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Friday, January 30, 2009

Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund Established

The PDJF was founded in 2006 as a cooperative effort by racetracks, horsemen, the Jockeys' Guild, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), the Thoroughbred Racing Association (TRA) and others to provide support for former riders who are permanently disabled as the result of catastrophic injuries sustained while competing at United States race tracks.
 
Nancy LaSala will serve as the organization's Executive Director.  Contributions to the PDJF may be directed to:  PDJF, PO Box 803, Elmhurst, IL 60126.  All contributions are tax-deductible.  Thoroughbred Daily News
Friday, January 30, 2009

Leparoux Named Jockey of the Week

A Senlis, France native who lives in Louisville, Leparoux made his North American riding debut in 2005 at Saratoga Race Course and earned an Eclipse Award as North America's outstanding apprentice jockey in '06.
 
The win in the Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes was the fourth North American victory in a $1-million race for Leparoux,  He prevously won two races in 2007 that each were worth $1-million - the Cash Call Mile Invitational Stakes (GII) aboard Lady of Venice (FR) and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf with Nownownow.
 
Leparoux, 25, earned his most lucrative victory in 2008 when Forever Together won the $2-million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (GI). 
Thoroughbred Times Today
Monday, January 26, 2009

Plenty of sunshine for jockey Joel Rosario

On a rainy Sunshine Millions day at Santa Anita, jockey Joel Rosario's smile and riding talent broke through the gloom and mist, with the 24-year-old Dominican Republic native picking up four victories, including 10-1 longshot Beltene in the $250,000 Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

"This has been an unbelievable day," Rosario said.

Saturday's Sunshine Millions event matched California-breds against Florida-breds in eight races featuring $3.6 million in purses at Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park.

One of the most impressive performances was turned in by Georgie Boy in the $300,000 Sprint. Georgie Boy, a 4-year-old son of Tribal Rule trained by Kathy Walsh, rallied under jockey Garrett Gomez to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Machismo in 1:08.12 for six furlongs.

"He's a long striding horse, and I really wanted to go around with him, but he wasn't traveling exactly the way I wanted," Gomez said. "So I said, 'I gotta go inside.' And it was perfect."

Georgie Boy won the Grade I Del Mar Futurity as a 2-year-old and took the Grade II San Felipe Stakes as a 3-year-old. He was third in the Grade I Malibu Stakes last month and might become a top sprinter.

Soldier's Dancer, a 5-year-old Florida-bred, rallied from last in a field of 13 to win the $500,000 Turf by a half length over another Florida import, Presious Passion. Sent off as the 7-5 favorite under jockey Rafael Bejarano, Soldier's Dancer ran the 1 1/8 miles on a yielding turf in 1:49.64.

"I really wasn't worried because he was so far back early," Bejarano said. "It's the style of the horse. He likes to come from behind like this."

Leah's Secret, the 6-5 favorite, overpowered 12 challengers in the $500,000 Distaff, winning the 1 1/16 -mile race by 2 1/4 lengths over Lady Railrider under jockey Eibar Coa. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 6-year-old Florida-bred won her third consecutive race.

Beltene, trained by Jack Carava, is a daughter of the prolific California sire Unusual Heat. She won her debut in a $40,000 maiden claiming race Dec. 11 at Hollywood Park and won again in an allowance race Jan. 10 at Santa Anita. She remained unbeaten by winning the Oaks by a head over Hooh Why in 1:09.16 for six furlongs.

"This was a big step for her, but I thought she was capable, and she improved enough to have a chance," Carava said. "She'll probably run long, and so far she's done everything right."

The same can be said for Rosario, who's challenging Bejarano and Gomez for the Santa Anita riding lead in his second full season in Southern California. He has 25 wins, tying him with Gomez and one behind Bejarano.

"I just think he's a very good rider with tons of talent," Carava said. "Now he has confidence. He's very good on synthetic surfaces. He gives horses a chance to settle and make a run."

During Santa Anita's 11-race card that drew a crowd of 22,155, Rosario also had winners aboard Buck's Bro in the first, No Guessing in the third and Wall Street Wonder in the fifth.

In the richest race of the day, the $1-million Classic held at Gulfstream Park, It's A Bird won by 5 1/4 lengths over Dry Martini in 1:49.35 for 1 1/8 miles under jockey Julien Leparoux.

Northern California-based trainer Greg Gilchrist came away with two victories in Florida, with High Resolve winning the $300,000 Filly & Mare Sprint and Wild Promise taking the $500,000 Filly & Mare Turf. Eric Sondheimer/Los Angeles Times

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Garrett Gomez Jockey of the Week

Gomez won the El Encino Stakes (Gr. II) aboard Life is Sweet on January 18 at the Arcadia, California track.  The veteran rider also rode Artiste Royal (Ire) to victory in the San Marcos Stakes (Gr II) on January 19.  Both races featured $150,000 purses.
 
Gomez earned his first Eclipse Award as North America's outstanding rider in 2007, and he is one of the finalists for the same award in 2008 with $23,344,531 in purse earnings - a figure that left him $10,609 shy of breaking Jerry Bailey's single-season purse earnings record that was set in 2003.
 
A Tucson, Arizona native who lives in Duarte, California, Gomez made his North American riding debut in 1988 at Santa Fe Downs in New Mexico.  The 37-year-old rider has been based in Southern California for most of his career but temporarily relocated to the East Coast in 2006 to replace the injured John Velazquez as the first-call rider for trainer Todd Pletcher.  Thoroughbred Times TODAY
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jockey Karlsson Moves Tack To Gulfstream Park

            The 26-year-old native of Sweden is one of three finalists for the Eclipse champion apprentice award to be announced at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach. Karlsson led the standings at Hawthorne Race Course in Chicago at their recently concluded meet.

            “I didn’t want to stay too long up there,” she said. “It was getting cold and it was time to get out of town.”

