sports.

“It’s all coming back to me,” said Napravnik, dressed on this rainy morning in basic barn wear with a ballcap covering her red locks. “I really enjoy helping to take care of the horses. So much is involved in the process of getting a horse ready for racing, and the stable has grown faster than anyone could have hoped.”

Napravnik issued her stunning revelation in October — in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner’s circle. She claimed the event aboard her “favorite horse of all time,” Untapable, on whom Napravnik also won the second Kentucky Oaks race of her career. The Distaff was the jockey’s second Breeders’ Cup win; in 2012, she captured the Juvenile on Shanghai Bobby.

The four-time leading Fair Grounds jockey couldn’t have ridden out on a higher note. On the day Napravnik retired (which actually was Nov. 1, the second day of the Breeders’ Cup weekend during which her mount was the runner-up in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies), she was ranked sixth among North American jockeys with earnings of more than $13.4 million in 2014.

Napravnik’s career earnings climbed to more than $71.3 million in less than 10 years. She has broken numerous “only female jockey ever” records, and she has won track champion titles and other honors in a wide range of prestigious categories.

So right now, while Napravnik focuses on the baby’s expected arrival in June, countless racing fans are wondering if and when the popular jockey will return to racing.

The answer: Napravnik just doesn’t know.

“I feel like people think I’m keeping that decision a secret, but I’m really not,” she insisted. “I’m just playing things by ear. I’m really excited about the baby, and I’m having fun with what I’m doing now.

“At this point, I don’t miss being a jockey, but when Untapable starts racing again this year, I’m probably going to wish that I was riding,” she added with a rueful laugh. “But I’m just taking it day by day.”

Most of those days are spent in Sharp’s racing stable, which has done consistently well since its formation. During just four months of racing in 2014, horses from the multiple stakes-placed stable earned nearly $500,000. Through Sunday, the Sharp-trained horses’ current-year earnings stood at $172,110.

But Sharp and Napravnik know it’s the day-to-day operation, decisions and attention to detail that result in the bigger picture of financial success. And although he already had a skilled and devoted staff in place before Napravnik’s retirement, Sharp said he deeply appreciates having his wife on board.

“The thing that makes Rosie an especially big help is the fact that she comes from such a strong horsemanship background,” Sharp said. “She’s a good horsewoman, not just limited to her riding abilities. So for her, making this transition wasn’t that huge, and she’s always seen and heard how I do things around the barn.

“Still, Rosie’s learned a lot of new things. She jumped right in and is good with the help. For as accomplished as she has been in her own career, when it was time to work with me, she was very good about being a student, an understudy, wanting to learn and not coming in with a chip on her shoulder.

“In a husband-and-wife setting, that would be tough enough — let alone when the wife is nationally renowned, and then she comes here to work for basic wages. But she’s made the transition just great, and I communicate with her in the same way I do with any employee. Rosie didn’t come in here expecting preferential treatment. When she rode for me in races, it was the same way. And I see a happier Rosie!”

Contributing to that happiness has been the opportunity to gallop several of the Sharp stable’s less fractious thoroughbreds in the mornings. But the couple recently agreed to end that part of Napravnik’s routine.

“We saw a couple of accidents on the track last week,” Sharp explained. “So we said, ‘Let’s not push our luck.’ Rosie will still pony horses for us in the mornings, until she gets to where she doesn’t feel physically comfortable doing even that. We’re starting to see a (baby) bump, but she’s still very active here at the track.”

Napravnik is active at home, too, during her limited hours away from the Fair Grounds. The couple owns a house in New Orleans as well as in Louisville, Kentucky, where Sharp’s horses race from April to June at Churchill Downs. (In July, the stable moves to New York’s Belmont Park and then to Saratoga Race Course in August.)

While many expectant mothers spend months decorating their nursery, Napravnik admitted that making sure all the basics are in place (crib, diapers, clothing) might be the best she can do while she’s still working. But she’s secure in the knowledge that she can devote much more time to additional details after the birth of the baby (a boy, as she and Sharp have learned), when her role shifts to stay-at-home mom.

“We’ll prepare nurseries in both homes,” she said, “starting with this one, and then do the nursery in Louisville after we get there. I know everything will fall into place at the right time.”

As for what to name their baby, Sharp and Napravnik have only begun casual discussions on the topic, since there’s still plenty of time to make a choice.

“We’ll probably change our minds a lot before he’s born,” Napravnik said with a smile.

The couple’s son will find a doting half-sibling in Sharp’s 10-year-old daughter, Aiyana, whose mother is jockey Chamisa Goodwin. Aiyana divides her school year between the homes of both of her parents, and she spends summers with Sharp and Napravnik (with whom she shares a passion for riding in the hunter/jumper realm), so the children will have ample opportunities to bond.

