Jockeys Guild News and Articles
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Napravnik Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week
Napravnik, 23, won the race aboard Pants On Fire on Saturday, easily the most lucrative victory of her career.
“That was an unbelievable feeling,” Napravnik said. “You know, it wasn’t really expected. When I came across the wire, I thought to myself, ‘Well, wait, this is the Derby, right? Did I just win the Derby?’ ”
Napravnik easily won the track riding title with 110 victories, including 13 stakes.
Originally from New Jersey, Napravnik said she will ride at the Keeneland Race Course meet in April before moving her tack to Delaware Park.
“I have had a ton of highlights,” Napravnik said. “There’s such a long list of people to thank. Some of the most supportive have been Mike Stidham and Hilary Pridham and that outfit, and my fiancé, Joe Sharp, for convincing me to come down here and supporting me throughout the [Fair Grounds] meet. I really want to thank everybody.”
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Calvin Borel, Garrett Gomez among 2011 Hall of Fame nominees
From Jay Privman/Daily Racing Form 3/30/2011
Other finalists are jockey Alex Solis, trainers Gary Jones and Robert Wheeler, and the female horses Open Mind, Safely Kept, and Sky Beauty.
Of those 10, the four receiving the most votes from the Hall's voters will be enshrined, under the Hall’s current rules.
The finalists were selected by a 16-member nominating committee, which was restricted to no more than 10 finalists from the 80 horses, trainers, and jockeys submitted for consideration. There are no male horses on the final ballot.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Coa walks to join friends at golf benefit
From Daily Racing Form/Mike Welsch
Coa, who was left nearly paralyzed throughout his body after sustaining a fracture of the C4 vertebra in his neck in a spill that took place pulling up after the finish of the sixth race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 18, brought many of those in attendance at the golf tournament to tears when he got out of his wheelchair and walked to join his many friends and colleagues from the jocks' room for a group picture.
"I don't know whether to laugh or cry, seeing all my friends," said Coa. "I'm thrilled. No words can describe this."
Coa, who is undergoing three hours of therapy a day, said his goal was not only to walk again, but to one day be able to return to the racetrack and ride again.
Coa asked his colleague John Velazquez to tell the crowd how much he appreciated "all their support and all their prayers" and that he knows that they have helped him.
Velazquez said, "It's amazing to see the progress Eibar has made from when I saw him last week to today."
Approximately 130 golfers participated in the tournament, according to Gulfstream's vice president of racing, Tim Ritvo, with an additional 50 or more people showing up to participate afterwards in a silent auction.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Eibar Coa takes first steps since riding accident
From Mike Welsch/Daily Racing Form
Speaking from his room in the rehabilitation center at Memorial South Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., Coa said Monday that he is able to walk short distances and is undergoing three hours of therapy daily.
“I can’t walk completely on my own – I always have someone behind me in case I lose my balance – but I am able to walk about 10 to 20 steps by myself then I need a little rest and then I can walk maybe 10 more,” said Coa, 40. “I can walk good with assistance. The doctors say they are so proud of the way I’m recovering. They tell me everything is coming way too fast, that they’ve never seen anybody regain movement the way I’m getting it so far.”
Coa fractured the C-4 vertebra in his neck in the spill, which occurred while pulling up following the conclusion of the sixth race on Feb. 18. He also suffered a broken left wrist and broken left shoulder in the accident.
“The doctors said they are going to release me from here in two to three weeks at the max and I’ll be able to continue my therapy from home,” said Coa.
A benefit golf tournament for Coa is to be held on Tuesday at the Woodmont Country Club in Tamarac, Fla. Coa said he is hoping to be able to attend.
“I am going to ask the doctor for permission to go this evening,” said Coa. “The big problem is that the special wheelchair I’m using doesn’t fold, so finding suitable transportation will be the big problem. But if I can get there, I really would love to attend.”
