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Monday, April 28, 2008

Hawthorne jocks get raise

One day after local jockeys forced a two-hour delay in post times while demanding a raise in riding fee, Thoroughbred racing and parimutuel wagering resumed Saturday.
 
The work action succeeded:  Horse owners at Hawthorne agreed to give jockeys a $30 raise -- from $45 to $75 -- in base rate.  That minimum serves as a safety net underneath the percentage of winnings a jockey receives for riding a horse to a finish of fifth-place or better.  Now, the percentage scale to a rider slides from 10 percent of a horse's earnings from a winning mount to two percent for horses that finish fourth or fifth.
 
"There had been on-going negotiations between the rider and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association concerning mount fees," said Jim Miller, the assistant general manager at Hawthorne.  "On Friday, they were in the midst of negotiations that carried into the scheduled (3 p.m.) start of the card.  With the assistance of members of the ITHA, the Jockeys' Guild and the Illinois Racing Board, an agreement was reached and we were able to begin racing. Jim O'Donnell, Chicago Sun-Times
 
 
Monday, April 28, 2008

Jockeys Receive Higher Mount Fee

After intense negotiations at Hawthorne on Friday, racing went off without a hitch Saturday after negotiations between jockeys and horsemen caused a two-hour delay in starting Friday's card.
 
The issue of the base mount fee bubbled up last June at Arlington, receded into the background, and boiled over again this week.  Friday's first race was scheduled for 3 p.m. but went off shortly before 5 when riders insisted they would not participate unless horse owners agreed to pay a $75 fee to the jockeys whose mounts finish worse than fifth.  Previously, riders on fourth- and fifth-place finishers were paid a base mount fee only, but they will now receive 2 percent of the horse's earnings in the race.
 
As of Saturday, jockeys were presenting horse owners with a contract upon arriving in the paddock before a particular race.  If the owners agreed to pay the new fees, the jockey would ride; if not, the jockey would decline to ride, according to jockey Jerry LaSala, a local representative of the Jockeys' Guild.  If all riders in the colony adhere to the new fee schedule, the horse would have to be scratched.
 
State Steward Eddie Arroyo said that jockeys who declined to ride would not be punished for failing to honor their calls.
 
The $75 fee represents a $30 raise over the $45 base mount fee jockeys have been paid for more than 20 years.  The issue of how to increase the fee has led to rancor between some riders and some members of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, in great part because there are no strict rules in Illinois defining how much riders are to be paid.
 
Some states mandate mount fees but not Illinois.  And while Illinois Racing Board executive director Marc Laino has tried to mediate the dispute, Laino said that the IRB has no authority to set fees.
 
"The riders and the horsemen have been operating since 1985 with this informal understanding of what the base fees are," Laino said.
 
Jockeys regularly file mount-fee reports with the horsemen's bookkeeper, who then disburses the appropriate funds from the purse account to the riders.  While riders began billing on the new fee schedule Friday, those funds have yet to be paid, and disagreements between activist jockeys and the leadership of the ITHA may not be fully settled yet.
 
ITHA president Frank Kirby declined to comment on his organization's position because the issue was ongoing.  The ITHA and riders have periodically feuded and negotiated over the mount fee issue for more than a year.  A lawsuit filed by riders trying to force a fee hike was dropped last October.
 
Jockeys' Guild national manager Terry Meyocks was at Hawthorne supporting the riders Saturday, but Meyocks said that the actions here were being undertaken by individual riders acting as independent contractors.  The $45 base mount fee here does lag behind other jurisdictions.  New York raised such fees this month to $100, Meyocks said.
 
