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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jose Lezcano Named Jockey of the Week

Ice Box, by Pulpit, accounted for $450,000 of Lezcano’s $591,900 in earnings from last week. Lezcano, 24, started his U.S. riding career at Gulfstream Park in 2003, finishing third in the standings that year. He went on to capture the 2009 winter meet at the Hallandale Beach, Florida, track.

Lezcano, originally from Panama, also won riding titles at Tampa Bay Downs, Monmouth Park, and the Meadowlands during his career.

The Florida Derby was Lezcano’s first Grade 1 win of 2010. His mounts also captured the Suwannee River (G3), Hurricane Bertie (G3), and Appleton (G3) Stakes this year.
Thoroughbred Times TODAY


Monday, March 22, 2010

Jockey Alan Garcia Records 1,000th Victory

Garcia, 24, won the first two races on the Gulfstream program to earn his milestone victory for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and owners Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren in the one-mile allowance race on turf. Saint Eligius stalked the pace before gaining the lead in the stretch and holding on for the win.

A native of Lima, Peru, Garcia came to the United States after becoming his country's leading apprentice in 2003. His father and grandfather were both jockeys in Peru.

Garcia, who now lives in Westbury, N.Y., won his first grade I race aboard Lahudood in the 2007 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park. He and Lahudood captured the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT)  at Monmouth Park one month later. Garcia, riding Da' Tara, spoiled Big Brown's Triple Crown bid with a front-running upset victory in the 2008 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

Among the other graded stakes winners he has ridden are Albertus Maximus, Bribon, Dynaforce, Funny Cide, Grand Couturier, Presious Passion, Regal Ransom and Vineyard HavenThe Blood-Horse

Friday, March 19, 2010


  Santa Anita will donate $500 to the Jockeys’ Guild Disabled Riders’ Fund in the name of the contestant who gets “closest to the pin.”
 The fun-filled event is a forerunner to the $1 million St. Pat’s Pitch. Five lucky fans will have an opportunity at Santa Anita tomorrow to win $1 million by throwing a ringer in a horse shoe pitch. On March 15, 2008, John Placzankis did just that.   Santa Anita Communications Department
Friday, March 19, 2010

Ramon Dominguez Notches 4000th Win

 The 33-year-old rider is the 58th jockey in history to achieve that milestone.


"It feels great, but it's almost surreal,” said Dominguez. “It's the kind of thing that happens slowly over the years, but you're not prepared for it when it gets here.  I'm so excited.  You remember the big races, but every win counts just at much.  I have great support in New York and thanks to my agent and everyone who supports me here."


Dominguez, who began riding year-round in New York in 2009, began Wednesday leading the nation in wins with 88 winners of more than $2.5 million.


Dominguez, who swept every NYRA meet last year, currently holds a sizable margin over David Cohen for Aqueduct’s Inner Track Meet, which began on December 2 and runs through March 27.


Last year on the NYRA circuit of Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course,  Dominguez rode 376 winners, second only to Steve Cauthen’s record 433 wins in 1977, riding five winners on a single card on two occasions, four winners nine times, and three winners a remarkable 43 times.


He also won more than 30 NYRA stakes including the Grade 1 Man o'War aboard Gio Ponti, whom he is scheduled to ride in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 27.


With a record of 376-268-233 from 1,560 starters in New York in 2009, Dominguez won with more than 24 percent of his mounts, which earned $15,338,310.


 Nationally, he ranked second in wins behind Russell Baze (415-391) and third in total purse earnings with $18,340,422 behind Garrett Gomez ($18,571,171) and Julien Leparoux ($18,560,565).  NYRA Communications Department



Thursday, March 18, 2010

Garrett Gomez Named Jockey of the Week

The Smart Strike colt provided $180,000 of the $330,856 Gomez earned last week.

Lookin At Lucky, the top-ranked horse in the latest THOROUGHBRED TIMES Road to the Triple Crown poll, has won six of seven career starts, all with Gomez as his rider.

Through Monday, Gomez ranks fourth by purse earnings among all North Americanjockeys for the year with $1,975,574.

Gomez is a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey, capturing the award in 2007 and ’08. He also secured the earnings title in 2009 on his final ride of the year.  Thoroughbred Times TODAY

Monday, March 15, 2010


 Borel won the award via a vote of his peers, outpointing other finalists Garrett Gomez, Randy Meier, Gallyn Mitchell and DeShawn Parker. A 43-year-old native of St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, Borel is one of the most beloved and highly respected jockeys in American racing history.