Monday, March 28, 2011
First Lady of Fair Grounds: Napravnik Wins Jockey Title
From Fair Grounds Communications Department
Napravnik was honored in the winner’s circle following Race 7 on Sunday’s Closing Day program, one day after she made history as the first female to win the Louisiana Derby with an agile ride aboardPants On Fire
, who was named Fair Grounds’ Horse of the Meet.
“I have had a ton of highlights,” Napravnik said. “There’s such a long list of people to thank. Some of the most supportive have been Mike Stidham and Hilary Pridham and that outfit, and my fiancé, Joe Sharp, for convincing me to come down here and supporting me throughout the meet. I really want to thank everybody. I’ve got some great fans here and I can’t wait to come back next year.”
Napravnik won 13 stakes races on the season, topped by her biggest career victory in the city’s first $1 million race, the Louisiana Derby.
“That was an unbelievable feeling,” she said. “You know, it wasn’t really expected. When I came across the wire I thought to myself, ‘Well, wait, this is the Derby, right? Did I just win the Derby?’”
Napravnik, who finished 31 wins ahead of second-leading jockey Shaun Bridgmohan (79 wins), indicated she will ride next at Keeneland’s Spring Racing Season, April 8-29, before heading to Delaware Park, where she dominated the standings last year.
Monday, March 28, 2011
"Get to know Mo" contest begins March 29
From NYRA Communications Department
The link to enter the contest will be active on Tuesday afternoon and located at the following URL: http://18.104.22.168/NYRA/UncleMo.asp
The winner will have the unique opportunity to spend time with Mike Repole’s undefeated champion Uncle Mo, five-time Eclipse winning trainer Todd Pletcher, and Belmont Stakes-winning jockey John Velazquez on Thursday, April 7 at Belmont Park. In addition to the meet-and-greet, which will occur at approximately 9:30 a.m., the contest also includes a special breakfast at the barn.
Uncle Mo had a sensational juvenile campaign, including a 14 ½-length score in his debut at Saratoga Race Course, followed by dominant victories in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, earning him Eclipse Award honors as 2010’s Champion Two-Year-Old Male.
The Grade 1 Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial will be his second start of 2011 and his final race before May 7’s Kentucky Derby, for which he is the early favorite. Wood Memorial Day at Aqueduct also includes also includes the Grade 1 Carter Handicap for sprinters, the Grade 3 Bay Shore for 3-year-old sprinters, and the Grade 3 Comely for 3-year-old filly milers.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Bejarano Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week
Bejarano led all jockeys by North American purse earnings with $403,574 and by stakes winners for the week.
A native of Arequipa, Peru, Bejarano won the 2005 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) with Intercontinental (GB) and the 2007 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) on Ginger Punch.
Bejarano, 28, ranks third among North American riders with $3,294,686 in earnings through Wednesday
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Gulfstream Park Donates $50,000 to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital
From Gulfstream Park Communications Department
Gulfstream President and GM Steve Calabro was joined at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, recognized as being a leader to treat the most complex and critical medical conditions, by jockeys John Velazquez, Joe Bravo, Alex Solis, Javier Castellano, Elvis Trujillo and Clerk of Scales Victor Sanchez.
“To see the smile on these kids faces…well, that means everything,” Bravo said.
“It’s an incredible experience to meet these extraordinary kids and the wonderful staff of people here at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital,” said Velazquez, also Chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild Board of Directors. “We’re honored to have the privilege to come here today.”
Gulfstream officials and the jockeys, dressed in silks, met children in one of the hospital’s play rooms. They gave away hats, goggles, shirts, diaries and signed trading cards. “When you get better,” Bravo told one of the patients, “you’re going to come see us. You’re going to be our guest.”
Kevin Janser, Vice President and Executive Director, Memorial and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundations, said Gulfstream’s donation will be used in the construction of the new, four-story, 160,000-square-foot Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, the first of its kind in Broward County. Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the nation performing minimally invasive endoscopic surgery for cranial abnormalities and the only children’s hospital in Broward and Palm Beach counties performing cardiac catheterization and open heart surgery.
