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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

TOP JOCKEYS SET FOR 78TH SANTA ANITA WINTER MEET

America’s top jockeys will be again be center stage when Santa Anita Park opens for its 78th Winter Meeting on Friday, Dec. 26.
  Santa Anita’s 68-day winter session, which will be highlighted by both the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7, and the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 4, has once again attracted A-list riders such as Rafael Bejarano, Tyler Baze, Kent Desormeaux, Victor Espinoza, Martin Garcia, Corey Nakatani, Mike Smith, Gary Stevens and Joe Talamo.

            Bejarano, a 32-year-old Peruvian sensation who won his fifth Santa Anita Winter Meet riding title earlier this year, is again poised to lead the local colony, while veteran Hall of Famers Smith and Stevens again hope to be among the leaders in added-money victories.  (Stevens led all jockeys in stakes triumphs in 2013-14 with 10 wins, one better than Bejarano and Smith, and two more than Nakatani, who checked in with eight.

            Talamo, 24, finished second to Bejarano in total wins (93-54) last winter, and the hard charging Cajun will no doubt try to inch closer to the top rung.  Espinoza, 42, who courtesy of Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome, is enjoying the best year of his career, will try to keep his momentum going as “Chrome” is tentatively scheduled to run in the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes Feb. 7.

            Smith, who is widely regarded as America’s number one “big money” rider, appears to have found the proverbial Fountain of Youth at age 49.  A winner of this year’s Santa Anita Handicap aboard Game On Dude, the New Mexico native is expected to ride trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Shared Belief in the opening day Malibu—as the Candy Ride gelding tries to avenge his only defeat, which came in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 1.

            Baze, 32, Garcia, 30, Nakatani, 44, Edwin Maldonado, 32, and leading apprentice Drayden Van Dyke, 20, are all experiencing productive years and hope to once again grace Santa Anita’s Top 10.  Hall of Famer Desormeaux, 44, has enjoyed a career resurgence since returning to Southern California last summer and is has rebounded astonishingly quickly from broken ribs sustained in a post parade mishap in October. 

Dynamic talent Elvis Trujillo, 31, has also “caught-on” in his return to Southern California, and he along with talented veterans such as Martin Pedroza, 49, and Hall of Famer Alex Solis, 50, lend ample depth to what appears to be the nation’s strongest rider colony.

            Santa Anita’s Winter Meet will conclude April 19 and will be followed by the track’s 38-day Summer Meet, which runs from April 25 through June 28.

            First post time on opening day, Dec. 26, is at 12 noon.  For more information, please visit santaanita.com, or call (626) 574-RACE.

 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

JOCKEYS REFLECT ON THEIR BLESSINGS AFTER ALL CHILDREN’S VISIT

Most Thoroughbred jockeys have spent more time in hospitals than they care to remember.But members of the Tampa Bay Downs riding community were eager to embrace the opportunity to spread goodwill and holiday cheer to children with potentially life-limiting diseases Monday at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
 
Jockeys Daniel Centeno, Ronnie Allen, Jr., Dean Butler, Antonio Gallardo, Pablo Morales, Keiber Coa and Janelle Campbell used their off day to visit youngsters in the hospital’s General Medical Surgical and Neurology Units.
 

The visit was coordinated by the Jockeys’ Guild and the Tampa Bay Downs Division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America. Guild Regional Manager Heriberto Rivera, Jr.; TBD-RTCA President Sharyn Wasiluk; Tampa Bay Downs Chaplain Ruben Columna; and retired jockey Lizzy Morris, now a jockeys’ agent, also participated.

The visit was conducted by the hospital’s Public Information Officer, H. Roy Adams.

Jockeys distributed Tampa Bay Downs caps, goggles, autographed action racing photos, toy horses and coloring books featuring the track’s Miniature Horse, Mouse (along with bundles of crayons).
 
But it was what they took away from meeting courageous kids who manage to stay cheerful despite their illnesses that had a lasting impact.
 
“I came here thinking I was going to encourage them,” said Morales, “and they actually wound up encouraging me. Their strength is amazing. They’re very sick, but they don’t look sad or depressed. This was a great experience.”
 

Seeing the jockeys in their silks, riding breeches and boots uplifted not only the children, but their family members. “It makes you realize a lot of people don’t have the same blessings as we have,” said Centeno. “It’s hard because you don’t really know what is going on with these kids, but it’s a great feeling bringing a smile to their faces.”