            Karlsson is self-effacing and pragmatic about working at Gulfstream and sharing a locker room filled with current and future Hall of Famers like Edgar Prado, Kent Desormeaux and John Velazquez. She’s hoping to pick up some business before Hawthorne re-opens in March while gaining experience in the tough company.

            “I’ve got a long ways to go, but if you’re going to learn how to ride, this is the place to be,” she said. “These are the best riders in the world and it’s a completely different ballgame down here.”

            Karlsson says she’s already been well received by her fellow riders and is prepared to raise her game to another level after leading the nation in apprentice earnings in 2008.

            “Everybody has been very nice and has talked to me about what to expect,” she said. “But I know how tough this is. Some places I can go in a race and follow a guy on the inside when I know he’s going to drift and open the rail. There are no guys like that here. That rail isn’t going to open every time.”

            Opportunities in racing have readily opened for Karlsson in a world where females often have more barriers in front of them. She says it has actually been easier to advance in racing as opposed her original sport, amateur boxing.

She was successful in Sweden before immigrating to Canada and catching on at Woodbine in Toronto as an exercise rider. Boxing was her hobby, but when she moved to New York her hobby had to take a backseat.

            “The only gym I could find was in this basement-type place in New York City,” she said. “I go walking in there in my little shorts and blonde hair and 20 guys all just stop what they’re doing. The guy in charge says ‘You can’t train here.’ I ended up arguing with the guy for a half-hour and going over his head to get permission. but he still refused to work with me. I ended up having to train myself and it wasn’t worth the aggravation.”

            Karlsson is a wisecracker and isn’t making a big deal about playing dress-up for the Eclipse Awards. She says she’s excited to be going and picked out a dress by a Swedish designer, but isn’t expecting to drop jaws.

            “I tried the dress on the other day and looked in the mirror and I think I look like a man in a dress,” she joked. “Actually, everybody will like the dress. It’s classy, but sexy.” Gulfstream Park Communications Department

 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tony, Bryan McNeil Ride to Win, Against Each Other

 Neither jockey Tony McNeil nor his son Bryan had a winning ride Friday on opening day at Oaklawn Park, but they'll have plenty of chances over the next 53 days of racing.

Tony McNeil, 52, has been riding for 20 years, although this is his first extended stay in Hot Springs. It's the second meet for Bryan McNeil, 23, who started off racing quarter horses just like his dad.

He's tried to follow his father's footsteps in every way.

"I can remember being 12 years old and walking around the barns at Remington Park," Bryan McNeil said of his family's home track in Oklahoma City. "I would carry around my dad's helmet and whip and dream about riding the horses."

Tony McNeil said he had an inkling that his son would go into horse racing.

"He would take the racing form to school every day," said Tony McNeil, whose family lives in Enid, Okla., where Bryan and his brother Erik went to school. "The funny thing was he had problems reading, and yet he was able to fly through the form.

"I talked to his teachers about it and they said, 'If he's reading something, that's the important thing.' "

His mother, Cheryl McNeil, wasn't such a big fan of Bryan's decision.

"She really just didn't want me getting hurt," Bryan McNeil said. "Now that I've been in it a little bit, she's OK with it, but she didn't like it at first."

Bryan McNeil began his career riding for Jack Brooks, a hall of fame quarter horse trainer at Remington. He raced for Brooks for two years before Brooks retired in February 2007.

That's when Bryan decided to get into thoroughbred racing, just like his dad.

"The whole time he was riding quarter horses, everybody kept telling him he was too light and that he needed to race thoroughbreds," said Tony McNeil, noting that his son won 25 races in his brief quarter horse career. "I told him that it was just because he was winning so much and they wanted him to get out of there."

Recently Tony's other son, Erik, joined the family business and is an apprentice rider for Steve Asmussen at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

"Erik really didn't get into horses like Bryan at first," Tony McNeil said. "He would come out to the races and stuff, but he did ride like Bryan."

Tony McNeil said Erik received a college scholarship to run cross country at Texas A&M International in Laredo, Texas, before deciding to go into horse racing.

"I was so mad at him," Tony McNeil said. "I told him, 'You don't give up a four-year scholarship like that.' But he seems to really be enjoying riding. He's got a good relationship with Steve. He broke his maiden and won his first race riding for Steve."

Both Tony McNeil and Bryan McNeil said they look forward to all three riding together.

"I rode against Erik and I've ridden against Bryan," Tony McNeil said. "They've run against each other and, in fact, they nearly ran a dead heat. They gave us a video of it and a picture. I ran against Erik at Lone Star, but we're looking forward to getting hooked up, all three of us, on the track at the same time."

It took awhile just to get Tony and Bryan on the same track.

"It started off that he was riding at Remington and I was at San Antonio," Tony McNeil said. "When he went to Aqueduct, I figured it would be a while before we raced together. But once he got to Houston I knew it would be soon.

"After he finally beat me, there were all these reporters gathered around to interview him and I asked them what was going on. They said, 'Oh, it's a big story.' So I teased Bryan a little bit and I told them, 'You weren't here when I beat him the first four times.' It was fun."

That competitive spirit carries over to the jockey's lounge.

"When we ride against each other, we're trying to win the race, but we also want to beat one another," Bryan McNeil said. "We know that if the other one wins, we're going to have to hear about it later." Nick Walker/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jockey Could Crack Top 10 Of All-Time

The first jockey to win three Breeders' Cup events in one afternoon, his mounts earned $23.5 million this year, just 10G short of Jerry Bailey's all-time record.

At 37, Gomez could have eight or more years of productive riding ahead of him, plenty of time to ride his way into the pantheon.

It will not be easy. Above him is a galaxy of established stars, and it will take some doing to displace any of them. Here's my top 10 jockeys of all time, the competition Garrett faces:

1. Eddie Arcaro: El Supremo! In 50 years around the track, I have never heard anyone contest the claim that Arcaro was the best jockey ever to ride in America.