“It’s a pleasure to partner with the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital,” Calabro said. “We have worked with this organization over the past two years and it’s always a rewarding and moving experience to see all the fine work being done by the staff and the progress these children make.”
Friday, March 18, 2011
Woolf Award a milestone for Gomez
By Steve Anderson/Daily Racing Form
“I don’t write anything down, that’s not the person I am,” he said in the jockeys’ room on Thursday afternoon. “The first year I won the Eclipse Award, I was thinking of who I should thank. I started talking and I halfway froze. I couldn’t think of anything.
“I pretty much wing everything.”
Well, not everything. Gomez, and his agent, Ron Anderson, have positioned the 39-year-old jockey into one of the most sought-after riders in the nation in the last six years. Since 2005, Gomez has been among the nation’s leading riders – from 2006 to 2009, he won the national earnings title – and he won Eclipse Awards as the nation’s outstanding rider in 2007 and 2008.
Behind the scenes, Gomez’s life in recent years has changed as well. The personal problems with substance abuse that left him out of racing from December 2002 to September 2004 are long behind him, replaced by a family man, albeit one who spends considerable time on the road, at the nation’s major meetings. The success of the recent years is a turnaround from a 40-day jail term in 2003 for possession of narcotics that left him estranged from his wife and their two small children.
With those difficulties behind him, Gomez covets the recognition of receiving the Woolf Award. The award recognizes personal character and a rider’s success on the track. There was a time when Gomez would not have been a candidate for such an honor.
“That’s probably why I wasn’t nominated for five years,” he said. “I don’t think it was my personality in the jockeys’ room. It was my character outside the jockeys’ room. I think I’ve been a good role model in the jockeys’ room, but outside the jockeys’ room is where I veered off the track.
“After 2003, my whole life has been turned around. I try to do the right thing. I’ve tried to be more of a loving, caring human being.”
Gomez joins a group of Woolf Award winners that reads like a Who’s Who of American riders, from Bill Shoemaker, John Longden and Eddie Arcaro in the 1950s to retired legends with more recent careers such as Chris McCarron, Eddie Delahoussaye, Pat Day, Gary Stevens, and Jerry Bailey. Last year’s winner was Midwest star Calvin Borel.
“To be in the same company with these guys, it’s something that most of us shoot for,” Gomez said. “It’s not something voted on by the press. It’s voted on by your peers and a special award to be nominated for.”
Gomez, whose career began in New Mexico in 1988 and includes 3,457 wins through Thursday, was nominated for the 2010 Eclipse Award, which was won by Ramon Dominguez. Gomez, however, won the nation’s biggest race, the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs last November aboard Blame.
The days leading to that win showed Gomez’s toughness. Two days before the BC Classic, he was involved in a spill at Churchill Downs when his mount broke down. Fighting shoulder pain, Gomez rode the Breeders’ Cup races, and guided Blame to a head victory over the previously unbeaten Zenyatta.
In some ways, Gomez was the bad guy that hour, the man who rode the horse who beat the popular mare. The career milestone for Gomez of winning the BC Classic for the first time was somewhat lost in the defeat of Zenyatta.
“I would like to have seen the horse get a little more attention that day,” he said of Blame. “He did something that had never been done. He was the best horse. I felt if we had gone around again, she wouldn’t have caught him. It got close and she was coming.”
The next day was not fun. Gomez fought considerable pain.
“I couldn’t move my shoulder the next day,” he said. “It got worse when I got home from Kentucky. Ron told me to get an MRI, and I said, I’ll go do it if it doesn’t feel better.
“Sometimes the pain comes and goes, but you’re not 16 anymore. You don’t bounce back like you did. After four days it was a lot worse. I went to two doctors and one said I had a little crack in my shoulder. Another said I had a hairline crack where the arm meets the shoulder. A week and a half went by. I started riding on Thanksgiving weekend and I’ve been going since.”
