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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Inez Prepares for New Role as Queen of Arlington

But could she keep that pace going after losing the benefit of the weight allowance?   Turned out not to be a problem at all.  The newly-turned 26-year-old Swedish native battled veteran journeyman Tim Thornton for leading jockey honors at the recently-completed Hawthorne spring session before being narrowly bested on the last day of the season.

 “It’s been a helluva a year,” said Karlsson this week, speaking during training hours as she prepared herself for Arlington’s opening day Friday.  “The whole calendar year has been absolutely awesome.  The titles, the close race on the other side of town, and getting to spend some time this winter working horses in South Florida was all a very good experience for me.

 “However, being nominated for the Eclipse Award as the nation’s leading apprentice and getting invited to the Eclipse Awards dinner was very exciting,” said Karlsson.   “Even though I finished second in the voting for the award I really enjoyed myself.

 “I had 10 less than wins than (Eclipse Award Winner Pascacio Lopez) but I made more money in purses,” Karlsson said.  “It didn’t matter that I didn’t win.  I still had a wonderful time going to the dinner.

 “But the best thing about my time in Florida this winter was being around all those really top riders,” Karlsson said.  “Guys like Edgar Prado go out of their way to help you become a better rider and I really appreciated getting to meet people like that and getting advice from them.  I think I’d like to go back down there to ride next winter.

  “Naturally, I’m really looking forward to getting off to a fast start at Arlington this season,” Karlsson said.  “Riding a lot for Mr. (Frank) Kirby should help me do that.  I don’t think he’s ever won as many races as he did at Hawthorne this spring, and he’s got a lot more good ones that are getting ready for the Arlington meeting.

 
 “Also I get to ride a very nice horse (morning line favorite Lissa’s Star) in the featured ($50,000 Timeless Native) stakes on opening day Friday at Arlington,” Karlsson said.  “He’s won his last three races with me aboard.  In that last race (Hawthorne’s $51,000 Hula Chief Stakes March 14) he took off in the stretch and won by more than 10 lengths.  In the lane I was looking around to see who was coming up behind me and there was no one there.  I remember thinking, ‘Where’d everybody go?’  I expect him to run very well Friday.” Arlington Park Communications Department
 
Thursday, April 30, 2009

Politics, luck play part in getting Derby mounts

Still, Steve Bass couldn't help but sneak in a little shop talk while chatting with Tom McCarthy after the former high school science teacher's colt General Quarters won the Blue Grass Stakes on April 11.

Bass, the agent for jockey Julien Leparoux, wasn't sure what his former teacher's plans were for the Derby. Eibar Coa, who piloted General Quarters to the winner's circle in the Blue Grass, also had the option of riding Illinois Derby winner Musket Man in the Run for the Roses.

"I knew (Coa) couldn't ride two horses in the Derby," Bass said. "They weren't committing right away and I told Tom 'If you want us, we're available."'

Rather than wait for Coa to make a decision, McCarthy helped make it for him, giving Leparoux the mount in the Derby. Leparoux is 0-for-2 in the Derby so far, his best finish fifth in 2007 aboard Sedgefield. Coa is also winless in two Derby appearances.

It wasn't personal, just another stop in the seemingly endless game of musical chairs between owners, trainers and jockeys.

"That's part of the business," McCarthy said. "Eibar apparently made a commitment to Musket Man. I thought maybe he'd change his mind. He didn't so I had to move on."

Leparoux won't swing a leg over General Quarters for the first time until he's in the paddock moments before the Derby. Riding an unfamiliar horse every day is typical for lot of jockeys. The Derby is no different.

Several jockeys, including Leparoux, Calvin Borel, Ramon Dominguez and Robby Albarado, will be making their first starts on their respective Derby horses.

Besides, Leparoux jokes he saw all he needed when General Quarters motored by Leparoux and Terrain in the Blue Grass.

"I never really was next to him," Leparoux said. "He looked pretty good going by me."

While Leparoux needed a little bit of politicking and a dash of luck to get his third Derby start, Garrett Gomez found himself in a more enviable if somewhat awkward position earlier this month.

The two-time Eclipse Award winner had the choice of riding either Pioneerof the Nile for Bob Baffert or Dunkirk for Todd Pletcher in the Derby. The pick was so highly anticipated that his agent Ron Anderson held an impromptu news conference at Keeneland to announce it.

Gomez opted for Pioneerof the Nile even though the horse has never raced on dirt. Anderson described it as a "ridiculously tough call," one that could cost Gomez his first Derby win if the Santa Anita Derby winner doesn't like getting dirt in his face.

It's part of the gamble all riders face at some point.

"The future is now, which horse is doing it and this horse is doing it," Baffert said. "It's pretty hard to take off a horse that has won four graded stakes races, especially in Southern California. The other horse is a nice horse. I guess we'll know next Saturday if he made the right choice."

Either way, Gomez will almost certainly ride for Pletcher again. Jockeys who find their way to the winner's circle as often as Gomez usually have little trouble finding work.

It's not always that way.

Sometimes owners and trainers can freeze out a rider if he chooses to change mounts. It happened to Hall of Famer Gary Stevens during his career, though never when a Derby horse was involved.

"The Derby is different and I think all the connections realize that it's different," he said. "You can only be loyal to a certain point. When it comes Derby time you pick the best horse in your mind and try to wait to make that decision."

Sometimes, the wait can prove too long. Two-time Derby winner Nick Zito wouldn't hesitate to dump a rider if he thought the jockey was waffling.

"I don't want anybody that don't want to ride my horse," the trainer said. "Let's say you make somebody stick to the call, you're out of your mind. How could he go out there with good karma? He didn't want to ride your horse."

If Zito has a problem with a rider, he usually won't take it out on the jockey, instead focusing on the agent.

"People get upset, but that's why you have an agent, so you have somebody to blame," Stevens said with a laugh.

Acting as a buffer is old hat for Jerry Hissam.

The longtime agent for Borel doesn't leave the calls up to his rider, even if it costs them both money in the short-term. Borel, who won the Derby aboard Street Sense two years ago, will ride Mine That Bird on Saturday.

"If you start trying to handicap, you might as well go over to the grandstand and be a bettor," Hissam said.

While Stevens allows in a perfect world a jockey would hook up with a trainer early on in a colt's career and team up through the Triple Crown season, he never felt comfortable making a promise in January he wasn't sure he could keep in May.

"You might think you're on the fastest horse in January, but there's that chance that something can happen leading up to it," he said. "In the end, everybody wants to get on the best horse no matter what."   By Will Graves, AP Sports Writer

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Animal Planet's Jockeys set for Kentucky Derby

Animal Planet’s hit series "Jockeys" introduced viewers to the high-stakes world of horseracing – the most dangerous two minutes in sports.

