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Thursday, September 11, 2014

KY Downs Hosts Hall of Fame Jockeys

Kentucky Downs hosted its second annual Hall of Fame Jockeys’ Day on Wednesday, as Hall of Famers Calvin Borel, Pat Day, Chris McCarron, Laffit Pincay, Jr. and Randy Romero came together for an autograph signing before the races to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund (PDJF). Additionally, Hall of Fame Trainer Jack Van Berg was on hand, signing autographs and copies of his new book: “Jack, From Grit to Glory.”

“It is truly an honor to host these Hall of Famers at Kentucky Downs,” track President Corey Johnsen said. “They have given so much to our great sport, and it is indeed a privilege to work with them and the Jockeys’ Guild to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund.”

During the 10 live race card, the day belonged to potential future Hall of Famers Rosie Napravnik and Julien Leparoux. Napravnik guided home four winners, while Leparoux was aboard an additional three. Napravnik’s wins came in race #2 (Holiday Drama), race #3 (Catalactic), race #6 (First Romance) and race #10 (Ventoux). Leparoux rode winners in race #1 (Expecting Cash), race #5 (Cool Comfort) and race #7 (Aripeka).

Hall of Famer Calvin Borel came home first aboard Shake Up in the fourth race, marking his 38th career win at Kentucky Downs, tying him for first-place with Larry Melancon in all-time wins at the track.

Additionally on Wednesday, Kentucky Downs hosted a $15,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Qualifier handicapping contest, with the winner earning a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, slated for October 31 and November 1, 2014 at Santa Anita Park.

This year’s remaining Kentucky Downs live racing dates are September 13, 17 and 24. Purses for this year’s live meet average over $1,000,000 per race day. Kentucky Downs features a one-of-a-kind European-style turf course that offers a fair test to horses at all levels of competition. The Kentucky Downs race course is among the longest courses in North America at 1.3125 (1 5/16) miles in length. With subtle elevation changes throughout the course, a sweeping turn into the stretch run and a quarter-mile run from the end of the final turn to the finish line, racing at Kentucky Downs is unlike any racing seen this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Highlights of each remaining live racing day include:

Saturday, September 13 (Kentucky Turf Cup Day)

Family Fun Activities

Stakes Races:

The Kentucky Turf Cup (Grade III) $600,000

The Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint $200,000

The Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf $200,000

The More Than Ready Mile $200,000

Wednesday, September 17 (Ladies Day)

Benefiting Horses & Hope and Old Friends Farm

Ladies Hat Contest

Wednesday, September 24 (Closing Day)

Stakes Races:

The Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon $200,000

The Kentucky Downs Turf Dash $200,000

Monday, September 08, 2014

Leandro Goncalves named Jockeys Guild Jockey of the Week

Leandro Goncalves won six races including a pair of stakes at Kentucky Downs, and was the week's leading money earner 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 September 2-7.

Goncalves won three races at Kentucky Downs on Saturday to take the lead for both wins and earnings in that track's jockey standings.

He rode Croninthebarbarian to win the $200,000-added Kentucky Downs Juvenile by two lengths, upsetting favored Luck of the Kitten.

He came back in the $250,000 Dueling Grounds Derby with another upset, riding My Afleet at 8-1 to score by a nose over Medal Count. After setting the pace, My Afleet fell back by two lengths before battling back for his hard-fought victory.

"When he saw the horse pass him he just fought back and gave me everything he had," Goncalves said.

In all, he won six races for the week, earning $408,744, to lead the nation for that time frame.

"It makes me feel very lucky to have such a great week; finishing ahead of some of the top jockeys in the country," Goncalves said.

The 32-year-old Brazilian began riding at age 7 to herd livestock, and by 9, he was riding in Quarter Horse races. At 16, he went to Brazil's jockey school at Hipodromo de Cidade Jardim, where he was the school's top apprentice with 78 wins in 11 months.

In 2004, he went to England, but moved to America the following year and won his first American race in 2007. He has been a leading rider at Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs, and on September 11, 2009, he won five races at Turfway Park, plus a sixth at Hoosier Downs.

His mounts have earned $2.5 million so far this year.

The Jockeys Guild 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, September 08, 2014

CASTANON RIDES 300TH CHURCHILL DOWNS WINNER FRIDAY NIGHT

Jockey Jesus Castanon rode favored In Tall Cotton to a 1 ½-length victory in Friday night's third race to collect his 300th Churchill Downs victory.

 Castanon, 41, is only the 25th jockey in Churchill Downs' storied history to reach the 300-win plateau beneath the Twin Spires. Retired Hall of Famer Pat Day leads all riders with 2,482 local victories.