Nearly every day, jockeys are at the track before dawn to work out horses, and in the afternoons they accept the risks inherent in riding 1,000-pound animals with minds of their own while competing in close quarters at high speed. It’s a thrilling, rewarding profession, but did little to steel Campbell for Monday’s experience.
 
“I didn’t know if I was prepared mentally,” she said. “But when you see the kids’ smiles and their excitement, it melts your heart. You realize how easy it is to take what you have for granted.”
 
“These kids have a different kind of courage than we do,” Gallardo said. “We might break a couple of bones falling off a horse, but you know you’re going to get better. A lot of these kids, they don’t know how long they’re going to be here.”
Tampa Bay Communications Department

 

 

Monday, December 15, 2014

James Graham Named Jockey of the Week

James Graham won a stakes race on Friday, and two on Saturday at Fair Grounds 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. They looked at races run from December 8-14. For the first time this week, a vote from the public was also included in the balloting. In an online poll on JockeyTalk360.com, the racing fans agreed with the experts, making Graham their choice.

Overall for the week, Graham won eight races, including three on Sunday, with 11 seconds and one third from 32 starts, earning $324,352.

On Friday, he led wire-to-wire on Buggin Out in the $50,000 Magic City Classic to win by more than seven lengths.

The next day, he came back on String King for a length and a half win as the odds-on favorite in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf Stakes. Two races later, he took the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile by three lengths on Mr. L.S. Shoe.

Graham, 35, was born in Finglas, Dublin, Ireland, where he got involved in racing.

"I was no good in school," he said. "I was in the career guidance teacher's office every day, and he said 'what sparks your interest?' I said horses, and he gave me an application for the apprentice school in Ireland. They took me on, and it's been straightforward since."

He came to the States in 2002 and rode his first winner at River Downs on July 1, 2003. His first stakes win came in the Canterbury Park Lassie on Berbatim in 2004. He got his first graded stakes win in the 2004 Grade III Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks on Lovely Afternoon.

He has won riding titles at Arlington International and Fair Grounds. On August 18, 2013, he rode five winners in one day at Arlington International.

"All the wins mean something, from the $5,000 claimer to the Grade I winner," Graham said. "This job we (jockeys) have is hard enough, but I enjoy it. veryone is busy doing what they have to do to make a living and I’ve been fortunate enough to carve out one for myself."

Graham in on top of the Fair Grounds jockey standings by both wins and earnings.

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.

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, December 15, 2014

New "Jock Talk" Show to Debut Tuesday on HRRN

Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), the Eclipse Award-winning broadcast organization based in Lexington, KY, announced Monday they will add a new weekly talk show to their extensive programming menu on Tuesday, December 16.

The new "Jock Talk" show, hosted by HRRN President Mike Penna and jockey Kristina McManigell, can be heard Tuesday evenings from 6:00-7:00 p.m. ET. Listeners can tune in with live streaming provided exclusively on the HRRN website, www.horseracingradio.net, with archives of all shows available via podcast on the HRRN site and on iTunes.

Each week Jock Talk will take listeners inside the lives and careers of jockeys from around the globe with exclusive in-depth conversations. HRRN will also provide a portion of all sponsorship on the show to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockey's Fund.

"The format will be similar to our Wednesday night Trainer Talk Show presented by Fasig-Tipton, which has become extremely popular," said Penna. "Our goal is to give listeners a unique look into the lives of jockeys so they can get to know them on a more personal level. As a former rider, Kristina is the perfect co-host. She brings an incredible amount of knowledge and insight to the show, which will be a tremendous asset during our interviews."

Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith will be the featured guest on Tuesday's debut show.

 

 

About HRRN

The Horse Racing Radio Network is your home for Eclipse Award winning coverage of hte biggest events in racing throughout the year. In 2014, HRRN will broadcast more than 100 stakes races from racetracks across the country, and is the exclusive radio network of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Belmont Stakes, and Breeders' Cup World Championships.

HRRN also produces a series of popular talk shows aired throughout the week on SiriusXM satellite radio. Trainer Talk presented by Fasig-Tipton (Wednesday, 6-7 p.m. ET), Brisnet Call In Show (Thursday, 6-7 p.m. ET), Xpressbet Weekend Stakes Preview (Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET), and the Equine Forum (Saturday, 8-10 a.m. ET).

For more information visit www.horseracingradio.net, follow us on Twitter @HRRN, and like "Horse Racing Radio Network" on Facebook.