Now, four of horse racing’s phenoms and stars of the Animal Planet series are set to race in the world-renowned Kentucky Derby on Saturday May 2, 2009.

The Derby is the first of the three premiere races that comprise the Triple Crown.

The event begins at Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY; May 2

The Jockeys of the AP series taking part are: Joe Talamo, 19, riding I Want Revenge; Mike Smith, 44, riding Chocolate Candy; Garrett Gomez, 37, riding Pioneerof the Nile; Corey Nakatani, 38, riding Square Eddie

Animal Planet "Jockeys" star rider Jon Court, who appeared throughout last season of the series, will appear at the red carpet event at the Kentucky Derby representing seasoned jockeys and the series. Court, who departed Santa Anita Race Track for Kentucky racing, appears in the premiere episode of season two.

Venturing deep into a world dominated by rivalries, fierce bonds and risk, the series documents the behind-the-scenes lives of jockeys and their pricey racehorses.

It is a world ruled by 112 lb. men (or less) on 1,200 lb. Thoroughbreds.

The series follows athletes from their pre-race jitters to the finish line.

For its sophomore season premiering this August, the network brings back six of the jockeys previously featured, including Chantal Sutherland, Mike Smith, Kayla Stra, Alex Solis, Joe Talamo and Aaron Gryder. 

The new season also introduces viewers to two new jockeys, Garrett Gomez and Corey Nakatani, who are at the height of their careers.
April MacIntyre/Small Screen News
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

LOUISIANA INCREASES LOSING MOUNT FEES

Losing mount fees will now range from $50 for races with purses under $5,000 to $115 at the top of the scale.  The previous range of mount fees was $35 to $100.
 
"We appreciate the action the Louisiana State Racing Commission took in approving this increase in mount fees," said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys' Guild.  "Our thanks go to the Commission and the Guild's regional manager, John Beech.  Their help was instrumental in obtaining the first increase in mount fees in Louisiana since 1985."
 
This new scale follows increases in mount fees through legislation at California tracks and negotiated increases at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Saratoga, Finger Lakes, Monmouth, Meadowlands, Atlantic City, Hawthorne, Arlington, Fairmount Park, Gulfstream Park, Calder, Tampa Bay Downs, Turf Paradise, Yavapai Downs, Indiana Downs, Hoosier Park, Delaware Park, Charles Town and Prairie Meadows.  Jockeys at Philadelphia Park and Penn National have also received raises in their losing mount fees.  Negotiations are ongoing in other racing jurisdictions.  Contact: Jockeys' Guild 859-305-0606.
Friday, April 24, 2009

Delaware Park Jockeys Receive Increase

Losing mount fees in all races will now range in scale from $75 to $105 compared to the  previous range of $45 to $105.
 
"This is a major step forward for Delaware jockeys," said Terry Meyocks, naitonal manager of the Jockeys' Guild.  "I would like to express my appreciation to the executive director of the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (DTHA), Bessie Gruwell, Scott Peck (president of the DTHA) and the board of DTHA, the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission and its executive director, John Wayne, Bobby Colton and the Guild's regional manager Larry Saumell.  They worked diligently to reach an agreement that provides for an increase that is meaningful for the jockeys."
 
"On behalf of the jockeys at Delaware Park, I would like to thank the horsemen, Delaware Park and the Delaware Racing Commission in keeping Delaware jockeys as the national leaders in jockeys' concerns.  I challenge anyone to find a letter place in America to ride," said Robert Colton, director of the Delaware Jockeys' Association.  "This mount fee increase, on top of our established programs for safety, for excess on track benefits, and for personal health & welfare benefits, gives the rest of the nation a blueprint to follow for jockey issues."
 
"The jockeys look forward to working with the horsemen on other measures to improve the racing industry in the state," said Meyocks.
 
This new scale follows increases in mount fees through legislation at California tracks and negotiated increases at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Saratoga, Finger Lakes, Monmouth, Meadowlands, Atlantic City, Hawthorne, Arlington, Fairmount Park, Gulfstream Park, Calder, Tampa Bay Downs, Turf Paradise, Yavapai Downs, Indiana Downs, Hoosier Park, Charles Town and Prairie Meadows.  Jockeys at Philadelphia Park and Penn National have also received raises in their losing mount fees.  Negotiations are ongoing in other racing jurisdictions.
Jockeys' Guild/Delaware Jockeys' Association
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seven jockeys suspended; weight reporting questioned

In the same case, the clerk of scales, who officially monitors jockeys’ racing weights, had his state license revoked.

The allegations stem from the March 26 card at Charles Town, where thoroughbreds race year-round.

That day, a camera was set up to record the clerk of scales and the jockeys as they were weighed before their races, according to Laurence Dupuy, a member of the board of stewards, which reviews allegations of impropriety.

He said the tape, which stewards received the next day, showed that jockeys and the clerk of scales didn’t report that jockeys were 2 to 6 pounds heavier than their required weights.

In West Virginia, jockeys may be up to 7 pounds more than the established weight for a race, as long as the extra weight — more than 2 additional pounds — is publicly disclosed, Dupuy said.

“The public has to know,” he said. “It affects your betting .... It’s an integrity issue.”

In general, less weight for a jockey is considered a competitive advantage. Formulas are used to determine weight and even the field.

Terry Meyocks, the national manager of the Kentucky-based Jockeys’ Guild, which is representing the Charles Town jockeys, declined to talk about specifics of this case.

But he said the racing industry has a problem with consistency in regulations, such as how a jockey’s weight should be determined.

Some tracks might count safety vests and helmets, while others might not. The same variations might occur from clerk to clerk within a state, he said.

Asked if consistency and knowledge of the rules are factors in the Charles Town case, Meyocks said, “Absolutely.”

The jockeys are Lawrence Reynolds, Alexis Rios-Conde, Tony Maragh, Anthony Mawing, Luis Perez, Dale Whittaker and Jesus Sanchez, according to Kelli Talbott, a state deputy attorney general who represents the West Virginia Racing Commission.

A message left at a phone number for a Lawrence Reynolds of Charles Town on Monday evening was not returned. The other jockeys did not appear to appear to have phone numbers listed in their hometowns.

Dupuy said the clerk of scales was Mike Garrison. There was no Eastern Panhandle phone listing for him.

The board of stewards, made up of representatives from the racing commission and the track, took action on April 8.

The board suspended the jockeys for 30 days and fined them $1,000 apiece.

The board of stewards’ decision for each jockey lists four alleged racing rule violations, including conduct detrimental to racing, conspiring with another person to commit a fraudulent act and improper conduct at a track.

