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Monday, September 29, 2008

Garrett Gomez earns 3,000th Win

Gomez kept Hyperbaric close to pacesetter Tropic Storm throughout most of the race before urging the Sky Classic gelding to the lead in the final furlong.  Hyperbaric completed one mile on firm turf in 1:33.62.
The Oak Tree Mile win secured Hyperbaric a starting spot in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile (GI) on October 25 as part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" series.  Winning trainer Julio Canani said he will decide later if Hyperbaric will contest the Breeders' Cup Mile.
Gomez has won four Breeders' Cup races during his 20-year career.
Thoroughbred Times TODAY
Monday, September 29, 2008

Velazquez joins 4,000-win club

"This was probably the hardest 10 winners of my career," Velazquez said.  "It feels great to put it behind me and move on to other things.  As you get closer to a big number, it seems harder and harder to get there.  I had a great weekend and rode some really nice horses.  Every one of my wins was memorable to me.  Every one counts to get to 4,000.  This was a $16,000 claimer and it means a lot to me, making 4,000.  Every one of them is special."
A two-time Eclipse Award winner as the nation's leading jockey. Velazquez entered the day with 3,999 victories, having ridden two winners -- Wait a While in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes and Red Giant in the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship -- for trainer Todd Pletcher at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.  The previous Saturday, Velazquez rode three winners at Suffolk Downs, including Commentator's runaway victory in the Mass 'Cap.
Velazquez, 36, began his riding career in Puerto Rico after having attended jockey school there, and rode his first winner, Rodas, in 1990 at El Commandante.  In March of that year, under the guidence of Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero, Jr., now his agent, he moved to New York, where he has been among the top 10 jockeys every year since 1991.
The leading rider in New York from 2001-2004, Velazquez just completed another successful meet at Saratoga Race Course, where he finished second in the jockey standings to Alan Garcia.
In 2004, Velazquez reached the 3,000 win plateau at Saratoga on the same day more than 35,000 fans received an official John Velazquez bobblehead doll.
Among his 4,000 winners were 2007 Belmont Stakes heroine Rags to Riches, which marked both his and trainer Todd Pletcher's first victory in a Triple Crown race; Flower Alley, who won the 2005 Travers, and seven Breeders' Cup wins:  English Channel (2007 Turf), Speightstown (2004 Sprint), Ashado (2004 Distaff), Starine (2002 Distaff), Storm Flag Flying (2002 Juvenile Fillies), Caressing (2000 Juvenile Fillies), and Da Hoss (1998 Mile).  NYRA Communications Department
Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lezcano Jockey of the Week

A Panama native who attended the Laffit Pincay Jockey School in his native country before moving his tack to the United States, Lezcano has earned seven North American graded stakes wins since 2004.  He rode Summer Doldrums to victory in the$750,000 Colonial Turf Cup Stakes (GIII) last year at Colonial Downs.
Lezcano, 23, is currently based at Monmouth Park.  He leads the jockey standings at the Oceanport, New Jersey, track with 133 victories through Tuesday.
Lezcano's mounts have compiled $25,871,307 in North American purse earnings through Tuesday.  In 4,542 starts, his mounts have posted 892 wins, 784 runner-up, and 662 third-place finishes.  Thoroughbred Times TODAY
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fund established for children of Parker Buckley

Buckley was working as an exercise rider/assistant for trainer Steve Asmussen at the time.  From 1988-2007, Buckley won 947 races from 7,306 mounts as a jockey.
He had two children, daughter Brett Michelle Buckley and son, Cameron Reid Buckley.
Donations can be made with a check payable to the Brett & Cameron Buckley Education Trust and sent to:
Premier Community Bank
32 NW Beal Parkway
Fort Walton Beach, FL  32548
Contact: The Jockeys' Guild (859) 305-0606
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hall of Fame Jockey Earlie Fires Retires

According to figures from Equibase Company, Fires, 61, retires with 6,470 tallies, placing him ninth on the all-time list of the sport's winningest riders.  After more than 43 years in the saddle, Fires' mount have earned $86,392,977.
Fires was greeted in the winner's circle for the final time by members of his family, fellow jockeys and members of the Arlington Park staff, including chairman Richard L. Duchossois.
"I wanted to retire on my terms," said Fires.  "I don't have any regrets.  I will miss the Illinois people, especially at Arlington Park.  This crowd has always been a good crowd and I love that more than anything in the world.  I'm going to travel but I'll still be around to visit."
Duchossois added that an Earlie Fires Day will be held at Arlington Park during the 2009 season which starts May 1.
A native of Rivervale, Arkansas, Fires took out his jockey's license in 1964 and won his first race on March 6, 1965, at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas aboard a horse named Carnation Kid.  Fires went on to become the nation's leading apprentice rider that season with 224 victories.
Coming to Chicago a short time later, Fires became a mainstay on the circuit, garnering six Arlington Park titles (1966, 1969 (tie), 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1984) as well as multiple riding crowns at Hawthorne Race Course.
He also was leading rider at Hialeah Park, Gulfstream Park, Calder Race Course, Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and Miles Park and he has the distinction of riding in five different decades - capturing titles in four of those.
Fires' peers voted for him to receive the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1991 and he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga in 2001. Arlington Park Communications Department
Thursday, September 18, 2008

