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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

John Velazquez named JockeyTalk360 Jockey of the Week

John Velazquez won four graded stakes at Saratoga over the Labor Day weekend 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 August 25-September 1.

On Saturday, Velazquez teamed up with two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan for a narrow victory in the Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap. On Sunday, he won the Grade III Glens Falls Stakes riding Irish Mission. And on Monday, he won the Grade I Hopeful Stakes on Competitive Edge, as well as the Grade III Saranac Stakes on Ring Weekend.

In all, he won 8 races during the week, earning $994,246. He rewarded his fans with an average mutuel payout of $7.00 on his 8 winning mounts.

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.

In the Bernard Baruch, Wise Dan was making his first start since returning from colic surgery. He held off the fast-finishing Optimizer to win by a nose.

"He showed he has the heart of a champion," Velazquez said. "He carried 127 pounds coming from a long layoff. When I got to the eighth pole, I didn't think I got it. When I got past the sixteenth pole he was giving me everything he had and the other horse was coming from the outside. There was a little bit of doubt; he was getting tired. (I'm) incredibly proud. It's incredible to have this horse coming back."

In the Hopeful Stakes, Velazquez and odds-on favorite Competitive Edge gave trainer Todd Pletcher, the 999th stakes win of his career.

"This one has a great talent ... Nothing bothers him," Velazquez said. "This colt, nothing tears his hair out, scares him or anything. He's so laid back, his future can be much better than the other ones. Like everything else, he has to stay sound. He has a great mind."

Velazquez learned to ride in his native Puerto Rico and won his first race there in 1990. Later that year, under the guidance of Angel Cordero Jr., he moved to New York where he has won two dozen riding titles. He's won eight Breeders' Cup races and has won the Bill Shoemaker Award for top Breeders' Cup performance by a jockey, as well as the George Woolf Memorial Award.

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.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

DURING SEPTEMBER, JOCKEYS TO JOIN EFFORT TO BRING AWARENESS TO CHILDHOOD CANCER

Jockey colonies across the country, in conjunction with racetrack management, are planning to make visits to their local children’s hospitals in September, which is designated as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

A number of racetracks including CDI properties (Arlington Park, Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds), The Stronach Group (Golden Gate, Gulfstream Park, Laurel and Santa Anita), NYRA (Belmont), The Downs at Albuquerque, Delaware Park, Emerald Downs, Belterra, San Joaquin County Fair at Stockton, Fairmount Park, Indiana Grand Casino and Racetrack, Lone Star Park, Los Alamitos, Louisiana Downs, Kentucky Downs, Remington Park, Prairie Meadows and Suffolk Downs have scheduled visits.  The jockeys will bring a variety of gifts for the children including autographed goggles, provided by Perfect Trip, and horseracing-related coloring books among other items.

“We are happy to make these visits to children who suffer from this insidious disease and hopefully we make their day a little brighter,” said Jockeys’ Guild Chairman John Velazquez.  “I know the jockeys enjoy visiting with the children,” he added.

“We wanted to get involved to make a difference in the lives of these children and their families,” said Jockeys’ Guild National Manager Terry Meyocks.  He added, “we want to recognize the racetracks for their support and cooperation in helping to facilitate these visits.  We will continue to work with other racetracks that are running in September to heighten awareness of childhood cancer.”

Jockeys’ Guild Vice Chairman G.R. Carter said, “the jockeys always look forward to visiting children in the hospital.  We realize it means a great deal to them and it gives us a new perspective.”

In addition, the Jockeys’ Guild will supply jockeys at all tracks with live meets during September patches with the official Childhood Cancer Awareness gold insignia to wear on their pants during the month.

Scott Wells, President of the TRA and President of Lone Star Park and Remington Park said, “we appreciate the assistance the Jockeys’ Guild has given in rallying the jockey colonies in support of this important cause and we hope to make this an annual event.”

