Jockeys Guild News and Articles
Monday, June 17, 2013
Jockey Don Lee Frazier Scores 2,000th Victory
Jockey Don Lee Frazier registered his 2,000th victory June 16 at Arapahoe Park
aboard Fast But Furious
in the first race at the Colorado track.
Frazier, 53, piloted the 2-year-old first-time starter to a 4 1/2-length win for trainer Justin Gleason in a five-furlong maiden special weight race. It was the first career win for Gleason as a trainer.
Fast and Furious, a gray/roan gelding by Grand Minstrel
, was bred by owner Francis A. Heckendorf Jr. in Colorado
"It's a great accomplishment and not many riders have done it," Frazier said. "It's a highlight to reach the 2,000. The highlight of my career is to be able to ride some nice horses for some decent people and to bring thrills and be part of making their dreams come true."
Frazier began his career as a jockey in 1977 in Washington and has ridden in more than 20,000 races at what he says is "pretty much every racetrack west of the Mississippi and then some." He said collecting his 2,000th victory was made even more special because it took place on Father's Day.
"They are my inspiration," Frazier said of his family.
Frazier and his wife, Darcy, will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this fall. They have two sons, Thomas, a recent college graduate, and Ronald. Frazier currently rides in Colorado, Nebraska, and New Mexico but takes winters off to spend time with his family.
Monday, June 17, 2013
FLORENT FLOURISHING IN 2013
From Arlington Park Communications Department
In 2012, despite six weeks off because of an injury, jockey Florent Geroux had a respectable Arlington International Racecourse meet. This year, the 26-year-old Frenchman has been healthy, happy and is doing nothing short of flourishing. After winning five races in the last two race days, including a hat trick on Wednesday June 12, the Normandy native has almost equaled his win total of the previous year.
“I’m healthy and have good trainers trusting me with their horses. I think things could have been like this last year, but I was injured and lost a lot of my business after that,” Geroux reflected. “There’s always a lot of luck and timing involved. And, riding for good horses for trainers like Catalano is important, too.”
Indeed, leading trainer Wayne Catalano has been a significant supporter of Geroux and his current surge of success. As of Friday, the two are winning 56% of their races together (nine starts). “When you ride for Catalano, you know the horse is going to be ready. You might have some pressure going off as the favorite, but you know it’ll be a good horse,” the jockey stated.
Geroux also has received a great deal of support from Doug Matthews, with three wins in 20 rides for the conditioner, and Roger Brueggemann, for whom he has ridden six winners in 19 starts. Brueggemann often provides horses owned by the expansive powerhouse stable Midwest Thoroughbreds. “I’m very happy to be riding a few horses for Midwest Thoroughbreds. They have good horses and I’m lucky enough to be picked to ride them.”
For about two years, Geroux has had a productive and successful relationship with Doug Bredar, his agent. Bredar, a respected and affable personality around the track, has helped to engineer what has been a remarkable turnaround for the young jockey. In 2012, thanks in part to the aforementioned injury, Geroux scored at an ordinary 12% and ended the season with 25 wins. As of Friday, Geroux has 19 wins and is striking at nearly 20% at this year’s meet.
“I think I have pretty good hands and can get tough horses to relax. Some horses are complicated and I think sometimes trainers ride me because I can relax a horse and have soft hands,” he explained. “I think a lot of (riding well) is luck and good horses, but if there’s one thing I can say I do well, it is that.”
Having such a style and affinity for relaxing an equine athlete is not a surprise, considering his European riding education. “It took me a little while to adapt my riding style to American racing, but now it has changed and improved. In Europe we go every direction – left and right turns, up and down (undulations),” Geroux explained. “With riding here and being on tight ovals and dirt racing at Hawthorne (Race Course), I have become a much better jockey. I ride with a lot more confidence.”
Like many young jockeys, Geroux looks to the elder stars of his trade to improve his own craft. “I try to take a little bit of everyone’s style and try to learn from all the great jockeys. I think it’s good to take a little bit of the good of every great jockey and learn what not to do when they do the wrong things,” he explained.
With Geroux’s ability to settle on or off the lead and finish strongly, it is not surprising who he named as his favorite jockey. “If I had to pick one, I would say Garrett Gomez. I think he’s simply a very good all-around jockey who can relax a horse and is a very strong finisher. He takes horses back really well and can adapt if he’s on the lead,” he elaborated.