Racing shifts to Arlington on Friday.  Arlington is part of Churchill Downs, Inc., with whom the Jockeys' Guild has a no-strike contract.  But if local riders are acting as individual contractors, as they now contend, their actions this week may not constitute a strike.  By Marcus Hersh/Daily Racing Form
Monday, April 28, 2008

Kent Desormeaux Wins Keeneland Riding Title

Boosted by two days (April 12 and 17) on which he won four races on a single card, Kent Desormeaux won his first Keeneland riding title with 22 total wins.  Desormeaux also took the Doubledogdare (G3) with Carriage Trail.  John Velazquez, winner of the Lafayette Stakes with Keep Laughing and the Appalachian (G3) with Alwajeeha, finished second in the rankings with 15 wins.  Keeneland Communications Department
Monday, April 28, 2008

Vitek Fundraiser Considered Big Success

About 250 horsemen and racing fans gathered at the Kentucky Derby Museum April 21 for dinner, drinks and live and silent auctions.
 
"The generosity of the Thoroughbred community was overwhelming," said JoLynn Johnston, who spearheaded the evening event. "In a relatively short amount of time, we were able to procure quality items for the auction from owners, breeders, and equine artists, and with the help of local tracks and several racing publications, we were able to spread the word about the fundraiser that resulted in a great turnout and a wonderful show of backing for Justin."
 
A highlight of the evening wa a surprise visit by Vitek.  He is undergoing a second series of chemotherapy treatments, and doctors approved a brief release from the hospital.  As the lights were raised after a viewing of the acclaimed 360-degree Kentucky Derby movie in the grand hall, Texas native Vitek was standing at the podium with a black cowboy hat and suit coat.  The audience erupted into a standing ovation.
 
"I wasn't 100% sure I was going to make it earlier in the day, but I'm running on adrenaline now," Vitek said as he greeted his many friends.  "It's not going to happen overnight, but I'm determined to beat this thing.  Hell, with al these people in my corner, how can't I?"
 
From 8,205 career mounts, Vitek has ridden 763 winners, and his mounts have earned more than $9.88 million.  His biggest win came in the Grade II Golden Rod Stakes in 2000 at Churchill Downs aboard Miss Pickums.
 
Paul McGee, who gave a leg up to Vitek on Miss Pickums, was in attendance, as were trainers Frank Brothers, Ralph Nicks, and Tom Drury, one of the sponsors of the affair.  Other major sponors included WinStar Farm, Helen Alexander, and XpressBet.
 
Encouragement from the jockey colony came from Hall of Fame rider Par Day, Robby Albarado, Calvin Borel, Corey Lanerie, Brian Hernandez, Jr., James Lopez and Jamie Theriot, who sat at a center table and bid generously during the live auction.  Albarado came away with a piece of history that was donated to the fundraiser -- a halter worn by Triple Crown winner Affirmed that brought a final bid of $4,500.
 
The auction topper was purchased on behalf of Bill Casner, who made donations to the event.  Friends of Casner won a heated bidding war to obtain a signed last saddle used in a win by Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey for $6,600.
 
AML is a relatively rare and rapidly progressing form of blood cancer that interferes with the production of normal blood cells.  The disease is potentially curable, though mortality rates are high in people 60 or older, which are the most likely to have the disease.  Survival rates have been shown to increase with youth.
 
Vitek was born in Houston and grew up in Wallace, Texas.  He began his riding career in 1993 in New Mexico, and after spending several years at Southwest tracks, he moved on to ride on several different circuits, including Southern California, Illinois and, for most of the last severn years, in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. John Englehardt, Thoroughbred Times
Monday, April 28, 2008

Alan Garcia Tops Aqueduct Spring Meet

Alan Garcia, who won four races on Saturday, topped the Aqueduct Spring Meet jockey standings withh 22 wins over Rajiv Marah, who won three races on Sunday's closing day card to bring his total to 19.
Friday, April 25, 2008

Lexington Physician, Jockeys' Guild Work Together

Keeneland, the Jockeys' Guild and Lexington physician Dr. Barry Schumer today announced a plan to develop a system to maintain jockeys' updated medical histories so they are immediately accesible to emergency personnel at racetracks throughout the country and possibly the world.
 