 

Contact:  Jockeys’ Guild 859-523-5625     

 

About the Guild

Jockeys’ Guild, Inc., the organization representing professional jockeys in Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in the United States, was founded in May 1940 and has approximately 1150 members, including active, retired and disabled jockeys. The purpose is to protect jockeys, strive to achieve a safer racing environment, to obtain improved insurance and other benefits for members and to monitor developments in local, state and federal laws affecting the racing industry, and in particular, the jockeys. More information at www.jockeysguild.comand www.facebook.com/jockeysguild.

 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

John Velazquez Receives Saratoga’s Mike Venezia Memorial Award

Hall of Famer John Velazquez, a two-time Eclipse Award-winning rider who serves as Chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild Board of Directors and a board member of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund, was presented with the Mike Venezia Memorial Award on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

Velazquez was named the winner of the Mike Venezia Memorial Award following a fan vote conducted on NYRA.com. The award was formerly voted upon by the jockey colony of the New York Racing Association, which created the award in 1989 to recognize those riders who display the sportsmanship and citizenship that defined Venezia.

Last year’s recipient was Ramon Dominguez.

During a special ceremony in the winner’s circle following the third race, Velazquez was presented with the award by Helene Venezia, wife of Mike Venezia, who passed away in 1988 after sustaining injuries in a racing accident at Belmont Park. Venezia, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., won more than 2,300 races during his 25-year career. Also in attendance for Saturday’s presentation were Venezia’s daughter, Allison, her husband, James McGowan, and their two children.

“I never got to meet Mike Venezia, but I heard so much about him – he was a great jockey, a great person and most of all a great family man,” said Velazquez, 42, who has won more races than any other jockey at Saratoga and is the nation’s all-time money-earning rider. “I was telling his wife those are big boots to fill, and I was honored to be recognized for those qualities.”

Previous winners of the Venezia Award:

2013: Ramon Dominguez

2006: Edgar Prado

2004: Patricia Cooksey

2003: Richard Migliore

2002: Dean Kutz

2001: Mike Luzzi

2000: Jorge Chavez

1999: Gary Stevens

1998: Eddie Maple

1997: Robbie Davis

1996: Laffit Pincay, Jr.

1995: Pat Day

1994: Mike Smith

1993: Jerry Bailey

1992: Angel Cordero, Jr.

1991: Chris McCarron

1990: Bill Shoemaker

1989: Mike Venezia (posthumously)

Note: The award was not given in 2005 nor from 2007-12
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Pletcher, Castellano repeat as Saratoga meet leaders; Dubb top owner

Todd Pletcher and Javier Castellano repeated as the leading trainer and jockey, respectively, at Saratoga Race Course, with Michael Dubb emerging as the top owner for 2014.

 

Pletcher, 47, won 28 races, turning back a late challenge from Chad Brown, who had 23 victories. Hall of Famer Bill Mott was third with 13 wins.

 

It was the fifth straight H. Allen Jerkens training title for Pletcher, who has been the Spa's leading trainer a total of 11 times. This year, Pletcher swept the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade 1 Alabama with Stopchargingmaria and also posted graded stakes wins with Competitive Edge in the Grade 1 Hopeful and Fashion Alert in the Grade 3 Schuylerville.

 

"I thought we had a really good start to the meet. I thought we had some really big disappointments at the meet; way too many seconds," said Pletcher. "At the same time you cannot not be grateful anytime you come to Saratoga and win 26, 27 races, win the Hopeful, Coaching Club, Alabama and Schuylerville. No matter how good you do, it could always be better, no matter how bad you're doing it could always be worse."

 

Castellano edged Irad Ortiz, Jr., 58-53 to claim his second consecutive Angel Cordero, Jr. riding crown. Hall of Famer John Velazquez was third with 38 wins.

 

On August 23, Castellano piloted V. E. Day to a nose victory in the Grade 1 Travers, becoming only the fifth rider in history to win the Travers four times. He also won the Grade 1 Ketel One King's Bishop with The Big Beast on the Travers undercard, the

Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama aboard Stopchargingmaria for Pletcher, and the Grade 2 Toyota Saratoga Special with I Spent It.

 

"It worked out great. I'm very blessed," said Castellano. "I'm thankful to win a lot of races here in Saratoga where I compete against the best jockeys in the country. It's a big accomplishment. I had a lot help. All the trainers gave me the support, all the owners. Now I'm going to be driving to Long Island tonight with a happy face."

