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Monday, July 27, 2015

Velazquez Named Jockey of the Week

Like race fans everywhere, Jockey John Velazquez couldn’t wait for the opening of Saratoga Racecourse this week. He got a running start at the leading rider title by winning seven races there this week. Three of those wins were in stakes events and helped lead him to being named the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for July 20th – July 26th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.

Velazquez kicked of his stakes winning Triple on Saturday with a victory in the Sanford Stakes aboard Uncle Vinny. Velazquez just got his mount up for second in the late stages of the Grade 3 affair. In doing so, John was then the beneficiary of a Stewards inquiry that disqualified the first place finisher Magna Light giving the Todd Pletcher trained Uncle Vinny the victory.

The veteran rider then got the job done in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes in course record time aboard Hard Not To Like for trainer Christophe Clement. “I’m delighted she was ridden by Johnny Velazquez. He’s a top jockey, and there’s a reason why. He makes a difference. “She got a superb ride and she’s also a very good filly” said Clement.

Sunday was also a big day for the veteran rider as he captured another Grade 1 win. Interestingly enough, Velazquez once again crossed the finish line in second place in the Coaching Club of America Oaks aboard Curlina. After reviewing replays, Saratoga stewards ruled I’m a Chatterbox came into Curalina’s path deep in the stretch and disqualified the top finisher to a second place finish, installing the Todd Pletcher-trained runner as the winner.

“He took her out and she bumped me, and my horse switched to the left lead,” said Velazquez. “Now I’m unbalanced, and then I had to get after her to get her back in, and I just missed the wire. I knew two jumps before the wire, I was going to get him. When she got bumped and went to her left lead, she lost her balance, I lost my balance. I had to get back on her and just missed it. No doubt in my mind, I was going to get her.”

Velazquez is off to a great start again at Saratoga finishing the week with seven wins, two seconds, and earnings of $809,753 from 23 mounts.

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 Jockeys’ Guild 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

Monday, July 27, 2015

Remington Park Announces Season-Long Salute To Cliff Berry

The 2015 Remington Park Thoroughbred Season begins Aug. 14 and continues through Dec. 13, and the 67-date session will include a season-long celebration in honor of retiring jockey Cliff Berry.

Berry, 52, of Jones, Okla., has determined this Remington Park season will be his final in the saddle. The all-time leading Thoroughbred rider there with 2,078 victories, Berry will put the finish on a career that has included over 4,400 wins and approaching nearly $66 million in mount earnings.

In honor of his career and his accomplishments at Remington Park, the Oklahoma City venue will present “A Berry Special Season,” celebrating Berry’s final months of race-riding with promotions to engage fans throughout the meeting. The salute to Berry will also include “Cliff Berry Night” on Saturday, Dec. 12.

The season-long promotion will engage racing guests with the success Berry has during the races. Basically, when Berry wins, guests will also have the opportunity to enjoy victory, usually with cash prizes. The promotion will change slightly as the months of the “Berry Special Season” calendar move along.

August: “A Berry Big Opening.” Guests enter a drawing as they enter Remington Park. When Berry wins a race, a guest’s name will be drawn and they will win $100.

September: “A Berry Big September.” Guests will receive one entry into a month-long drawing with every Berry race win. Guests will go to Club Remington to receive their entry. The grand prize drawing will take place Wednesday, Sept. 30 with the winner receiving $2,000!

October: “Berry Rich Colors.” Enjoy the autumn splendor and win as Berry wins, aboard horses of various colors. When Berry wins on a gray horse, a guest will win $200; chestnut horse, $150; dark bay or brown, $100. A horse of any other color than these three examples will be worth $500. Guests will enter the “Berry Rich Colors” drawing upon entering nightly with a drawing held in the winner’s circle after every Berry triumph.

November: “Berry Special Saturdays.” Guests will earn an entry through Club Remington for every Berry win during the week. On Saturdays, Nov. 7, 14 and 21, a guest will be drawn and will win $500. The final Saturday of the month, Nov. 28, the prize increases to $1,000!

December: “Pick A Berry.” Guests enter a drawing nightly upon their entrance. Win Berry wins a race, a drawing will be held to select a guest who will make a choice of a ‘Berry’ off the Coors Light Superscreen. Cash prizes are hidden the ‘Berry’ emblems on the screen.

Race dates where Berry wins multiple races will include prizes for all guests on hand. The prize-winning begins on nights once Berry has posted his third win on the program.

Remington Park racing will normally begin at 7 p.m. nightly (CST). Select race dates will start at 1:30p.m. After Opening Weekend, the regular weekly schedule of racing will run Wednesday through Saturday.