"With the use of an access code, authorized emergency medical staff around the country would be able to get a rider's medical history," explained Schumer, Keeneland's medical director.  "The information would be secure, regularly updated, and promptly accessible to the emergency team."
 
Working with Jockeys' Guild National Manager Terry Meyocks, Keeneland President Nick Nicholson and the jockeys themselves, Schumer said the goal is to have the system "up and going by the end of year -- hopefully by the fall meeting at Keeneland."
 
The Jockey Club, through its subsidiaries InCompass Solutions, Inc. and the Jockey Club Technology Services, Inc., will asist with software development for the system and provide other technological support.
 
"The plan to maintain a medical history for each Thoroughbred jockey is an example of the Jockeys' Guild and Keeneland working together for the betterment of the Thoroughbred industry," Nicholson said.  "We are grateful to The Jockey Club companies for their assistance and their expertise."
 
Schumer, who has been associated with Keeneland for 27 years, said that knowing a jockey's medical history is particularly important if a rider is in shock, has a head injury, doesn't speak English or has no family present.
 
John Velazquez, the Eclipse Award-winning jockey and chairman of the Jockeys' Guild Board of Directors who was seriously injured in a riding accident at Keeneland in 2006, voiced support for the project.
 
Hopefully, we will have communication with first aid rooms at racetracks around the country so they have immeidate accessibility to a jockey's medical history," said Velazquez, noting that some riders are allergic to particular medications.
 
Meyocks, who commended Nicholson and Schumer for their efforts, said that 25 jockeys already have aubmitted their medical histories for inclusion in the new data base.--Keeneland Communications Department
 
Thursday, April 24, 2008

Guild Plan Submitted; Gertmenian Out

The Guild, which filed for Chapter 11 protection last October, submitted its plan April 21 to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court's Western Division in Louisville.  The plan needs to be confirmed by both the creditors' committee and the court before going into effect.
 
"This is in the best interests of the riders and the organization as a whole," said Guild national manager Terry Meyocks.  "And it will allow us to get back into a position where we can work with the industry, to help promote it in the best way we can."
 
The Guild, which in November declared it was operating at a monthly capital deficiency of nearly $120,000, would under the plan retain certain income, including mount fees and track contributions, such as the estimated $300,000 Churchill Downs is expected to pay this year for jockey media rights.
 
Acting on behalf of 500-plus creditors who filed claims totaling more than $3 million, the creditors' committee would, in part, have the rights to certain account receivables the Guild declared prior to filing for bankruptcy, as well as certain litigation claims.
 
Erika Barns, a LOuisvile attorney representing the creditors' committee, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
 
An attorney representing the Guild said she is hopeful in overcoming any potential objections from the creditors' committee which still includes two parties affiliated with Gertmenian's tenure, attorney Lloyd Ownby, Jr., and the accounting firm of Piazza Donnelly Marlette.
 
"Typically, there are significant efforts to reach a consensus," said Guild attorney Lea P. Goff. "I am hopeful we will be able to reach some sort of consensus.  The Guild is anxious to move this along and emerge as a reorganized debtor"
 
Gertmenian was deleted from the creditors' committee by U.S. Trustee Richard Clippard in an April 23 court filing that only said the action was pursuant to the U.S. Bankrptcy Code section governing committee administration.  Gertmenian has the largest claim in the Guild bankruptcy action, saying the group owes him $915,000.
 
U.S. District Judge David T. Stosberg, who is presiding over the case, said in a January 29 hearing that he had concerns with Gertmenian's presence on the committee.
 
"I do have concerns that the present makeup of the committee is chaired by someone who has a very significant claim and who was involved in the previous management of the company," the judge said at the time.
 
Gertmenian was ousted from his post in November 2005 amid allegations of financial mismanagement, and was later sued in federal court by the Guild, which accused him of siphoning off $1 million from the group.  The suit was later dismissed, but has been appealed.
 