Monday, December 15, 2014

FAIR GROUNDS JOCKEYS SPREAD HOLIDAY CHEER AT OCHSNER CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

In early December, jockeys from Fair Grounds dressed in racing silks paid a pair of visits to Ochsner’s Pediatric Outpatient Clinic and both the Pediatric and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

 

On December 3 jockeys James Graham, Francisco Torres, Robby Albarado and Chris Rosier visited the Pediatric Outpatient Clinic where they handed out autographed jockey goggles, jockey trading cards, and cowboy hats to 25 patients. Among these patients were children receiving chemotherapy treatments, oncology patients, cardiology patients, neurology patients and hematology patients.

 

On December 10, jockeys Brian Hernandez, Jr., Forest Boyce, Willie Martinez, and Marcelino Pedroza visited the Pediatric Unit and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to deliver autographed goggles, trading cards, and autographed plush horses.

 

“We had a couple of great mornings at Ochsner Children's Hospital and met some wonderful children who loved meeting the jockeys. It was really special,” said Sandra Salmen of Fair Grounds Horsemen’s Relations.

 

This is the first year the Fair Grounds has participated in an all-volunteer effort to provide outreach to children with disabilities and chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

 

About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation’s third-oldest racetrack, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 11 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. The 143rd Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 102nd running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 2014 through March 2015. More information can be found online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.

 

 

Monday, December 15, 2014

2015 Calendars Autographed by John Velazquez Now Available

JockeyTalk360.com, the new website launched in conjunction with The Jockeys’ Guild, is now offering a limited supply of 2015 horse racing calendars, each autographed by Hall of Fame Thoroughbred rider John Velazquez. All of the exciting action photos on the calendar are by the award winning Coady Photography. The cover of the 2015 calendar features two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan and his regular rider John Velazquez, and each calendar is autographed by “Johnny V.”

Order by no later than Friday, December 19 to guarantee delivery by Christmas. Each calendar is only $25, plus $9.95 shipping & handling. Proceeds from the sale of these commemorative calendars benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Order  today by visiting JockeyTalk350.com.

JockeyTalk360.com is a new website offering a unique blend of news, features, social media and statistics that 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.

JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes.

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SOLIS BIDS FOR 5,000TH WIN FRIDAY AT LOS ALAMITOS

Inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in August, jockey Alex Solis has two opportunities to collect the 5,000th victory of his illustrious career Friday at Los Alamitos.

One win shy of the milestone, Solis, 50, is scheduled to ride maidens Autumn Flower in the fourth race and Keezheekoni in the eighth. The two mounts will be the first for the Panamanian native at the inaugural Winter thoroughbred meet at Los Alamitos, which began Dec. 4.

If Solis wins Friday, he would become the 29th rider to earn at least 5,000 victories.

Solis, whose first win came aboard Bionica Nov. 7, 1981 at Presidente Remon in his homeland, currently ranks 10th all-time in career earnings ($236,070,330).

Significant successes include the 1985 Preakness with the Mel Stute-trained Snow Chief and three Breeders’ Cup victories - Kona Gold (2000 Sprint), Johar (dead-heat with High Chaparral in 2003 Turf) and Pleasantly Perfect (2003 Classic) - as well as 18 riding titles in Southern California.
Los Alamitos Communications Department

                                                  -30-

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Ortiz Jr. Excited About Competing in International Jockeys’ Challenge

Four out of the 12 great riders competing in tomorrow night’s 17th Longines International Jockeys’ Championship have already won an edition of the contest: Kerrin McEvoy in 2013, Joao Moreira in 2012, Ryan Moore twice in 2009 and 2010, and Christophe Soumillon in 2004. They are back once again to line up alongside an outstanding crop of riders who are all eager to prove themselves with a first IJC triumph in the crucible that is Happy Valley racecourse.

Two of those are joining the fray for the first time, with Puerto Rico-born Irad Ortiz Jr., one of the USA’s hottest rookies, and South African rising star S’Manga Khumalo setting foot in Hong Kong for the first time ever.

“It is very exciting for me to be invited to such a contest,” said Ortiz on Tuesday afternoon as the 12 participants gathered for the Longines IJC meet-the-press function at Happy Valley. “And I can’t thank the Jockey Club enough for allowing me to represent the USA. Gary and Mike have always been major examples to me, along with my all-time favorite John Velazquez, and they have been good to me throughout my career……The turns [at Happy Valley] are very tight and I will have to arrange my stirrups to deal with the right-hand course! Anyway I have watched lots of videos to get accustomed to the track and I cannot wait for the challenge to begin.”

Irad can also rely on a trustworthy ally as his grandfather, also named Irad, is accompanying him from the States. The Puerto Rican is confident his grandson will soon quickly learn the ropes at the Valley.

