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Thursday, July 10, 2014

JockeyTalk360 Will Spotlight Horse Racing’s Human Athletes

A new website dedicated to jockeys and a jockey of the week award will debut on July 14. JockeyTalk360.comwill offer 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.
“We are pleased to be able to collaborate with the entire JockeyTalk360.comteam to bring this site and its related activities to racing fans,” said Jockeys’ Guild National Manager Terry Meyocks. “The site will help to feature jockeys from across the nation, and will also help us build a larger fan base for racing throughout the country.”
A regular feature of the site will be the JockeyTalk360.comJockey of the Week, selected by a panel of industry experts. Additional features include extensive jockey statistics (powered by, profiles, videos, a Hall of Fame section and a weekly quiz where visitors to the site can win great jockey memorabilia.

"We feel that a venture like this is long overdue," said JockeyTalk360 President Corey Johnsen. "We see this as the first stop for racing fans who want to learn more about these men and women who make the sport possible."

For more information, e-mail

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Juan Saez is a new jockey with a knack for racing

Last December, New York jockey Luis Saez showed his agent, former Louisvillian Richard DePass, video on his phone of some races in his native Panama.

“I said, ‘Man, was that you when you were a kid?’ ” De Pass recalled asking the 23-year-old jockey. “Because you could see it was in Panama. He said, ‘No, that’s my brother. He won the first race he rode, and he won two the next day.’

So I said, ‘Does he have the bug?’ ” meaning he’s an apprentice. “He says, ‘Yeah, he’s on the card Saturday and rides the card Sunday.’ I said, ‘No he doesn’t. Take him off.’ ”

And that’s how Juan Saez, who turned 17 a couple of weeks ago, wound up in Kentucky and riding at Ellis Park, where he’s tied for wins at five apiece with fellow Panamanian Didiel Osorio after the meet’s first four days. Saez also has five seconds and three thirds in 21 mounts.

Saez is a graduate of the renowned Laffit Pincay Jr. Jockey School in Panama, where he won 3 of 11 starts before DePass had his brother pull the plug.

Apprentices have one year from their fifth victory to receive the weight allowances that encourage trainers to use new jockeys. DePass saw so much promise that he didn’t want Juan using up that time in Panama, where there are fewer riding opportunities.

Apprentice jockeys are allowed 10 fewer pounds at first than established jockeys. Saez has won enough that his weight allowance was cut to seven pounds.

Waiting on paperwork, Saez did not ride for four months before starting his U.S. career June 19 at Churchill Downs with a close second-place finish. The next day he won Churchill’s early daily double, finishing the meet with a 5-7-2 record in 27 mounts.

DePass said it was too close to Saratoga’s elite meet to start Juan riding in New York. Instead he sent the teen to Julio Espinoza, a five-time Churchill riding titlist who has been an agent since retiring.

“As soon as I saw him work a horse the first time, I was really stunned,” said Espinoza, also from Panama. “I said, ‘Man, I got the real deal here.’ Because he acted like he’d been here 10 years.

“My biggest surprise was the patience he’s got. He doesn’t freak out if a horse breaks bad. If they send him to the lead and (another) horse goes in front of him, he doesn’t get excited. He just sits there.”

“There are a lot of things I don’t know, and I’m learning every day,” Saez said, with Espinoza translating. “It’s so exciting. I never thought I’d be riding for the kind of people I’m riding for. It’s a dream come true. I like Ellis Park and the track and plan on working hard there trying to win the title.”

Saez said his dad is a farmer in Panama and he grew up with cattle and work horses.

“I’ve been riding horses since I was about 2 years old,” he said through Espinoza. “Luis and I would race on the horses, and our father would get mad all the time because we’d ride the horses to the point where they were so exhausted.

“… I’ve wanted to be a jockey since Luis went to jockey school. Even before he started riding, I wanted to go to the racetrack, too.”

Trainer Donald Habeeb had a wait-and-see attitude when he named Saez to ride Transylvania Flash in an $8,000 claiming race June 21 at Churchill because the intended rider was out of town.

“I just thought we’d give him a shot and take the weight off,” Habeeb said. “I was pleasantly surprised when I saw him on a horse. He just looked more accomplished than I’d ever seen an apprentice. I’ve seen him make some mistakes, and he’s young. But I was happy to have him on there once I saw him ride his first few races.”

And even happier when Transylvania Flash led all the way, holding off odds-on favorite Oldwick. Transylvania Flash won again, for $16,000, with Saez on Ellis’ opening card.

D. Wayne Lukas, who last year rode Luis Saez on eventual 3-year-old champion Will Take Charge, was among the first trainers to put Juan on horses.

“He looks like a race-rider, acts like one, too,” Lukas said of Juan Saez. “He’s very strong for his age. I think the sky’s the limit. Another 5,000 horses, he’ll be all right.

