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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Saratoga to participate in first national PDJF awareness day on Saturday

The New York Racing Association's historic Saratoga Race Course will unite with racetracks across the country on Saturday with autograph signings, photo opportunities and the first jockey foot race in 20 years at the Spa as part of the first Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund (PDJF) Day Across America.

 

Every jockey riding at Saratoga on Saturday will be available during a one-hour autograph session outside the silks room beginning at 11:30 a.m. For a $5 donation to the PDJF, fans can receive autographs from Hall of Famers and rising stars alike, including John Velazquez, Edgar Prado, Javier Castellano, Rosie Napravnik, Rajiv Maragh, Jose and Irad Ortiz, Jr., Julien Leparoux, Taylor Rice and Joel Rosario.

 

Later in the day, a field of 13 jockeys will break from the starting gate and compete in a one-half furlong foot race on the main track. For a $5 donation, guests will be able to "bet" on their choice and be entered for a chance to win a VIP Day at the Races for two on Travers Day, August 23 along with other prizes. Filiberto Leon won the last jockey foot race at Saratoga in a photo finish over Velazquez in 1995.

 

Post position for the jockey race will be drawn on Wednesday, July 23.

 

"PDJF is not just an industry acronym or letters on a ball cap," said Velazquez, chairman of the Jockeys' Guild and a PDJF board member. "This organization is dedicated to improving the lives and welfare of men and women who face lifelong challenges due to their disabilities. They can no longer complete 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.

 

Founded in 2006, PDJF is a 501 (c) (3) charity that has disbursed more than $3 million to permanently disabled jockeys.

 

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jockey Jane Magrell Notches 1000th Career Win

Jockey Jane Magrell won her 1,000th race yesterday at ThistleDown Racino. Jane was riding filly Box Office Smash (owned by Joe Cheeks and Luigi Damasceno, trainer: Kitty Cheeks) for this milestone race.

Jane, 50, lives in Atwater, Ohio, and has been a jockey for 28 years. Though she has endured many injuries such as breaking her hips and her legs, Jane has been able to fully recover and keep racing.

Winning her 1,000th race on Box Office Smash was made all the more special because the horse was trained by Kitty Cheeks, whose father was the late trainer Don Rice. Jane won her very first race on one of Don’s horses and has raced with the family throughout the years. With this win, she feels like her career has come full circle – but she doesn’t plan to stop now.

“I think I can keep rolling,” Jane said.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Del Mar Stakes Wins Net Smith Jockey of the Week Honors

Hall of Famer Mike Smith guided Tom’s Tribute to a Grade I win on Saturday at Del Mar to be named the JockeyTalk360.com 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 14-20.

The Jockey of the Week is the centerpiece of JockeyTalk360.com, 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.

“I’ve been very fortunate to ride (Tom’s Tribute) at the right time,” Smith said. “He’s got tremendous talent, but he can be very aggressive and the trick is getting him to relax. Wherever he goes next, he’ll be tough, and I hope I’ll be back aboard.”

It was Smith’s first Eddie Read Stakes win, his 41st career stakes win at Del Mar and 11th Grade I win at Del Mar.

Smith also won the Oceanside Stakes with Enterprising earlier in the week, coming from far back in the field.

JockeyTalk360.com 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, and Turf Publicists of America.

To find out more about the great sport of horse racing, and to learn more about your favorite jockeys visit JockeyTalk360.com.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Danger for jockeys shown only too clearly

John Velazquez and I finished our interview with 10 minutes to post for the fifth race at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday.

I stayed at the jocks’ room because Irad Ortiz Jr. was riding the fifth, and I wanted to talk to him, too.

Velazquez said his brother Juan was among those who sprinted onto the track at Camarero in Puerto Rico a week ago after jockey Carlos Pizarro got his face smashed up.

A day later, Pizarro, a humble 33-year-old family man who never stayed out late at night and was at the track at 5 each morning, was dead.

Before I could talk to Ortiz, who knew Pizarro well, Ortiz and his mount, Broad Rule, missed trampling the tumbling body of Rosario Montanez by who knows how many inches.

Montanez will be in the hospital for who knows how many days to get his smashed-up face repaired, along with treatment for rib and pelvis injuries.

No one should need a reminder of how dangerous — sometimes deadly — the jockey profession is, but if so, that reality was on chilling display at Saratoga on Saturday.