“Aiyana is very excited about being able to help out with this baby,” said Sharp, who will be a willing hands-on partner to Napravnik when it comes to diaper changes and similar tasks, having served as a full-time dad during Aiyana’s early years.

Some of the owners in Sharp’s stable might seem like family members, too.

“We’re very appreciative of all the owners who’ve been supportive of our business and our relationship,” Sharp said. “We have a nice, broad group of owners who have been active in sending us horses, claiming horses and letting us run them where they belong. Those people have really helped us get off to such a great start.”

One such owner is Ken Ramsey, who helped launch Sharp’s stable by sending him 11 horses last fall.

“Joe is off to an outstanding start,” Ramsey said. “He started out winning more than 40 percent of his races, and he’s still winning at a very high percentage. I texted him the other day and said, ‘You’ve got a very promising future. Whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it well.’ Joe has the right work ethic, attitude, background and connections to be a success.”

Napravnik won the 2014 Louisiana Derby and other races on the Ramsey-owned Vicar’s in Trouble, who also was her Kentucky Derby mount. But the small horse drew the dreaded No. 1 post position and was repeatedly slammed into the rail to put him out of contention early in the race.

“It’s my opinion that Rosie will be back after she has one or two children,” Ramsey said. “I don’t think we’ve seen the end of Rosie Napravnik the jockey just yet.”

Sharp and Napravnik have indicated that they’d like to have two children together, and Napravnik said she’s hoping to have the second baby as soon as possible. After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether she’ll make a comeback.

“Last summer, I said to Joe, ‘If I retire tomorrow, I would be a thousand percent satisfied with my accomplishments,’ ” Napravnik said. “And even after saying that, I won a Breeders’ Cup race on Untapable. So there would be no regrets if I never go back to riding. I don’t feel that there are any opportunities I didn’t get that I should have gotten, or that I didn’t take advantage of.”

Remarkably, the baby’s due date of June 9 is exactly 10 years after the day Napravnik (then 17) scored a win in her very first race, at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland. She marvels at all that has happened since.

“On that day at Pimlico, if you had told me that in 10 more years I would have won two Breeders’ Cup races and two Kentucky Oaks, ridden in the Kentucky Derby three times, be married and have a child on the way, I would have said, ‘There’s no way that life could ever be that good,’ ” Napravnik said.

Luckily, she would have been wrong.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cody Jensen Takes AQHA Honors

Jockey Cody Jensen is as tough as they come, and to prove it, he earned his second consecutive honor as AQHA champion jockey of 2014.

The rider, who has already overcome numerous injuries in past years, this year rode champion Hes Relentless to a stakes victory, despite a freshly broken collarbone. He also piloted Houdini, Lovethewayyoulie, Kiss My Hocks and Viva Mi Corazon to Grade 1 victories.

His 305 mounts won 52 starts and earned $2,879,190 during the year. Jensen was also the recipient of the 2014 Sam Thompson Memorial Award, an honor given to a jockey by his peers who feel his personal character and behavior on and off the racetrack reflect positively on the sport.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Highlights from the 2015 Jockeys’ Guild Assembly January 19-20

Highlights from the 2015 Jockeys’ Guild Assembly January 19-20


For immediate release


(LEXINGTON, KY) January 22, 2015.  The welfare and safety of riders served as the backbone for discussion at the 2015 Jockeys’ Guild Assembly, which concluded on Jan. 20, following two days of sessions at the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida.


Attended by both active and retired jockeys from the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industries, the underlying theme of this year’s Assembly was the importance of unity among the Guild and the racing industry to advance the safety of the human athletes in the sport.

“It was a very successful Assembly,” said Guild Chairman John Velazquez. “It was great to see everyone coming together -- people from the past and the future generation. We are going in the right direction with the Guild.”


In his opening remarks, Terry Meyocks, the Guild’s National Manager, paid tribute to jockey Juan Saez, who died from injuries he suffered in a fall last year at Indiana Downs. Meyocks also recognized the “founding fathers” of the Guild, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. This special anniversary will be marked with celebrations at racetracks across the country on Aug. 1.


“During the 75-year history of the Guild we have definitely made the racing environment safer for our riders, something that also benefits racetracks, owners, and trainers,” Meyocks said. “However, we have continued work to do with the industry in that area. We also need to make sure the jockeys and their families are getting the proper benefits when they are injured. Riders still get injured; we know it’s a dangerous game. Whether it’s spinal cord or head injuries, we want to work with everybody in the industry to prevent them the best we can moving forward.”