The last rule says a jockey who is overweight by more than 2 pounds must report it to the clerk of scales, who must immediately display a notice or publicly announce the extra weight.

The stewards’ written decision concludes that each jockey was “found guilty of dishonest acts in relation to conspiring along with the Clerk of Scales and on his own account failing to report proper and correct overweight.”

Garrison’s license was revoked. He hadn’t appealed the decision as of Monday.

Following the board of stewards’ decision, the track ejected the jockeys, also for 30 days, and banned the clerk of scales indefinitely, said Phyllis LeTart, the vice president of legal and business affairs at Charles Town Races & Slots.

However, on April 16, the jockeys obtained a temporary restraining order from a circuit judge in Kanawha County, W.Va., putting a stay on the suspensions until the racing commission hears their appeal.

The stay applies to the racing commission and the track.

The Blood-Horse, a racing publication, reported on its Web site that Mawing and Reynolds rode at Charles Town on Saturday.

Talbott said the commission has 30 days, or until May 16, to hold a hearing. As of Monday, a hearing date hadn’t been set.

Meyocks declined to comment on the jockeys’ reasons for appealing, but said they are entitled to due process.
 
By ANDREW SCHOTZ
andrews@herald-mail.com
Monday, April 20, 2009

Singing Jockeys Raise $50,000

Jockeys such as John Velazquez, Pat Day, Kent Desormeaux, Edgar Prado, Angel Cordero Jr., and others participated in Riders Up!, a special singing contest featuring the jockeys. The event drew more than 500 people.

The competition was sponsored by Keeneland and the Jockeys’ Guild. Darley, Ramsey Farm, Breeders’ Cup Ltd., WinStar Farm, Vinery, Denali Stud, Equibase, Meyocks and O’Hara Racing, Padua Stables, and Shadwell Farm. The sponsors contributed $30,000 of the total.

Ticket sales and donations accounted for $20,000, including a $10,000 donation from Mark Hoffman, co-owner of Ashland Stakes (G1) winner Hooh Why.

“I want to thank all the sponsors who made it possible,” Keeneland President Nick Nicholson said. “This was a fabulous event and we’re thrilled to have raised this much money for such a worthy cause.”  Thoroughbred Times

Friday, April 10, 2009

INAUGURAL JOCKEY CHALLENGE SET FOR BLACK-EYED SUSAN DAY

 The jockey with the most points at the end of a four-race competition will be crowned champion. Riding assignments will be determined by a drawing Sunday, May 10, and jockeys receive points for finishing first (12 points), second (6), third (4) and fourth (3) in each race. The champion jockey will earn $14,000. Other prize money: $10,000 (second); $8,000 (third) and $3,500 (fourth through eighth).

“We wanted to provide some added spark to the Black-Eyed Susan card and jockey promotions have been popular with fans throughout the years,” said Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer Tom Chuckas. “Thanks to Terry Meyocks at the Jockeys’ Guild we have attracted some of the biggest names in the business to our inaugural event.”

The riders will also participate in an autograph session that morning in the Pimlico grandstand with a special souvenir poster to be made available.

“The jockeys look forward to working with the Maryland Jockey Club to present a special day of racing for the fans,” said Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “With an autograph session in addition to the competition on the track, fans will be able to meet their favorite riders. Thanks to MJC’s contribution to help disabled riders, the event is a win for racing, the fans and riders who have suffered life-changing injuries. Events like the Jockey Challenge provide additional color to an already outstanding weekend of racing.”

The jockeys are, in alphabetical order:

Rafael Bejarano-The 26-year-old led all North American jockeys with 455 victories in 2004, just two years after relocating from his native Peru. Bejarano, who was second in 2005 Belmont Stakes with Andromeda’s Hero, won six races at Santa Anita in just his second visit to the famed track. He has more than 1,900 career victories.

Kent Desormeaux-The Hall of Famer burst onto the scene while riding in Maryland in the late 1980’s. The 39-year-old won a record 599 races in 1989, earning the first of two Eclipse Awards for outstanding jockey (also won in 1992). Desormeaux has five Triple Crown victories on his resume, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness aboard both Real Quiet (1998) and Big Brown (2008). He is one of 24 riders with more than 5,000 career winners and has finished first or second in the Preakness five times.

Ramon Dominguez-The 32-year-old led the nation in wins in 2001 (431) while riding in Maryland. Dominguez won a career high 453 two years later and has won more than 3,600 races since March 1996. He earned his first Grade I victory aboard A Huevo in the 2003 De Francis Dash at Laurel Park and also won the Grade I Pimlico Special with Invasor three years later. He has ridden in the Preakness seven of the last eight years, including a second place finish aboard Scrappy T in 2005.

Garrett Gomez-The two-time reigning Eclipse Award winner has topped the North American leading jockeys’ earnings list for three consecutive years. The 37-year-old, who is still looking for his first Triple Crown victory, took four Breeders’ Cup World Championship races in 2008. In 2007, he won a record 75 stakes races. A year earlier he rode four stakes winners during Preakness weekend for trainer Todd Pletcher. Gomez has more than 3,100 career first place finishes.

Julien Leparoux-The 25-year-old finished a record-setting apprentice year in 2006 as the nation’s leading rider (based on wins) with 403 with earnings of $12.5 million, the most ever by a bug rider. Since then he has multiple riding titles at Keeneland and Churchill Downs. He finished second in last year’s Preakness aboard Macho Again and is quickly approaching 1,000 career victories.

Mario Pino-The 47-year-old ranks 15th on the all-time win list with more than 6,100 career winners. Pino is Maryland’s all-time winningest jockey with more than 4,900 victories at Pimlico and Laurel Park. He had a breakout year in 2007 as the regular rider aboard Hard Spun, which included second place finishes in the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a third in Preakness Stakes. He has won 200 races 12 times in his career that began in 1979.

Edgar Prado-The 2006 Eclipse Award winnerwon 24 riding titles at Pimlico and Laurel Park during the 1990’s before moving his tack to New York. The 41-year-old won the 2006 Kentucky Derby aboard Barbaro and has a pair of Belmont Stakes wins-Sarava (2002) and Birdstone (2004) but has failed to win Maryland’s signature race in 11 tries. Prado, who was elected to Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2008, ranks 14th on the all-time win list with more than 6,200 victories.

John Velazquez-The two-time Eclipse Award winner (2004 and 2005) has won or shared 20 riding titles in New York and was the top rider in the nation’s deepest colony for four consecutive years (2001-2004). The 37-year-old partnered with his main client, Todd Pletcher, to win the 2007 Belmont Stakes with the filly Rags For Riches. Velazquez has more than 4,000 career victories in a career that began in his native Puerto Rico in 1988.             