While Geroux has adapted well and loves the United States, especially Chicago, he is still a Frenchman at heart. When asked if he would rather win the Kentucky Derby or the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, he was, as one would expect, frank. “I can’t choose one. I’m French, so I would love to win the Arc. Most jockeys would say 100% Kentucky Derby, but me –I will just say that I can’t choose,” he laughed.
As far as his future, and possibly riding again (full-time) in Europe, Geroux is wisely laissez-faire. “You never know what will happen. If it happens, why not (go),” he asked rhetorically. “It’s by contract over there, so it’s hard to just move there (without one) and make an impact. But, who knows? For now, my place is here. I have my family and really like it here – and I’m doing well. I’m thankful to Doug and everyone who supports me, here. Hopefully it keeps going well.”
Friday, June 14, 2013
Loss of Dominguez adds up to more than purses and wins
The elements of the Thoroughbred racing game are too vast and varied for a single person to make a fundamental difference, but Ramon Dominguez has come close.
His ascension through the ranks of the nation’s elite riders was accompanied by what could only be described as a singular grace under the intense pressure of riding more than 2,000 races a year. Horse racing does not expect its champions to ride like demons, dismount to the sound of catcalls and faint praise, and then treat the listener to a calm analysis full of disarming charm.
His official retirement on Thursday brought to an end the agonizing speculation over any possibility of return from head injuries suffered in a crash at Aqueduct in January. At the time of the accident Dominguez had won three straight Eclipse Awards as North America’s top jock. In purely mercenary terms, his retirement has freed up some $20 million a year in purses to be won by other riders. Given the verdict of his doctors, retirement also will allow Dominguez to watch his young sons, Matthew and Alexander, grow up.
Racing has never lost a superstar quite like this. There have been fatalities from a variety of terrible accidents – George Woolf, Avelino Gomez, Jack Westrope, and Alvaro Pineda come quickly to mind – while Chris Antley’s violent death at home came during a sad lull in his riding. As for the list of outstanding riders through history lost to paralysis, there’s not enough room on this page.
But this is different. Dominguez looks fine. There are no grotesquely broken bones, no braces, plates, or bolts holding him together after yet another trampling. He is the same handsome, firm-jawed, articulate athlete in rimless specs and a sharp suit who can hold forth on a variety of subjects without tipping his true profession.
“People take for granted what these guys do every day,” said Graham Motion, who was there in Maryland for Ground Zero of Ramon’s rocketing career. “We see jockeys get hurt all the time and move on to the next race.”
Motion heard the news about Dominguez in England, where he is preparing his Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot next Tuesday. Dominguez and Motion won their first major race together when Better Talk Now upset the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Lone Star Park.
“I’m sure Better Talk Now was a better horse for Ramon,” Motion said. “He’s done so much for my career. He helped put me on the map. In fact, he was a big help to me before the Dubai World Cup this year discussing strategy, post position, things like that. He’s always someone I’d turn to for advice because I have so much respect for his knowledge of the game.”
Gary Stevens, a Hall of Famer in the midst of an unconventional comeback, greeted the announcement with a heavy heart.
“It’s just sad,” Stevens said, “so sad when a guy so passionate about what he does can’t go out on his own terms. For him to have reached the pinnacle of his career last year, there was no reason to think it wasn’t going to last a long time. I can’t imagine what he’s been struggling with to admit it’s over.”
If you’ve got a spare 20 minutes, Stevens could take you on a tour of the damage horse racing has inflicted on his 50-year-old body. Still, it was a blow to the head in a horrific training accident at Santa Anita one morning in 1985 that nearly ended his career before it had a chance to catch fire.
“People would write about the injuries to my shoulder and my knee that day, but that was the least of the doctors’ worries,” Stevens said. “I had punctured my inner eardrum, and I had what they called a mini-stroke. My speech was messed up – I remember a doctor asking my wife, Toni, if I had a speech impediment – and I still have to concentrate when I get tired. They really didn’t know if I’d ever ride again. We kept it kind of quiet until we knew what we were up against, but two months later I was still having dizzy spells. I was 23.”
Richard Migliore was forced to retire from riding at age 46 after winning 4,450 races, the bulk of them in New York, and now works for the New York Racing Association in media, promotions, and as mentor to young riders.
“I’m not surprised, but that doesn’t keep me from being very sad about it,” Migliore said when he heard the news. “We’re so used to guys being able to bounce back from different injuries.”
About a month after Dominguez went down he sat for an on-camera interview with Migliore.