Meyocks declined comment on the decsion to delete Gertmenian, citing the active legal actions.  Still on the committee is another former national manager, Dwight Manley, who Meyocks replaced in September 2007; attorney Robert Cantore, who formerly represented the Guild; and retired Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who is a former Guild president.
 
If the plan is approved, the Guild would have 90 days from the confirmation date to secure additional contribution contracts from racetracks, such as the one with Churchill Downs, and have those agreements protected by a new trust set up to distribute such funds for jockey benefits.  After the 90-day grace period, any such contributions from racetracks could assigned to the creditors' committee.  Ryan Conley/The Blood-Horse
Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jockeys' Guild Offers Plan to Regain Solvency

The plan, which was filed on April 22 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Kentucky in Louisville, anticipates that the Guild will repay it members for money deposited in individual health savings accounts over a 22-month period.  The payments would fulfill the principal of the amount without an allowance for interest.
 
If the reorganization plan is approved by the Guild's creditors' committee and the court, the Guild estimates that it would have a monthly income of $213,000.  Of that total, $118,000 would come from members paying $4 per mount as dues.  The rest, $95,000, would come from payments from racetracks as a fee for the use of jockeys' "media rights" during simulcasts, but the sources of those fees have in large part not yet been identified.
 
The Guild filed for bankruptcy late in 2007 after hiring Terry Meyocks, a former racetrack executive, and his consulting form, Meyocks and O'Hara Racing Enterprise, as its National Manager.  The Guild has struggled with financial problems since 2005, after the Board fired a former National Manager, L. Wayne Gertmenian, under accusations of mismanagement.
 
Gertmenian was one of the largest creditors of the Guild at the time it filed for bankruptcy, claiming that he was owed $915,000 for a "contract dispute."  Under Chapter 11 rules, that allowed Gertmenian to have a position on the Guild's creditors' committee, but the Guild was successful in having him removed from the committee on Wednesday.
 
Gertmenian's claim, and lawsuits that the Guild and Gertmenian have filed against each other, have been suspended because of the Guild's bankruptcy.
 
The plan stated that the Guild intended to seek funding from racetracks for the media rights as a condtion of its reorganization.  In the early 2000s, the Guild received approximately $2.5 million annually from racetracks as a fee for the use of the media rights, but most racetracks stopped paying the Guild in 2005 after the organization's relationship with the racing industry soured under Gertmenian's leadership.
 
Late in 2007, the Guild negotiated a contract with Churchill Downs that would require the racetrack company to pay the organization $300,000 a year for media rights.  That contract was amended after the Guild filed for bankruptcy so that the payments by Churchill would be restricted to the jockey benefits.  In the plan, the Guild said it would seek similar arrangements with other tracks.
 
Meyocks said Wednesday that the Guild has sent solicitations to racetracks in the past month asking the tracks to restart payments to Guild under the previous media-rights arrangement.  He said the Guild has not yet received any firm commitments, but cautioned that many tracks had asked to first review the reorganization plan.
 
However, the Guild has also identified many tracks as being in arrears on the previous payments, an amount that totals approximately $900,000.  The plan states that the claims will be turned over to the Guild's creditors' committee for collection if the tracks do not come to terms on a new agreement with the organization for media-rights payments.  Matt Hegarty/Daily Racing Form
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gertmenian no longer on creditors' committee

 
 
On Wednesday, April 23, Gertmenian ws deleted from the list of committee of creditors holding unsecured claims for the Guild's bankruptcy case in United States Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Kentucky, Louisville Division.  No reason was readily available for Gertmenian's removal from the creditor's committee.
 
The Guild blames Gertmenian, who ran the organization from June 2000 until his ouster in November 2005, for its current financial straits.
 
United States Code notes that the court may order the trustee to change committee membership if the court determines a change is necessary to ensure adequate representation of creditors or equity security holders.  When Gertmenian was in charge of the committee, it asked that the Guild bankruptcy case be moved from Kentucky to California, but the court denied the request.
 