The only jockey to win two Triple Crowns, Arcaro may be remembered as much for one incident in his life, when stewards charged him with trying to harm another jockey, as he is for his success.

"I wasn't trying to hurt him," Arcaro protested. "I was trying to kill the sunuva[gun]." The stewards promptly rubbed him out for a year.

Arcaro is racing's Babe Ruth. You didn't have to see him in action to know he was the bambino of all bambinos.

2. Bill Shoemaker: The Shoe rode more than 8,800 winners, broke too many records to list, had the same agent for nearly 40 years (unheard of) and a lifelong connection with master trainer Charlie Whittingham.

The tragic irony of his life was that he had a charmed existence on the racetrack, almost miraculously free of falls and serious injury, but he spent the last 12 years of his life in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down by a car accident after he retired.

3. Bill Hartack: Sat on a horse like a sack of potatoes, flailed them through the stretch like a cavalryman, but lordy, how he could ride. Hartack won five Kentucky Derbies from 12 mounts, an incredible 40 percent winning average that may never be duplicated.

Sadly, Hartack was a tortured soul. Invariably rude and abrupt, he spent his life alienating nearly everyone in the business, died alone in a cabin in the woods, and went to his grave asserting, "I never had a good day at the track."

4. Jerry Bailey: After a rocky start (too many parties, drugs, babes and booze), he settled down to become the preeminent jockey of the 21st century.

A serious student of the game, single-minded, hard-driving, articulate, Bailey won 16 straight races on the renowned Cigar, won an unprecedented seven Eclipse Awards and a record 15 Breeders' Cup races.

5. Laffit Pincay Jr.: Superb race rider, second-rate horseman. Trainer Wayne Lukas once said, "Laffit could win the Kentucky Derby, then go to the barn next day and not recognize the horse. But Angel Cordero Jr. could walk down your shedrow and identify every horse. That's the difference. Laffit's a race rider, Angel's a horseman."

All muscle and business, Pincay was the strongest finisher in the game, who seldom lost a photo finish.

6. Angel Cordero Jr: Modeled his riding style after his idol, Eddie Arcaro, then proceeded to become a rock 'em-sock 'em caballero, who brought high energy, excitement, controversy and big bettors to the game.

He probably is New York's most popular jockey. Fans loved him, booed him, cussed him - and bet him with both fists. If Cordero rode a mule, railbirds would make him 6-5.

7. Pat Day: Like Bailey, started out in the fast lane, scraped bottom, then after a religious conversion, rebounded with a career breathtaking in its scope, success and fan adulation.

He won four Eclipse Awards, 12 Breeders' Cup races, dominated Churchill Downs and Keeneland, then raced by Chris McCarron and Bailey to become the highest money winning jockey on the planet with $297 million.

8. Chris McCarron: One of the all-time great money riders. Never flamboyant or controversial, he did not get the publicity of other high-profile jockeys.

At that point he had won more money than any jockey in history, $264 million. He won five Breeders' Cup Classics, but will be remembered for his glamorous association with everyone's favorite horse, John Henry.

9. Johnny Longden: Owned the West Coast for nearly 20 years, eventually overhauling Britain's legendary Sir Gordon Richards as the world's winningest jockey.

Longden won the Triple Crown on Count Fleet and later became the only person to win the Kentucky Derby as a jockey and trainer.

10. Julie Krone: Does not rate on statistics, but no male jockey ever had to climb so high a wall just to get into the game. Once inside, because of trainers such as John Forbes, she competed with the best at the highest level.

She ended up with more than 3,700 winners, the only woman to win a Triple Crown race and a Breeders' Cup race.  Ray Kerrison/New York Post


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Elliott Notches 4,00th Career Victory

 

Elliott, 43, began riding at the Pennsylvania racetrack back in 1981 when it was known as Keystone Park. He learned to ride fom his father, Dennis, who was a jockey in Hong Kong before becoming a trainer. Elliott was born in Toronto.

Elliott gained national acclaim in 2004 when he guided Smarty Jones to victories in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) for trainer John Servis.

A regular rider on the New York circuit, Elliott won his 3,000th race in May of 2003. His 4,000 wins have produced more than $69-million in purse earnings.
The Blood-Horse
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jockeys brave extreme conditions during winter

An angry red blotch, the result of a frozen clump of dirt from the track, decorates Reynolds' neck after a race Wednesday night at Charles Town Races & Slots.

"We try to get where we don't have the frozen dirt coming at us," Reynolds said. "When the track starts balling up, it's like someone is throwing rocks in your face."

It's a danger well-known to jockeys this time of year, as extreme temperatures can make track conditions treacherous for both rider and horse. Wednesday was cold enough, but the rest of the week has been even rougher and forced the track to cut short racing two nights and cancel the schedule altogether on Friday.

Like others at Charles Town, Reynolds might get a wistful thought every now and again of packing up and relocating to Florida for the winter months. But the Hagerstown native chooses to stick it out, even through the coldest of nights, despite the constant pounding on his face, arms, knees and shins.

"You have to," Reynolds said. "If you don't ride horses for your trainer in bad weather, when the weather is nice they might find somebody else to ride. You take care of your business, or you lose your business."

Charles Town jockey's room manager Dennis Kirk knows all too well the dangers of a frozen track. A 15-year career as a jockey (1970-1985) at Charles Town left Kirk with plenty of unpleasant winter memories to share.

"It would look like we'd been in a nice paint-gun fight," Kirk said after a chilly winter race. "You'd have these red blotches all over your body from where those clods hit you.

"... When you're following a horse up close, most of dirt is catching your horse in the chest. But if you get to the side or a length or two behind, that's when you're catching a lot of the dirt."

That dirt, when frozen, can quickly become pellet-sized or larger projectiles that rake jockey and horse alike.

"If the temperature drops fast, like 10 to 15 degrees, then it balls up really quick," Kirk said. "If there's moisture in it, the track will ball up a little bit bigger."