An hour after the jockey colony gathered in the winner’s enclosure for a moment of silence in honor of Pizarro, the young Montanez, a San Diego native who was a finalist for the 2011 apprentice Eclipse Award, was crumpled on the main track just past the three-eighths pole.

“Some people don’t understand that. They think, ‘Oh, they have fun because they ride horses,’” Ortiz said. “They don’t realize how dangerous it is. It’s dangerous even when you’re walking the horse.

“He can flip. Anytime when you get on a horse.”

The Saratoga and Arlington Park jockey colonies each asked for a moment of silence for Pizarro on Saturday.

He was working a horse when another spooked and took off, crashing into Pizarro’s horse and sending him to the deck.

John Velazquez’s mother is in Saratoga and had spoken to Juan about Pizarro’s accident. When his brother got to Pizarro, there was blood coming out of Pizarro’s nose and ears, and his lower jaw had been shoved over at an awkward angle.

“But he was conscious and talking,” John Velaquez said. “The only thing he was complaining about was he couldn’t breathe.”

Ortiz soon heard about it and called Pizarro’s agent.

“He said he’s alright, bleeding a little bit,” Ortiz said. “Then when I called him later, he said they had to put a tube in and he couldn’t breathe too good. Then he got more bad and bad and bad.”

Velazquez, a Hall of Famer and chairman of the board of directors of the Jockeys’ Guild, said advances in safer helmets have been accelerating, albeit slowly, but it takes time and money.

Also, the guild launched the Jockey Injury Database in April to compile the details of all injuries with the aim of finding ways to prevent them.

The nature of the job, though, dictates that a helmet and flak jacket can only do so much.

The physical forces at work are incredible.

In the fifth race, Montanez’s mount, Piquant, was inside Be Bullish as they got into the grandstand turn. Piquant’s right hind hoof clipped the left front of Be Bullish, jolting Piquant’s head down and to the right as he stumbled badly.

Montanez catapulted over his horse’s head and rolled under him as Piquant gathered his feet to take off by himself along the outside rail.

In a bang-bang piece of footwork, first Frazil and jockey Cornelio Velasquez, then Broad Rule and Ortiz danced over Montanez and may have clipped him a bit.

“The jock fell and it was just too quick,” Ortiz said. “I tried [to steer clear], but it was too quick.”

These spills and injuries don’t discriminate between reckless riders and those who are more professional, because the unpredictability of the animals they ride can cancel all that out.

Ortiz said Pizarro, one of the most consistent riders in the Camarero standings, was known for his ability to balance aggressive riding with safe riding.

He was also just a good guy.

“When I was in the school [Escuela Vocacional Hipica], sometimes he’d give me a ride when I didn’t have a car,” Ortiz said. “He’s that kind of person who is unbelievable. Great person, personality, everything.

“He rode straight all the time, one of those type of jocks you don’t see too much. Disciplined, perfect … he had everything.”
Thursday, July 17, 2014

Champion international jockey Dettori to ride at Saratoga

For the first time ever, international riding sensation Frankie Dettori will ride at historic Saratoga Race Course when he gets aboard Successful Brothers in Friday's first race.

 

Over the course of Saratoga's opening weekend, Dettori will have the opportunity to ride a bevy of horses, primarily for trainer Wesley Ward, who himself is no stranger to European success.

 

"I didn't even really know [Dettori] prior to a month ago," said Ward. "I send horses to Europe just about every year and send over a different jockey each time, and he's always been very kind and gracious to my riders. On this latest trip, I ran into him, and I happened to need a rider for Undrafted, who was going to run in England in his next start. Since he was so kind to my riders, I wanted to return the favor, so I offered him the mount."

 

Dettori continued to make a favorable impression on Ward prior to Undrafted's start in the Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket by going out of his way to get aboard the 4-year-old gelding in the mornings leading up to the race.

 

"In the paddock before the race, he mentioned that he had never ridden at Saratoga," said Ward. "Since he had been so good to me, I was happy to accommodate him."

 

Dettori, 43, was born in Milan, Italy, the son of a champion Italian jockey and a circus performer who specialized in horseback acrobatics.

 

The riding bug caught Dettori at an early age. By 8-years-old, he owned his own horse - a palomino pony that he would ride daily. By 13, Dettori dropped out of school to become a stable boy and apprentice jockey, and a year later, he secured a job with trainer Luca Cumani, for whom he would eventually become stable jockey.