“When (other horses) run to them, most bug boys will panic. They think they’ve got to go with whoever is moving. Somebody will move to him and he’s got a little of that Pat Day in him. If he’s not ready to move, he sits, and then he moves when he’s ready. That’s hard for a bug boy, to sit and wait and have any kind of patience.”

Lukas said one thing Saez shouldn’t wait on is learning to speak English. “Because at some point, trainers are just going to say, ‘Heck, I can’t communicate’ and will quit him.”

Espinoza says that is a priority for Saez, who attends classes at the Backside Learning Center on the Churchill backstretch and will get a tutor. In the meantime, Espinoza, with whom Saez lives, goes around with the young rider to discuss strategy with trainers on the morning of races.

French-born jockey Julien Leparoux, who won the 2006 Eclipse Award as apprentice jockey and the 2009 Eclipse as outstanding jockey, agrees learning English is critical.

“He’s ridden good races, and horses run for him,” Leparoux said. “He needs to learn a lot still. The only thing for me is it’s tough to communicate with him. ... There was one race when he almost dropped himself doing bad stuff. I tried to explain to him, but I don’t know if he got it. Then when he talked to me, it was in Spanish, and I don’t know Spanish.”

But, Leparoux said, “Knock on wood for him, I think he should be tough to beat at Ellis.”

Contact Jennie Rees at 502-582-4042. Follow her on Twitter @CJ_Jennie, and

Monday, July 07, 2014


Drayden Van Dyke, a leading contender for an Eclipse Award as the nation’s top apprentice jockey in 2014, had the second quadruple of his young career Sunday at Los Alamitos.

Van Dyke, who is two months away from his 20th birthday, swept the first four races on the final day of the first week of the Summer Thoroughbred Festival and is tied atop the jockey standings with Joe Talamo. Both have five victories with four days remaining in the inaugural Festival.

 “I thought it would be a good day,’’ said Van Dyke. “When I looked in the program and I saw I was on an 8-5 shot and a couple of horses who were 2-1 that is always good to see.

“Everything just went perfectly and right to plan in those first four races. To win one or two races in a day is always great, to win three is even better and to win four is awesome.’’

Born in Kentucky and raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Van Dyke, who earned his first  win aboard the Tom Proctor-trained Money Clip last Nov. 21 at Hollywood Park, also won four races April 15 at Turf Paradise.

Son of a jockey (Seth) who still gallops horses for Kentucky-based trainer Dale Romans, Van Dyke finished sixth at the recently-concluded Santa Anita Spring meet with 23 victories after finishing 10th (31 wins) during the Winter/Spring season (Dec. 26, 2013-April 20).

 “My goal is to win the Eclipse Award,’’ he said. “I have a great team with Sarah Wolfe as my agent and Steve Nolan advising me.’’

Van Dyke also credits words of wisdom he’s received from Hall of Fame jockeys Mike Smith and Gary Stevens.

“They’re great in pointing things out to me after a race,’’ he said. “There was a race I won down the hill (about 6 ½ furlongs on turf) at Santa Anita and Mike told me there was one thing I could have done that would have made it a perfect ride.

“It showed me that you can learn something you can do better even when you win the race. I’m looking forward to Del Mar (which begins Thursday, July 17) because I’m going to be staying with Mike.’’
Los Alamitos Communications Department
Wednesday, July 02, 2014


Over 30 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racetracks throughout the U.S. have been invited to participate in the First Annual Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund (PDJF) Day Across America.  Racetracks, fans, jockeys, and industry leaders are being asked to unite in a show of support for the PDJF and its mission on Saturday, July 26, 2014.

The day of awareness-building and fundraising with the theme “Taking The Reins” is to become an annual event. Working with their local jockey colony, racetracks will promote the PDJF in fan-friendly ways that may include autograph sessions, photo opportunities, video spots, and much more.

“We have contacted each race track that will be running on July 26th and have had a positive response that will raise funds for, and awareness of, the PDJF,” said Thoroughbred Racing Associations President Scott Wells. “Our goal is to educate our sport’s fans that the PDJF is a charity that must be sustained for the welfare of disabled riders and their families.”

“Naturally we are also hopeful that tracks continue to engage their patrons on behalf of the PDJF throughout their race meets,” Wells added.  Racetracks are welcome to use PDJF-provided signage and marketing ideas and are encouraged to draw up some of their own.

“PDJF is not just an industry acronym or letters on a ball cap,” said Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez, Chairman of Jockeys’ Guild and PDJF Board member.  “This organization is dedicated to improving the lives and welfare of the men and women who face lifelong challenges due to their disabilities. They can no longer compete or provide adequately for their families. PDJF Day Across America is an opportunity to educate our fans about the PDJF and emphasize the importance of raising funds.”