Jockeys do what they can, for themselves and for their mounts. Reynolds wears five pairs of goggles during a race, both to protect his eyes from frozen chunks of dirt and to keep his vision clear of the inevitable film of mud that cakes his equipment. He often pulls the top pair down over his face for added protection.

One cold night earlier this season, Reynolds said, jockeys had six different pairs of goggles cracked by clods.

Because of weight restrictions, there is little many of the jockeys can do to stay warm even in the bitter cold. Reynolds does wear a padded safety vest, equipment Charles Town made mandatory in 1991 that lessens the impact of potential falls on the track. It also serves as padding against flying dirt.

"We're going 40, 45 miles an hour and then the wind chill factor affects that," Reynolds said. "I wear one real thin pair of gloves. I'm not comfortable wearing anything thicker. I've seen jockeys not wear any gloves when it's 10 degrees.

"... When it gets too cold, you try to get to the gate as quick as possible. But you've still got to give the horse time to warm up and race."

Kirk said the toughest part of racing in cold weather is combating numbness in hands, which makes it tougher for jockeys to grip the reins and control the horse during a race.

Charles Town jockey J.D. Acosta found out about that the hard way early in his career. After growing up in Puerto Rico and learning to ride there, Acosta came to the United States at the tail end of winter of 2002 and got his first ride at Delaware Park. He had no winter gear - no gloves, no long sleeves.

"The first horse I rode on (in the United States), I fell off," Acosta said. "I was breezing a horse and I couldn't feel my fingers and toes, and I fell off. My agent took me straight to the mall and bought me everything. I didn't think I was going to be here for a week."

Acosta learned to adapt, but he was still suffering from the 20-degree temperature earlier this week.

"Right now I don't feel my toes," Acosta said after a race on Wednesday night. "I can feel my fingers, but not my toes."

When Kirk asked him what he'd do if a fellow jockey were to slap his foot with a whip during a race, Acosta had a ready answer.

"I'm going to knock him out as soon as I get off the horse," Acosta said. "He's going to be sleeping on the ground until somebody wakes him up."

Acosta would someday like to ride in California, but not because of the weather. Like Reynolds, he isn't interested in Florida because "there's five jockeys for every horse there now."

Still, getting out of the cold would be nice.

"Sometimes you find rocks on the track," Acosta said. "They hit your face so hard it's unbelievable. Riding that first horse at night, it's so cold - unbelievable. I prefer to ride back-to-back-to-back and not have a break. After that first race, it's not so bad."

Not all jockeys are as determined as Reynolds and Acosta, as absenteeism does tend to spike a bit on particularly cold nights. Coincidence? Probably not.

"These jockeys go out and buy the most expensive cars they can get, but they have more breakdowns than anybody I've ever seen," Kirk said with a chuckle. "They'll call, 'I've got a flat tire, the battery fell out of my car.'"

Kirk estimates that about 80 percent of the horses that run at Charles Town actually prefer the cold temperatures, which is easier to deal with than hot, humid summer weather.

As for that 20 percent of them that don't, Kirk said those horses are just as likely to be bothered by mud as frozen clods.

"If they don't like a track with clods, they'll flip their heads and sulk a little bit, pin their ears," Kirk said. "They'll let you know, and they'll duck out - they'll look for clear air.

"That's where the jockey comes in. The jockey knows that horse and knows where he wants to be. You try to keep him out of a situation he doesn't like. Most of the jockeys who ride regularly for trainers know their horses."

Reynolds does his best to avoid the worst of the projectiles.

"There's no best spot," Reynolds said. "A lot of the time it seems like inside it freezes up quicker than the middle of the track, but once it starts freezing it doesn't really matter where you're at."

That's not exactly true, and Reynolds knows it. Staying out front is the surest way to avoid frozen dirt missiles.

"Then you're fine," Reynolds agreed. "That's the best place to be."

- Jeff Nations can be reached at (304) 263-3381 ext. 134 or at jnations@journal-news.net

Friday, January 16, 2009

Florida riders get raise.

 

Previously, the losing mount fees at Calder and Gulfstream started at $55 and $65, respectively.

The new mount fee schedule is graded by the purse offered in a race, with losing mount fees increasing as purses increase. The maximum losing mount fee is $105. Jockeys whose horses finish in the top three receive a percentage of the purse, rather than a losing mount fee.

The Jockeys' Guild has been pushing for an increase in losing mount fees in most racing states for the past year in an effort to address the financial concerns of many of its members. The effort has led to increased mount fees in eight states, including California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York.

The Guild, which is operating under a reorganization plan approved by a U.S. bankruptcy court in Kentucky, has struggled with financial problems for the past several years. As a result, the organization has had to cut back on the benefits it provides riders. Mount-fee increases flow directly to a rider and do not benefit the guild, though the guild charges membership fees on a per-mount basis.

Guild representatives contend that an increase in per-mount fees would most significantly benefit the lower tier of riders. According to figures provided by the organization, approximately 50 percent of all purse earnings are won by 10 percent of all riders, and 75 percent of all purse earnings are won by 30 percent of all riders. As a result, the majority of riders depend on mount fees for their earnings.

For the past several months, representatives of the guild have been talking with the Kentucky HBPA about adopting a new pay schedule for losing mounts at Kentucky's tracks, but talks between the two organizations have failed to produce a deal that the Kentucky horsemen are willing to support, according to the guild representatives.

The Kentucky horsemen's group has said that it will not endorse a new schedule because of a law in Kentucky that gives the Kentucky Racing Commission the discretion to set losing mount fees. That law includes language that provides an exception if jockeys are able to reach individual agreements with owners.

"The HBPA has no authority to agree on behalf of its members to mount fees," said Bob Benson, the legal counsel to the Kentucky horsemen's group. "The appropriate place for them to take that up is with the commission."

Lisa Underwood, the executive director of the Kentucky Racing Commission, said on Thursday that she had received materials from the guild asking for an increase in mount fees in Kentucky. Underwood said that she has forwarded the materials to the commission's rules committee, which will likely begin discussing the proposal next week.

