Jockeys' Guild Español | Login
The Jockeys' Guild
Home History About Us The Jockeys Articles News Newsletters Contact

Jockeys Guild News and Articles

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Garcia Named JockeyTalk360 Jockey of the Week

Martin Garcia won graded stakes from coast to coast to be named the Jockey of the Week. The title goes to the week’s outstanding jockey in the opinion of a panel of industry experts. They looked at races run from July 21-27.

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.

On Saturday, Garcia broke Zenyatta’s mile and a sixteenth track record at Del Mar when he took Fed Biz to a 1:41.00 win in the Grade II San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. On Sunday, he won the Grade I William Hill Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, riding Bayern.

“That was real impressive,” Garcia said after the Haskell. “Obviously, we were going to the lead. He was cruising out there the whole way. He was able to set the fractions on his terms, and when we turned for home, he took off.”
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Martha Claussen’s 60th Birthday Request

For many, turning 60 is a milestone that demands lavish gifts. For others, it’s simply an event to be whisked under the carpet. Martha Claussen, who has been involved in the racing industry for close to 20 years, envisioned another way of celebrating the start of her sixth decade on earth. She is asking that any family, friends and racing industry colleagues honor her by making a donation to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).

The native of Buffalo, New York, rode horses in her youth and fell in love with horse racing in her teens by making a 10-minute drive over the Peace Bridge to Fort Erie, Ontario. She graduated from the University of Miami and moved to Texas where she was affiliated with International Management Group (IMG) for 10 years, managing tennis tournaments.

In 1997, Claussen joined Sam Houston Race Park as publicity director. She was responsible for all racing information for Thoroughbred and American Quarter Horse live meets and quickly began to know the jockey colony. She admired both the rising stars and the stalwart veterans and always referred to them as underrated athletes. In turn, the riders were always willing to share their stories and give of their time. Claussen often joked that working with jockeys was much more enjoyable than with the stars of the men’s and women’s professional tennis tour.

Claussen continues to assist Sam Houston with their racing publicity and serves as the coordinator of the Q-Racing Aces, a fan education initiative created by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). She is also a freelance feature writer for several publications including The Paulick Report, Southern Racehorse, Horseplayernow Magazine and SureBet Racing News. She was honored by the American Horse Publications in 2013 for her SureBet feature on jockey Tad Leggett, who was paralyzed in a spill in 2010.

“Writing that story and hearing the first-hand accounts from both Tad and his wonderful wife, Tina, really moved me,” said Claussen. “They were both so courageous and positive throughout the horrific accident and arduous road to recovery. Tina gave so much credit to Nancy LaSala and the PDJF for their assistance and encouragement.”

Several months ago when her family asked what she wanted for her 60th birthday, Claussen mulled it over and came up with her wish.

“I am so fortunate to have good health, a wonderful family and a career that I love,” she said. “The best gift I could imagine would be to ask for donations for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.”

She reached out to G.R.Carter, who is a board member of the 501(c)(3) public charity that provides financial assistance to former jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries.

“I told her that I loved the idea,” said the all-time leading Quarter Horse rider. “Martha is a ray of sunshine for our industry. She supports our sport with such passion and enthusiasm and always has a smile on her face. What a cool idea from a special lady!”

Months ago, when she thought about turning 60, her first response was to say she hoped she didn’t look “that old.” Now she looks forward to August 2 in a whole new light.

“I hope that PDJF will receive donations so that more funds will be available for any rider injured doing the job that he or she loves,” said Claussen. “That would be the best birthday gift imaginable. But if people want to tell me I don’t look 60, that would be icing on the cake!”

Tax deductable donations can be made online at[1] or by mailing a check, payable to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, P.O. Box 803, Elmhurst, IL 60126.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Veteran Jockey, Trainer, Billy J. Phelps Dies at 76

Longtime jockey Billy J. Phelps, who notched over 2,000 victories during his career, died Friday, July 25. He was 76.

Phelps began riding at age 15. After he retired from the saddle, he was an assistant trainer for many years before working for the Horseman’s Benevolent Protection Association.

Phelps is survived by his wife of 36 years, Mary Ann Phelps; children, Mary Ann, Billie and Tracy Phelps; brothers, Harold, Bobby and Jimmy Phelps; and sisters, Dean Pittman, Marcia Wilburn, Iva Poynter and Vicky O’Brien.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, July 30, at 1 p.m. at the Christ Chapel at Churchill Downs. Donations may be made to the H.B.P.A. or to the Christ Chapel.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Milestone Victory for Jockey Centeno

Jockey Daniel Centeno notched his 2,000th career victory July 27 when Forest Rim won the seventh race at Parx Racing, a 1-mile-and-70-yards allowance test.