Open daily at 10:30 a.m. for casino gaming and simulcast racing, Remington Park features the Bricktown Brewery on the casino floor. Admission, general parking and valet parking are always free at Remington Park, home of the Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby on Sunday, Sept. 27. Remington Park Press

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Jockeytalk360 Newsletter July 22

CARPE DIEM - Claiborne Breeders' Futurity Gr I - 10-04-14 - R08 - KEE - John VelazquezJohn Velazquez’s first trip to ride at Saratoga Race Course in 1990 is a memory so precisely etched in his mind, the jockey recalls it as if it happened yesterday.

“The first year I went I was with Angel [Cordero] and we flew to Saratoga from LaGuardia [Airport], and he was telling me everything about Saratoga,” Velazquez said in a recent interview with Jockey Talk 360. “He definitely painted the picture to me, from day one, that it was a special place. He explained that I needed to concentrate and do the best I could do in Saratoga, because it’s a place where everyone is watching you. Angel said, ‘If you do well in Saratoga, it will carry you, and you can do well the whole year-round.’”

At the time of their conversation, Cordero, who later retired from riding in 1995, owned the most wins at Saratoga. In 2004, Jerry Bailey surpassed Cordero, and Velazquez took over as the all-time leading rider at the boutique meet in 2013.

The day Velazquez achieved the feat, by visiting the Saratoga winner’s circle for the 694th time, Cordero, who became the rider’s agent in 1998, told a local newspaper: “[Velazquez] should be proud because this is the meeting you’re really being looked at. You can be leading rider at Indiana 100 times and nobody remembers, but if you do it in Saratoga, this is the place everybody wants to be. This is the place where they give you the most popularity for being leading rider.”

The 43-year-old Velazquez enters the 2015 meet, which opens Friday, with 769 career wins from 4,626 mounts at Saratoga. His mounts have finished first in 143 stakes there.

On a July afternoon at Belmont Park, less than two weeks to the start of Saratoga, Velazquez’s face lights up when he is handed an Equibase print-out of his career stats at the upstate New York track. In that moment, nostalgia is written all over the face of the rider who has been on record saying he will contemplate retiring after reaching his 45th birthday in November of next year.

“Saratoga has been a most special place for me,” said Velazquez, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in a ceremony there in 2012. “Not only as a work place, but the place where I first started dating my wife, Leona. This November, we will be married 21 years.”

The last time Velazquez led the standings at Saratoga was 2011. Since then, the retired Ramon Dominguez won the riding title in 2012, and Javier Castellano snagged the title the last two seasons. Velazquez, however, has still been very much in the mix. He has ridden a total of 31 winners in stakes there over the course of the past three years, and ranked second and third, respectively, in overall wins at the past two meets.

There has been a steady stream of good riders to come through Saratoga since Velazquez first began riding there 26 years ago. Whether they stay for the whole meet, or come to ride in a single stakes race, the best of the riding colonies in Southern California and Kentucky routinely descend upon Saratoga and take their best shots.

“Every year, there are new faces,” Velazquez said. “When Jerry Bailey was riding, there were new faces coming out, including myself, who were trying to break through and make an impression. It seems like everyone tries their best at Saratoga.

“Saratoga has always been a difficult place to win races. You’ve got to be an your A game,” he continued. “Obviously, you have to have the horses too. Let’s put it this way: If you get the opportunity with the horses, make sure you make the most out of it.”

And so, 26 years later, his mentor’s words are still resonating with Velazquez.

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Who's HotPromise Me Silver - The Dixie Belle - 01-15-15 - R08 - OP - Cliff Berry-001Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Cliff Berry wrapped up his final meet at Lone Star Park as the veteran journeyman plans to retire at the conclusion of the Remington Park Fall Meet. Berry finished the week with nine wins, one second, four thirds, and earnings of $97,697 from 19 mounts.

Javier Castellano finished the Belmont Meet strong by winning eight of his 25 mounts and coming in the money on 60% of his mounts. His eight wins helped him secure the Belmont riding title by two wins over Irad Ortiz Jr.

Chris LanderosChris Landeros had a great week at Ellis Park by winning seven out of his 16 mounts and coming in the money on 69% of his mounts.

Russell Baze continued his consistent riding in Northern California and led North America in wins with 12. The veteran won 55% and came in the money an amazing 91% of his mounts.

AQHA QUARTER HORSE STANDINGS

John Hamilton remains on top of the wins leaderboard for the year with 103 from 494 mounts. Raul Ramirez Jr. ranks second with 94 wins from 434 starts and David Alvarez ranks third with 86 wins from 412 mounts.

GR Carter Jr. moved back to the top of the AQHA earnings leaderboard with $2,107,518 from 449 starts. Raul Ramirez Jr.  is sitting in second in the standings with $1,617,150 and John Hamilton is third with $1,470,172.  Keep up with all the AQHA leaders here . . .


PRAT OFF TO WINNING START AT DEL MAR

By Hank Wesch

137099Twenty-two year old French-born jockey Flavien Prat scored his first two Del Mar wins Friday, guiding Xoxo for trainer Peter Miller in the fifth race and Baruta in the sixth for trainer Richard Mandella.