CAREER STATISTICS THROUGH APRIL 9, 2009

                                                Wins                            Earnings

Bejarano                                   1,921                            $81,237,772

Desormeaux                              5,118                            $217,759,019

Dominguez                                3,640                            $113,726,157

Gomez                                      3,139                            $147,180,007

Leparoux                                   965                               $41,430,320

Pino                                          6,145                            $110,191,311

Prado                                        6,232                            $218,277,997

Velazquez                                  4,087                            $214,436,324

The eight riders have combined for 31,247 career winners with earnings of more than $1.1 billion. Six rank in the top 30 on the all-time earnings list. Seven currently reside in the top 12 for 2009 earnings.
 

Mike Gathagan

Vice President-Communications

Maryland Jockey Club

410-578-4461 (Pimlico)

301-470-5461 (Laurel Park)

240-876-7403 (Mobile)

Friday, April 10, 2009

U.S. one spot on globe where Hills is a stranger

Richard Hills has been Hamdan al-Maktoum's first-string rider in Britain since 1997, when he took over that role from the legendary Willie Carson. Hills will be sporting Sheikh Hamdan's familiar blue-and-white colors in Saturday's Blue Grass when Kentucky Derby Challenge winner Mafaaz tries to erase any doubts about his Derby qualifications.

Hills, 46, was born at the center of the British racing world in Newmarket and into of one of England's leading racing families, entering the world just 15 minutes after his twin brother Michael, who, like Richard, is one of Britain's most sought-after riders. They are the sons of Barry Hills, a top British trainer since he took out his license in 1969, and whose biggest winner was Rheingold in the 1973 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. At Pontefract on Tuesday, Barry Hills recorded his 3,000th British victory with Chapter and Verse. Keeping it in the family, the winner was ridden by his son Michael with Richard himself not too far behind in third on Shaaridh.

Richard Hills is also the younger brother of John, who trains not far from Barry Hills's Lambourn yard in Upper Lambourn. And he is the older brother of Charles, father Barry's assistant trainer, as well as the older brother of George, who works for Walmac International in Lexington, Ky. Oh, yes. Richard Hills is also the father of Patrick Hills, a young man just embarking on his riding career in England.

With a pedigree like that of Richard Hills's, it is little wonder that one of the world's leading owners should employ him as his number one rider. The job as Hamdan al -Maktoum's first-call jockey came after a lot of hard work, however. Hills has been riding annually in Dubai since Nad Al Sheba opened in 1992. He was the champion rider in the UAE during the 1994-95 season with 51 winners and has ridden 446 winners there altogether, more than any other jockey. In 1999, he rode a big-race double for Sheikh Hamdan when guiding Almutawakel to victory in the Dubai World Cup about a half-hour after he had won the Dubai Duty Free aboard Altibr.

But Hills spends the months of April to November in England, where he has ridden 1,683 winners since 1979. Uncannily, that mark is almost identical to that of his identical twin Michael, who has 1,665 winners in Britain during the same period.

Richard Hills's big-race triumphs include five British classics, among them Haafhd, trained by his father for Sheikh Hamdan to win the 2000 Guineas in 2004. Hills also engineered one of the biggest upsets ever seen at Ascot when in 1994 he rode the 66-1 Maroof to win the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over subsequent Breeders' Cup Mile winner Barathea.

Hills's big North American moment came in 2001 when he rode Mutamam to win the Canadian International. He has ridden just twice previously in the United States, both times on Mutamam when fourth in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs and 11th in the same race a year later at Belmont Park.

An American classic triumph aboard Mafaaz in the Kentucky Derby would fit well on Hills's resume, but in order to qualify for a chance at that honor on the terms demanded by both Gosden and Sheikh Hamdan, Hills must first get the job done in the Blue Grass Stakes. Rest assured, every member of the Hills clan will be cheering him on.
Alan Shuback
Copyright © 2007 Daily Racing Form, LLC. All rights reserved.
Thursday, April 09, 2009

Talamo has to keep that steady hand

In contrast, Scotty McClellan has maintained a relatively stable world. He represented Chris McCarron for 21 years, Alex Solis for 16 years, and Corey Nakatani for about a week and a half, all tenures that exceeded industry norms. Along the way, McClellan's riders won two Kentucky Derbies and finished second four times during a span of 15 years, which brings us to the challenge at hand. Can McClellan win his third Derby as an agent with Joe Talamo, a teenager who has never ridden the race before?

Don't be too amazed. It has been done before. Derby Week trivia parties will note that both Alonzo Clayton and James Perkins were 15 when they won their Kentucky Derby debuts. It should be pointed out, however, that these occurred in an era when neither the Kentucky Derby nor child labor laws were of particular importance. Clayton's colt Azra beat two horses in 1892, while Perkins and Halma were best of four in 1895.

In more civilized times, Ira "Babe" Hanford was 18 when he won the 1936 Derby aboard Bold Venture (14 ran that day), while Bill Boland was 17 in May of 1950, when Middleground beat Hill Prince and 13 others. Later on, there were back-to-back teens in the late 1970s, with Steve Cauthen on Affirmed and Ronnie Franklin on Spectacular Bid.

Talamo turned 19 on Jan. 12, which means the issue of his maturity will linger right up to the moment the gates open for the 135th Kentucky Derby on May 2. It helps that Talamo will ride into the Derby aboard Wood Memorial winner I Want Revenge. And after the trip Talamo experienced in the Wood, many questions of his grace under pressure have been asked and answered. They overcame a troubled start and more traffic than the Belt Parkway on a Friday afternoon, and still managed to win, with Talamo steady on the wheel all the way.

McClellan was home in California for the race, dealing with late entries and trying to get to a TV in time to watch his jock in the pressure-packed Derby prep.

"I'm watching HRTV with my son, Max, and a minute and a half to the race I hear that the Wood will be blacked out live and shown on tape delay," McClellan said. "I tried ESPN, ESPN2, NBC, everywhere, until I heard it was on something called MSG."

Luckily for McClellan, Debbie Olsen of the Santa Anita publicity department answered the phone when he called the press box and held it up to the TV monitor as the Wood was run on the Madison Square Garden network. What he heard was alarming.

"Not one thing Tom Durkin said sounded good," McClellan said. "He got left, I Want Revenge is 10 back. He's blocked. He's behind a wall of horses. I Want Revenge has nowhere to go! Five minutes later we got to see the replay, and it was as bad as it sounded."

The Wood will always be the most fascinating of this year's Derby preps, and figures to remain a key moment in the emergence of Talamo as a riding star. Still, were it not for a bolt of blind luck way back in October, someone else might be writing the tale.