Annual Meeting of Jockeys' Guild Set

For entertainment, a Texas Hold 'Em Poker Tournament will  be held on the night of Monday, December 8.
A discounted room rate is available for Guild members.  For more information, please contact the Jockeys' Guild Office at (859) 305-0606.
Thursday, September 18, 2008

Alan Garcia Jockey of the Week

The native of Lima, Peru, has six Grade I victories this year, most notably a win aboard Da'Tara in the Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 7.
He also guided Vineyard Haven to a win in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (GI) on September 1, Mani Bhavan to victory in the Spinaway Stakes (GI) on August 31, Visionaire to a win in the NetJets Kings Bishop Stakes (GI) on August 23, and Grand Courtier (GB) to victory in the Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (GI) on August 16 - all at Saratoga Race Course.  Garcia was the leading rider at the 36-day Saratoga meet that ended September 1.
Garcia also rode Divine Park to victory in the Metropolitan Handicap (GI) at Belmont for his first Grade I win this season.
A resident of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, Garcia came to the United States in 2003 and made an immediate impact.
After being named Peru's leading apprentice rider in '03, the third-generation jockey went on to the the leading apprentice at the Meadowlands later that year.
Garcia moved his tack to New York full time in '07 after riding in Maryland and New Jersey.  He won his first Grade I race at Belmont, where he piloted Lahudood (GB) to victory in the '07 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (GI).  Garcia rode Lahudood to victory in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (GI) later that year.
This season, Garcia ranks fourth among all North American jockeys by purse earnings as his mounts have earned $11,255,728 through September 16. 
Thoroughbred Times TODAY  
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jockeys to test new whips during Keeneland meet

Rogers Beasley, Keeneland's director of racing, said the Lexington track would purchase 30 to 40 of the whips that meet expected new standards.  Every rider in two races each day will use the whips.
Beasley presented the plan at a meeting of the Safety and Welfare Committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Monday in Lexington.  The committee decided to not make a recommendation on whip regulations to the KHRC at its September 22 meeting as it waits for some final details in shaping regulation.
Committee members chose to wait for feedback from riders at Keeneland and see what recommendations are made by the Association of Racing Commissions International.   In August, the RCI board voted in favor f new regulations for whips and formed a subcomittee to fine tune proposed language in a model rule.  That model rule could be adopted in October.  Also, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association plans to survey fans on whip use.
While every detail has not been finalized, the Safety and Welfare Committee appears committed to requiring more padding on whips, a longer popper, shortened length of whips, and decreased weight of whips.
"This will be more benign on the horses," retired jockey Chris McCarron said of the new whips.
Beasley said the new whips would be used in races early on the card and will not be used in stakes races.  He said the track will collect information from riders and Keeneland will turn that information over to  the Safety and Welfare Committee.
Jockeys' Guild National Manager Terry Meyocks said riders are comfortable with the changes.  Frank Angst/Thoroughbred Times TODAY
Thursday, September 11, 2008