 

Dubb and his various partnerships won 14 races, including the Grade 1 Spinaway on August 31 with Condo Commander. It was the first Saratoga title for Dubb. Repole Stable was second with 12 wins and Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and Chester and Mary Broman tied for third with 11.

 

-30-
Friday, August 29, 2014

IN THIS CORNER…ELLLLVISSSS…TRUJIIIILLLLLLOOOO

In what is being billed as the “Battle Off The Saddle,” jockeys Elvis Trujillo and Corey Nakatani are scheduled for a three-round boxing match Saturday following the races. The rounds will be two minutes in duration.
 
In keeping with the sport’s nicknaming tradition, that’s Elvis “Heartbreak” Trujillo vs. Corey “Knock Out” Nakatani. The matchup, planned for approximately 7:15  p.m. along with five professional bouts, is part of the Ringside At Del Mar boxing series. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund, which explains the participation of Trujillo and Nakatani.
 
Trujillo, 30, is listed at 5-foot-1 and 112 pounds. The native of Panama City, Panama made the cross-country relocation from Florida to California in May and is in his first Del Mar season.
 
The story goes that when the idea of a jockey boxing match was presented to the Del Mar colony, Nakatani, a champion high school wrestler and low-handicap golfer who never met an athletic challenge he didn’t like, immediately volunteered.
 
“Nobody wanted to fight with Corey, but I’m the new guy here, I don’t know that much about him, so I said I’d do it,” Trujillo said Thursday morning after breakfast in the jockeys’ room.
 
Trujillo said he has been in the ring before. But when asked about his record he referenced less formal situations where the rules weren’t Marquis of Queensberry.
 
“I fought in the streets in Panama all the time. I won a couple and I lost a couple,” Trujillo said. “It was a poor and rough neighborhood where I grew up, and you have to survive.” Such an environment spawned one of the greatest boxers of all time, Panama’s Roberto Duran.
 
Trujillo is a boxing fan and enthusiast, whose favorite fighter is Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Trujillo’s style, and most likely strategy will be to “stick and move,” as pugilistic commentators say.
 
“I’m pretty fast and I’m going to hit him with the jab, go in and out, side to side,” Trujillo said. “I know this guy can hit pretty hard, but he’s 43 years old and (over) three rounds, he’s going to get tired faster than I will. I’ll take advantage of my speed and my age.”
 
Trujillo came West after being contacted by agent Tom Knust, who had assurances from Doug O’Neill, among other trainers, that they would welcome the veteran rider who had won titles at both Calder in Florida and Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
 
“Thanks to Tom Knust, Doug O’Neill, Jerry Hollendorfer and others, I have been welcomed here.”
 
Trujillo, whose given name was based on his mother being a big fan of Elvis Presley, is fourth in the Del Mar jockey standings with 24 wins, one behind Hall of Famers Kent Desormeaux and Mike Smith, five behind two-time defending champion Rafael Bejarano. Del Mar Communications Dept.
Thursday, August 28, 2014

DURING SEPTEMBER, JOCKEYS TO JOIN EFFORT TO BRING AWARENESS TO CHILDHOOD CANCER

Jockey colonies across the country, in conjunction with racetrack management, are planning to make visits to their local children’s hospitals in September, which is designated as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

 

A number of racetracks including CDI properties (Arlington Park, Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds), The Stronach Group (Golden Gate, Gulfstream Park, Laurel and Santa Anita), NYRA (Belmont), The Downs at Albuquerque, Delaware Park, Emerald Downs, Belterra, San Joaquin County Fair at Stockton, Fairmount Park, Indiana Grand Casino and Racetrack, Lone Star Park, Los Alamitos, Louisiana Downs, Kentucky Downs, Remington Park, Prairie Meadows and Suffolk Downs have scheduled visits.  The jockeys will bring a variety of gifts for the children including autographed goggles, provided by Perfect Trip, and horseracing-related coloring books among other items.