Castanon, a native of Mexico City, is best known as the regular rider of 2011 Preakness and 2012 Clark Handicap winner Shackleford. He began riding in 1989 and collected his first win that at the defunct Agua Caliente in Tijuana at age 16. In the fall of 1994, Castanon moved his tack to Churchill Downs for the first time, and has ridden in 32 local meets since then. A winner of riding titles at Tampa Bay Downs, Ellis Park and Turfway, Castanon's best finish in the Churchill Downs jockey standings was a tie for fourth at the 2011 Fall Meet.

 Overall, Castanon's mounts have won more than 2,200 races and $49.7 million over a span of 26 years.
 

“I really didn’t think anything about it at first,” Castanon said. “I was just focused on getting the win. When I came back to the winner’s circle and saw the big sign, I realized that I did something good. It was pretty exciting, especially being here at Churchill.”

 

Castanon said his most memorable local win was aboard Shackleford for trainer Dale Romans in the 2012 Clark Handicap.

 

“I’d say winning the Clark with Shackleford was definitely my most memorable win here,” Castanon said. “Another one was when I won the Firecracker in 2010 with Tizdejavu.”

 

Castanon noted a Breeders’ Cup win was definitely on his wish list before he retires.

 

“I have accomplished quite a few things in my riding career,” Castanon said. “My goal is just to keep riding and hopefully win a Breeders’ Cup race; it’s tough to get but you never know. The Kentucky Derby and Belmont would obviously mean a lot too. But I think I have plenty of good years ahead so we’ll see.” Churchill Downs Communications Department

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Horsewoman Sandra Lovato dies in Ohio automobile accident

Horsewoman Sandra Sweet Lovato, wife of retired Eclipse Award-winning jockey Frankie Lovato, Jr., died Wednesday in Norwalk, Ohio from injuries sustained from a car accident. She was 54.

  

Sandy Lovato graduated from Norwalk High School in 1978 and moved to New York, where she started her career working with horses at the racetrack and met the love of her life, Frankie Lovato, Jr. She served as PTA president at School District 13 in Valley Stream, New York, where she received numerous service awards for her dedication and time before the family returned to Ohio.

  

She also served as President for the Wooden Horse Corporation, a family-owned company that produces the Equicizer, that she started with her husband, Frankie, in 2006.

  

A lifelong horse enthusiast, she became a PATH International Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor and in 2009 founded Stampede of Dreams in Norwalk, Ohio. SOD is a 501c3 non-profit program for Equine Assisted Horseback Riding lessons providing therapeutic benefits for children and adults with special needs.

  

She is survived by her husband, whom she married November 23, 1982, Frankie Lovato, Jr., of Norwalk, Ohio; by her children, Megan (Walter) Hodgkiss, of Huron, Ohio, Shawn Lovato, of Queens, New York, Timothy Lovato, of Norwalk, Ohio, and by her granddaughter Allison. She is also survived by her sister Debora Stogner and by her sister-in-law Michelle Sweet. She was preceded in death by her brother, Charles Sweet, and by her sister Janice Stoneham.

  

Visitation is is on Friday, September 5, 2014 from 4-7 p.m.at the Walker Funeral Home, 98 West Main St., Norwalk, Ohio. Mass of Christian burial will be held on Saturday, September 6, 2014 at 10 a.m. in St. Paul Catholic Church, 91 East Main St., Norwalk, Ohio.

 

Memorial contributions may be made to Stampede of Dreams TRP, Inc., P.O. Box 679, Norwalk, Ohio 44857.

 

 

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Thursday, September 04, 2014

WEST VIRGINIA CIRCUIT COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF JOCKEYS

A case that initially began in March of 2009 at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races (owned by Penn National Gaming, Inc. “PNGI”), has been decided in a major victory for the seven jockeys, including Luis Perez, Anthony Mawing, Dale Whitaker, Lawrence Reynolds, Jesus Sanchez, Alexis Rios-Conde, and Tony Maragh.  On August 29, 2014, the Hon. Paul Zakaib, Jr. of the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, issued a ruling in favor of the jockeys, reversing and remanding the decision of the West Virginia Racing Commission’s Order suspending and fining the jockeys.

The Court held that the Commission’s final order constituted “unlawful rulemaking retroactively applied” and the record was insufficient to support the findings of the Commission.

The case began when seven jockeys at the Charles Town Racetrack were allegedly caught failing to weigh out properly.  “Weighing out” refers to the jockeys stepping on the scales, before going out to race, to insure that their weight matches the weight assigned to the horse they are riding.  On April 8, 2009, only these seven jockeys were summarily suspended by the Racing Commission, even though all other jockeys engaged in the same procedures when weighing out on the days in question. PNGI proceeded to exclude these jockeys from the racetrack on April 14, 2009.

After a lengthy factual hearing and legal proceeding, the Commission suspended the jockeys for 30 days and fined them each $1,000.  However, based on the arbitrary application of the rules by the Commission, under the advice of the Jockeys’ Guild and counsel, the jockeys appealed the decision to the Circuit Court.