As entries were being drawn for the Oct. 4, 2008, program of the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, McClellan found himself without a mount in the sixth, a maiden race for 2-year-olds going six furlongs.

"As I recall, the race filled big," McClellan said. "I had someone for the race, but they canceled. R.C. Ebanks" - a fellow agent - "had two in there and asked if I was open. I said yes and he said he'd let me know if I could get on his other one. He came back and said I was on."

The name of the colt was I Want Revenge. Talamo finished third that day, won the next time out, and has been part of the package for trainer Jeff Mullins ever since. Now, less than a month from the Derby, Talamo could be on the favorite. If he needs any advice, there's plenty out there, including this from John Sellers, the Hall of Famer, who was 24 when he won the 1961 Kentucky Derby aboard Carry Back. Years later, he recalled the occasion for Sports Illustrated:

"That was my third Derby," Sellers said of the '61 running. "The first two were on horses that didn't have much of a chance. The pressure builds and builds because you have the favorite. As the day of Carry Back's Derby approached, I was beside myself. I felt that every rider in the jockeys' room was out to get me. Heck, I even thought the valets were out to get me. I got so paranoid I even thought the clerk of scales was out to get me. On the day of the race, the waiting drove me crazy. About half an hour before I went out to ride Carry Back, I picked up a pool cue and shot some pool to see how jittery I really was. When I could sink the balls, I knew I'd be okay, because my hands weren't shaking on the cue."

Rack 'em, Joe.
Jay Hovdey/Daily Racing Form
Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Guild, UK Promote Injury Awareness

Doctors from the university’s Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center hosted Terry Meyocks, who serves as the Guild’s national manager, as well as jockeys John Velazquez, Edgar Prado, and Alan Garcia, among others. Velazquez is the chairman of the Guild’s board of directors.

“It is about education and communication,” said Meyocks. “It is important, there’s no question about it. It builds awareness.”

Throughout the course of the afternoon, various doctors involved with SCoBIRC presented information on brain and spinal cord injuries as well as ongoing research in their fields of expertise.

“There is nothing we can do about the primary injury, at least not initially, but much of the damage that occurs is due to what we call a secondary injury,” said director Dr. Edward Hall. “Most of the research in the area, including our own, is aimed at finding drugs that can be given early after a brain or spinal cord injury to try to salvage the tissue by protecting it and preventing the secondary injury.”

After the presentations, the doctors escorted the group through the laboratories where they conduct their research. The space is designed as an open office to encourage interaction between the researchers.

SCoBIRC was established in 1999 with a mission to “repair the injured central nervous system and promote restoration of function.”

“(We have tours) whenever there is a group that wants to come through and learn about what we are doing,” said Hall. “We are pleased to have the beginnings of a relationship with the (horse racing) industry because we think what we do is very relevant.”

Touring the research center was just one step in furthering the education of those involved in horse racing.

“We have been talking to the racetracks and the industry about minimum standards--from first response to going to the hospital,” said Meyocks. “We also need to update our standards on helmets and safety vests. It’s not only jockeys, but exercise riders.”
The Blood-Horse
Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Trainers counting on experience, knowledge of riders

Several trainers hope this added edge will help lead to a key graded stakes victory this weekend in the Arkansas Derby (G2) at Oaklawn Park or the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland Race Course and propel their charge on to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1).

Larry Jones, trainer of multiple graded stakes winner Old Fashioned, gave Terry Thompson the mount for the Arkansas Derby after the colt finished second in the Rebel Stakes (G2) under Ramon Dominguez.

“I feel like [Thompson] is the right jockey for Oaklawn Park on this horse,” Jones said. “If there is an advantage to be had, I feel that Terry can be able to take the advantage of this track.”

Thompson leads the Oaklawn Park rider standings with 55 wins through Monday and was aboard Old Fashioned for his first two career wins. An agreement between Thompson and Jones only guarantees the jockey the mount in the Arkansas Derby, but Jones said the mount for the Kentucky Derby probably would be given to either Thompson or Dominguez.

“Right now, neither jockey has made a mistake,” Jones said.

Trainer Mac Robertson earned his first career graded stakes victory when Win Willy overhauled Old Fashioned in the Rebel Stakes (G2) to post a 56.80-to-1 upset victory under Cliff Berry. Win Willy has had four different riders in four career starts, but Robertson decided to stick with Berry for the Arkansas Derby.

“I think he’s an awfully good rider,” Robertson said. “He’s been lucky for us.”

For Win Willy’s connections, the Arkansas Derby is a make or break race.

“He is a horse that is going to have to run first or second to make the trip [to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby],” Robertson said.

If not, Robertson said the horse will receive some rest and return again in the fall.

Trainer Dale Romans will send out Ziegfeld, runner up in the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes on March 21 at Turfway Park, for the Arkansas Derby with veteran rider Jon Court slated to ride. Court won the Oaklawn riding title in 2000, and ranks fourth in the Oaklawn jockey standings.

For the Blue Grass Stakes, trainer Al Stall Jr. decided to retain the services of Julien Leparoux for Grade 3 winner Terrain. Leparoux rode Terrain to a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 14 in the Sky Mesa gelding’s only race this year.

Stall felt like Leparoux is a good match for Terrain, whose best performances have come from off the pace.

“Julien likes to relax early and finish up late. He’s become known for that,” Stall said. “We wanted to hire someone we were confident with in bigger races."

Terrain, who has done well on synthetic surfaces, was ridden by Jamie Theriot in each of his first six starts.

Jones, Robertson, and Stall hope the jockey they chose provides an advantage in this weekend’s Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes. 

Laura Pepper is an editorial intern for Thoroughbred Times

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Jockeys, Researches Meet on Injuries

Among the jockeys at Tuesday's meeting in Lexington were 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Edgar Pardo and multiple Eclipse Award winner John Velazquez.

Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys' Guild, said at the meeting that members of the guild would like to see every racetrack in the country have a solid protocal for dealing with spinal cord and brain injuries.

Dr. Ed Hall, director of the UK center, says research has shown the side effects of spinal cord and brain injuries can be reduced through aggressive, proactive treatment.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Billy Troilio - Straight Shooter


It’s not easy to walk away from a career—even a dangerous one. But he did, after 2,514 trips to the winner’s circle and purse earnings of $27.5 million in 28 years as a jockey.

Troilo won 80 stakes, only one of them graded, and that win came last year with a pickup mount. He won 10 riding titles, and most of his victories—1,769—came at Turfway Park and River Downs, the two tracks that make for an almost year-round circuit in the Cincinnati metropolitan area.