             Among the safety issues addressed at the Assembly was the diagnosis and management of concussions. The presentation featured Dr. Mark R. Lovell, who has worked with athletes for 25 years as a concussion expert. Lovell said jockeys would be well served to participate in the “ImPACT” protocol, a program that is mandatory in other professional sports and provides a diagnosis for concussions and subsequent treatment. Lovell said all riders should receive a “baseline” test that can be used as reference in the event of a concussion. Although not mandatory, baseline testing is currently available for riders through funding from The Jockey Club.


             Bryan Shaffer, a Technical Operations Specialist with Chesapeake Testing, discussed helmet and vest safety. He reviewed the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) -- the gold standard for helmet testing -- and outlined the importance of having equipment that meets safety standards. Shaffer cautioned riders to make sure their helmets meet ASTM’s guidelines following spills in which damage may have occurred.


             Nancy LaSala, the Executive Director of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund, provided an update on the financial status of the organization, which currently provides assistance to 61 disabled riders.


LaSala said the PDJF “has no guaranteed funding” and that the monies currently in the fund will only provide benefits for the next 15 months. LaSala urged riders to contribute to the “$1 start” donation program, which began in 2014 at 26 participating tracks across the country, and generated $57,000. She noted that with more than 360,000 starts by jockeys in races last year, the amount of money from this program could be substantial if all riders participated.


             Mike Ziegler of the NTRA’s “Safety and Integrity Alliance” spoke about current protocols in place at 23 accredited racetracks and further safety measures the NTRA will seek in order to provide a safe environment for both horse and rider. One of the new initiatives the NTRA will require to be implemented at tracks is a “Jockey Injury Database”.


             Joe Carr of Duralock High Performance Fencing addressed the Assembly on safety rails that come equipped with a “Safe Sonic Warning System”.


             Corey Johnsen, the founder of and President of Kentucky Downs, discussed the website he debuted last year. Its aim is to promote jockeys and the roles they play in this industry through features and statistical information that will engage both fans and handicappers. “The mission here is to promote horse racing via jockeys and to raise money for the PDJF,” Johnsen remarked during his presentation.


             Scott Wells, President of the Thoroughbred Racing Association and President and General Manager at Remington Park, spoke about the advantages of utilizing riders to market racing to the public. As an illustration, Wells showed several commercials to the audience in which jockeys were featured to promote Remington Park and its casino.


             J. Curtis Linnell, the Vice-President of Operations and Wagering Analysis for the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, spoke about betting exchanges and the integrity issues associated with them. Linnell voiced concern about bettors being able to wager on horses to lose, and the lack of transparency in some of the exchanges. Linnell also expressed concern about Exchange Wagering regulations being outsourced by the New Jersey Racing Commission to industry participants.


            Kenneth Munao, Sr. of Morgan Stanley discussed the importance of money management, a practice he said should begin well in advance of a rider’s retirement. Munao pointed to a program that debuted in 2014 at Chicago tracks, where riders designated $5 from each of their mount fees and had it placed into individual retirement accounts.


In other Assembly news, the Guild passed a bylaw that created a new position, Director Emeritus. Retired jockey Ramon Dominguez, formerly a Guild director, will fill that role.

Guild members elected two new active jockeys to serve on the Board of Directors, Alex Birzer and Julien Leparoux.

             At the Jockeys’ Guild Awards’ Dinner at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19, the following individuals were recognized:


          Eddie Garcia, the all-time leading Quarter Horse rider in wins at Los Alamitos, was presented with the Jacky Martin Award for exceptional performance during the 2014 season.


            Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens, a former Guild president, was presented with the Laffit Pincay, Jr. Award for his outstanding performance in 2014, a year in which he underwent knee replacement surgery and remarkably returned to the saddle three months later


          Corey Johnsen, an ardent supporter of the PDJF and the creator of, a new website dedicated to promoting jockeys, was recognized with the Eddie Arcaro Award for his exceptional commitment to jockeys and the Guild.


          The inaugural Courage Award was presented to disabled riders, Anne Von Rosen and Michael Straight.


            The Guild also recognized past Presidents, Harry Richards, Sterling Young, Eddie Arcaro, Sam Boulmetis, Sr., Bill Boland, Walter Blum, Bill Shoemaker, Jerry Bailey, Gary Stevens and Pat Day.  Former National Manager John Giovanni was also recognized as well as Laffit Pincay, Jr., current Chairman John Velazquez, and current Vice-Chairman G.R. Carter for their continuing contribution.


For more information contact Jockeys’ Guild office at (859) 523-5625.