The Guild, which has pursued lawsuits against its former manager, has opposed Gertmenian's position on the committee.  Guild litigation against Gertmenian in California was suspended when the bankruptcy case was filed.
 
In November Gertmenian, listed as the Guild's largest creditor at $915,000, was selected to chair the committee, which works with a United States Trustee to formulate a reorganization plan.
 
The committee currently has five members including Lloyd Ownby, Jr., who served as a lawyer for the Guild under Gertmenian, and Piazza Donnelly Marlette, the Guild's accounting firm during Gertmenian's tenure.
 
That means the majority of committee members have no ties to Gertmenian.  They include retired jockey Jerry Bailey, who was added to the committee in December; former National Manager Dwight Manley, who took over Guild management after Gertmenian was ousted; and Robert Cantore, who represented the Guild in a dismissed federal lawsuite against Gertmenian.  Frank Angst/Thoroughbred Times
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Prado Elected To Hall Of Fame

Edgar Prado who became the 16th North American rider with 6,000 victories on February 9, was a first-time finalist this year.  He won the 2006 Kentucky Derby  aboard Barbaro and the Belmont Stakes on Sarava in 2002 and Birdstone in 2004.  He received the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey in 2006.
 
"It's a dream that's come true all my career," Prado said.  "I wanted  to be the best that I could.  To be in this elite of a group of people in the Hall of Fame, that really is something that I could only imagine but never think I could reach it.  Now that I'm there, I'm just very happy."
Monday, April 21, 2008

Eibar Coa Leading Rider At Gulfstream

Eibar Coa, winner of the 2003 leading rider title, won 76 races to become the fourth different rider in four years to capture the jockeys' race at Gulfstream Park..  John Velazquez was next with 72, well ahead of third place finisher, Jose Lezcano with 55.
Monday, April 21, 2008

Bejarano Wins Santa Anita Title

Rafael Bejarno won his first Santa Anita riding title despite missing three weeks late in the meet due to two fractured vertebrae suffered in a riding mishap March 13.  The 25-year-old native of Peru overtook early meet leader Garrett Gomez after Gomez moved his tack to Keeneland in early April.  Bejarano won 67 races; Gomez 63.  Santa Anita Press Release
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Jockeys" to debut on Animal Planet

"Jockeys," a new series that documents a group of riders and their mounts, is scheduled to debut on the Animal Planet television network in Spring 2009.
 
The series was filmed over 30 days and highlights the competitive nature of being a jockey.  The Thoroughbred Times
Monday, April 14, 2008

Razo claims Oaklawn Park Title

Eusebio (Eddie) Razo, Jr.became the 10th different rider in 10 years to take the Oaklawn Park leading jockey title.  Razo ended the meet on Saturday with 49 wins from 257 starters and $1,222,060 in earnings.
Monday, April 14, 2008

Apprentice Wade resumes riding.

When Wade rode a horse named Saville Hotel to a fifth-place finish in the first race at Hawthorne on April 10, it marked his first start since he went down in a terrifying spill last Nov. 30 at Hawthorne.  Wade was knocked unconcious, and after being put into an induced coma, he didn't wake up for several days.  But Wade's recovery came about amazingly fast, and after galloping horses for several weeks at Oaklawn Park, he got back to business at Hawthorne.
 
"I was surprised how comfortable I was on the first couple back," Wade said Friday afternoon.  "I figured it'd feel a little weird at first.  But I just took it as another day riding."
 
Wade, a 17-year-old apprentice from New Orleans, still doesn't remember anything about his spill; the first thing he can recall after going down was feeling cold as he rode in the ambulance from the hospital where he had gone for his initial recovery to the rehabilitation center to which he was transferred after his condition improved.  That was 11 days later.
 
Wade faced the prospect of a potentially long and arduous rehab this year, but things worked out well.  Wade's brain function improved rapidly, and in January, doctors gave him an excellent prognosis.  He wound up at Oaklawn with his agent, Jay Fedor, in late February, and has been exercising horses for a month now.
 