The PDJF is a 501(c)(3) charity that provides financial assistance to former jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries. Founded in 2006, PDJF has disbursed more than $3 million to permanently disabled jockeys, most of whom have sustained paralysis or brain injuries. The fund is a cooperative effort among race tracks, jockeys, horsemen, and enthusiasts.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Download the “Taking The Reins” color graphic from Photobucket.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014


First impressions can have a lasting effect. And jockey Kevin Krigger is unlikely to forget his first appearance at Tampa Bay Downs any time soon.

The 30-year-old Krigger, who rode Goldencents to victory in the 2013 Santa Anita Derby and was also aboard the colt in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and the Preakness, rode three winners with two seconds and a third on the first day of the Oldsmar oval’s second annual Summer Festival of Racing.

Krigger amassed 44 points in the $5,000 Jockeys’ Challenge, six points ahead of Ademar Santos, who also rode three winners. The leader after Tuesday’s card – which begins at 12:30 p.m. – earns first prize of $2,500, with $1,500 for the runner-up and $1,000 for third.

“I’m looking forward to that bonus,” said a smiling Krigger, who is currently based in south Florida. “I’m going to work my butt off to make it happen.”

So is Santos, whose three victories from seven mounts gave him 27 winners for the 2013-14 Tampa Bay Downs meeting, which officially concluded today. Santos arrived from Indiana Grand Race Course to compete in the Summer Festival and finished eighth in the final standings.

Tuesday’s card represents the start of the 2014-15 season – the 89th anniversary of Tampa Bay Downs’ opening.

A crowd of about 1,000 attended Monday’s Thoroughbred action, which was also viewed by simulcast bettors across North America.

Krigger sounded as if he will be eager to return to the Oldsmar oval after Tuesday. “I’ve always thought about when I was going to ride here, and I made it today,” he said. “I like it. They have a beautiful turf course, and today it’s been working out good. I’m proud of my horses for running good for me and I’m thanking God to be here.”

All three of Krigger’s victories came on the turf for owner Frank Carl Calabrese and trainer Rasharn Creque. They teamed to win the fourth race with 3-year-old filly Ten Easy Street and the fifth with 6-year-old gelding Holy Smoke, now 5-for-12 lifetime on the turf.

The Calabrese-Creque-Krigger combination turned to first-time starter Dreaming of Flori in the eighth and final race, and she responded with a runaway victory from Scarlett Del going five furlongs on the turf. Krigger and Creque are both from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Summer Festival, first held last year, is designed to boost horsemen’s purses by giving Tampa Bay Downs status as a year-round Thoroughbred racing facility.

Horsemen responded by filling fields for both day’s cards. A total of 60 horses competed today, compared to 49 on the first day in 2013.

“This is the greatest thing in the world,” said trainer Dennis Ward, who finished the meeting in seventh place with 22 victories. “You have all these guys coming in from south Florida, like Frank Calabrese, and they love it. This is my home base, and the purses probably will go up again this year (the 2014-15 meeting is scheduled to resume Nov. 29).

“If they did this a month earlier and a month later I might stay here all summer,” Ward added. “You can’t ruin this (main dirt) racetrack – mud, wet, dry, you can’t ruin it – and they did a heck of a job this summer preparing the turf course for today.”

Count Ocala horseman Chad Stewart as another Summer Festival fan, and not just because he won two races – the first with 3-year-old gelding Jr. Swift and the seventh with 5-year-old gelding Jive On.

“There are more horses here than we expected, and the competition is very good,” Stewart said. “If they can keep getting purses up, it’s going to entice better fields of horses.”

 In addition to his victory in the first race on Jr. Swift, Santos rode 4-year-old gelding Harveson to a come-from-behind triumph in the third for trainer Michael Fennessy and captured the sixth race on 5-year-old mare Our Niece for trainer Rick Creel.

Following Krigger and Santos in the Jockeys’ Challenge point standings entering Tuesday are Quincy Hamilton, 28; Christopher Emigh, 23; Jose L. Alvarez, 21; Jose E. Lopez, 14; and apprentice jockey Jose Osorio, Jr., 14.

Also today, Octavio Vergara, Jr., was officially crowned the 2013-14 meeting’s leading apprentice rider with five victories, one more than Juan De La Cruz.

Vergara currently is based at Arlington Park, while De La Cruz is at Suffolk Downs. Both opted not to travel to Oldsmar for the final day of the meeting.
Tampa Bay Communications Department
Monday, June 30, 2014

Jockey Carlos Castro Hits 1,000-Win Mark

Jockey Carlos L. Castro secured the 1,000th victory of his career June 27 when he guided Riseseastsetswest to a neck win in the 10th race at Canterbury Park (VIDEO).
The 4-year-old Harlan's Holiday gelding battled a front-running rival down the stretch to prevail in the final stride in the one-mile and 70-yard claiming race for Bruce Reicken, who trains for Veterans Racing Stable.
Castro got his first career winner in 2001 at El Comandante after graduating from the jockey school in his native Puerto Rico. He has been riding in the U.S. for 12 years.
"It feels amazing," Castro said after the milestone victory. "I've been waiting four or five weeks. I knew it was coming."
Castro's 9,683 mounts have earned more than $17 million in purses.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Old Friends Receives Donation From ‘Ride With Rosie’ Campaign

The Old Friends farm for retired Thoroughbreds received a sizable donation on Friday afternoon.