 

Dettori's partnership with Cumani catapulted the young rider's career, as he quickly established his position as one of the most prolific jockeys in all of Europe. His career has seen him win nearly every noteworthy European race and dozens more abroad, and also includes a legendary seven-win day at Ascot in September 1998.

 

On Friday alone, Dettori has the mount on six Ward entrants, none of which are higher than 4-1 on the morning line. Dettori will have another seven mounts on Saturday, four for Ward, as well as one for Nick Esler, Mark Hennig, and Chad Brown.

 

Among Dettori's first 13 mounts, Mr Ciolko, who runs in Saturday's sixth race at 12-1, has the longest odds morning line odds, which should give the famed jockey every opportunity to showcase his talent on one of American racing's biggest stages.

 

"Hopefully he'll have some success and we'll see him back again soon," said Ward. "And who knows, maybe he'll come down to Florida during the winter, too."  From NYRA Communications Department

 

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

XPRESSBET TO SPONSOR JAVIER CASTELLANO IN INTERNATIONAL JOCKEY CHALLENGE

Xpressbet is excited to announce that it will sponsor leading North American rider, Javier Castellano, in Turkey’s International Jockey Challenge. 
 
The Challenge, which takes place on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at Istanbul’s Veliefendi Racecourse, brings a team of international riding superstars, including Castellano, Frankie Dettori (United Kingdom), Maxime Guyon (France), Yuichi Fukunaga (Japan) and Craig Williams (Australia) to Turkey to take on 5 leading local riders in a 4 race contest.  This is the second consecutive year in which Castellano will participate in the event. 

 

Each of the 10 Challenge riders has been randomly assigned a horse in each of the 4 races.  The rider who accumulates the most points based on the finish positions of their mounts will win a cash Grand Prize.  The Challenge will be broadcast live in Turkey via TJK TV, the official television channel of the Turkish Jockey Club. 

 

As an Official Partner of the Jockeys’ Guild, Xpressbet works with the Guild to promote and support jockeys at North American racetracks.  Xpressbet views the jockeys as the sustainable, long-term stars of the sport, and assists the Guild in ensuring that jockeys are showcased as the faces of horse racing.  Both organizations view the relationship as a key component to increasing interest in racing. 

 

As a Guild member, Castellano is thankful for Xpressbet’s support.  He remarked, “I’m very thankful for the support Xpressbet gives North American riders through their partnership with the Jockeys’ Guild.  It means a lot to me that they are dedicated to the safety, support and promotion of North American jockeys, and I’m looking forward to assisting them in increasing international interest in US racing.” 

 

He added, “I’m excited for the opportunity to participate in the International Jockey Challenge again this year.  It is always a great honor to be asked to compete against the world’s best jockeys.” 

 

According to Xpressbet President, Ron Luniewski, “We’re incredibly involved in both supporting the riders and the Jockeys’ Guild, as well as growing the international demand for US racing.  To send a jockey of Javier’s popularity and talent to a top international racing event like this will help to significantly increase the popularity of US racing to a very passionate group of racing fans.  We wish Javier the very best in Istanbul.”

 

In addition to 183 riding victories this year, Castellano leads all North American riders with more than $13 million in purses won.  He was the leading rider at both Gulfstream Park’s Champions Meet, as well as Belmont’s recently concluded Spring/Summer Meet, and his Grade 1 victories this year include the Florida Derby, Manhattan Stakes, Just a Game Stakes and the Jenny Wiley Stakes.      

 

The Turkish betting market is a $1.5-billion closed pari-mutuel industry with 2,400 Bet Shoppes that feature both domestic and international racing.  XB Net, a subsidiary of Xpressbet that specializes in the international distribution of North American racing, has contracted with the Turkish Jockey Club to deliver up to 60 premier North American racing dates into Turkey each year. 

 

About Xpressbet

Xpressbetprovides legal and secure online wagering services to horseplayers in the United States.  It is the industry’s most comprehensive and user-friendly wagering site, allowing customers to wager on more than 300 of the world’s best racetracks from their computer, phone or mobile device.  Xpressbet operates XB SELECT, the industry’s premier destination for high-volume wagering, and XB Net, which connects bet shops and wagering sites from around the world to North American racing.  Xpressbet is a Stronach Groupcompany, which also owns and operates Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness.  The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, the award-winning Adena Springs operation, AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology, and Monarch Content Management.  The Stronach Group is also a major producer of televised horseracing programming through its HRTV cable and satellite network. 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Geroux named JockeyTalk360 Jockey of the Week

A remarkable graded stakes triple by Florent Geroux at Arlington Park on Saturday earned him the inaugural  JockeyTalk360.comJockey of the Week honors. The title goes to the week's outstanding jockey in the opinion of a panel of industry experts. They looked at races run from June 7-13.