“Everybody knows it’s a great meeting so, yeah, it was very exciting for me,” Prat said of the wins. He credited the horses, more than anything he did, for the victories.

Prat was born in Melun, France, the son of a harness trainer. He has been around horses all his life. “I don’t know if I was born to be a jockey, but it was always in my mind,” Prat said. “I didn’t think of any other job.”

He rode his first winner at Fontainbleau, France in September of 2009 and came to the U.S. later that year, getting his first stateside opportunity at Hollywood Park and notching his first win on January 15, 2010 aboard Heavenly n’ Free ($103.40) at Santa Anita.

Read more . . .


RON TURCOTTE HONOURED WITH STATUE IN GRAND FALLS

From The CBC News

Ron Turcotte's 1973 Triple Crown win aboard Secretariat is immortalized by a statue that was unveiled in Turcotte's hometown of Grand Falls.

Julianne Hazlewood/CBC

Horse racing legend Ron Turcotte was honoured by the Town of Grand Falls with the unveiling of a monument on Sunday.

The bronze statue is of Turcotte on the famed horse Secretariat at the finish line of the Belmont Stakes to capture the Triple Crown in 1973.

Turcotte told the hundreds of people at the unveiling that he’s the luckiest man alive.

“I have received many awards and trophies from all over, but to have my own town honour me in this way is very special to me and my family,” said Turcotte.

“It is very touching, believe me. It made me cry a few times there.”

Girls dressed in the blue-and-white checkered colours that Turcotte wore while riding Secretariat helped with the unveiling.

One of them was Turcotte’s granddaughter Lindsey Smith.

“It just makes me feel like a part of him somehow,” she said.

The statue cost $300,000 and has been years in the making.

Turcotte and Secretariat have also been honoured with monuments in Kentucky, New York and Calgary. To Turcotte, the Grand Falls honour is special.

“Being immortalized now, two places in Canada and two places in the United States, but in your hometown, it’s special,” said Turcotte.

Winning the Triple Crown by capturing the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes is a rare feat.

Secretariat was the first horse to do so in 25 years with record-setting times in all three races that still stand today.

There have only been three other Triple Crown winners since 1973, including this year’s win by American Pharoah.

Turcotte lives in the Grand Falls area. He returned there to live after a racing accident in 1978 that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Turcotte’s brother Gaetan Turcotte says he is the most courageous person he knows.

“Never once did I hear him say, ‘I’m not going to get up again, I’m not going to try again,'” said Gaetan Turcotte.

Read more . . .


HORSE RACES NOW LOOKS TO RAISE $50K, ALL PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT PDJF AND OLD FRIENDS THOROUGHBRED RETIREMENT

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – Horse Races Now, a mobile app company founded by renowned horse trainer Kenny McPeek, is on a mission to give back to the horse racing industry by raising $50,000 with 100% of proceeds to be fully donated between the Permanently Disabled Jockey’s Fund and Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement. Horse Races Now is aiming to have the full donation amount raised before the upcoming 2015 Breeders’ Cup Championships in October.

“We developed the app because we want to show the sport to as many young fans as possible to encourage the growth of this sport,” says McPeek. “By offering a younger demographic a new sport they can follow with a minimum investment of time the industry will gain millions of new fans. My personal investment in this project is my way to ‘give back’ to a sport I love and support. Along with that, it’s always been the mission of Horse Races Now to also give back to horse racing, and the ‘Give Back to Racing’ campaign is our way of starting to do just that.”

“Horse Races Now is fortunate to have been downloaded by over 300,000 users in 186 countries. We know our fans are passionate about the sport so we wanted to give them a way to give back. We’ve partnered with two great charities and are asking our fans to help support the cause,” said Chris Carper, President of Horse Races Now. The company is utilizing GoFundMe so that fans have an easy way to help the cause and donate from anywhere. Fans can go to: http://www.gofundme.com/givebacktoracing to make a donation.

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 dispersed more than $6 million to permanently disabled jockeys, most of whom have sustained paralysis or traumatic brain injuries. The Fund is a cooperative effort among racetracks, jockeys, horsemen and enthusiasts. Visit www.pdjf.org for further information.

“We are grateful that the mission of the PDJF will be shared with the clients of Horse Races Now.  Without guaranteed funding the PDJF’s funding is made possible through donors, events and campaigns like this which is an integral part to sustain this program,” said Nancy LaSala, President of PDJF.

Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement is a foundation that provides a dignified retirement to Thoroughbreds whose racing and breeding careers have come to an end. The farm is currently home to more than 150 with star attractions such as Silver Charm, Hall of Fame Champion and winner of the 1997 Kentucky Derby, Game on Dude, three-time winner of the Santa Anita Handicap, Breeders’ Cup Champions Gulch and Amazombie and Sarava, winner of the 2002 Belmont Stakes.

Read More. . .