As a rider, Troilo wasn’t known for flash, but for consistency and dependability. Like many other jockeys, he didn’t achieve everything he set out to do, but when the gig was up, he had accomplished plenty. There were no Kentucky Derby (gr. I) or Breeders’ Cup wins, but there was a lasting impression.

“We all set out with high goals, but it’s tough,” Troilo said before the closing-day program at Turfway. “My career has always been consistent, and I’m so proud of that. People trusted me and depended on me, and I think that’s why they rode me.”

For Troilo, it wasn’t just about winning races. Behind the scenes, primarily in the jockeys’ room, he was an unofficial leader—a guy the younger riders looked to for guidance, and one that sometimes made racetrack executives uncomfortable when he took a stand on issues.

“It was a privilege to give opinions to younger riders,” Troilo said. “I wanted to help the younger riders to make races safer. If you’re not headstrong like a cowboy, it makes the whole race safer. You’ll live to fight another day.”

Troilo and two other riders on the circuit—Jeff Johnston and Rodney Prescott—were known for trying to make a difference. Their efforts weren’t always well-received.

Johnston, who retired a few years ago, is now a regional manager for the Jockeys’ Guild and last year was kicked off the grounds at River Downs for pushing safety-related issues. Prescott got the boot from River Downs several years ago—he’s back riding there—for making noise about the racing surface at a time when he was leading rider.

Troilo also got into it with River Downs general manager Jack Hanessian but left before he was asked to leave. He decided to ride year-round in Kentucky.

“I have no hard feelings,” Troilo said. “Our safety concerns were addressed to the fullest. You can’t put a price tag on someone’s life. All we ask for is a safe racing surface.”

Troilo is a straight shooter. He never ducked questions from the media and usually spoke his mind.

Case in point: When asked if things are better now than when he started riding, Troilo said: “On some issues safety has improved, but I don’t see where a whole lot has changed in 28 years. Anything the industry does to improve the safety of horses does filter down to us, but when you’re dealing with a 1,000-pound horse, there aren’t a whole lot of safety issues you can address.”

Troilo once produced pairs of goggles shattered by frozen dirt clods during winter racing on the old dirt surface at Turfway. Sometimes, four pairs weren’t enough. It was a difficult trade-off, because if he didn’t ride the winter meet, his income was greatly reduced.

For Troilo and other riders, a few mounts a week in Florida or in Louisiana weren't options when they could ride the card every day in Kentucky.

“It was never easy,” Troilo said of the winter grind in Northern Kentucky. “You never really learn to accept the cold and the track conditions. But you have to get a mindset: Focus on your horse, not on what’s going on around you.”

He went out on a good note, with a victory in the sixth race and a near-miss with the final mount of his career, appropriately at Turfway, where his wife, Mary, has worked for more than 25 years. A group of fans gathered to wish him well. He insists he’s not going ride again.

“I’m healthy other than my knee, which needs a replacement,” Troilo said. “I’m young, so I’m looking into a few options, but coming back isn’t one of them. My real estate license is active, and I’ll probably try to become a racing official. I plan to go to stewards’ school in November.

“I want to stay in the industry. Being in it this long, I can’t imagine not being in it.”

Tom LaMarra is news editor of The Blood-Horse.

 
Tuesday, April 07, 2009

New Zealand mandates padded whip

  

This is planned to be in place from the start of the new season, commencing 1 August 2009, subject to the Rule change process being completed by that date.

 

Trials of the proposed padded whips have been conducted and consultation has taken place with the New Zealand Trainers Association (NZTA) and the New Zealand Jockeys Association (NZJA).

 

NZTR will now enter into formal consultation with all sector groups and the NZ Racing Board (NZRB) on the proposed wording of the amended Rule prior to gazetting.

 

 

Paul Bittar, Chief Executive of NZTR, welcomed the Board's approval. "In taking this step, NZTR has importantly recognised the critical issue of horse welfare. We should not forget that a number of other major racing jurisdictions have already made padded whips mandatory, and now we have started the process of aligning our Rules with theirs."

Reid Sanders, NZTR Chief Stipendiary Steward and Integrity Manager, stated: "NZTR started this process exactly one year ago and I am delighted that we have reached this point. We are especially grateful to all the Jockeys who took part in the trials and provided very helpful feedback."

"NZTR's primary charter is one of integrity and safety, and this Rule change is integral to the future welfare of horses while ensuring Jockey safety." – NZR

 

Paul Moran At The Races

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

"Riders Up" For A Good Cause

 Tickets are available for the event, which will be held at the Keeneland Entertainment Center and is open to the public. The evening will feature a “Bayou Meets the Bluegrass” buffet and cash bar.

Among the jockeys scheduled to perform are Robby Albarado, Jon Court, Brian Hernandez, Jamie Theriot and John Velazquez, along with retired legendary riders Jerry Bailey, Angel Cordero Jr., Pat Day, Chris McCarron, Earlie Fires and Patricia Cooksey.

A panel of celebrity judges from the music and racing industry will critique the jockeys as they perform with a live “all-star” band and back-up singers. Judges include Kentuckian Eddie Montgomery of the chart-topping country duo Montgomery Gentry and his wife, Tracy. The Montgomerys will be joined by Racing Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas; DeAnn Stephens, radio host of 98.1 The Bull’s Moo Crew; and Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's Director of Sales who promises to add Simon Cowell-like critiques of the performances.

Tickets may be purchased online at JockeysGuild.com, for $50 (advance purchase only). Space is limited.

Established in 2006, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund provides much-needed financial assistance to jockeys who have suffered catastrophic injuries such as paraplegia and head injuries while performing their services as a jockey. These injuries not only prevent them from returning to racing but also limit their opportunities for gainful employment.

“Presently, the fund provides financial assistance to 60 jockeys,” said Terry Meyocks, the Guild’s national manager. “This assistance helps with the day-to-day living expenses as well as medical expenses and in-home care. Many of these injuries have occurred while they are only in their 20s or 30s, many with young families who have been faced with a new way of life and all the challenges that come with it.

“We wish to thank Nick Nicholson for making the event possible at Keeneland.”
Jessica Noll/kypost.com
Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Jockeys' Guild Assembly to Hook Up With Symposium

 

Traditionally, members of the Guild assemble in Las Vegas during the first week of December. Meyocks said the decision to become a part of the symposium was made in order to facilitate continuing positive relations between the riders and key industry figures.

"The arrangement is more tied into the industry," Meyocks said. "Racetrack managers are there, the press is there, (racing) commissioners are there--it makes sense."

"We think its a great idea, and I think it's a benefit to the industry because, like so many other stakeholders, (jockeys are) an important part of the business," said Doug Reed, director of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program.