The winner is a 4-year-old gelding who races for his Pennsylvania breeder, George Strawbridge and is trained by Jonathan Sheppard.

Centeno, a native of Venezuela whose father was a jockey, has earned more than $36.6 million in 11,256 mounts since getting his first win in his native country in 1990.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Saratoga leading jockey, trainer to sign autographs for charity

Reigning Saratoga Race Course champion trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Javier Castellano will sign autographs to benefit the St. Baldrick's Foundation on Sunday, August 3 as part of Fasig-Tipton's Festival of Racing.


Pletcher and Castellano will be available from 11 a.m. to noon during the special event, to be held at the Jockeys' Silks Room porch. Only one item per guest will be signed.


Guests who make a voluntary donation to benefit children's cancer research will receive an autographed hat, poster or T-shirt donated by Princess of Sylmar, with all proceeds going to the St. Baldrick's Foundation.


"I have always thought Princess of Sylmar is a blessing and gift to be shared," said the filly's principal owner, Ed Stanco. "St. Baldrick's Foundation is a true miracle and I am appreciative that the Princess is able to contribute to the race for a cure for childhood cancer."

 Pletcher, 47, trainer of Princess of Sylmar, has captured four straight Saratoga training titles and 10 overall since his first in 1998, and has twice won the track's signature race, the Grade 1 Travers, with Flower Alley in 2005 and Stay Thirsty in 2011. In 2013, he trained Princess of Sylmar to four consecutive Grade I wins and received his sixth Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer. He has trained 10 horses to 11 year-end championships.


Castellano, 36, won his first Saratoga riding title last summer. He led the country in wins, including the Busher, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama and Beldame stakes aboard Princess of Sylmar, and set a North American single-season record in purses earned with $26,213,507 in 2013 en route to his first Eclipse award as top jockey. A three-time winner of the Travers, he won five races on a single card at Saratoga in 2004, 2005 and 2010.


About St. Baldrick's Foundation

The St. Baldrick's Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. St. Baldrick's coordinates its signature head-shaving events worldwide where participants collect pledges to shave their heads in solidarity with kids with cancer, raising money to fund research. Since 2005, St. Baldrick's has awarded more than $152 million to support lifesaving research, making the Foundation the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants. St. Baldrick's funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts in the world and to younger professionals who will be the experts of tomorrow. Funds awarded also enable hundreds of local institutions to participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials, and the new International Scholar grants train researchers to work in developing countries. For more information about the St. Baldrick's Foundation please call 1.888.899.BALD or visit



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

RCI Meets This Week in Del Mar

North American racing regulators are meeting in Del Mar, California this week to consider various issues, including a proposal by RCI President Ed Martin to expand the jurisdiction of racing commissions over horses in training to better identify those being treated with medications for a condition or injury that might require exclusion from competition or training.


Under the proposal, racing commissions which currently license people working in racing would expand their authority to include horses, effectively extending jurisdiction over equines in training.


At the Grayson Jockey Club Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit earlier this month, a common theme was the necessity to have a better way to identify those horses that may be at risk as well as to ensure that the information is not only received but clearly understood by the trainer and ownership interests.


The United States Congress and the Food and Drug Administration have authorized almost every approved drug on the market for direct or indirect use in a horse based upon the professional judgment of a veterinarian. With the veterinary regulatory policy of twenty-one states requiring the issuance of a written prescription upon client request in lieu of direct veterinary administration, legitimate questions exist as to whether drugs are being used beyond their intended purpose.


Unlike the Olympics and other sports that permit athletes to compete with a Therapeutic Use Exemption when medicated, horse racing has taken a tougher approach by saying if a horse needs a medication that can affect performance, it should not race.


In a memo to the RCI Board of Directors, Martin wrote, The purpose of this effort is not to assess the propriety of veterinary treatment or cite licensees for medication rule violations, but to foster a dialogue between all interested parties - owners, trainers, veterinarians, and regulators - about the health of the horse in making a determination as to whether a horse is plagued with a condition that might require placement on the Veterinarians List to be excluded from competition.


Just as motor vehicle regulations require the registration (licensure) of automobiles and state safety inspections, horse owners or the ownership entity would be required to obtain a license for their horse and authorize the regulator access to the horse and the ability to perform a veterinary treatment audit or out-of-competition testing as appropriate.


In his concept memo, Martin wrote:


“Upon initial registration issued by the appropriate breed registry, notification would be required and appropriate information would be forwarded to the regulator or designee.


Horse licensure is best handled centrally and not on a state-by-state basis. The existing National Racing Compact is the logical entity, but RCI could serve as a regulatory designee. In any event the regulatory entity or designee would need to work closely with the breed registries in developing a plan for implementation.