BERRY GOES OUT WITH A BANG AT LONE STAR AND WINS JOCKEY OF THE WEEK

Jockey Cliff Berry, who is no stranger to the Lone Star Park winner’s circle with more than 1,000 victories at the Grand Prairie track, won three races on Sunday and secured a second place finish in the rider standings for the 2015 Thoroughbred season. Those three wins made it nine total for the week and helped him win the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for July 13th – July 19th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.

Berry’s hot riding was somewhat overshadowed by an important personal announcement:  The 52-year-old journeyman plans to retire at the end of the year after the Fall Thoroughbred season at Remington Park.

Berry is the all-time leader in wins at Lone Star Park with 1,072 since the Grand Prairie track opened for its inaugural season in 1997. The 52-year-old rider booted home a gelding trained by Bret Calhoun, in a runaway win in the first race. Berry then followed with victories in the fourth and fifth races.

“I’ve had a lot of good horses and trainers over the years,” Berry said. “That’s how you win. “I will miss it. It’s all I’ve ever known.”

Read More. . .


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, Turf Publicists of America and racing fans. To find out more about the great sport of horse racing, and to learn more about your favorite jockeys visit JockeyTalk360.com. Sign up for the newsletter.

 
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cliff Berry Named Jockey of the Week

Jockey Cliff Berry, who is no stranger to the Lone Star Park winner’s circle with more than 1,000 victories at the Grand Prairie track, won three races on Sunday and secured a second place finish in the rider standings for the 2015 Thoroughbred season. Those three wins made it nine total for the week and helped him win the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for July 13th – July 19th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.

Berry’s hot riding was somewhat overshadowed by an important personal announcement:  The 52-year-old journeyman plans to retire at the end of the year after the Fall Thoroughbred season at Remington Park.

Berry is the all-time leader in wins at Lone Star Park with 1,072 since the Grand Prairie track opened for its inaugural season in 1997. The 52-year-old rider booted home a gelding trained by Bret Calhoun, in a runaway win in the first race. Berry then followed with victories in the fourth and fifth races.

“I’ve had a lot of good horses and trainers over the years,” Berry said. “That’s how you win. “I will miss it. It’s all I’ve ever known.”

Back in 2011 after winning five races the previous evening, Berry managed to top himself at Remington Park on the night of December 10th when he won all seven races in which he had mounts. That feat has on been accomplished by three other riders in the modern era.

Berry has made 27,625 starts since beginning as a 17-year-old in 1979 and has won 4,408 of those mounts. Among them was a victory atop Going Ballistic in the $500,000 Super Derby in 2007 at Louisiana Downs. Most recently, he guided Promise Me Silver to victory in the Instant Racing Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Berry finished the week with nine wins, one second, four thirds, and earnings of $97,697 from 19 mounts.

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 Jockeys’ Guild 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.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cancel gears up for first summer at the Spa

Belmont Park's leading apprentice jockey Eric Cancel has steadily gained traction since joining the New York Racing Association circuit this spring and, with 54 career victories, the five-pound "bug boy" will look to keep his recent momentum going when he moves his tack upstate to ride his first meet at Saratoga Race Course.

"It'll be a new experience," said Cancel. "I know it's going to be a really tough meet for me being a bug boy - it's where all the high class trainers and riders go - but I'm going for it. I want to take it to the next level."

A native of Puerto Rico, Cancel grew up around the race track. His parents, Efran Cancel and Gezzela Algarin, are both former jockeys and Cancel couldn't imagine anything else he would rather do.

"I don't think I would like to do anything else," he said. "This is what gives me life. I love horses. I love being around them all the time."

Cancel, who will celebrate his 19th birthday on August 8, attended jockey school in Puerto Rico and won his first professional race at Camarero Race Park in January. His mother had been a jockey school classmate of Hall of Famer John Velazquez and when Cancel decided to move to the United States, Velazquez helped the young rider get in touch with his own agent and fellow Hall of Fame jockey, Angel Cordero, Jr.

Cancel kicked off his North American career at Gulfstream Park this winter, winning his first U.S. race on March 8 and, after picking up a few more wins to close out the meet, joined the jockey colony at Aqueduct Racetrack in early April. His first big stakes race came soon after, when on April 4, Cancel guided 59-1 Money'soncharlotte to a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Gazelle for Kelly Breen.

Currently, Cancel is tied with Velazquez for fifth place in the overall Belmont jockey standings with 35 wins and is the 11th leading money earner for the 2015 spring/summer meet with $1,702,856. He credits Cordero and Velazquez with much of his on-the-job development.

"They help me a lot," said Cancel, who plans to remain on the NYRA circuit for the foreseeable future, riding at Belmont this fall before spending the winter at Aqueduct. "They try to get the best out of me and I thank God for that. Sometimes they'll get mad at me because they'll tell me something and I still do it wrong. But they keep going and going with me until I get it right. I think that's the type of influence that you need from someone to make you better. Thanks to them, little by little, I'm getting there."