Through Thursday, Gomez was tied for fifth in the standings at Santa Anita with 32 wins, seven of which were stakes. In coming weeks, he will travel on weekends. Saturday, he was booked to ride Sway Away in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, then planned to return to Santa Anita to ride on Sunday. On March 26, he rides Wilkinson in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. On April 3, he’s off to Gulfstream Park to ride To Honor and Serve in the Florida Derby.
Gomez will ride at Keeneland in April, all the while hoping to secure the mount that will give him his first Kentucky Derby win.
“The mounts are starting to come open,” he said. “I’m glad people are thinking of us.”
A few years ago, people were not sure what to think of Gomez, wondering if personal problems would end his career for good. When he accepts the Woolf Award on Sunday, he will put those days farther behind him.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
NTRA BOARD APPROVES UPDATED 2011 CODE OF STANDARDS FOR NTRA SAFETY AND INTEGRITY ALLIANCE
Additional Amendments to Code Possible During Remainder of 2011
The compliance standards will serve as the basis for future racetrack Alliance accreditation, including the re-accreditation of tracks originally accredited by the Alliance in 2009. Among the changes to the Alliance’s Code of Standards for 2011 is the addition of guidelines to promote jockey health and safety. In addition, the code has been made even more rigorous in a number of other areas, including injury reporting, pre-and post-race veterinary inspections; and safety training and continuing education.
The complete 2011 Code of Standards for the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance can be found at: http://www.ntra.com/safetyalliance/Final_2011_Code.pdf
The NTRA Board also approved a request of the Alliance’s Advisory Committee that would permit the insertion of additional changes to the Code in 2011 as circumstances warrant.
“This latest version of the Code represents the work of multiple stakeholders in our industry and addresses some of the most pressing issues facing jockeys especially. As we have said many times, the Alliance Code of Standards is a work in progress designed to evolve with scientific advancements and consensus recommendations for change over time. To that end, we continue to closely monitor the Life at Ten investigation,” said Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. “If and when needed changes are identified and recommended by the Alliance Advisory Committee, the Alliance will not hesitate to implement those changes by further updating the Code.”
The Alliance’s 13-member Advisory Committee is comprised of: Michael Amo of Thorofan, Reynolds Bell of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association; Robert Elliston of Turfway Park; Alan Foreman of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; Craig Fravel of Del Mar; Jamie Haydon of The Jockey Club; Charles Hayward of the New York Racing Association; Former regulator Frank Lamb of the Alliance inspection team; Terry Meyocks of the Jockeys’ Guild; Scott Palmer of the American Association of Equine Practitioners; Joe Santanna of the National HBPA; Alex Waldrop of the NTRA; and Scot Waterman of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
Compliance standards cover six broad areas: injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; medication and testing; jockey safety and health; and wagering security. Within those six categories, specific standards focus on many areas including:
· Systematic reporting of equine injuries
· Aftercare of retired racehorses
· Pre- and post-race veterinary examinations
· Post-mortem exams
· Health and safety of jockeys
· Riding crops and their use
· Horse shoes and hoof care
· Safety research, including racing surfaces
· Safety equipment for jockeys and horse handlers
· Safety training
· Anabolic Steroids
· Alkalinizing agents (TCO2)
· On-track emergency medical care for humans and equines
· Out-of-competition testing
· Freezing and retrospective testing of post-race samples
· Continuing education
· Totalizator technology and “stop wagering” protocols
· Wagering incident investigation
The NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance is a standing organization whose purpose is to establish standards and practices to promote safety and integrity in horseracing and to secure their implementation. Information on the Alliance, including the Alliance Code of Standards, can be found at www.NTRAalliance.com.
The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson, former four-term Governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, serves as independent monitor of the Alliance and will provide public reports on Alliance progress in instituting safety and integrity standards.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Dominguez Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week
The most lucrative of his nine wins during the period came on Sunday aboard Dynamic Holiday, who won the Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) for owner George Strawbridge and trainer Graham Motion. He also won the Proud Puppy Stakes on Friday aboard Ava K. at Aqueduct.