"I think the sooner we get to this the better," Underwood said.
Matt Hegarty/Daily Racing Form
Thursday, January 15, 2009

JOCKEYS RECEIVE MOUNT FEE INCREASE IN SOUTH FLORIDA

 

            The new scale provides for losing mount fees to range from $75 on the bottom to $105 at the top of the purse scale.  Previously, the losing mount fee started at $55 or $65, depending on the track.

 

            “I would like to thank Sam Gordon (president of the Florida HBPA), the board of the FHBPA and   Bill Murphy (Gulfstream president and general manager) for working with the jockeys and Herbie Rivera, the Guild’s regional manager, to reach this agreement,” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. 

 

“After a meeting involving the FHBPA and John Velazquez (chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild) and a number of other leading riders in South Florida, the two sides were able to reach an equitable agreement.  The jockeys look forward to working with the FHBPA and the industry in South Florida on other initiatives that would be beneficial to the horsemen and the industry in general.”

 

            “We appreciate the contributions of the jockeys to the sport and are happy to help the South Florida riders,” said Sam Gordon, president of the FHBPA.  “The entire board voted unanimously to accept this agreement and will revisit the scale next year.  We want to work together with the jockeys to do more for racing in South Florida down the road.”

 

            “The increases are fair for all the riders and spread evenly across the board,” said Tim Ritvo, FHBPA board member.  “The same pay scale will be in effect at all the race meets in South Florida.  To the credit of the Gulfstream jockeys, they could have gotten more at Gulfstream but unselfishly gave that up in order to help the riders year-round at Calder.”

 

This new scale follows increases in mount fees through legislation at California tracks and negotiated increases at Finger Lakes, the New York Racing Association tracks, Monmouth, Meadowlands, Atlantic City, Hawthorne, Arlington, Fairmount Park, Indiana Downs, Hoosier Park, Tampa Bay Downs and Turf Paradise.  Jockeys at Philadelphia Park and Penn National have also received raises in their losing mount fees.

 

-30-

 

Contact: The Jockeys’ Guild

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Horsemen say they can't raise race fees

Marty Maline, executive director of the association for owners and trainers, said any push to raise mount fees across the board likely would need to go through the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

A commission regulation sets mount fees if a jockey and owner do not have a separate agreement. Commission Executive Director Lisa Underwood couldn't be reached for comment.

"They're independent contractors and they do a deal, and if they don't, then they go by the commission minimum-fee schedule," Maline said.

A message left seeking comment from The Jockeys' Guild was not returned by its national manager Terry Meyocks. The guild is not a union but advocates for riders as a trade association.

The push for higher mount fees in Kentucky surfaced this month at a commission meeting, during which concerns were raised that jockeys would strike.

Turfway Park President Bob Elliston said he is confident the mount-fee discussions will not affect the entries for the remainder of the Florence, Ky., track's meet, which concludes April 2.

"I've spoken to The Jockeys' Guild and they tell me that the riders remain committed not to interrupt racing," Elliston said, "and that they're going to work through this process and I appreciate that and I believe that."

The fee increase would apply to riders finishing fourth or lower.

For example, when purses are $5,000 to $9,999, the regulation calls for a winning rider to receive 10 percent of the winner's share, the second-place rider would get $65, the third-place jockey would get $50, and other riders would receive $45.

Guild officials have said that riders often net $20 to $25 after paying their agent and valet.

The guild has been pursuing mount-fee increases across the country.
Greg Hall/Louisville Courier-Journal
Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bejarano Jockey of the Week

Bejarano won seven races in 26 starts and amassed $231,844 in earnings for the week.   His most lucrative win came in a 1-1/8th-mile maiden special weight race on turf on January 11 as King of the Green beat Prize Play by a nose.
 
A native of Arequipa, Peru, Bejarano is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey.   Bejarano finished second among all riders in 2008 with $16,439,729 in North American purse earnings.
 
The jockey leanred his craft in Peru, where he spent 1-1/2 years at the nation's riding school before going out on his own.  He started his professional career in 1999, when he won the apprentice jockey title at Hippodromo de Monterrico.
 
Bejarano quickly made an impact after moving to the United States in May 2002.
 
In 2004, he set a Turfway Park meet record for wins with 150 en route to leading all North American jockeys with 455 victories for the year.
 
His success continued in 2005 with jockey titles at the Keeneland Race Course fall meet and the Churchill Downs spring and fall meets.
 
Bejarano, who resides in Louisville, moved his tack to Southern California in 2007 to ride first call for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. 
Thoroughbred Times TODAY
Thursday, January 15, 2009

King of Mountaineer travels south

A big one.

For one of the few times since riding his first winner in 1988, Parker is shopping his skills outside Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort, a slots-fueled facility in far northern West Virginia about 30 miles west of Pittsburgh.

Parker, 38, has landed at Oaklawn Park with a sterling resume, but one built almost entirely at Mountaineer, where he has recorded almost all of his 2,814 career victories.

"I'm not going to lie about this," said Parker, the country's secondwinningest jockey last year. "It's a scary change."

Parker, among only a handful of prominent black jockeys in the country, hadn't been in Arkansas until arriving in Hot Springs earlier this month to drum up business for Oaklawn's 54-day live meeting that begins Friday.

While Parker's new agent, Larry Edwards, is familiar with the local landscape, the jockey's only real personal connections to Oaklawn are trainer Scooter Davis and jockey Dana Whitney, two other Mountaineer regulars who flew south for the winter.

"I tell you, we just wanted to get out of the cold," Parker said. "It gets old. It's hard to tell someone when you're making a good living, but the cold just really gets to you there."

During Oaklawn's live dates in January and February, hard-core simulcasting fans probably associate Mountaineer with night racing framed by a snow-covered infield and bone-chilling temperatures.

They also have watched Parker set up residence in the winner's circle.