As one of the top apprentices in the nation, Cancel is already eyeing a particular end-of-the-year honor: the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey.

"Winning the Eclipse Award as a bug boy is my biggest goal right now because you've got to work hard every moment of your life and, as a bug boy, you've got to work even harder because that's how you develop your talent," he said.

In the more immediate future, Cancel has set his sights on "at least 10 or 15" wins during his first summer at the renowned Saratoga.

"I want to win as many as I can and ride as good as I can," he said. "Just keep trying to get there." NYRA Communications Depantment

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Friday, July 17, 2015

For Alex Solis, It's Been a Special Year to Remember

In a career already marked by numerous highlights, long-time Southern California  jockey Alex Solis’ past year is one that ranks right there at the top of them all.

Since mid-2014, the native Panamanian, who recently turned 51, entered racing’s Hall of Fame, chalked up his 5,000th career victory and became the first active jockey to be named to a racing board in America when he became a member of the California Horse Racing Board. Though furlongs away from anything Solis had done before, this last accolade ranks as high as any on the jockey’s superlative career resume.

And he’s taking it as seriously as a riding assignment that would take him to the Dubai World Cup or the Breeders’ Cup Classic, both of which he won on Pleasantly Perfect. Or maybe the Preakness Stakes, which he won aboard Snow Chief; or Del Mar’s Pacific Classic, in which he scored the race’s most stunning upset by defeating Cigar aboard Dare And Go in 1996.

“It is truly an honor to serve on the board,” Solis said of his recent appointment. “I was approached for the position and I understood the responsibility and work that goes with it. I thought about it for awhile and then accepted gladly.” Solis, who serves as chair of the jockey and driver welfare committee and as a member of the medical and track safety committee, began duties in April and looks forward to fulfilling his three-year term.

“I’ve been around the backside for 34 years and I know how things unfold out there,” Solis said. “I intend to do everything I can do to make racing better.”

Solis replaces popular and super-active board member Bo Derek, who retired after serving for seven years. “It’s going to be hard to replace her,” he said. “She is such a wonderful person and worked very hard on many parts of racing, especially on safety.”

Charles Winner, chairman of the CHRB, expressed enthusiasm for having Solis on the board, something for which he had strived. “I pursued this from the start, thinking we should have a new perspective from a new side of things,” Winner said. “I’ve known Alex for years and I have always held him in the highest regard. He’s diligent, a hard worker and a very ethical individual. He cares about horses and horse racing and he brings a lot of the same stuff to the board.”

Solis started the New Year by chalking up career win No. 5,000 when he rode the filly Lutine Belle to victory in the Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita for trainer and fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer. Having chased that 5,000th for some time, Solis acknowledged that it starts wearing on a person and creates a growing pressure, but he remembers how he began feeling confident of the win with a sixteenth of a mile from the finish.

“I can remember thinking ‘I can win this,’ and the filly did just that. I was happy to be over that hump.”

Helping to make the moment even more special for Solis was the fact his son, Alex II, a successful bloodstock agent, had acquired the filly for Hollendorfer.

Of his Hall of Fame induction, Solis remembers how he had been warned he’d get so emotional he’d cry. “I didn’t cry but I choked up a few times while I was giving my speech. It is a wonderful honor. When I was growing up in Panama I never thought I would have these blessings. I was doing something I loved and was trying to do my best. It’s pretty amazing that now I’m in there with my two best friends, Chris McCarron and Laffit Pincay.” They both spoke in his honor at the ceremony.

With the opening of the Del Mar season only days away, Solis can think back over a fruitful time at the seashore that has netted him 95 stakes victories, putting him fourth on the all-time stakes winners’ list, just one behind his all-time hero Pincay.

One of those victories came on that unforgettable August day in 1996 when he exploded from five lengths behind the seemingly unbeatable Cigar and roared to a 3 1/2-length victory in the $1-million Pacific Classic. Cigar had won 16 races in a row and had gained rock star status in racing circles.

And how does Solis remember that day? “It was the first time I was booed on the way back to the winner’s circle,” he said. “I just kept thinking, ‘I just have to do my job. Sorry’.”

He recalls, also, that he thought Dare And Go, trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, had a good chance in the race. “He had been training really well and there was a lot of speed in the race, which fit his running style. We stayed away from the pace, where three horses were battling and I knew I had plenty of horse. When I asked him at the three-eighths pole he really kicked in.”

Dare And Go paid $81.20 for the win and he and Solis were the toasts of the town, in spite of the boo-birds.

Solis has been cheered many times since en route to the winner’s circle. He hopes there will be more of that to come. But meanwhile, he is preparing for other opportunities besides. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Communications Department

 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Jockeytalk360 Newsletter for July 15

On a recent and hot summer afternoon at Belmont Park, apprentice Eric Cancel’s cool-headed approach to race riding was on full display.

Patience, a great asset in a young rider and an attribute that isn’t always present early in a jockey’s career, was exhibited by Cancel in the seventh race on July 12.