"I'm just tickeled to death to have him back in the room," said Randy Meier, who broke his arm when his horse fell over Wade's stricken mount.  "He seems like a really super kid, and to have to go through something like that right off the bat, that's tough.  I'm just glad to see him back healthy again."
 
Wade who rides with a five-pound bug, will have his apprentice allowance at least through mid-November, and says he plans to stay in Chicago at least through then.
Monday, April 14, 2008

Daniel Centeno Sets Tampa Bay Record

The reinsman broke his record set last year by winning two races on Saturday's program.  Centeno's first win of the day came on the Jamie-Ness trained Secret Lies, a six-year-old Florida-bred Cimarron Secret mare owned by Web's Gems Stable and Jagger, Inc.  He secured his record-breaking win in the last race on the card aboard Smile Train, a Florida-bred Tiger Ridge filly who is also trained by Jamie Ness and owned by Bathern Thoroughbreds, LLC.  Centeno said after his record-setting win, "Great - it feels great!  I was a little worried that I wasn't going to get it after I was nipped at the wire on Blind River Fox. I'm going to go out with my friends and celebrate!"  Tampa Bay Publicity Department
Friday, April 11, 2008

Gerard Melancon

Records are made to be broken. Yada, yada, yada.  You never hear anybody say that records are made to be smashed.
 
It was right there in the book at Delta Downs outside Vinton, LA.  121.  It was the record for number of wins by a jockey for the meet, and two jockeys, Guy Smith and Tracy Hebert, shared the standard.  But on closing night of March 29, after winning both ends of the Daily Double, Gerard Melancon had the mount on Bandido in the seventh race, the Cocodrie Stakes.  After a confident, pace-stalking trip off the rail, Melancon guided the 4-year-old gelding under the wire 3-1/2 lengths clear.  Say hello to winner number 146 and a meet record smashed.
 
You don't win 146 races and set a record for purses totalling $2,815,690 just by showing up in the jocks' room.  Melancon has a reputation for doing his homework (typically reading the past performances for more than an hour) as well as knowing the habits of the horses he rides.
 
"He had been giving us a lot of trouble at the gate," Melancon remarked about Bandido.  "So I told the assistant to be easy on him if he got nervous.  Once we got away, I just kind of flattered him and let him be himself."
 
Melancon had been a top 10 rider at the Fair Grounds for the past 18 years.  The decision to move his tack to Delta Downs was an easy one.  "Because of the slots, you can see the purses were going to be good here," Melancon explained, "and there is nothing better than sleeping in your own bed."
 
Close to home and with family (wife Annette and sons Jansen and Jonas) that he calls his No. 1 fans, Melancon was comfortable and confident to get down to business.  The Delta Downs meet started Oct. 19 and Melancon went a week before getting his first win. Not to worry.
 
"I wasn't discouraged one minute," Melancon said.  "That's where a great agent like Louis Coco comes in.  Once we broke the ice, it was crazy ever since.."
 
Coco picked them and Melancon rode them.  When big outfits like Steve Asmusen, Tom Amoss and David Carroll shipped horses over from the Fair Grounds, Melancon usually got the mount.
 
"Gerard has a kind of chemistry, a likability," Coco said of his rider.  "He is always upbeat and is able to sell himself."
 
Nicknamed "G-Money" by racing fans in New Orleans, Melancon had to adjust to the tight turns and short stretch at Delta Downs.
 
"At a bull ring you have to make quick decisions," Melancon said of piloting horses around a six-furlong track.  "I always have some kind of plan mapped out, but once the gate opens your plans can go out the window."
 
Delta Downs' leading trainer Keith Bourgeois, banged the boards with Melancon for the five-month  (93 days) duration of the meet.
 
"Gerard brings experience," Bourgeois said.  "You don't have to tell him what to do.  He has ridden long enough to know where he belongs and how to win a race."
 