The Guild has continually supported the jockeys and was actively involved in this litigation, as well as the litigation regarding the right of exclusion.  In that matter, the West Virginia Supreme Court upheld the decision against PNGI and concluded that PNGI’s efforts to exclude these Charles Town jockeys deprived them of a meaningful opportunity for judicial review of the Commission imposed penalties. 

The jockeys were represented and the case was tried by Charleston, West Virginia lawyers Benjamin L. Bailey and Christopher S. Morris of Bailey & Glasser.  Mr. Bailey said, “We could not be happier for our brave clients.  This decision vindicates their character and sportsmanship.  Their long saga will benefit the entire racing community in West Virginia, setting the standards and procedures to be applied to racing licensees.”

“We are pleased with the Court’s decision,” said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Guild.  “The riders have had to fight a tremendous battle and have had their reputations called into question.  We hope that this decision will set the record straight and it will be recognized that none of the jockeys violated the rules of racing, nor did they do anything that would be considered illegal or defrauding the betting public. However, it should recognized that since the circumstances of the case arose, the Guild has worked closely with the West Virginia Racing Commission in improving the rules and regulations.  We have developed a good working relationship with the Commission.”

During the proceeding, facts have been established that the scale was not properly calibrated and the clerk of scales, who was an employee of Charles Town, was not adequately trained in proper procedures for weighing out and weighing in the jockeys. 

“This could have been avoided if the racetrack would have made sure that the clerk of scales was properly trained,” said Meyocks.  “All racing officials, whether it be the clerk of scales, racing office personnel, assistant starters, etc., need to have adequate experience and training.”

The Guild’s legal counsel is also determining what can be done with regards to damages suffered by the individual jockeys and whether or not they can seek recovery of the significant legal fees that were expended during these years of litigation.

 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Saratoga jockey colony supports the You Can Play Project

If you can play, you can play.

Those seven words sum up the message of the You Can Play Project, founded two years ago by Patrick Burke, Brian Kitts, and Glenn Witman. “Dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation,” You Can Play began with one video, in which Burke and his father Brian, the president of the Calgary Flames who has been an executive with several NHL teams and in the league office, explained the establishment of the organization, founded to carry on the legacy of Brendan Burke, Patrick’s brother and Brian’s son, who worked for the rights of gay athletes in hockey. That one video became dozens, produced by professional, college, and high school teams, with athletes voicing their support for LGBT athletes.

Following an article I wrote last year about the organization, I got to know Craig Brownstein, former Laurel Park press box manager and current racing/hockey fan who found Puckbuddys.com and the @puckbuddys Twitter account, “for boys who like boys who like hockey.” Brownstein is also vice-president of media relations at the Washington, D.C. office of Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, and You Can Play Project is one of the firm’s pro bono clients. A few weeks ago, Brownstein called me to see if the Saratoga jockey colony would be interested in making a You Can Play video.

The answer was an enthusiastic “yes,” and thanks to the efforts and support of former jockey and current NYRA/HRTV/Fox Sports 1 racing analyst Richard Migliore; NYRA’s chief experience officer Lynn LaRocca; NYRA’s director of communications and media relations John Durso; cinematographers Mitch Levites and Joe Calderone; the owners who permitted their silks to be worn, and the jockeys themselves, the video was shot, edited, and produced in less than a week.

The Saratoga jockeys and the New York Racing Association are the first in racing to publicly support You Can Play. Here’s hoping they’re not the last, and thanks to everyone who made it possible.
 
http://brooklynbackstretch.com/2014/09/03/if-you-can-ride-you-can-ride-saratoga-jockey-colony-supports-the-you-can-play-project/

If you can ride, you can ride.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Leading Jockeys Baze and Ricardo to Face Off in ‘Champions Challenge’

Jockeys Russell Baze and Jorge “Ricardinho” Ricardo, the top two riders in the world by wins, will go head-to-head in a five-race competition in Brazil, according to a release sent by The Jockey Club of Rio Grande do Sul.

The contest will be held the afternoon of September 18 at Hipodromo de Cristal in Porto Alegre. The jockeys will take mounts in five different races and compete for a prize pool of $5,000.

Ricardo was the first jockey in history to win 10,000 races, but Baze was hot on his heels, reaching the 11,000 mark first in 2011. The Brazilian jockey, riding in Argentina, was sidelined for more than six months while he battled cancer. His win total now stands at 12,256, while Baze’s wins number 12,350.

“I never really thought about the competition with Russell,” Ricardo said recently, “but while recovering from the accident I started to think about retrieving my lead again. But either way, I love the competition. Horse racing is my life.”

Baze and Ricardo have ridden side-by-side only once before, when they were invited to take part in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot in 2008. There, they were on the same team, against some of the best jockeys from around the world. Both riders have won numerous awards in their resident countries.

The contest will take place at 3:30 p.m. BRT on September 18.
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.

 

PDJF

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