Guild, medical doctors working to improve rider safety

The Guild would like track physicians, including Keeneland Race Course Medical Director Barry Schumer, to determine minimum rider safety standards that will be shared with racetracks across the country.  Schumer hopes the process will lead to the group's recommendations applying to the entire industry with organizations such as the Jockey Club and Breeders' Cup Ltd. supporting tracks that meet the national safety standards.
"There needs to be some guidelines, some minimum standards and requirements," Schumer said.  "Hopefully, that will raise the standards of available services across the country."
Since the breakdown of Eight Belles following her runner-up finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) on May 3, the safety committee has led an industry-wide move to address equine safety issues.  Guild National Manager Terry Meyocks would like to see a similar commitment made to jockeys and exercise riders.
"You have to say the safety of the horse is very important, but we also have to worry about the people putting on the show -- the jockeys, exercise riders, trainers, pony people, and the grooms," Meyocks said.  "We just want to have four or five doctors who can tell us the minimum things needed at each track.  You know, paramedics, the first-aid room, the ambulance, plans for the closest hospitals and trauma centers."
Meyocks said other than Keeneland, racetracks have been slow to support a panel to determine minimum safety standards for riders.  Meyocks said the Thoroughbred Racing Associations did not support the panel idea during a February meeting.
Chris Sherf, executive vice president of the TRA, said his group continues talks on such a panel but added that it is important to reach industry consensus.  Scherf said that because each track is unique, it is difficult to require the same policies of every track.
"For instance, while a first-aid room may be ideal for one track, another track may be better off with qualified emergency personnel who can quickly transport an injured rider to a hospital emergency room," said Scherf.
New urgency was brought to the issue in August, when exercise rider and former jockey Parker Buckley died after an accident at Saratoga Race Course and Quarter Horse rider Juan Campos died after a spill in a Downs at Albuquerque race.
Schumer said safety standards very greatly from track to track.  Differences include the level of emergency personnel at tracks, types of medical equipment available, and the transportation plans for injured riders.
"At the racetrack level, I think there should be minimum standards of what racetracks should have on-site to be able to effectively take care of injured riders," Schumer said.  "There's a great variability across the country."
Meyocks would like to see further testing on helmets and vests.  He said jockeys want to work with the tracks to determine the best hospitals to use during emergencies.  Meyocks wants all tracks to examine horses thoroughly before races and give jockeys the authority to scratch horses if something does not seem right before a race.
Meyocks and Schumer are working with the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis to stay atop new emergency treatment ideas for head and neck injuries.                           Frank Angst/Thoroughbred Times
In shock after a spill at Keeneland Race Crouse in 2006, jockey John Velazquez was in no condition to communicate with medical personnel.
Doctors also could not talk with Valazquez's wife or his agent because they were not at the track that day.  While Velazquez eventually recovered from injuries that included a broken right shoulder blade, the accident showed the need for acessible medical information during an emergency.
Through the efforts of Keeneland, the Jockeys' Guild, Jockey Club subsidiary InCompass Solutions, and Jockey Club Technology Services, medical histories will be immediately accessible by medical personnel at the upcoming Keeneland fall meeting.  The information will be available through a secure web site.
After the meet, Keeneland plans to avail the system to any interested racetrack in the United States and perhaps internationally.
Keeneland and Medical Director Barry Schumer said if a spill occurs, emergency personnel could call up an injured rider's medical history while he is enroute to the first aid room.  That instant access will help determine treatment.
"We'll have their entire medical history up on the computer screen," Schumer said.  "We can print it out and send that information with them to the hospital if they need further treatment."
Jockeys will have the opportunity to update their sites.  Information will be protected so that only medical personnel will have access.
"It allows jockeys who travel around the country to take their medical history with them without having to carry their medical file with them," Schumer said.  It can be accessed anywhere they go."  Frank Angst/Thoroughbred Times
Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pedroza Named Jockey of the Week

Pedroza won with 20 of his 46 starters, including three stakes victories, during the span, and his mounts earned $417,330.
Pedroza, 43, started the week by reaching a personal milestone on the opening day of the Fairplex Park meeting on September 5.  He won his 3,000th race by guiding Airplane Attendant to victory in the second race at the track.  Pedroza went on to capture 6 of the next 11 races.
"Winning at Fairplex is very special to me," he said.  "I wanted to do it at Del Mar because of all the competition, but I don't mind winning here."
Two days later, Pedroza completed the impressive feat again as he won seven of 11 races at Fairplex.
Winning at the Pomona, California track is nothing new for Pedroza.
A ten-time leading rider at Fairplex, he holds the track record for all-time wins with 539 and earned the nickname "King of the Bullring" for his mastery of Fairplex's five-eighths-of-a-mile track.
Pedroza won 51 races during a 17-day meet in 2004 at Fairplex.
He guided 50.80-to-1 longshot Martial Law to victory in the 1989 Santa Anita Handicap (GI) for his first Grade I victory.
A native of Panama, Pedroza made his mark in the United States in 1983 by earning leading apprentice honors at Santa Anita Park, the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, and Los Alamitos.  Thoroughbred Times TODAY
Monday, September 08, 2008

Pedroza wins seven twice in three days.

Pedroza rode six of the first seven winners Sunday, including five favorites and Topper Shopper. winner of the Foothill Stakes in race 5.  After sitting out race 8, he lost races 9 and 10, then guided $26.40 longshot Kirby's Glue Foot to a come-from-behind victory in race 11.
After three days of racing, Pedroza has won with 17 of 32 mounts, and is on pace to destroy the Los Angeles County Fair record he set in 2004.  During that 17-day meet, Pedroza rode 51 winners.  The 2008 meet is 16 days.
Pedroza is scheduled to ride in all 10 races Monday at Fairplex Park.  Only two of his mounts are favored in the program (Wemixeditup in race 1 and Vanaldi in race 5). Brad Free/Daily Racing Form
Thursday, September 04, 2008

Alan Garcia Jockey of the Week

For the week ended on September 2, Garcia was second on the list of leading North American jockeys by earnings.
During Saratoga's closing weekend, Garcia rode Mani Bhavan to victory in the Spinaway Stakes (GI) on August 31.  The next day, he guided Vineyard Haven to a clear win in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (GI).
The 22-year-old native of Peru has been making his presence known on the New York circuit this season.  He was second in the rider standings at the Aqueduct and Belmont Park meetings earlier this year and has recorded six Grade Is at New York tracks in 2008, four of those at the Saratoga meeting.  He also won the Belmont Stakes (GI) aboard Da'Tara.  Thoroughbred Times TODAY
Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Alan Garcia Captures Saratoga Title

Garcia clinchd the title with his second victory on Monday aboard Vineyard Haven in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (GI).  It was the fourth Grade I victory of the meet for Garcia, who gave up the mount on Alaazo in Monday's $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) to ride at Saratoga. Thoroughbred Times Today


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