The jockeys will hold their traditional board meetings Monday of symposium week, then participate in crossover agendas Tuesday, Reed said. Typical issues discussed during Guild assemblies include health and safety initiatives, media rights fees, and opportunities in corporate sponsorship.

The 36th symposium will be held Dec. 7-10 at the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

KHRC Panel Approves Helmet Regulation

 The regulation, unanimously approved April 6 by the safety and welfare committee, will be considered by the full KHRC during its April 7 regular monthly meeting.

“A licensee mounted on a horse or stable pony at a location under the jurisdiction of the commission shall wear a properly secured helmet at all times,” the regulation states, adding that the licensee will be responsible for assuring the helmet meets the standards of one of three international standards – American Society for Testing and Materials, UK Standards, or Australian/New Zealand Standard.

Final approval of the helmet regulation came after months of work by the committee, which reviewed different types of helmets commonly worn by jockeys, as well as the various differences in the standards required by the three bodies. Representatives of The Jockeys’ Guild were involved in the committee’s work, although none were present at the April 4 committee meeting.

Committee member Ned Bonnie questioned the part of the proposed regulation that leaves responsibility for compliance with the standards up to the licensee. Other committee members opined that like many rules and regulations passed by the KHRC, licensees would be required to comply and sanctions could be taken when they are found in non-compliance.

Dr. Mary Scollay, the commission’s equine medical director, explained it would be virtually impossible for commission personnel to inspect and certify that every helmet being worn meets the standards. “I don’t think we can perform the inspection and certify them,” she said.

Scollay and committee member Tom Ludt noted that any alterations made to the helmet by a rider or trainer – including changes to the padding – essentially void the standard ,and that would be a burdensome task to try and ensure compliance.

“It is not within the commission’s realm of making sure that every rule is being followed,” said committee chair Betsy Lavin.

If approved by the full commission, the regulation would undergo a review process before being enacted, a process that could take three to five months. Some Kentucky tracks, including Churchill Downs, presently require safety helmets for all licensed personnel under house rules.

Although the helmet regulation was the only action taken by the health and welfare committee, a number of other safety related topics were discussed by the members, four of whom are also on the KHRC.

Scollay reported the commission staff is preparing to conduct workshops for racetrack security personnel to educate them on the types of drugs and drug-related materials that can be found during stable area searches. She said one aspect of the training would include showing photographs of what is and is not allowed on the backstretch.

Scollay said the training would begin with a tutorial on how to identify whether shock-wave therapy machines are being used in the stable area. Only licensed veterinarians are permitted to conduct shock-waver therapy, which is not allowed within 10 days of a race.

Dr. Foster Northrup, a racetrack veterinarian who is on the committee and the KHRC, explained that the sound of shock-wave therapy equipment is easily identifiable, sounding like a jackhammer. Some committee members said they have heard reports of trainers using the devices, but none had first-hand information about such incidents. The committee also discussed if, and how, use of shock wave treatments could be detected in horses that are not stabled at the track and ship in to race and/or leave the track grounds and return. Ron Mitchell/Blood-Horse
 


Monday, April 06, 2009

Doocy wins No. 5,000 - again

Doocy initially hit 5,000 wins in the 11th race Saturday at Oaklawn, but on Sunday afternoon Oaklawn stewards issued a ruling stripping Coyotepass, a horse Doocy had ridden to victory on March 8, from that win because of a medication infraction. The ruling had not been appealed as of Sunday, stewards said, and Doocy's win count officially stood at 4,999 entering the card Sunday, said Equibase representative Jeff Taylor.

Doocy won the 11th race Saturday with Color Out ($24.60), and following the race was greeted in the winner's circle by his family, a number of trainers, and the Oaklawn jockey colony. He was presented with a cake, and then a pie in the face in an extended ceremony.

"It all worked out," Doocy, 53, said after riding Drinks To Go on Sunday. "Yesterday, to me, was the day it happened. That was 5,000. Everybody was celebrating and I was, so I'm just going by that day.

"It means a lot, you know, just having the longevity," he said of reaching the milestone. "It's just a number I never realized, until about last year, how many riders had gotten to. So, it means a lot. People have ridden me this long and stuck by me. It means a lot."

Doocy rode his first career winner in 1974 at the now-closed Commodore Downs in Erie, Pa. He has amassed more than $65 million in career mount earnings, among his most popular horses being retired millionaire sprinter Chindi. Doocy, a native of Minnesota who grew up in Iowa, now lives in Edmond, Okla., with his wife, Terry. The have one son, Trey.  Mary Rampellini/Daily Racing Form

Copyright © 2007 Daily Racing Form, LLC. All rights reserved.
Friday, April 03, 2009

Alex Solis is mentally back in the saddle

The demons, Alex Solis says, would always come at night, when the house was quiet and he was alone with his thoughts.

"There were so many times that I got up in the middle of the night and I was crying," he remembers. "I knew my mind was playing games with me and I didn't know how to deal with it."

Arguably the best jockey in the country until a horrifying spill fractured his back and shattered his confidence nearly five years ago, Solis saw his career slipping away. On some days after his injury, he was as good as any rider at the track. But on too many others he could be timid, making him little more than a passenger on the back of his horse.

"I knew I was cheating myself and cheating my family. And worst of all, owners and trainers and horses and horse racing in general," says Solis, 45. "I knew that I had the option to retire, but I wasn't ready. I love what I do and I needed to find a solution."

Seven months ago he found it in the tough love of a friend, who helped him rebuild his career with little more than tape and a rubber band. As a result, he'll be riding the favorite in Saturday's 72nd Santa Anita Derby aboard The Pamplemousse, the horse he hopes to ride in next month's Kentucky Derby.

And between the two races, he could be inducted into horse racing's Hall of Fame, which announces its next class April 20.

But before Solis could dream of such heights, he had to deal with some lows -- all of which began with the jockey lying in the dirt under the safety rail at Del Mar on a beautiful summer day in 2004.

Solis and his mount, a 4-year-old dark brown mare named Golden K K, were well back in a $32,000 claiming race when they were crowded against the rail by Vegas Foil, who had an apprentice jockey on top. The horses clipped heels, sending Golden K K and her rider sprawling to the track near the quarter pole.

The horse was unhurt, but Solis had a fractured vertebra, a punctured lung and three broken ribs, injuries that would require nine months and a risky surgery to heal. His psyche, however, had sustained far worse damage.

"After I came back . . . for whatever reason my mind started playing games on me," says the Panamanian-born jockey, who estimates he had broken nearly two dozen bones in other racing accidents before his spill at Del Mar. "There were some times where, in my mind, I froze. Or I was more cautious. It hurt me because I didn't know how to deal with it."