Just as with an automobile, changes in ownership would have to be officially filed with the regulatory entity or its designee and appropriate documents generated.”


This would obviously need a tremendous amount of work and industry dialogue, Martin said, noting that this concept has not yet been addressed by any national racing organization or any group advocating for legislative intervention. We have a collective moral responsibility to our horses to do whatever we can to identify those who may be at risk. This is an idea worthy of consideration.



In other RCI News:


        A two-day training session is currently underway at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for new racing regulatory personnel. RCI periodically conducts such training for new commissioners or senior regulatory personnel.


        The Model Rules Committee will consider matters pertaining to the use of multiple Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).


        At the request of The JockeysGuild, there will be a discussion about regulatory participation in the Jockey Injury Database.


        At the request of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association there will be a discussion about reciprocity of Veterinarian’s and Steward’s Lists between the United States and Canada.


        There will be a demonstration by The Jockey Club of the Electronic Treatment Records Database offered to regulators to assist in the submission of pre-race veterinary records consistent with existing regulatory requirements.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Velazquez, second in 1995 jockey foot race, tries again in 2014 edition

At 42, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez is not only the second-oldest jockey competing Saturday in the Jockey Foot Race to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, but he's also the only holdover from the last time the race was run at Saratoga Race Course in 1995. A video of the 1995 race is available here.

Off to a strong start riding at the current Saratoga meet, Velazquez took it as a minor affront when asked if he could even compete in the race, in which oddsmaker and New York Racing Association analyst Richard Migliore made him 15-1, the longest shot in the field of 13 with one entry, the Ortiz brothers.

"Can I still run this race? Can I still run? I'm going to be competitive," Velazquez insisted.

Velazquez scoffed at a training regimen for the 110-yard race.

"Not a whole lot," he said of his preparation. "A lot of riding instead of running. These young kids are strong and running. They run every day. I don't train for anything; I just ride horses."

Fans at the track Saturday will be given the opportunity to "bet" on the Jockey Foot Race scheduled for 3:20 p.m., in the form of a $5 donation to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund using a special promo card. If their jockey wins, they will receive a Saratoga baseball cap and entry into a special drawing for a VIP day at the races later in the Saratoga race meet.

Velazquez, chairman of the Jockeys' Guild, stressed the importance of supporting the event.

"This is us giving back to those guys who got hurt on the racetrack and can't support themselves and their families," Velazquez said. "It's great to be a part of it. It's great to keep doing it. We're bringing the awareness that, yes, this job is a lot of fun, but it's very, very dangerous, and things can happen, and you can lose your career at any moment. That's what happened to these men and women that are permanently disabled, and this is us giving back to them."


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Del Mar Riding Colony a Heady Mix of Set and Rising Stars

Gary Stevens would really rather be part of it than one step removed. Rather be on the inside of the Del Mar jockey colony looking out, than the outside looking in, a Hall of Fame rider providing an expert opinion.

Impending full knee replacement surgery, from which he intends to recover and ride again, has sidelined Stevens. But it’s put him in a unique position to ponder and give an objective assessment of a 2014 jockey group that is an intriguing mix of young, old, established and rising, in terms of both age and Del Mar experience.

“It’s a great colony,” Stevens said.

There are Stevens’ fellow Hall of Famers, Mike Smith and Kent Desormeaux. Smith being Del Mar’s money rider of the 21st Century with 41 stakes wins here since moving to California from New York in 2001. Desormeaux having returned to the track of his 62 stakes victories from 1991 to 2004, but where he hasn’t ridden regularly since 2005.

There are track veterans Corey Nakatani, Victor Espinoza and Rafael Bejarano. Nakatani needing one stakes victory for an even 100 at Del Mar, second only to Chris McCarron’s 134. Espinoza coming off significant career wins aboard California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Bejarano coming back from injury seeking a third straight Del Mar riding title.

There are accomplished veterans elsewhere, but rookies at Del Mar, Stewart Elliott, Elvis Trujillo and Tiago Pereira. Elliott won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness aboard Smarty Jones in 2004 and has more than 4,500 career wins. Trujillo, a graduate of the Laffit Pincay, Jr. Jockey School in his native Panama, has won riding titles at Calder in Florida and Monmouth Park in New Jersey and a Breeders‘ Cup race. Pereira has been riding professionally for 10 years, first in his native Brazil, and has more than 2,000 victories. His biggest was aboard Brazilian champion Gloria De Campeao in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in 2010.