“Calvin’s probably the hardest-working jockey in the world,” said fellow Cajun and 2005 Woolf winner Ray Sibille…I had the bug with Calvin’s brother Cecil and he could have been the greatest rider to ever come out of Louisiana, he was that good…Cecil saw that Calvin had the ability to be a top rider and he saw to it that Calvin learned everything he could about the business. I’ll tell you one thing, when Jerry Hissam (Borel’s agent) gives you a call, you’re gonna get a really good, honest ride.

“There’s no doubt this means a lot to Calvin. When your peers vote on something like this, it means a lot. It’s a great honor and Calvin deserves it.”
Santa Anita Communications Department
Monday, March 15, 2010

A 'Timeless' Victory for Vitek Family

Timeless Fashion is the last horse ridden to victory by jockey Justin Vitek, who died Jan. 28 at age 36 after a two-year battle with cancer. Vitek was in remission long enough to return to riding for a short time, but last year went back to Texas for treatment.

Lopez and Vitek were friends. It all made for a very emotional winner’s circle ceremony on a day when Turfway hosted an after-the-races memorial service for Vitek, who for many years was based in Kentucky and worked horses for Tom Drury Jr., trainer of Timeless Fashion.

“It means the world to me,” Lopez said after the Tejano Run. “Me and Justin were close, and that was for him. I can’t explain it; it’s very emotional.”

Timeless Fashion broke his maiden in the winter of 2008 in his second career start with Vitek riding. It was Vitek’s last victory.

More than 20 members of Vitek’s family and friends traveled from Texas for the memorial service. Vitek’s mother, Kathy, presented the stakes trophy to Timeless Fashion’s owners, Bob Liedel of R-Cher Family Farms LLC and Judy Miller.

“Everybody’s fighting tears,” Drury said after the race. “This was a whole lot more than just a horse race.”

“It was amazing,” said Jo Lynn Johnston, a longtime friend of Vitek who helped arrange the memorial service. “Kathy Vitek presented the trophy, and then the owners told her to keep it. When James came back (after winning), he lost it, and so did everyone else.”

The owners, Drury, and Lopez had pledged 10% of their earnings from the Tejano Run to the Bree Vitek Education Fund. Bree Vitek is Justin Vitek’s 6-year-old daughter and only child.

Johnston said the memorial service, held in the Racing Club, was standing-room only.

“It was important that it was a celebration of Justin’s life, and that’s what it was,” she said. “(Turfway director of operations) Chip Bach and Turfway did a knockout job putting it together.”

Despite his health, Vitek remained in good spirits and was hoping to return to riding again.

Timeless Fashion, a 6-year-old gelding by Sly Classic out of the Formal Gold mare Added Ruffles, has won four stakes, three of them at Turfway. He has a become a popular horse in Kentucky, never having run a poor race with eight wins, two seconds, two thirds, and two fourths in 14 career starts.

Timeless Fashion was bred in Kentucky by David Hager II. The gelding has earned $271,056 for his connections. The Blood-Horse

Friday, March 12, 2010

Jockey James Lopez Gets Win No. 1,000

A native of San Antonio, Lopez, 32, grew up on the Louisiana and Kentucky racing circuits as his father, also a jockey, plied his trade. His grandfather was a jockey as well. Lopez began galloping horses at 12, and at 16, against his father’s wishes, quit school and took out his jockey’s license. He rode his first winner in 1996 at Retama Park.
In March 2005 at Turfway, Lopez shattered a collarbone when a horse fell on him leaving the gate. The injury not only forced Lopez out of the saddle but also forced him to acknowledge that he was unhappy, burned out on riding. He left racing, and after the collarbone healed, he worked building scaffolding for oil rigs and laying ceramic tile. He also used the time to study for the General Educational Development test and earned his high school equivalency diploma. He returned to riding in 2007 at Ellis Park and won with his first mount back.
Lopez has riding titles at Oaklawn Park, Louisiana Downs, and Turfway.
The Blood-Horse
Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Justin's last win was aboard multiple stakes winner TIMELESS FASHION.  The gelding will be running in the Tejano Run Stakes at Turfway Park on the 13th with jockey James Lopez aboard.  If he succeeds, owners Judy Miller and Bob Liedel, trainer Tom Drury and Lopez will be donating 10% of their winnings to the Bree Vitek Education Trust Fund.  Bree is Justin's six year old daughter and only child.  "It's just our way of giving a little back to the guy who gave us everything he had, every time," says Miller, an owner and friend who Justin rode for regularly. 