“Ever since he was a little boy he has been extremely gifted in the saddle. Me and his father were also jockeys, at El Comandante in Puerto Rico as well as in New York, and as soon as he started to ride, Irad showed something very special,” said Irad senior.

New Yorkers soon figured out that gift as Irad was crowned leading rider at Belmont’s fall meet this year with 46 winners. Overall he has ridden 782 winners stateside since his arrival in the US circuit in the spring of 2011.

The first black South African jockey to be crowned champion in the Rainbow Country, S’Manga Khumalo will not be that phased by Happy Valley’s peculiarities.

“It is a bit familiar to me as the first bend after the post reminds me of Greyville racecourse in Durban, where I won the Durban July in 2013,” he noticed as he looked down on the track. “I have also participated in other jockeys’ challenges in Britain and in the USA, and it is always a great opportunity for me to see the best riders in action from within.

“Obviously, the local jockeys have an edge, and it is all down to your horses’ abilities but at the end of the day, we all try to do our job the best we can, that is starting well, keep our horse in good motion and try to adapt your style to the situation. I am eager to show that I can succeed as much as my competitors.”

About to be presented with the first ever Longines World’s Best Jockey award, Ryan Moore, representing Great Britain, is the only one of this year’s participants to have twice won the challenge. He said: “I think I have one with a chance but overall I am a long shot for Wednesday night but I am hoping for a good evening.”

Meanwhile, France’s Christophe Soumillon is expected to be the favourite with two of the four legs’ favorites on his side on Wednesday night.

“I have not won in Hong Kong for a while and yet I always receive lots of support from the local fans so I am eager to please them,” said the man who will try to take the Longines Hong Kong Cup on Sunday aboard veteran horse Cirrus Des Aigles.

“I am drawn 12 of 12 in the first so that’s a long shot. I have got a chance in the second leg, a 1000m sprint, and I ride a horse for Casper Fownes in the last leg with a live chance. I am glad that I got such good rides overall and we will probably have a good time on Wednesday night.”

About to be crowned French champion jockey for the seventh time, Soumillon comes into the contest in great form having landed the Japan Cup on Epiphaneia ten days ago.

Local leading rider Joao Moreira, winner of this championship in 2012, is regarded as the best chance amongst Hong Kong representatives, while Britain’s Richard Hughes and Japan’s Yuichi Fukunaga are both considered to have good chances. Yet “Hughsie” played down his chances: “You can never tell around Happy Valley but I have got a couple of nice rides so we’ll see. I am looking forward to it.”

Vincent Ho and Hong Kong’s Champion Jockey Zac Purton, second in the latest two editions of the challenge, complete the Hong Kong team, while Ireland’s seven-time champion Pat Smullen.
Monday, December 08, 2014

Gallardo Named Jockey of the Week

Antonio Gallardo won five races Saturday, including Tampa's Sandpiper Stakes for 2-year-old filles, 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. They looked at races run from December 1-7.

Overall for the week, Gallardo won 10 races with one second and two thirds from 22 starts, earning $177,402. The average payoff on his winning mutuel tickets was $7.30.

In the inaugural running of the Sandpiper Stakes, he rode R Sassy Lass to a half-length win over Coco's Wildcat as the second favorite in the $100,000 six-furlong race for Florida-breds. Gallardo had nine mounts for the day, and got five of them home in front.

"When you're hot, you can win whatever," he said. "I've had a great year. I've won a lot of races. I feel comfortable with me (and) my agent (Mike Moran) giving me good horses."

Nine of Tampa Bay's 10 races were for 2-year-olds Saturday, but this wasn't the first time Gallardo has shined with juveniles. In August 2013, he won four out of six stakes carded for Calder's Juvenile Showcase. That set a new record at Calder for stakes wins in one day.

"I'm so happy," he said at the time. "You feel good because you see your hard work coming together."

The 27-year-old won his first race in 2003 at Costa del Sol in his native Spain. He came to the United States in 2008 and began riding full-time in the USA in 2009.

In 2012, he won 42 races from 383 starts for earnings of $844,778. He's already notched up 246 wins worth $4.3 million this year, and is currently ranked eighth nationally by number of winners.

"When I came here everybody asked, 'Where are you from?' When you say 'Spain,' everybody looks at you and says, 'Spain? Spain has races?'" he said. "There is not enough recognition (for jockeys from Spain) so they are scared to come. It is very difficult."

Gallardo has overcome the difficulties, and is currently ranked on top of Tampa Bay's standings for both wins and earnings.

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.

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.      

PDJF

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