While riding the Todd Pletcher-trained My Kinda Gal, the five-pound apprentice hugged the hedge down the backstretch of the turf sprint. With three furlongs remaining, Cancel looked to be in a switch, but he maintained his inside position and a seam materialized that led him to a narrow victory. A stewards’ inquiry and on objection from Kendrick Carmouche, the jockey aboard runner-up Barrel of Dreams, was lodged against the unofficial winner. But after a several-minute review of the replay, the stewards allowed the result to stand, citing “incidental contact between the rivals near the wire.”

It was a good day at the office for the 18-year-old: From five mounts, Cancel registered a win, a second, and a third.

His score aboard My Kinda Gal represented Cancel’s 53rd career victory since accepting his first mount on June 1, 2014 at Camarero Race Track in his native Puerto Rico. His 49 wins this year in the United States rank him 8th among all apprentices in North America. Cancel’s earnings of $2,079,962 thus far in 2015 place him third nationally among bug riders.

Richard Migliore, who won the 1981 Eclipse Award for top apprentice and is currently a racing analyst for the New York Racing Association’s television network and FOX Sports 1, likes what he has seen from Cancel.

“He’s very polished for a kid who just went from seven to five pounds,” the former rider commented. “He still has some things experience-wise he has to work out. But I think he’s super talented, and he’s obviously super passionate about it, which is a pretty formidable combination.”

A son of parents who were both jockeys in Puerto Rico, and a graduate of the Escuela Vocacional Hipica school for riding, Cancel was quick to show promise. After winning the first race he rode in, and piloting three more winners at Camarero in the next two weeks, a friend of Cancel’s reached out to jockey agent Angel Cordero Jr.

A Hall of Fame jockey and the long-time agent of superstar John Velazquez, who also moved to the States from Puerto Rico to ride, Cordero agreed to handle Cancel’s book, and thus began the apprentice’s next chapter.

Although Cancel was eager to continue his career upon his arrival in Florida, Cordero had other plans for his new pupil.

Read more . . .


Who's Hot

Prado Edgar-CNL-071113-001Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Edgar Prado went from Gulfstream to Delaware Park for some stakes action. Prado’s trip paid off as he won two stakes including the upset in the Delaware Oaks aboard Calamity Kate. Prado finished the week winning 36% and coming in the money on 64% of his mounts.

Jose Lezcano had a great week at Belmont and Arlington Park. On Saturday at Arlington, Lezcano won the the Gr. 3 American Derby aboard World Approval and went back to Belmont on Sunday to win the Manila Stakes aboard Gallery. For the week Lezcano finished with five wins from 19 mounts and came in the money on 58% of his mounts.

Florent GerouxFlorent Geroux was very impressive at Arlington Park as he won the Gr. 3 Stars and Striped Handicap aboard The Pizza Man was tied for third in wins in North America. Geroux finished the week winning 47% and coming in the money an incredible 87% of his mounts.

Colby Hernandez continues to dominate at Evangeline as he has built up a 43 win lead in the standings. Once again, Hernandez led North America in wins last week with nine. Hernandez won the DS Shine Young Futurity on Saturday and finished the week 9-3-4 from 31 mounts.

AQHA Quarter Horse Standings

John Hamilton (Delta Downs) remains on top of the wins leaderboard for the year with 101 from 485 mounts. Raul Ramirez Jr. (Delta Downs) ranks second with 92 wins from 427 starts and David Alvarez (Delta Downs) ranks third with 86 wins from 404 mounts.

Raul Ramirez Jr. remained at the top of the AQHA earnings leaderboard with $1,582,350 from 427 starts. GR Carter Jr. (Ruidoso) is sitting in second in the standings with $1,447,783 and John Hamilton is third with $1,434,992.

 Keep up with all the AQHA leaders here . . .


Del Mar jockey colony as good as ever

By Ed Zieralski From The San Diego Union-Tribune

— Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith’s veteran eyes tell him the current jockey colony at Del Mar is very good and competitive.

But Smith said these jockeys – a mix of Hall of Fame veterans, journeymen and rising stars — have one another very important attribute in common.

“Character,” was the word Smith arrived at to describe the quality of Del Mar’s riders this summer.

It’s a terrific riding colony, with Hall of Famers such as Smith, Gary Stevens, Kent Desormeaux and Alex Solis along with returning riding champion Rafael Bejarano, Victor Espinoza, who has won five of the last six Triple Crown races that includes this year’s Triple Crown, Martin Garcia, Corey Nakatani, Martin Pedroza and David Flores, the Tijuana native who has returned from Japan to ride again in Southern California.