“Once you saw Ramon begin to talk in public a little, give interviews about wanting to come back, I think everybody assumed he was fine and it was just a matter of time,” Migliore said.
Of course, Migliore added, this is exactly what any driven, dedicated jockey would do. Migliore fell at Aqueduct in January of 2010 and fractured bones in his neck that had been agonizingly repaired some 20 years before. He was told, after successful surgery, that he could never fall again without suffering the worst possible outcome, and yet he required convincing.
“The jockey’s mentality is so strong-willed,” Migliore said. “Twenty minutes after our interview Ramon was telling Dave Grening and the Racing Form he wanted to be back by March so he could go ride in Dubai. We’re so conditioned to think that we’ve got to be in the next big race or at the next big event. Even if he had concerns, the jockey in him wasn’t going to allow those concerns to creep in. He had to be ready for the World Cup, the Triple Crown. I fully believe he thought he was going to make it back.”
Milestones hardly matter now. Dominguez won 4,985 races and his horses earned $191 million in purse money. His last, triumphant valedictory in the saddle came in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita when he nursed Little Mike wire-to-wire to defeat Point of Entry and St Nicholas Abbey in the Turf at odds of 17-1.
“Nothing’s going to fill this void for him,” Migliore said. “More important now is that he has a good, productive life and can enjoy his family, and do other things he enjoys doing. It sounds cliché, but it always could be worse, right?”
Absolutely right. And yes, it is a cliché, but it also has the benefit of being true. The mind boggles at the possible uses to which the sport could put an intellectual asset like Dominguez, if he is willing.
“I’ve no doubt he could do anything in any aspect of racing if he chose to do it,” Motion said. “Any way we could keep him in the game would be a big asset.”
Thursday, June 13, 2013
NYRA Statement on Ramon Dominguez announcement
The following statement is issued on behalf of NYRA by Vice President and Director of Racing P.J. Campo:
“All of us at NYRA are saddened to learn that Ramon Dominguez has been forced to end his riding career. Ramon distinguished himself immediately upon moving his tack to New York in 2009. Already a wintertime regular at Aqueduct, Ramon made a seamless transition to riding full-time on the NYRA circuit. He won numerous meet riding titles and many of our top races, en route to becoming New York’s leading rider for each of the past four years.
Ramon’s accomplishments – including the last three Eclipse awards as North America’s top jockey – only tell part of the story, though. He has epitomized class both on and off the racetrack. Universally respected by his fellow riders and beloved by fans, Ramon has built a towering and well-deserved reputation that serves as a standard for all future jockeys. It has been a true privilege to have him in the NYRA riding colony and we wish him and his family the very best in this new chapter of their lives.”
Thursday, June 13, 2013
A statement from Ramon Dominguez
“Riding thoroughbreds has always been my passion and my calling. When I was 13 and watched my first horse race in Venezuela, I knew that I would become a jockey, and my riding career has brought happiness and success beyond what I ever expected.
Thus, it is extremely difficult for me to announce that due to the severity of the injuries I sustained in an accident at Aqueduct Racetrack on January 18, 2013, my professional riding career has come to an end. While I hoped and even expected to be able to return to the saddle, as a result of my injuries and upon the advice of my treating physicians, it has been determined that I will no longer be able to pursue my career as a jockey.
I want to personally thank my family, fans, and fellow riders for overwhelming support in the months since my accident. I chose to make this statement to end speculation about my future, but I am not yet ready to speak publicly. I will come forward on my own, but in the meantime I ask that you please respect my privacy as I continue my recovery.”
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Borel, Carroll Among KY Hall Inductees
Borel, a Louisiana native based in Louisville, Ky., reached the 5,000-win milestone at Turfway Park March 7. Among his top victories were winning the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with Street Sense (2007), Mine That Bird (2009) and Super Saver (2010).
Carroll and partners bought the former Latonia Race Course in 1986 and renamed it Turfway Park. Carroll then turned his interests to auto racing after selling the Thoroughbred track in Northern Kentucky, raising $152 million in private capital to build Kentucky Speedway. The Gallatin County auto racing track opened in 2000 and Carroll's ownership group sold it to Bruton Smith in 2008. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series made its debut at Kentucky Speedway in 2011.