What hurt even more, though, was seeing the trainers and owners who had once lined up for Solis' services quickly turn their backs whenever he entered the room.

"Trainers will look the other way," says Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, who sustained a number of serious injuries before retiring seven years ago as thoroughbred racing's all-time leader in earnings. "Trainers only want hungry riders. They don't want riders that are content or complacent."

McCarron, however, refused to turn his back or look the other way. Instead, he stared straight into Solis' eyes and challenged him.

"It was like, 'Do you want to be in the Hall of Fame or not?' " McCarron remembers of their conversation last summer. "Simple as that. He was the leading rider out in California for years. I'd hate to see all of that be unrecognized. And the best recognition he could possibly receive is induction into the Hall of Fame."

McCarron's talk sent Solis off in search of something that had worked before -- something he and McCarron had first talked about nearly 25 years earlier when Solis left Florida to start riding in Southern California. His salvation, he decided, was in the words of empowerment gurus such as Anthony Robbins and Jack Canfield who teach, in part, that fear of failure is often the biggest impediment to success.

"I started putting all these tapes in my iPod and I started listening," Solis says of the motivational recordings. "I had to overcome all this horrible fear. So I put in my mind 'I'm going to start thinking I'm 25 and starting again.' And then I started feeling differently. Instead of . . . feeling sorry for myself, I started looking more at the possibility of finding all the great things I always wanted."

To remind himself, Solis wears a simple rubber band on his left wrist. And whenever his thoughts turn negative, he reaches down and gives the band a snap.

"For anybody that has gone through this kind of pain, suffering, you have to be clear what life means to you," Solis says. "And what my life means to me is, I know I could be hurt, whatever. But what's my destiny? God gave me this talent for racing and I have to fulfill my life. It's so clear."

A win in the Kentucky Derby will certainly help, because for all of his success -- Solis ranks ninth all-time in terms of winnings with more than $212 million -- none of his 4,669 victories have come in the Derby. And his only Triple Crown win came 23 years ago in the Preakness aboard Snow Chief.

But while a Kentucky Derby win would be the pinnacle of Solis' 28-year career, it won't be the end of it. Solis' wife, Sheila, says the couple is comfortable enough financially that her husband could retire now -- especially with his wine label Jinetes (Spanish for jockeys) about to launch -- but he's comfortable mentally only when he's at the track.

"What else would he do?" she said moments before Solis rode a 3-year-old named Tavern to a stirring stretch victory in a claiming race at Santa Anita. "This is his passion. This is what he loves to do."

Besides, she says, it has been a long time since he enjoyed riding as much as he does now. And after surviving the bad times, doesn't he deserve a chance to relish the good?

"I just feel blessed," Solis says. "One thing led to another and now I'm riding one of the best 3-year-olds in the country.

"It's just a blessing to get your life back and have control of your mind."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com
Thursday, April 02, 2009

Velazquez Named Jockey of the Week

Quality Road secured the top spot in the latest Thoroughbred Times Road to the Triple Crown poll after winning the 1-1/8-mile Florida Derby on March 28 at Gulfstream Park in a track-record time of 1:47.72.
 
The victory was the second straight graded stakes win for Quality Road, who entered off a win under Velazquez in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) on February 28 at Gulfstream Park,
 
A Carolina, Puerto Rico native who lives in West Hempstead, New York, Velazquez began his North American riding career in 1990 under the guidance of retired Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero, Jr., his agent.  Velazquez has earned 4,084 North American wins through Tuesday.
 
Velazquez rides first call for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.  Velazquez and Pletcher teamed up to win the 2007 Belmont Stakes (GI) with champion Rags to Riches, who became the first filly in 102 years to win the final leg of the Triple Crown.  Throughbred Times TODAY
Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Losing Mount Fees Increased At Yavapai Downs

 

            The minimum mount fee will be increased from $38 to $48 for Quarter Horse races and $38 to $50 for Thoroughbred races as a result of the agreement between the Arizona HBPA and the Jockeys’ Guild.  The difference in minimum mount fees from Quarter Horse to Thoroughbred races is due to different minimum purse amounts between the two breeds.

 

            “We greatly appreciate the Arizona HBPA for working with us to reach this agreement,” said Darrell Haire, regional manger for the Jockeys’ Guild.  “Led by Michael Napier (Arizona HBPA president), Tom Metzen (executive director of the Arizona HBPA) and George Wern (board member and chairman of the Yavapai Horsemen’s Committee) and the entire board of the Arizona HBPA, they showed a great understanding and concern for the jockeys at Yavapai Downs.  This raise means a great deal to the riders competing at Yavapai and the jockeys look forward to working with the horsemen to improve the sport there.”

 

            “The Arizona HBPA is to be commended,” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.  “They have stepped up; first, with an agreement at Turf Paradise and now at Yavapai.  When you take the current economic environment into account, it is even more important that we work together for the benefit of racing and the jockeys intend to do their part to help the horsemen in Arizona.”

 

This new scale follows increases in mount fees through legislation at California tracks and negotiated increases at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Saratoga, Finger Lakes, Monmouth, Meadowlands, Atlantic City, Hawthorne, Arlington, Fairmount Park, Gulfstream Park, Calder, Tampa Bay Downs, Charles Town, Prairie Meadows,  Indiana Downs, Hoosier Park and Turf Paradise.  Jockeys at Philadelphia Park and Penn National have also received raises in their losing mount fees.  Negotiations are ongoing in other racing jurisdictions.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Garcia Makes Keeneland His April Home

 The New York-based Garcia, 23, has ridden at Keeneland on and off for the past two seasons, flying in to ride the occasional stakes contender.

“We’re looking forward to riding here,” Micaleff said. “After riding the season at Gulfstream, our business changed a little -- a lot of our trainers ship here first instead of going straight back to New York.”

Garcia’s main business at the meet will come from Lexington native Kiaran McLaughlin, who shipped a 40-horse string to Keeneland for the season, including Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.’s Charitable Man, a 3-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid   who is now being pointed toward the April 11 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). Winner of the $250,000 Futurity (gr. II) at Belmont Park, Charitable Man ranks 18th on the graded earnings list for entry into the May 2 Kentucky Derby (gr. I). Garcia also plans to pick up business from Christophe Clement, Shug McGaughey, and others.

“He’ll ride here until (April 24) and then go back to Belmont and ride there for a few days before he comes back (to Kentucky) for the Oaks and Derby,” Micaleff said.

The duo spent their first full winter at Gulfstream Park this season and finished fifth in the standings there with 41 winners from 239 starts. Last year, Garcia spoiled Big Brown  ’s bid for a Triple Crown score when he won the Belmont Stakes aboard 38-1 shot Da' Tara.



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