But it hardly ends there. Newcomer Felipe Valdez, a 37-year-old Mexico City native who has recovered from a devastating back injury that sidelined him 3½ years, adds more depth to the veteran crew. And that depth goes deeper with young stars like Joe Talamo, Tyler Baze, Fernando Perez and Santiago Gonzalez. And certainly, last, but not least, there are Drayden Van Dyke, 20, who won the Eclipse Award for being the top apprentice in 2014, and French rider Flavien Prat, 22, the youngest rider at 17½ to get to 65 wins and lose his apprentice allowance in the history of horse racing in France.

“Talent isn’t the question,” Smith said. “There’s unbelievable talent in that room right now. But what we truly have is a group of quality people, with character, trying to put out what we’re supposed to be.”

Read more . . .


Velazquez Set for Jock Competition in Turkey

From The Blood-Horse

CARPE DIEM - Claiborne Breeders' Futurity Gr I - 10-04-14 - R08 - KEE - John VelazquezHall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will join an all-star cast of riders for the Turkish International Jockey Challenge on Wednesday, July 15, at Istanbul’s Veliefendi Racecourse.

Also to compete are Richard Hughes (Great Britain), Mirco Demuro (Italy), Kevin Manning (Ireland), and Pierre-Charles Boudot (France) in taking on a team of leading local riders in the four-race challenge.

U.S. wagering company Xpressbet is an official partner of The Jockey’s Guild in the U.S. and is sponsoring Velazquez to promote U.S. racing for the company, according to a press release.

Velazquez is eager to participate in the event.

“It’s a great honor to be asked to participate in the International Jockey Challenge and I am looking forward to helping to promote U.S. racing on Xpressbet’s behalf while I’m there,” said the rider, who is chairman of the Guild and North America’s all-time leading money-earning jockey,

“By supporting an event like the International Jockey Challenge, we are able to introduce one of our leading jockeys to a group of incredibly passionate racing fans and horseplayers,” Xpressbet pesident Ron Luniewski said. “We wish Johnny the best in Turkey, and we’re pulling for him to bring the trophy home to the United States.”

In 2014 and 2013, Xpressbet sponsored Javier Castellano’s participation in the event, while in 2012, Cornelio Velasquez became the first U.S.-based rider to win the competition.

For more information about the challenge, click here.

Read more . . .


HBPA Foundation Assisting Injured Assiniboia Jockey Selman

By Ray Paulick

The National HBPA Foundation will be joining many others in providing assistance to jockey Alyssa Selman. Support will go towards a fund set up to assist Alyssa and her family with medical bills following her racing accident.  The incident occurred on June 27 at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Manitoba HBPA will facilitate Alyssa receiving the National HBPA’s well wishes and support.  Please contact the Manitoba HBPA or The National HBPA office for further information on needs and support.

Alyssa, 29, is married and has two children.  She underwent surgery for damage to her spinal cord and fractured vertebrae, shortly following the accident. Her injuries occurred when she was thrown from her mount after her horse stumbled.  Alyssa’s mount clipped heels with another horse on the track which caused her mount to lose footing.  Her doctors currently are unable to report if she will fully recover.   At this point doctors are concerned about Alyssa’s ability to walk normally after her recovery, but they have not ruled out that possibility.

“The indication from her family is that the surgery was deemed successful,” the track said on its website. “However, the road to recovery will be lengthy. The finality of her back injury cannot be stated at this time.”

Assiniboia Downs will be hosting a fundraiser for Selman on July 19, and donations are also being accepted online. For more information, go to www.assiniboiadowns.com.

“I know I speak for all horsemen in saying that Alyssa is in our thoughts and that we are hoping for a full recovery,” said Robin Richards, president and chairperson of the board for the National HBPA.

The National HBPA is the largest racing horsemen’s representative association in North America, with 30 affiliate member organizations representing over 30,000 owners and trainers of thoroughbred racehorses.

Read More. . .


Prado Pulls Delaware Oaks Upset and Wins Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week

Jockey Edgar Prado lit up the tote board on Saturday in the Delaware Oaks and also won a stakes race on the under card previous to that Oaks win. That effort helped him secure the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Award for July 6th – July 12th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.

Prado kicked of his stakes winning double with a victory in the Cape Henlopen Stakes aboard Holiday Star for trainer Graham Motion. The win payout of $13.20 would almost always seem like a square price for a rider of Edgar’s ability but for fans of the Eclipse winning rider there was more to come.

Just a few races later Prado would get a leg up in the paddock to ride trainer Kelly Breen’s Calamity Kate in the Grade III Delaware Oaks at odds of 54-1. She was sent off by the public as the longest shot on the board. Those odds were skewed a bit by the heavily bet favorite Lovely Maria, who went post-ward at odds of 2-5.

Edgar took the fight right to the field of eight and broke alertly with his longshot mount crossing over quickly to the rail to dictate terms. Calamity Kate got away with moderate fractions early, but when the time came to run, the 3-year-old filly did just that. As the field bunched up at the top of the lane Prado asked his mount and she quickly responded by opening up an immediate three length lead with an eighth of a mile to travel.

Read More. . .