 

“We are happy to make these visits to children who suffer from this insidious disease and hopefully we make their day a little brighter,” said Jockeys’ Guild Chairman John Velazquez.  “I know the jockeys enjoy visiting with the children,” he added.

 

 “We wanted to get involved to make a difference in the lives of these children and their families,” said Jockeys’ Guild National Manager Terry Meyocks.  He added, “we want to recognize the racetracks for their support and cooperation in helping to facilitate these visits.  We will continue to work with other racetracks that are running in September to heighten awareness of childhood cancer.”

 

Jockeys’ Guild Vice Chairman G.R. Carter said, “the jockeys always look forward to visiting children in the hospital.  We realize it means a great deal to them and it gives us a new perspective.”

 

In addition, the Jockeys’ Guild will supply jockeys at all tracks with live meets during September patches with the official Childhood Cancer Awareness gold insignia to wear on their pants during the month.

 

Scott Wells, President of the TRA and President of Lone Star Park and Remington Park said, “we appreciate the assistance the Jockeys’ Guild has given in rallying the jockey colonies in support of this important cause and we hope to make this an annual event.”

 

 

Contact:  Jockeys’ Guild 859-523-5625     

 

About the Guild

Jockeys’ Guild, Inc., the organization representing professional jockeys in Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in the United States, was founded in May 1940 and has approximately 1150 members, including active, retired and disabled jockeys. The purpose is to protect jockeys, strive to achieve a safer racing environment, to obtain improved insurance and other benefits for members and to monitor developments in local, state and federal laws affecting the racing industry, and in particular, the jockeys. More information at www.jockeysguild.com and www.facebook.com/jockeysguild.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Carter has been steady in career and hopes to win All American Futurity

Consistent, hard working and successful.

Veteran quarter horse jockey G.R. Carter personifies all of the above qualities and is one of he most respected people in the horse racing community.

He's also had quite a summer at Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino.

On opening weekend, Carter won race No. 3,632 of his career, which made him the all-time most winning quarter horse jockey. He passed Alvin Brossette with the win. In typical Carter fashion, he praised Brossette for what he had done during his career and showed him a great deal of respect for his career.

Then in the first of two days of trials earlier this month for the Grade 1, 440-yard All American Futurity, which is slated for Labor Day, Carter qualified four horses for the biggest race in quarter horse racing. One of the horses Carter qualified, I'm a Fancy PYC, won't run in the race due to an injury.

He also qualified Thunderball B, Jm Miracle and Tempting Destiny.

"To qualify four horses was great and it was fun," Carter said. "There are so many great horses, so many great riders. It just went my way that day. All the horses are great and I'm not sure which horse I will ride."

The draw for the All American Futurity will be held Thursday with a field of nine entered.

The 46-year-old Carter is no stranger to success in the All American Futurity. He won the race in 1998 with Falling In Loveagain and in 2008 with Stolis Winner.

"I've been fortunate in my career because I've worked with lots of great trainers and owners," Carter said. "I've stayed healthy and I just have a genuine love of the sport and I try to give my best every time out."

Carter, who is a 10-time American Quarter Horse Association champion, will also play a factor in the 440-yard All American Derby, which is held on Sunday. He qualified Big Dashing Perry, Kates Dynasty and J Bar in the trials, which took place earlier this month. He won the 1997 All American Derby aboard Dashing Perfection.

"All American Derby and All American Futurity weekend is always one of my favorites and it's the best of the best in quarter horse racing," Carter said.

Carter has ridden winners of around $66 million and is closing in on 3,700 wins, which has earned him the respect of those involved in quarter horse racing.

"I admire G.R. because of his accomplishments and his dedication," fellow jockey Ricky Ramirez said. "He works hard at what he does. G.R. goes hard all the time."

Said trainer Mike Joiner: "I know G.R. pretty good and he has a lot of riding talent. What sticks out for me is his longevity in the sport, his athleticism and his horsemanship. G.R. never slacks off. He's a true professional."

There will be special first-race post times at Ruidoso Downs over Labor Day weekend to accommodate the major Grade 1 stakes races and the annual Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale.

The Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale starts after the final race on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is quarter horse racing's premier offering of racing prospects.

First post time on Friday will be noon.