Melancon has a reputation for judging pace.  When Eddie Razo Jr. was injured, Amoss called upon Melancon to ride Liberty Bull March 16 in the 1-1/8-mile $600,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico.
 
"We broke from the farthest outside post," Melancon said, "but I managed to get over and save some ground.  I felt the pace was a llittle soft, so we snugged up a little closer than what he usually likes.  He finished strong, winning with his ears up."
 
Melancon (5th leading rider in the country in number of wins at the end of March) will ride at Evangeline Downs this summer.  He will be closer to home.  Somebody better check the record book.  By Gary McMillan, The Blood-Horse.
Friday, April 11, 2008

Bridgmohan is a stable presence for Assmussen

On a day last fall when he could have ridden heavily favored Zanjero in Hoosier Park's $500,000 Indiana Derby, Shaun Bridgmohan instead decided to ride a 32-1 shot named Pyro in New York's Champagne Stakes for 2-year-olds.
 
Zanjero ended up prevailing at Hoosier Park, but Bridgmohan chose to ride Pyro because the jockey is an integral cog in trainer Steve Asmussen's stable and he believed in the 2-year-old's potential. 
 
It wasn't a bad choice; Pyro finished second in the Grade I Champagne.
 
Saturday could prove yet another payoff for Bridgmohan's faith, as Pyro is the even-money favorite for Keeneland's $750,000 Grade I Toyota Blue Grass, as well as the No. 1 horse in The Courier-Journal's Kentucky Derby poll.
 
Bridgmohan, the 1998 Eclipse Award apprentice jockey, has become the stable's main rider at Asmussen's premier divisions:  Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Saratoga and the Fair Grounds.  The 28-year-old Jamaican born rider, who was based in New York most of his career, began riding for Asmussen at the end of Arlington Park's 2005 meet and moved on to Keeneland and Churchill that fall at the trainer's encouragement.
 
Robby Albarado rides Horse of the Year Curlin for the stable, but Bridgmohan rides most of its other top horses.  Of his 58 victories this year, 51 have been aboard Asmussen's horses, including the Grade III Risen Star and Grade II Louisiana Derby on Pyro.
 
"It's a good opportunity for me, because the quality he has in his barn is very high and he has horses for a lot of categories," said Bridgmohan, who tied for Churchill Downs' 2006 fall title.  "And they run hard."
 
How appreciative is Bridgmohan?  Consider that he named his 1-year-old son, Steve, after Asmussen.
 
Asmussen admits it's not easy being a jockey for him.  A thick skin is as important as riding ability and work ethic.
 
"You just connect or communicate better with some than others," Asmussen said.  (Bridgmohan) can take the pressure that I put on a situation.
 
Asmussen and Scott Blasi (Asmussen's assistant) have a game plan they expect to be executed.  They're not looking for a jockey who freelances during a race.
 
Still, said Asmussen: "It isn't simply following instructions.   It's information.  It's feedback. It's understanding the bigger picture....(Bridgmohan ) gives us the feel that he's in it for the long haul."
 
Bridgmohan smiles slightly when asked about Asmussen's sometimes fiery temperment.
 
"He has his moments, but he's a very competitive kind of person," said the jockey, who recently moved to Oldham County. "He just wants to win.  He expresses it a little bit different.  But he means well.  Once you get a long with him and know what to expect, it makes it a bit easier."
 
Though winning a Grade I race would be huge, the stable wants Pyro's best race to be in the May 3 Derby not on Saturday, April 12.  Bridgmohan said that the most important thing in the Blue Grass is for the colt to finish strong.
 
But, he added:  "It's all what Steve also wants me to do."  Jennie Rees, Courier-Journal
Thursday, April 10, 2008

Keeneland Jockeys Visit Young Patients

Patients at UK HealthCare's Kentucky Children's Hospital received special treatment April 10.  Members of Keeneland's jockey colony visited the young patients and brought them books and gifts.  Dressed in their jockey silks, the riders brightened the day of children who come to Kentucky Children's Hospital from across Kentucky.
 