Parker swept Mountaineer's four riding titles in 2008 - the track races virtually year-round - and finished with 323 victories.

He was the country's secondwinningest rider last year with 333 victories.

From 2003-2008, Parker rode 1,399 winners at Mountaineer, and his mounts earned approximately $20 million.

Parker rode his 2,000th career winner there Aug. 26, 2005.

On Nov. 5, 2004, at Mountaineer, Parker rode legendary trainer Dale Baird's 9,000th career winner.

Parker rode regularly for Baird, racing's all-time winningest trainer, until Baird was killed in an automobile accident in December 2007.

"That's probably why I never went anywhere before, because I always rode for Dale," Parker said.

Finally last summer, Parker said he was encouraged to test the waters at Oaklawn by Davis, a 1989 North Little Rock Northeast graduate who brought 10 horses to Hot Springs. Parker rode 36 winners for Davis last year at Mountaineer.

"He's always had the talent, but last year it just started to blossom," said Davis, who hasn't raced at Oaklawn since 2000. "He was crushing them at Mountaineer. I mean, we just kind of clicked together. I told him, 'Here, you just ride like you can ride and I think you'll be fine.' The biggest thing is he's got to get his confidence and keep his confidence level."

Davis said Parker is noted for rail-skimming rides at Mountaineer, but that can be risky during the winter because of the kickback of frozen dirt.

"You can kind of ride your race here," Davis said. "Up there, you might go 20-wide to keep your head from getting knocked off from the clods. Deshawn, he likes to save ground."

Davis' family helped launch Whitney's professional career in the mid-1990s after discovering him managing a clothing store at McCain Mall in North Little Rock.

But Parker, who rode his first winner in 1988, had a more normal introduction to racing.

Parker's father, Daryl, became the country's first black steward in 1986 at Thistledown in suburban Cleveland.

He is now a steward at Pinnacle Race Course near Detroit.

Before become a racing official, Daryl Parker worked as an exercise rider and outrider at tracks like Latonia (now Turfway Park) near the family's home in Cincinnati.

Deshawn Parker said he figured he would attend college and study architectural drafting, but he couldn't shake the childhood memories of jumping on his father's pony and riding it back to the barn following the races.

"I just fell in love," Parker said. "In all honesty, I never thought I would last too long as a rider. I was just supposed to ride maybe one or two just to get it out of my head because that's what I wanted to do. I always thought I would be too tall."

At 5-10, Parker towers over many jockeys. But he tacks 115 pounds and said he hasn't had to fight his weight.

"I've been lucky," Parker said.

And good, especially in West Virginia.

During his career, Parker has ridden 2,814 winners and his mounts have earned $31,496,404, according to Daily Racing Form statistics.

Parker also has ridden in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, but more than 90 percent of his winners have been at Mountaineer.

"If he can get off to a good start here, he'll be fine," Davis said.

Parker said he plans to remain at Oaklawn until the meeting ends April 11, then re-assess his career change.

"That's my dilemma, too," Parker said. "If everything goes good, I'll have a shot to go somewhere else. Larry's talked about going to another place. But if everything doesn't pan out, I'll go back to Mountaineer." Robert Yates/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Australian Racing Incident Database (ARID)

Data collected is used to assess the levels of injuries suffered by different groups, and identify and address risk factors for injuries.
The development of the ARID system was funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Coorporation (RIRDC) and completed in 2004. It was intended that this system will ultimately be integrated into other Australian racing industry databases, which will allow automated linkage of injury data to a wide range of risk factor data relating to horses, trainers, jockeys and tracks.
Under the RIRDC research project, alternative data entry systems using fax submission and automated recognition of form contents were researched. These systems were found to be feasible for use in a fully operational integrated system (with appropriate data quality checking systems).
As the next step, the National Jockey Safety Committee has now progressed the ARID system to the stage of integrating it with a national racing system. The initiative fits under the recommendations of the National Jockey safety group, and is part funded by the RIRDC organisation in a grant obtained by Racing NSW on behalf of the group. The work is expected to be completed in the first half of 2007.
In the interim, data collection forms have been modified and distributed to raceday officials for the collection of data, which will be retrospectively entered into the database. Forms are available for downloading here. An information sheet is also attached. Forms can be completed and forwarded to Racing NSW stewards for collation.
In relation to the reporting of horse injury, the trialling of the forms is nearing completion, and will be released via Racing NSW Senior Official Veterinarian Dr Craig Suann in early 2007.
Any enquiries regarding the project can be directed to Keith Bulloch at Racing NSW kbulloch@racingnsw.com.au
Monday, January 12, 2009

Fallen rider stands as vivid reminder of sport's vital needs

Sam passed away on Christmas Day because of injuries suffered in a spill at Los Alamitos on Dec. 20, but he left a legacy for all of us to remember. Whether as a member of the Senate of the Jockeys' Guild, as a jockey, or as a person, Sam always gave, and received, respect, a quality sometimes in short supply in this day and age.

Sam was a leader in the jockeys' room at Los Alamitos, helping young riders and providing leadership. He made a difference in people's lives.

While the death of any racehorse is tragic, the loss of a human life, like Sam's, is disastrous to his family, friends, colleagues, and the industry itself.

Racing is a dangerous game, and the participants realize it. In some cases, like Sam's, the injury is so severe that emergency medical care may not have prevented his death, but the best medical care possible should be available to them at the time they are injured. They are due that commitment. This is an issue that not only affects jockeys but also includes backstretch workers and exercise riders.

With the strides being made in the field of medicine, proper early treatment is essential to any attempt to prevent paralysis or death. Currently, there are 60 jockeys who are permanently disabled. I hope the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, working with the Jockey Club Safety Committee, the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and the American Quarter Horse Association, will continue its initiatives to make racing as safe as possible for all its participants and to provide appropriate emergency care when required.