Monday, January 12, 2015

Castellanto Named Jockey of the Week

Javier Castellano won 11 races, including Gulfstream Park's Grade II Fort Lauderdale Stakes, to be named the Jockeys' Guild Jockey of the Week. The title goes to the week's outstanding jockey in the opinion of a panel of industry experts and the public consensus. They looked at races run from January 5-11.

Castellano, who rode three winners on Sunday, posted 11 wins, 8 seconds and 7 thirds in 41 starts for earnings of $398,825 during the week. A $2 mutuel ticket on each of his 11 winning mounts returned an average of $5.24.

In the Fort Lauderdale Stakes on Saturday, he rode the 9-5 favorite Mshawish for trainer Todd Pletcher and Al Shaqab Racing. After racing in third and fourth, Mshawish came wide off the turn and prevailed by a neck at the wire.

"It was pretty tough today," Castellano said. "This is a horse that is a little difficult to ride. You need to cover him up and unfortunately today he was a little more in the clear. A couple of jockeys smooched a little bit to be in a forward position and I just tried to cover up my horse the best I can. The way he did it today I was very impressed, because he fought a lot in the beginning but still fought at the end. He really gives you everything he has. He deserved to win the race today."

The son of a former jockey, Castellano got his start in his native Venezuela in 1996. He moved to the United States in June 1997, riding on the South Florida circuit. He moved to New York in 2001 and finished sixth in the standings. The next year, he was second.

In 2004, he won the Breeders' Cup Classic with Horse of the Year Ghostzapper. Castellano won his first Triple Crown race in 2006 when he won the Preakness with Bernardini.

In 2011, he won 11 Grade I races, more than any other rider that year. On February 24, 2012, he notched up his 3,000th victory, riding Virtuously at Gulfstream Park.

On January 18, 2014, he won his first Eclipse Award as top jockey of 2013.

Castellano currently ranks atop the jockey standings in both wins and earnings at Gulfstream Park. He's also leading the nation in both categories for 2015. He's one of three finalists for the 2014 Eclipse Award for top jockey.

The Jockey of the Week is the centerpiece of, a new website offering a unique blend of news, features, social media and statistics that will appeal to racing's casual fans, as well as seasoned handicappers.

JockeyTalk360 is collaborating with the Jockeys' Guild and other industry partners to bring fans closer to racing's talented and fearless athletes. A majority of the revenue generated by the site is earmarked for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America's Best Racing, the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, the Jockeys’ Guild, the Paulick Report, the Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, Turf Publicists of America, and the public consensus.

To find out more about the great sport of horse racing, and to learn more about your favorite jockeys visit

Monday, January 12, 2015


Tom Knust has heard the lines about how “Elvis has left the building” umpteen times.

The agent who represents jockey Elvis Trujillo is used to it, same as he’s becoming accustomed to the 30-year-old Panamanian making a mark for himself on the highly competitive Southern California circuit, finishing high in the standings at every meet since the two paired up a couple years ago.

Trujillo (yes, his mother named him after The King) scored his second stakes win of the 11-day old meet Saturday when he rode Calculator to an impressive victory in the Grade III Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile. This could be his Derby horse.

          “He’s got a good combination,” Knust said: “A very sound work ethic and talent as a rider. Put those two things together and you’re going to be successful here.

          “He rides for Jerry Hollendorfer, Peter Miller and Doug O’Neill, but we also win races for smaller stables, like Bobby Wayne Grayson, Jorge Periban and Rafael Becerra. We’re riding for some good people and we’re very happy with where we’re at right now.”

          Miller echoed Knust’s sentiments after Trujillo rode 3-5 favorite Calculator to his maiden victory in the Sham, overcoming the risk of a wide trip throughout to score by 4 ¼ lengths.

          The Equibase chart read: “CALCULATOR five wide into the first turn, stalked outside foes on the backstretch, bid three deep leaving the second turn to gain the lead and won clear under urging.”

          Added Miller, who also saddled Rock Shandy to finish second and St. Joe Bay to finish fourth in the Sham: “I was very concerned with where Calculator was on the first turn, because it looked like five or six of them were sending, and I said, ‘Oh, no. We’re going to be 10-wide.’

          “But Elvis saw the same thing and he adjusted and brought the horse back into maybe the three or four path. We had a wide trip, but there’s less trouble out wide.”

          Through Saturday, Trujillo was tied for second in Santa Anita’s standings with eight victories, five behind perennial leader Rafael Bejarano.  Santa Anita Communications Dept.
Monday, January 12, 2015

Unity, risk reduction to be focus of US Jockeys' Guild Assembly

While the eyes of the U.S. racing world will be focused on Gulfstream Park on Saturday night when this year’s Eclipse Award winners will be announced, next Monday a less-heralded but equally important event will take place in South Florida when jockey John Velazquez offers the opening remarks for the 2015 Jockeys’ Guild Assembly. 