Rosie Napravnik and Wild Turkey distiller Jimmy Russell presented a $35,000 check to Old Friends on Friday. The money was raised through the #RideWithRosie Twitter campaign, in which Napravnik’s fans rooted her and her mounts on during the recent Triple Crown season.

“You know, we have 51 horses on the waiting list. This is going to get a lot of these horses off the waiting list. We were also able to lease the property next to the farm, put up some fence and we’ll be able to have some horses over there and in the end, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about saving money. It’s not about making money. It’s about using the money to give these horses the retirement that they earned,” said Michael Blowen, founder of Old Friends.

$25,000 was raised through the #RideWithRosie campaign. Ken and Sarah Ramsey, the owners of Napravnik’s mount in the Kentucky Derby, Vicar’s in Trouble, donated an additional $10,000 to the total.
Monday, June 30, 2014


With a commanding lead entering the final day of the 2014 Churchill Downs Spring Meet, jockey Corey Lanerie has clinched his fifth Churchill Downs riding title with 55 wins entering Sunday’s closing day card.


The recent recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award captured his first title in the spring of 2012 when he tallied 71 victories, came back and won the title again in the fall of 2012 with 29 wins, took the inaugural September meeting in 2013 with 19 wins and followed that with another title last November where he rode 36 winners.


“Once you’ve accomplished a leading riding title you always want to repeat,” Lanerie said. “It’s definitely a goal I set for myself coming into this spring.


“I try not to look into the standings during the meet because I don’t want it to affect my focus. So I just try to win as many as I can each week to try to earn a good paycheck.”


Lanerie is scheduled to ride nine mounts on Sunday’s card, totaling an unprecedented 253 mounts for the meet, at least 70 more than any other jockey this spring under the Twin Spires.


“My agent plays a big role in my success and has a lot of connections here at Churchill,” Lanerie said. “Other than that, it’s just putting in work; I’ve spent a lot of time here over the years and have been able to build up some great relationships.”


The highlight of Lanerie’s meet was the win he took the $216,200 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) on Molly Morgan for trainer Dale Romans.


“I’d say the Fleur de Lis was probably the most memorable for me this meet, just because it was a graded stakes and we weren’t really expected to win that one.”


Molly Morgan won the Fleur de Lis by four lengths at odds of 10-1, defeating Grade I-winner On Fire Baby and graded stakes winners Fiftyshadesofhay and Flashy American.


Lanerie also was the only jockey to eclipse $2 million in earnings, with $2,006,696 entering the final day of racing at Churchill.


“I’m lucky to have so many opportunities to ride and obviously the more opportunities you have, the more you win,” Lanerie said. “People like me, thank God, and fortunately they ask for me.”


In addition to the 55 wins from his 253 mounts, Lanerie also has scored 47 second-place finishes and has ridden 44 third-place finishers, putting his in-the-money percentage at 60% and win percentage a 22% entering Sunday.  Churchill Downs Communications Department

Friday, June 27, 2014

Speedhorse Magazine and The Jockeys' Guild Announce Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award Nominees

Five Quarter Horse jockeys have been nominated for the 2014 Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award, which honors riders whose lives and character positively impact the Quarter Horse racing industry, both on and off the racetrack. The nominees are: Oscar Delgado, Eddie Garcia, Cody Jensen, Ricky Ramirez and Stormy Smith.

The Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey award is a peer-elected award. Ballots were mailed to Quarter Horse tracks around the country in June to be distributed amongst the active jockey colony. The nominee with the most votes will be presented with the Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award during a special ceremony at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014.

The award is given in honor of the late Sam Thompson, a Quarter Horse jockey who was well liked and highly respected both on and off the racetrack. Thompson died in 2008 due to injuries suffered in a riding accident at Los Alamitos. A leader in the jockey’s room throughout his career, Thompson was a Jockeys' Guild senator and the room representative at Los Alamitos. He was also a council member of the Los Alamitos division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.

Developed as a joint effort between Speedhorse Magazine and the Jockeys' Guild, the Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award was modeled after the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Award for Thoroughbred riders. The Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award is the first and only one of its kind in the Quarter Horse industry.

Previous winners include: Roy Brooks in 2011, Gilbert Ortiz in 2012, and G. R. Carter Jr. in 2013.

For more information, please contact Speedhorse at (405) 288-2145.

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