A memorial service for Sam Thompson Jr. will be held on Monday, Jan. 12, at 2 p.m. at the Cottonwood Church in Los Alamitos. We in the Jockeys' Guild extend our condolences to Sam's family and friends on their catastrophic loss.
Terry Meyocks, National Manager, Jockeys' Guild
Monday, January 12, 2009

Velazquez to appear in reality series

Velazquez, who is currently riding at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida, will introduce a segment on 17-year-old Jonathan Wentz, who has become an equestrian champion despite having cerebral palsy. Thoroughbred Daily News
Friday, January 09, 2009

Turfway jockeys delay job action.

The riders have agreed to continue taking mounts through next Friday while horsemen consider their request, officials with The Jockeys' Guild and the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said yesterday.

The issue could come to a head again when entries are taken Wednesday for the Jan. 17 races.

The dispute surfaced publicly Tuesday at a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission meeting where the possibility was raised that jockeys wouldn't accept mounts for tomorrow's races without an increase in fees.

Racing Commission Chairman Bob Beck met with both sides after the agency's meeting.

Tomorrow's entries for the Florence, Ky., track were taken without incident on Wednesday, as horsemen and representatives of the riders continued to discuss the issue.

Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky HBPA, said his board will meet again again before this coming Wednesday.

Maline said the HBPA board, after Tuesday's discussions, unanimously supported what he said was Beck's recommendation -- to postpone any increases until after March and the end of the Turfway meeting.

Maline also said waiting until then would allow this year's legislative session to play out, so horsemen would know whether the industry might get relief through slots at tracks or another source.

"I understand they're trying to do the best for their membership but I don't think they're ... considering the plight of owners right now," Maline said, noting the shaky future for tracks like Turfway and Ellis Park in Henderson.

"At the end of the day … we're in a financially sorry state in Kentucky," Maline said.

Terry Meyocks, the national manager for the guild, which is a trade association but not a union, said riders have successfully sought increases elsewhere and said horsemen have been working to increase purses through a larger share of account wagering revenues.

Meyocks said Wednesday's meeting was "productive," and included a short-term proposal that he declined to disclose and the ability for further discussions for a long-term solution.

The fee increase would apply to riders finishing fourth or lower. A state regulation sets the fee if no agreement is reached between an owner and rider.

For example, when purses are $5,000 to $9,999, the regulation calls for a winning rider to receive 10 percent of the winner's share, the second-place rider would get $65, the third-place jockey would get $50, and other riders would receive $45. 
Greg Hall/Louisville Courier/Journal
Thursday, January 08, 2009

Gomez Jockey of the Week

Gomez, who turned 37 on New Year's Day, rode multiple graded stakes winner Jibboom to victory on January 3 in the Monrovia Handicap (GIII) at Santa Anita Park for his most lucrative win of the week.

The Tucson, Arizona native started his week with a bang as he chased Bailey's 2003 record of $23,354,960 in purse earnings on the final day of 2008 at Santa Anita.

Needing victories on all four of his mounts to eclipse Bailey's record, Gomez won on his first three rides to climb within $19,681.

On his final mount, though, Gomez rode second-choice Baroness Thatcher to a third-place finish in the Kalookan Queen Handicap to finish $10,6009 shy of the Racing Hall of Fame jockey's mark.

Gomez's total of $23,344,351 in purse earnings for 2008 ranks second on the all-time-single-season purse earnings list. For 2009, Gomez ranks second with $231,626 in purse earnings among North American riders.

One of the world's top jockeys, Gomez has won eight Breeders' Cup races including four in 2008. He won the Bill Shoemaker Award, given to the top jockey at the Breeders' Cup in 2004, '07, and '08.

The 2007 Eclipse Award winner as outstanding jockey lives in Duarte, California with his wife, Pam, and children Amanda, Shelby, Jared and Collin. Thoroughbred TimesTODAY

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Compromise in works on Turfway Park mount fees.

Jockeys’ Guild National Manager Terry Meyocks said a compromise on mount fees for losing jockeys at Turfway is moving forward after a meeting at the track. Meyocks said the riders agreed to a percentage increase on the scale that Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Marty Maline will present to his members this week.

Meyocks said the individual riders voted to accept the amount, which is an improvement although it is not the full increase they were requesting.

“They’re thinking long-term and about the strength of the meet at Turfway Park,” Meyocks said.

Maline could not immediately be reached on Wednesday.

Turfway drew entries for Saturday’s 12-race card, which features normal field sizes and all of the usual riders.

Currently riders receive $45 for a mount that finishes fourth or worse in races with purses between $5,000 and $9,999. The mount fee increases as the purses increase.

Nationally, riders at more than 15 tracks received rate increases for losing mounts in 2008.  Frank Angst/Thoroughbred Times

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Court returning to Oaklawn

"I would like to see it," Court said Tuesday. "I've got family there, and we do miss the Midwest. We got out here, got comfortable, came with a five-year goal, and achieved that.

"This is something we've been discussing over a period of time."

Court, 48, won multiple riding titles in the Midwest before heading to Southern California in 2004. He made the circuit switch with the encouragement of trainer Doug O'Neill and owners Ty and Lee Leatherman, for whom he won the 2003 Japan Dirt Cup on Fleetstreet Dancer.

During his time in California, Court won four consecutive stakes on turf champion Leroidesanimaux in 2004-05; rode Cambiocorsa to seven of her eight straight wins on Santa Anita's downhill turf course in 2005-06; and won the 2004 and 2005 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf on Valentine Dancer.

Court said he will ride the entire opening weekend at Oaklawn, which includes a Monday card. He is then scheduled to return to California for the Sunshine Millions program the following weekend. After that, Court will return to Arkansas to ride full time at Oaklawn.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Court and his wife, Krystal, the daughter of Oaklawn-based trainer Jinks Fires, were married in Hot Springs, Ark. Court won the Oaklawn title in 2000 and also led all riders at Hoosier Park in 1996, 1997, and 1998 and at Ellis Park from 1987 to 1991.