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, Turf Publicists of America and racing fans.

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Del Mar jockey colony as good as ever

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith’s veteran eyes tell him the current jockey colony at Del Mar is very good and competitive.

But Smith said these jockeys – a mix of Hall of Fame veterans, journeymen and rising stars -- have one another very important attribute in common.

“Character,” was the word Smith arrived at to describe the quality of Del Mar’s riders this summer.

It’s a terrific riding colony, with Hall of Famers such as Smith, Gary Stevens, Kent Desormeaux and Alex Solis along with returning riding champion Rafael Bejarano, Victor Espinoza, who has won five of the last six Triple Crown races that includes this year’s Triple Crown, Martin Garcia, Corey Nakatani, Martin Pedroza and David Flores, the Tijuana native who has returned from Japan to ride again in Southern California.

But it hardly ends there. Newcomer Felipe Valdez, a 37-year-old Mexico City native who has recovered from a devastating back injury that sidelined him 3½ years, adds more depth to the veteran crew. And that depth goes deeper with young stars like Joe Talamo, Tyler Baze, Fernando Perez and Santiago Gonzalez. And certainly, last, but not least, there are Drayden Van Dyke, 20, who won the Eclipse Award for being the top apprentice in 2014, and French rider Flavien Prat, 22, the youngest rider at 17½ to get to 65 wins and lose his apprentice allowance in the history of horse racing in France.

“Talent isn’t the question,” Smith said. “There’s unbelievable talent in that room right now. But what we truly have is a group of quality people, with character, trying to put out what we’re supposed to be.”

Smith not only is impressed with the returning crew of riders, but he said the addition of Irishman James Graham, 36, will add another talented jockey to the group. Graham is closing in on his 100th win of the season. He had been riding at Arlington, Fair Grounds and Keeneland.

“You want to talk about a good son of a gun,” said Smith, who is 49. “I’m so happy to have (Graham) here. Most people don’t welcome talent, but I feel the more talent that comes the better I become. He’s very welcome here. He is just a wonderful Irishman.”

Long-time jockey agent Scotty McClellan has been booking races for clients for over 40 years. He has represented the likes of Chris McCarron, Darrel McHargue, Solis and Flores over the years. He books for young Talamo these days and believes this colony has a chance to be one of the better ones Southern California has ever had.

“The difference is those guys in the past, they did it for a lot longer time,” McClellan said. “A lot of these guys are just starting or just establishing themselves. When you look at the group like McHargue, McCarron, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Eddie Delahoussaye, Bill Shoemaker, one that added jockeys like Stevens, Smith, Solis, Desormeaux and Espinoza, that’s a colony that won’t be duplicated. Now if they keep this colony together for five, 10 years . . . well, then we’ll see.”

Jockey Rafael Bejarano has owned Del Mar the last three seasons. He won his fourth Del Mar jockey title last summer to give him four of the last seven. He enters the 2015 summer meet after winning his 12th Santa Anita riding title, 27th overall in Southern California. He had to battle to win the spring meeting at Santa Anita.

“It was kind of hard because the competition was pretty tough this meet,” Bejarano said after Santa Anita ended. “In the beginning a couple of riders put a lot of competition on me. The business was kind of split up because there are so many good riders. It made for some pretty exciting racing. I’m really happy to be the leading rider again.”

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/jul/13/del-mar-jockeys-colony-mix/

Monday, July 13, 2015

Prado named Jockey of the Week

Jockey Edgar Prado lit up the tote board on Saturday in the Delaware Oaks and also won a stakes race on the under card previous to that Oaks win. That effort helped him secure the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Award for July 6th – July 12th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.

Prado kicked of his stakes winning double with a victory in the Cape Henlopen Stakes aboard Holiday Star for trainer Graham Motion. The win payout of $13.20 would almost always seem like a square price for a rider of Edgar’s ability but for fans of the Eclipse winning rider there was more to come.

Just a few races later Prado would get a leg up in the paddock to ride trainer Kelly Breen’s Calamity Kate in the Grade III Delaware Oaks at odds of 54-1. She was sent off by the public as the longest shot on the board. Those odds were skewed a bit by the heavily bet favorite Lovely Maria, who went post-ward at odds of 2-5.

Edgar took the fight right to the field of eight and broke alertly with his longshot mount crossing over quickly to the rail to dictate terms. Calamity Kate got away with moderate fractions early, but when the time came to run, the 3-year-old filly did just that. As the field bunched up at the top of the lane Prado asked his mount and she quickly responded by opening up an immediate three length lead with an eighth of a mile to travel.

The final time for 1 1/16 miles on a fast track was 1:41.79, just a fifth of a second off the track record set in 1998 and returned fans of Calamity Kate and Prado a triple digit mutuel with a win payout of $110.80.

For the week Prado finished with four wins, one second, and two thirds from 11 mounts for earnings of $265,190.

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 Jockeys’ Guild 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.

PDJF

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