Others being inducted into the Hall of Fame during the banquet, which benefits Kosair Charities, are:
--Former University of Louisville basketball player Pervis Ellison
--Alvin "Bo" McMillin, All-American quarterback at Centre College
--All-American and professional tennis player Julie Ditty of Ashland
--Louisville Sacred Heart basketball coach Donna Moir; and
--Dwayne Woodruff, a Bowling Green native who played football at the University of Louisville and for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Monday, June 03, 2013
Saez Wins 5, Including a Pair of Dead-Heat Victories, on Friday at Belmont Park
From NYRA Communications Department
Jockey Luis Saez, a recent addition to the New York riding colony, brought home five winners, including back-to-back dead heat victories, on Friday afternoon at Belmont Park.
Saez, 20, of Panama, began the day by piloting Copper Forest ($4.30) to dead-heat with Anaphylaxis in race 3, a one-mile optional claimer, and came right back to guide late-running Smash ($5.20) to hit the wire in tandem with Leave of Absence in race 4, a six-furlong optional claimer, both on the main track.
Saez made it three in a row in race 5 with a 3 ½-length score aboard Hardest Core ($13.80) in a 1 ¼-mile maiden race on the turf, and wrapped up the card by taking races 8 and 9, both 1 1/16-mile turf events, with North Slope ($15.60) and Here’s D’Bride ($7.70), respectively.
Both Hardest Core and North Slope are trained by Kiaran McLaughlin.
“I’m so exited,” said Saez, who moved his tack from Florida to New York in April. “Thanks to God, the trainers, and my agent [Richard DePass]. Today, the horses ran good for me. It’s a little hard here in New York, but, thank God, we’re doing great here. Trainers have given me opportunities, so I have to ride hard.”
Saez currently is tied in fifth place with Jose Lezcano in the Belmont spring/summer meet jockey standings with 23 winners, including victories in the Grade 2 Peter Pan with Belmont Stakes contender Freedom Child and the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay with Tannery.
The 145th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes will be held at Belmont Park on Saturday, June 8.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Legends of New York” Jockey Autograph Signing at Belmont Park Saturday
From NYRA Communications Department
Jockeys Angel Cordero, Jr., Jorge Velasquez and Richard Migliore
, three of the most popular and successful riders on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit, will autograph photographs on Saturday during “Big Apple Showcase Day” at Belmont Park.
All three “Legends of New York” will be available in the second-floor clubhouse from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Photos of each will be provided and fans can receive an autograph from each jockey – a total of three – for a $10 donation to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
Cordero, who was elected into racing’s Hall of Fame in 1988, began his career in 1960 and rode 7,057 winners before retiring in 1992. Among his dozens of stakes victories were three editions of the Kentucky Derby (Cannonade, 1974; Bold Forbes, 1976, and Spend a Buck, 1985), two in the Preakness (Codex, 1980 and Gate Dancer, 1984), and one (Bold Forbes, 1976) in the Belmont.
Fellow Hall of Famer Velasquez, who retired in 1997 after winning 6,795 races, rode Pleasant Colony to victory in the 1981 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and also was the regular rider for 1978 Triple Crown runner-up Alydar. Both he and Cordero currently work as jockey agents, with Cordero holding Hall of Famer John Velazquez’s book and Velasquez representing Samuel Camacho, Jr. and Chris DeCarlo.
Migliore, a fixture at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack from 1980 until his retirement in 2010, won the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top apprentice in 1981. During his riding career he won 4,450 races, including 362 stakes, including 25 Grade 1 winners. “The Mig” currently serves as an analyst on NYRA TV and a racing office associate.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Belmont Jockeys to Visit Ronald McDonald House of Long Island
From NYRA Communications Department
This Friday, May 31st, jockeys from Belmont Park will ride into the hearts of families at the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island (RMH-LI) as part of an annual partnership with The New York Racing Association, Inc. – Jockey Day.
One week before the 145th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes, jockeys will travel to RMH-LI in New Hyde Park at 10:00 a.m. to mingle with children and families staying at the House. Clad in their colorful silks, the riders will pose for photographs and distribute gifts of personally autographed riding goggles and hats.
“This is a great event for our children and their families,” said Matt Campo, RMH-LI Executive Director. “It is a fun day that everyone looks forward to. Meeting the jockeys is always an exciting opportunity for our resident families. We wish the jockeys the best of luck next week.”
This year’s participating jockeys include Javier Castellano, Rajiv Maragh, Jose Ortiz, Irad Ortiz, and Manuel Franco. Additional jockeys are expected to confirm this week.
“NYRA is proud to partner with the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island for their annual Jockey visit,” said NYRA Director of Community Relations, Joanne K. Adams. “We’re committed to providing support to organizations that have a positive impact on our local communities.”
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