Not a union, the Guild advocates for measures to improve the health and safety of jockeys. Held annually, the Assembly brings together Guild representatives from across the country, riders, and representatives from industries whose work and products can enhance jockeys’ welfare on and off the track.

The dates of the Assembly, which runs from Jan. 19-20, are strategic, said Terry Meyocks, the Guild’s national manager since 2007. 

“A lot of our riders are in South Florida for the winter, but we also want to capitalize on the Eclipse Awards” to bring attention to the Guild, he said.

This year’s Assembly marks the Guild’s 75th anniversary, a milestone at which Meyocks sees an opportunity to reflect on the organization’s successes while setting goals for its future. 

The theme, he said, is that the Thoroughbred racing industry has to work together for the safety of jockeys and exercise riders.

“Over the years, the existence of the Guild has helped racing create a safer environment by working with tracks and horsemen,” he said. “We know injuries will happen, but we need to do everything we can to reduce injuries for both jockeys and exercise riders.”

While proud of what the Guild has accomplished, Meyocks is relentless in his insistence that the racing industry needs to keep improving, pointing to the 2014 deaths of promising young jockey Juan Saez in a racing accident at Indiana Grand racetrack and of exercise rider Juan Vasquez at Belmont Park. 

Among the topics at this year’s Assembly is an issue facing not just jockeys, but athletes in a range of sports: concussions.

If major sports like football and hockey were slow to acknowledge the extent of the dangers associated with player concussions, horse racing in the U.S. has been positively glacial, with few standard concussion protocols and none nationwide. Practices in the U.S. are in stark contrast to those in the U.K., which for more than a decade has required baseline concussion testing for jockeys

Such testing is in its infancy here, and in place at only a few racetracks.

The man who developed the testing protocols here is Dr. Mark Lovell, chairman of the board and chief scientific officer of ImPACT Applications and founding director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical Center’s Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Lovell has also developed and directed neuropsychological testing programs for the National Football League and the National Hockey League. Lovell will be a featured speaker at the Assembly, his topic “Setting the Pace in the Management of Concussion.”

“Our industry is so far behind,” lamented Meyocks. "We’re probably 15 to 20 years behind Europe.”

Assembly participants will also hear from Brian Shaffer of Chesapeake Testing, a Maryland-based organization that tests safety equipment, including helmets, for athletes in a variety of sports. 

One of the challenges facing the Guild is the funding to implement safety initiatives at racetracks. Meyocks has long advocated for greater promotion of jockeys as a way to market horse racing and develop fans, and aims to do just that, along with raising awareness of the financial needs of injured jockeys through the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Corey Johnson, president of both and Kentucky Downs racetrack, will address the assembly on the topic of promoting jockeys through social media.  

Other speakers will include Ken Munao of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management to offer advice to jockeys on retirement planning and J. Curtis Linnell of the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau on betting exchanges and integrity.

Regional Guild managers will also offer updates, as will Mike Ziegler of the NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance.

Though not on this year’s agenda, the topic of the Guild’s Jockey Injury Database is one that Meyocks hopes will be discussed informally. 

“We’re having problems with the industry supporting it,” he said of the program established in 2012 to track injuries to riders. The database was created to collect information on injuries that jockeys sustain at the racetrack, including where, when, and how injuries occur; the types of equipment the jockey was wearing at the time of the injury, and the nature and severity of the injuries.

The information is then sent -- with jockeys’ names removed -- to the University of Kentucky for analysis, but Meyocks is frustrated by the slow adoption of the program by racetracks, which he thinks offer long-term benefits to the tracks themselves. 

“Everyone’s worried about the cost of insurance and workers’ compensation, and this information can help us see when and where accidents happen, and what caused them,” he pointed out. “We’re trying to reduce risks to benefit the racetracks.” 

Also on Meyocks’ list of concerns is better testing of riders’ safety equipment, including vests and helmets; the use of shockwave therapy on horses, which if administered improperly could mask pain due to an injury that could imperil both the horse and the rider in a race; and the lack of paramedics on-course at many tracks in the U.S. 

While not all of those topics will be addressed at next week’s Assembly, the gathering will give Meyocks and other Guild members the opportunity to talk with industry representatives and members of the media about these and other issues facing riders.

“The risk is shared by all stakeholders,” maintained Meyocks. “And the industry benefits from a strong voice for jockeys.”


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