First post time on Saturday is 12:30 p.m. and the card features the Grade 1, $200,000 All American Gold Cup.

First post time on Sunday is 12:30 p.m. with three stakes races: the Grade 1, $1.9 million All American Derby, the $100,000 First Down Dash and the $50,000 Ruidoso Thoroughbred Derby.

First post time on Monday, Labor Day, is 1 p.m. with the Grade 1, $2.6 million All American Futurity and the $60,000 Ruidoso Thoroughbred Championship.

http://www.ruidosonews.com/ruidoso-sports/ci_26401455/carter-has-been-steady-career-and-hopes-win

Monday, August 25, 2014

Junior Alvarado picks up North American win #1,000 on Monday at Saratoga

Jockey Junior Alvarado won his 1,000th race in North America on Monday at Saratoga Race Course, guiding Skerkis to an easy victory in the fourth race.

 

Backed at 9-2 in the $50,000 maiden claiming race for 2-year-olds, Skerkis settled behind a three-way scramble for the early lead in fourth, came four wide to offer his bid nearing the quarter-pole, and took over in midstretch en route to an easy score. His final time for six furlongs was 1:11.52.

 

"He was pretty sharp," said Alvarado. "Then I kind of sat down on him. When I started asking, he didn't respond very well, but as I started going with the whip, he kind of turned into another horse. He was responding pretty well."

 

"As soon as I turned for him and hit him a couple times, he responded right away, and I said, 'We're going to get it now!'" the rider added. "I've got to keep riding and winning; that's how I'm celebrating."

 

Skerkis is trained by Ken McPeek for Sylly Horses Stable.

 

Earlier in the meet, Alvarado, 28, picked up the biggest win of his career when he guided Moreno to a front-running score in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Whitney on August 2. He currently is eighth in the Saratoga jockey standings with 15 victories.

 

"It always comes when I least expect it. I've been [on 999] since Friday with a lot of good mounts, good horses, expecting this one will be the one," said Alvarado. "It seems like it was forever. I couldn't get it done Saturday. Yesterday, I got a good chance and I couldn't either. I wasn't expecting it at all with this one, but that's how it worked out."

 

Alvarado began his career in his native Venezuela in 2005 and rode his first winner in the United States in February 2007. After riding successfully in Chicago, he moved his tack to New York full time late in 2010. Top wins for Alvarado include the 2010 Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park with Éclair de Lune and 2013 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack with Flat Out. At Saratoga, he has won the 2012 Grade 1 Prioress with Emma's Encore and 2013 Grade 1 Forego with Strapping Groom in addition to his 2014 Whitney victory.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mike Smith named JockeyTalk360 Jockey of the Week

Mike Smith won five races from just 15 starts, including the Grade I TVG Pacific Classic Stakes 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 August 18-24.

Smith won three graded stakes during the week and his mounts earned $1,061,872. His fans cashed mutuel tickets averaging $7.80 on his five winning mounts.

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.

Smith picked up four of his wins on Sunday, including the Grade I TVG Pacific Classic Stakes on Shared Belief, and the Grade II Del Mar Mile Handicap on Tom's Tribute. His other Stakes win was the Grade II Del Mar Handicap on Big John B on Saturday.

Smith had plenty of praise for Shared Belief after the 3-year-old maintained his unblemished record with his sixth win from six starts in the Pacific Classic.

“He just ran a terrific race,” said Smith after the race. “He’s a special horse. I heard someone say this might be the coming out of a super star. I think now this horse deserves that accolade. I’ll tell you what: he’s as good a young horse as I’ve sat on in a while.”

That's no small distinction, coming from a winner of 5,000 races.

The son of a jockey, Smith began riding races in New Mexico at age 11. He took out a jockey's license at 16, earning his apprenticeship at Canterbury Downs before moving to New York in 1989. Since then, he's won the Kentucky Derby (Giacomo), 17 Breeders' Cup races and the Irish 2,000 Guineas. He rode the legendary Zenyatta in 17 of her 20 starts.

Smith's win on Big John B in the Del Mar Handicap earned a trip to the Breeders' Cup Turf.

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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