After winning his first Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey last year, Dominguez has shown no signs of slowing down in 2011. Through Tuesday, the 34-year-old leads all jockeys by victories through the year with 81. He also ranks second by earnings with $3,059,059.
Dominguez has been among North American’s most consistent jockeys for the better part of a decade. He led the nation in wins 2001 and 2003 and led the nation in purse earnings in 2010.
Since moving his tack from Delaware Park to New York, he has dominated the New York Racing Association standings. Dominguez swept every 2009 NYRA meeting and posted 353 victories in New York in 2010.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Lopez Wins First Race in Return to Gulfstream
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Jockey Eduardo Perez Earns 2,000th Victory
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Group to Phase Out Old Football Helmets
By Alan Schwarz/New York Times 3/10/2011
But the use of outdated head protection will soon become far less common. The trade group that oversees the refurbishing of used helmets, the National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (Naera), announced on Thursday that it would no longer accept helmets more than 10 years old.
The national governing bodies of high school and youth football, covering about 4.4 million players ages 6 to 18, require only that helmets emerge from the factory passing the standard set by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (Nocsae). So, helmets of any age and condition can be worn, despite concerns over how the stiffening of foam and the degrading of the polycarbonate shell can leave a player more susceptible to concussions.
Schools and youth organizations often send their helmets to be reconditioned, which involves the cleaning and replacement of worn parts, but this remains a voluntary process. Naera’s decision to reject helmets more than 10 years old will force organizations to choose between purchasing new helmets or putting youngsters in used helmets known to be less safe.
This could so discourage their use that old helmets will become virtually extinct, experts in the matter said this week.
“There has been a growing concern that we make some sort of a policy to make coaches and parents do what we think is correct,” said Ed Fisher, Naera’s executive director. “As a current coach and former administrator, I would want my son, and anybody’s son, to be in a helmet less than 10 years old. We need to get the older ones off the field.”
Naera’s 10-year rule follows Nocsae’s announcement in January that it will pursue several new safety-related measures, including the development of a test standard that considers the complex forces that cause concussions. Nocsae, a volunteer consortium of mostly doctors and sporting goods officials, said it also would pursue a separate test standard for youth and high school helmets.
Those efforts began soon after the Consumer Products Safety Commission began a formal investigation into football helmet safety. Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate helmet makers, specifically the industry leaders Riddell and Schutt, for potentially false and misleading advertising regarding the safety properties of their headgear. F.T.C. officials have not confirmed any investigation, citing commission policy.
On Monday, Representatives Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, and G. K. Butterfield, Democrat of North Carolina, requested that the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hold a hearing regarding football helmet safety, citing among other matters the use of old helmets. Such a hearing could hasten the development of further safety-related measures under consideration, like warning labels on helmets that would explain their limited safety properties with respect to concussions.
“I view this as a step forward in the much larger and necessary process of ensuring that all helmets — both new and used — are providing as much safety as possible” said Inez Tenenbaum, the safety commission’s chairwoman. “I believe it is equally important that all responsible parties take all appropriate steps to ensure helmet purchasers and users understand clearly what a helmet has been shown or not shown to protect against. This is especially the case when it comes to concussions.”
Because many schools have paid for their helmets to be reconditioned for use this fall, Naera’s new rule will go into effect next off-season, Fisher, its executive director, said.
Experts have long discouraged the use of helmets more than 10 years old, but the National Federation of State High School Associations has always left the decision to schools and manufacturers, said Bob Colgate, the organization’s assistant director.
He said the group had not discussed adopting any rule regarding a mandatory helmet lifespan at its recent rules meeting.
Asked why, given recent concern about helmet safety, Colgate said: “I don’t know. We haven’t had that discussion yet.”
One possible downside of Naera’s 10-year rule is that underfinanced schools and youth organizations that might have reconditioned their old helmets — at a cost of about $30 apiece — could balk at the idea of spending $150 to $200 for each new helmet and choose to use the old ones for another year. Fisher said that he believed the resulting legal liability would discourage that, and that most organizations would buy new helmets.