Florence mayor Diane Whalen and KY State Senator Damon Thayer have both made official proclamations that the 13th be dubbed, "Justin John Vitek Day" in the city of Florence and in the KY State Senate.

All friends and family of Justin are invited to attend the service.  In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to The Bree Vitek Education Trust 7601 Rialto Blvd. #1717 Austin, TX 78735 or The Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund P.O. Box 18470 Encino, CA 91416

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Javier Castellano Named Jockey of the Week

Bernie the Maestro won a $51,000 allowance race at five furlongs on the turf on Sunday, providing a $35,400 of Castellano’s $208,810 in earnings last week.

Through Tuesday, Castellano, 32, has won 39 races, including five stakes, from 185 mounts.

He thrust himself into the Triple Crown picture on February 20, riding Discreetly Mine to a front-running victory in the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds. Also that day, Castellano won the Fair Grounds Handicap (G3) aboard Blues Street.

Since moving to the U.S. from his native Venezuela in 1997, Castellano has won the 2006 Preakness Stakes (G1) aboard Bernardini and the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (G1) on eventual Horse of the Year Ghostzapper.

Castellano has been based in New York since 2001 and concentrates his efforts on the New York Racing Association and Florida circuits. Thoroughbred Times TODAY


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Former banned jockey Houghton still battles image

Since December 2006, when Tampa Bay Downs excluded Houghton and six other riders from the track when their names came up in a race-fixing investigation, Houghton

essentially has had to prove his innocence to gain permission to ride at various tracks.

Each time he decides a new track might offer a career opportunity, he first faces extensive review from track officials and/or regulators, essentially forcing him to prove his innocence.

Tampa Bay’s decision followed an FBI investigation that would lead to three indictments. Information from the FBI and Thoroughbred Racing Protective

Bureau led Tampa Bay and other tracks to ban the riders. Tracks that have refused to let Houghton ride have not given a specific reason. Houghton never was charged with a crime or suspended by any racing regulator. His name does not appear a single time in the 34-page indictment filed on May 6, 2009, in a U.S. District Court in Michigan.

Still, Houghton faces scrutiny. The latest chapter occurred on February 25 as the License Review Committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission considered him. Noting Houghton was not planning to ride in Kentucky immediately, it left the case open.

Committee member Burr Travis noted the Michigan court cases of the three men charged have been continued to August 3 and could be settled that day. The committee preferred to wait for that possible settlement.
“I’m hoping to eventually put all of this behind me,” said Houghton, who plans to ride this year at Mountaineer Race Track in West Virginia. “It would be nice to have it over with.”

The investigation led to the indictments of Ghazi Manni, Mitchell Karam, and jockey Ricardo Valdes. They allegedly participated in a conspiracy from December 2005 through December ’06 to fix races at Tampa Bay Downs and Great Lakes Downs. Wagers were placed at Delaware Park. Allegedly, some jockeys received bribes.


Investigators have documented numerous phone calls between Manni, an alleged bookmaker, and Valdes. Manni and Karam were also indicted last year for bribing college athletes to fix basketball and football games.
The indictment did not do the other riders, like Houghton, any favors by noting that more riders could be named in the case. Tampa Bay also banned Derek Bell, Jorge Bracho, Luis Castillo, Jose Delgado, and Joe Judice.
Houghton’s representatives believe the schemers’ efforts to affect race odds caused investigators to look at Houghton. They said as part of the coup, bettors would place $500 win bets on a horse, giving unwitting bettors the impression potentially “smart” money backed that horse. Often top jockeys like Houghton or Bell would be riding horses who received the large early win bets.
Those large wagers would create a “false favorite,” as other bettors—believing they were following smart early money—would continue to wager on the horse in all pools. The schemers focused their attention on the superfecta pools, where they would not place wagers on the “false favorite” in first. Moments before post time, the schemers would cancel the large win bet. Houghton’s representatives believe these betting patterns led investigators to look at Houghton and other riders who were not involved in the conspiracy.
The Jockeys’ Guild helped Houghton present his case to the Kentucky committee. Since the investigation started, Houghton has competed at eight different tracks in seven different states. Houghton said Turfway Park officials told him he could ride at the Northern Kentucky track if the commission licensed him.
Houghton received a boost in July 2008 when the Michigan Office of Racing Commissioner licensed him, noting painstaking research found no wrongdoing on Houghton’s part. But as it turned out, that victory has not been definitive.

For now, he awaits the Kentucky committee’s August recommendation. Waiting has been a familiar feeling for Houghton over the past several years.—Frank Angst Thoroughbred Times TODAY March 3, 2010


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