Court, who is 1 for 19 at the young Santa Anita meet, has been part of the filming for a jockey-themed reality series that will debut next month on the cable network Animal Planet.

Court's agent at Oaklawn will be Tony King, whose past clients have included Willie Martinez and Randall Toups.  Mary Rampellini/Daily Racing Form

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Kentucky Jockeys Seek Mount Fee Increase

 Although the fee dispute was not among the topics addressed by the commission, Jockeys’ Guild reps met with horsemen following the meeting to continue their discussions.

In a letter sent to the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Guild national manager Terry Meyocks said that the Guild is withdrawing from any agreements for mount fees that have been in place between jockeys and horsemen in Kentucky, effective Jan. 9.

Meyocks’ letter said except for a $5 increase eight years ago, the mount fees in Kentucky have remained unchanged for decades. He noted that the rates had been raised in other major racing states – including New York, California, Illinois, and New Jersey – within the past year and that Kentucky was not keeping pace.

With no agreement establishing a rate for losing mount fees, Meyocks said Guild members riding in Kentucky would set their own rates with horsemen. He said the jockeys, who are independent contractors, have been encouraged to file their rate schedules with the racing office, so trainers would know the rates and to avoid any disruption of racing.

Guild representative Jeff Johnston said the losing mount fee in Kentucky is $45, compared with $100 in New York. Riders receive 10% of the purse money for horses finishing in the top three positions in each race.

Tom Kennedy, general counsel for the KHBPA, said he did not foresee a unified effort by jockeys not to ride at Turfway Park Jan. 9.

“I don’t think there is any likelihood the riders will not ride (at Turfway) Saturday,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy estimated that about half of the jockeys riding in Kentucky on a regular basis are members of the Guild.  Ron Mitchell/The Blood-Horse


Monday, January 05, 2009

DeShawn Parker to Ride At Oaklawn

Parker, who has never ridden in Hot Springs, won 333 races last year, second only to perennial leader Russell Baze.

Parker, 37, has been a fixture at Mountaineer Race Track in West Virginia, where he has won several titles and rode regularly for the late Dale Baird, the winningest trainer in racing history.

Parker rode Baird's 9,000th career winner Nov. 5, 2004, at Mountaineer. He rode his 2,000th career winner Aug. 26, 2005, at Mountaineer.

Parker's father, Darryl, is a steward at Pinnacle Race Course in Michigan. He became the first black steward in racing history in 1986 at Thistledown in suburban Cleveland.

Wallace said Deshawn Parker will be only the second prominent black jockey to ride regularly in Hot Springs during the modern era, following Marlon St. Julien, who rode 21 winners at the 2002 meeting.

According to Daily Racing Form statistics, Parker has 2,814 victories and $31,496,404 in purse earnings during his career.

Parker rode his first winner Dec. 2, 1988, at Thistledown. He has ridden 2,777 winners at Mountaineer since 1989.

At 5-10, Parker is the one of the country's taller jockeys.

Another expected newcomer to the jockey colony is Tanner Riggs, who has ridden extensively on the Chicago circuit.

Deshawn Parker's 2008

MOUNTS 1,603 WINS 333 PLACES 218 SHOWS 212 PURSE EARNINGS $4,460,386 SOURCE Daily Racing Form
Arkansas Democrat Gazette/NW Arkansas News
Monday, January 05, 2009

Doocy Eyes 5,000th Victory At Oaklawn Park

Doocy needs 24 victories to become only the 24th rider in North America with 5,000.

Doocy, 53, is poised to reach the milestone during the 54-day Oaklawn meeting that begins Jan. 16.

"You never know," Doocy said. "Hope so."

Doocy is coming off another productive, although abbreviated, year of work.

Doocy rode 33 winners at Oaklawn to finish fifth in the jockey standings, then was second at Iowa's Prairie Meadows mixed meet with 37 victories. Overall, he rode 114 winners last year.

Doocy may have reached 5,000 victories last fall at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, but he opted for an extended vacation after the Prairie Meadows mixed meet ended Sept. 20. He normally rides during the fall at Remington, where he is a fivetime champion.

"I'm not getting any younger," said Doocy, Oaklawn's leading rider in 1998 and 1999. "I was going to do this [skip Remington] the year before."

Doocy said the break allowed him to spend more time with his wife of nearly 31 years, Terry, and his ailing mother-inlaw, who recently had a stent put in her leg.

Doocy said he began getting on horses again Dec. 1.

"I'm not ready to quit or anything," said Doocy, who plans to make Oaklawn and Prairie Meadows his yearly circuit. "I'm feeling great. Actually, I couldn't wait to get on horses again. It's the first break I've really had since I was hurt."

During his 34-year career, Doocy's only serious injury occurred shortly before a race in July 2005 at Prairie Meadows, when a first-time starter reared approaching the starting gate, fell backward and pinned the jockey to the ground.

Doocy was sidelined approximately eight months because of a separated pelvis and damaged urethra, but said he has no lingering effects from the injuries.

Now, Doocy said, it's about balancing his personal life with professional achievement.

"I'm just getting to the stage where I want to spend more time with Terry," Doocy said. "I want the best of both right now. I could have cut down the number to reach 5,000 at Remington. Numbers never meant anything to me, but this one does. I would like to do it here."

Other active riders with 5,000 career victories are Russell Baze, Mario Pino, Edgar Prado, Anthony Black, Perry Ouzts and Kent Desormeaux.

Tim Doocy file

AGE 53 BIRTHPLACE Blue Earth, Minn. RESIDES Hot Springs, Edmond, Okla. FAMILY Terry (wife), Trey (son)

CAREER STATISTICS

MOUNTS 32,542 WINS 4,976 PLACE 4,419 SHOW 4,094 PURSE EARNINGS $65,097,501 SOURCE Equibase  Robert Yates/Arkansas Democrat-GazetteNorthwest Arkansas News

PDJF

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