Some of the jockeys visiting the children commented on their visit.  "It's a great opportunity to put a smile on the face of someone going through a tough time," said Garrett Gomez.
 
John Velazquez said, "I've been hospitalized at UK and received lots of good help and support there.  I have two kids of my own.  It's good to meet many of the children and their families."
 
"I've been in the hospital and I know how it is; you appreciate visitors," said Robby Albarado. "It's a small way to give back something to community."
 
Dr. Tim Bricker, professor and chair, Department of Pediatrics, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, and physician-in-chief of Kentucky Children's Hospital, greeted the Keeneland jockeys.  "We are so pleased to have the Keeneland jockey colony visit our patients at our Kentucky Children's Hospital," said Bricker.  "After all, Keeneland's jockeys are as committed to Kentucky as we are, and they are a part of our team."
University of Kentucky News
 
Thursday, April 03, 2008

Jockey Colony Hat Signing

On Friday, April 18 from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. meet the Keeneland spring meeting jockey colony next to the Keeneland Gift Shop.  Purchase a hat for $15 and have it signed by the jockeys.  Proceeds benefit the NTRA Charities - Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Migliore Accepts George Woolf Award

The George Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.  On Sunday, March 30 jockey Richard Migliore became the 58th recipient of the prestigious award during a ceremony in the winner's circle at Santa Anita Park.
 
Migliore got through his acceptance of the award without shedding tears, but it wasn't easy. "If I'd have stopped talking any time, I would have lost it," Migliore said.  "But when it was finally over, I felt like I wanted to cry.  It would have been a release."  Migliore's agent, Tom Knust, understandably was pleased about the award.  "He's a good rider and he's everything that racing's all about," Knust said. "It's a privilege for me to have his book, and hopefully we will enjoy a lot of success together."
 
The 43-year-old Migliore was born in Babylon, NY and broke his maiden at The Meadowlands in New Jersey in 1980.  He is a winner of more than 4,000 and has been a full-time member of the Southern California jockey colony for the past two years.  He is a member of the Jockeys' Guild and a Senator with the organization.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Jockey Now Giving A Leg Up

On the heels of achieving two of his career goals last year by winning a Triple Crown race and a Breeders' Cup event, jockey and member of the Jockeys' Guild Board of Directors, Robby Albarado has embarked on a third: starting a foundtion to help the disadvantaged get the sort of chance he got in pulling himself out of an impoverished area in Lafayette, Louisiana.
 
In a national conference call, Albarado said Curlin's victories in the Preakness Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic didn't spark the Robby Albarado Foundation, "But it helps," he said.  "It helps get the word out about the foundation....I felt like it was the perfect time."  Albarado is Curlin's regular rider.
 
The foundation, whose president is Louisville golf pro Gary Demling, will assist the homeless and socially disadvantaged in the Louisville area.
 
The foundation's first major fundraiser will be a celebrity golf tournament at Hurstborne Country Club on Monday, April 28 -- the one day during Derby Week when there's no racing at Churchill Downs.  Albarado said retired Hall of Fame jockeys Chris McCarron and Gary Stevens have signed on.
 
"I'm very passionate about anything I do," he said.  "If I can make a difference with just one kid, or one person, in the Louisville area, I think I've done my job."
 
Albarado just returned from winning the world's richest race, the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 29 with 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin.  --Courier-Journal
Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ramon Dominguez Captures Leading Rider Title

Jockey Ramon Dominguez won the leading rider title when Aqueduct concluded its 2007-08 inner-track meet March 30.
 
Dominguez, 31, booted home 113 winners, 33 more than runner-up Alan Garcia.  The number of Dominguez's wins represent an inner-track record, which was previously held by Eibar Coa (105 wins) in 2005-06.  The Blood-Horse

PDJF

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