The Jockey of the Week is the centerpiece of
JockeyTalk360.com, 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.

Geroux won four races on Saturday, including a graded stakes hat trick that began with a half-length win by Divine Charm in the Grade III American Derby as the 7-2 second favorite.

Next, he teamed up with I'm Already Sexy to win the Grade III Modesty Handicap by a neck as the 9-2 second favorite.

He wrapped it up with a half-length win on The Pizza Man in the Grade III Stars and Stripes Handicap, as the 9-5 second favorite.

"When you have the best horses, it can be easy," Geroux said. "Thanks to all the connections of those winning horses."


Highlights of Geroux's week:

  • Won three of four graded races on Arlington Million Preview Day.
  • Won Grade 3 Stars and Stripes S. riding The Pizza Man earning $86,400. AP 7/12/2014. Race #8
  • Won Grade 3 American Derby riding Divine Oath earning $114,000. AP 7/12/2014. Race #9
  • Won Grade 3 Modesty H. riding I'm Already Sexy earning $109,200. AP 7/12/2014. Race #10
  • Stakes this week: 3 wins, 0 seconds, 0 thirds in 3 starts. $309,600.
  • All races this week:  6 wins, 3 seconds, 4 thirds in 23 starts.  $385,535.
  • Average $2 win mutuel for the week of $6.60.


JockeyTalk360.comspotlights 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, and Turf Publicists of America.


To find out more about the great sport of horse racing, and to learn more about your favorite jockeys visit 
JockeyTalk360.com.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gulfstream Begins Mandatory Apprentice Riding Education Program

Gulfstream Park held its first apprentice riding education program meeting Sunday morning. The program, designed by former steward Dave Hicks, is designed to give young riders an opportunity to learn from experienced guest speakers, including stewards, retired jockeys, nutritionists, financial advisors, starters, racing management and medical staff.

"I started this program back in 1968 at Rockingham," said Hicks, whose guests Sunday included state steward Kevin Scheen and starter Jeff Powell. "It will be mandatory that all apprentice riders come to the meetings. We'll go over everything from the rules, dieting, testing procedures and a number of other things."

Sunday morning, Scheen showed the apprentices several videos of riders "running up into holes they don't belong" and also the importance of maintaining a straight course. Powell spoke about the experience of his staff and "sitting quietly" in the gate. Riders attending Sunday's meeting included Arny Fontanez, Michael Ritvo, Jean Vallellanes, Ever Argueta and Stephanie LaRicci.
 
“The apprentice program has been run by Dave Hicks in one form or another for more than 40 years," said Gulfstream Park Tim Ritvo. "Some of the country’s top jockeys have gone through the program. We want to do everything possible to make sure our young riders have the knowledge and skills to succeed. This program will offer them the opportunity to meet our stewards and other key personnel while learning what it takes to be a top rider.”
Monday, July 14, 2014

Castellano, Ortiz, Jr., win spring/summer meet titles

The Belmont spring/summer jockey title came to a thrilling conclusion when Irad Ortiz, Jr. got up in the final jumps of the last race of the meet to tie Javier Castellano at 51 wins.

 

Castellano, who also won the 2013 Belmont spring/summer meet title, earned Grade 1 scores in the Knob Creek Manhattan aboard Real Solution and the Longines Just a Game aboard Coffee Clique. The Grade 3 Poker rounded out a trio of graded stakes wins at the meet, which Castellano won aboard the Pletcher-trained Jack Milton, one of 12 victories the two shared.

 

Irad Ortiz, Jr. captured a bevy of stakes races, including the Grade 1 Acorn (Sweet Reason), Grade 3 Dwyer (Kid Cruz), and Grade 3 Bed O' Roses (Hot Stones), to go along with wins in the Perfect Sting (Joy), Dancin Renee (La Verdad), Wild Applause (Walk Close), Easy Goer (Kid Cruz), Jersey Girl (Red Velvet), Wonder Again (Sea Queen) and Paradise Creek (Green Mask).

 

Joel Rosario finished third with 42 wins, and Jose Ortiz, Irad's younger brother, finished fourth with 41.

PDJF

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