There’s a group of still young and restless-to-win riders --Martin Garcia, 29, Mario Gutierrez, 27, Joe Talamo, 24, Tyler Baze and Edwin Maldonado, both 31. Garcia and Gutierrez have Triple Crown wins on their resumes: Garcia aboard Lookin At Lucky in the 2010 Preakness, Gutierrez the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2012 on I’ll Have Another. Talamo is fresh from his first Southern California meet riding title, earned with 43 wins at the 2014 Santa Anita spring/summer session. Baze, the Eclipse Award winner in the apprentice jockey category in 2000, ranks 17th in the country in money earnings for 2014 with his horses accounting for more than $4.4 million. Maldonado had a breakout year in 2012, winning two Southern California circuit riding titles, and is No. 37 nationally for 2014 with earnings of more than $2.8 million.

And in his own separate category is apprentice Drayden Van Dyke, only 19, and fresh off winning the riding title at the brief Los Alamitos summer meeting.

“The young guys are fortunate to have Hall of Fame riders and veterans around. It’s a great asset for them to learn from and develop,” Stevens said.“Trujillo and Elliott are great additions to the colony. Drayden Van Dyke listens and does the right things that, if he stays with it, are going to take him a long ways. He hasn’t nearly begun to tap his full potential.”

Nobody’s happier with the return of Desormeaux to Del Mar than trainer R.B. Hess, Jr. The pair were a powerful combination in the 1990s at Del Mar as Desormeaux won three riding titles and Hess two training titles, the 1992 honors in tandem.

“In my opinion Kent coming back to the West Coast is a win-win for horse racing and for Kent,” Hess said. “What Kent does for me as a trainer is he tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear and I can use that to do what’s best for my horses and my clients.”

Nakatani made a midwestern foray in 2011-12, but returned last year to add two more stakes victories to his total. “I think it’s a legitimate goal,” Nakatani said of the quest to catch McCarron. “I’ll keep working hard to get the good horses that I’ll need to do it.”

The veteran newcomers wasted no time in making their presence felt. Pereira won the first race of the meeting-- aboard Brazilian-bred Hawk’s Eyes for Brazilian-born trainer A.C. Avila.

“Winning the Dubai World Cup was unique.” Pereira said. “Winning the first race at Del Mar on opening day on my very first ride over the track was very exciting and gratifying because I had always dreamed of riding and winning a race at Del Mar.”

Elliott’s presence at Del Mar ties in with that of first-year trainer Mark Casse. The two were a successful combination at Keeneland last spring with Casse being the leading trainer and Elliott the second-leading rider.

It didn’t take Elliott long to have a Del Mar Moment. He guided Know Plans for trainer Barry Abrams to a $52.20 upset in the sixth race on opening day in his first mount at Del Mar.

“I can’t believe how beautiful this place is,” Elliott said afterward. “You really have to see it to believe it.”

A year ago, Van Dyke saw Del Mar partly from the end of a pitchfork as a stable hand for trainer Tom Proctor. Van Dyke, a Louisville-born son of a jockey, polished his riding skills under Tom Proctor’s brother, Hap, at Glen Hill Farm in Ocala, FL and only began riding professionally late last fall.

“Drayden has done it all on his own,” Tom Proctor said. “He’s done everything that’s been asked, jumped through every hoop. If he keeps progressing, he’s got a shot to be a major player in this game.”

The Del Mar riding title hasn’t been won by an apprentice since Eclipse Award winner Steve Valdez in 1973. Some on the backstretch say Van Dyke could do it.

But then, it won’t be easy. There’s all that talent, in a fascinating, competitive mix.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Gulfstream Park will be one of more than 30 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse tracks to participate Saturday, July 26 in the Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund (PDJF) Day Across America, a fan-friendly event designed to build awareness and fundraising while offering fans at Gulfstream a chance to meet jockeys, participate in a silent auction, and get autographs.
Gulfstream's Day Across America celebration will include a meet-and-greet with jockeys from 11 a.m. to noon and a silent auction that will include the saddle towel of Breeders' Cup Classic champion Mucho Macho Man, four Day at the Races packages, posters by noted equine cartoonist Peb, and Gulfstream Park Celebrating 75 Years hardbound books.
The activities at Gulfstream will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fans will also be able to make donations to the PDJF at Gulfstream or they can make a $10 donation by texting JOCKEY to 50555.
Jockeys taking part in the festivities at Gulfstream include Edgard Zayas, Ramsey Zimmerman, Jose Valdivia Jr., Juan Leyva, Luca Panici and others.
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.


Previous Articles

Nutritional Section

Jockeys' Guild Membership Advantage

Jockeys' Guild Annual Assembly Re-cap

George Woolf Award
Click here to learn more

Jockeys' Guild Membership Application

Looking Back

Temporary Disability Policy
Click here to learn more

© 2014 The Jockeys Guild. All rights reserved.