“School budgets are being whacked, but schools haven’t bought new helmets because they haven’t had to,” said Bob Fawley, the owner of Capitol Varsity Sports, which reconditions helmets in Oxford, Ohio. “Now they have to, basically. I don’t think it will hit that hard at the high school level. Youth football is where you see the numbers — there are a lot of older helmets there.”
The Naera rule was welcomed by Joy Conradt, whose stepson, Max, was permanently disabled in 2001 by concussions he sustained playing Oregon high school football in a 20-year-old reconditioned helmet. The Conradt family sued the school district, its insurance carrier and the reconditioning company and settled out of court for $3.2 million in damages toward Max’s lifelong medical care.
“This is an enormous step toward taking very, very seriously the safety of our young players who are perhaps the most fragile,” Joy Conradt said. “And it forces school systems and staff to look very carefully at the necessary financial costs of contact sports — as well as those ethical costs and costs to health and life that so many young players, and even older players, have realized in these last years.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: March 14, 2011
An article on Friday about the decision by National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association, the trade group that oversees the refurbishing of used helmets, that it would no longer accept helmets more than 10 years old misstated the day Representatives Henry A. Waxman and G. K. Butterfield requested that the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hold a hearing regarding football helmet safety. It was Monday, not Tuesday. And because of an editing error, the article also misidentified the state represented by Butterfield. He is a Democrat from North Carolina, not Michigan. (The error about his state also appeared on Tuesday in a report in the Sports Briefing column about Waxman’s and Butterfield’s request for the hearing.)
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
John Shear: Little Big Man
Written by Bill Christine/Horserace Insider
"How old is your little girl, about nine?" said John Shear, the little man. Shear still has the trim physique of the jockey he once was. He's 5-foot-2 and 110 pounds, but just big enough to deflect a strapping thoroughbred, running amok in the paddock minutes before a race.
"No," the father said. "She's only five. And not a very big five at that."
"I'm 90," John Shear said. "I've already lived my life. Your little girl is just getting started."
Looking at Shear's badly broken body, and perhaps not aware of the massive internal bleeding that still concerns his family, the father was near tears. His little girl had never been to the races. They were on the rim of the walking ring, getting as close to these 1,000-pound animals as a spectator can, supposedly safe because they were separated from the horses by a white wooden fence. But then Sea and Sage, a 3-year-old maiden scheduled to make his third start, reared up. His jockey, Alonso Quinonez, was just seconds from being helped on to his back. Many horses instinctively know where they live. Sea and Sage, unfettered now, made a U-turn in the direction of the barn area. He darted toward a gap in the fence, an opening where John Shear, one of the paddock guards, stood, holding a rope across.
"Loose horse! Loose horse!" several of the horsemen in the ring shouted. Sea and Sage was unstoppable. He took off like one of those funny cars in auto racing, going from a standing start to a zillion miles an hour in only seconds.
Before they got to the races, the little girl's father had told her to pay attention to how big the horses were, and how small the jockeys were. "They're not much bigger than you," he said.
Shear, holding the rope, shouted to the crowd, "Loose horse, move back! Move back!"
But now he could hear Sea and Sage, definitely bearing down in his direction. The little girl was still standing there, as vulnerable as a shooting-gallery duck. Shear dropped the rope and grabbed her by the shoulders. He wheeled her around, so that he now stood, with his back to the ring, as the only obstacle between her and the horse. Sea and Sage glanced off Shear with his shoulder, knocking him down. One of his rear hooves clipped Shear on the cheekbone, and in one motion also opened a deep gash on his left arm. His first day in the hospital, Shear could only open one eye. He has multiple fractures of the pelvis, the same area where he suffered major injuries four years ago at Hollywood Park. That night, one of the ponies accompanying a horse to the track ran into Shear and flipped him in the air like he was confetti. On the way to the hospital, he called his wife Diane at home and said: "I'll be all right. I just got a hip out of place." He had broken a femur and they had to install a titanium rod to make him whole. He didn't work for six months.
The medics estimate that he'll be in the hospital for at least two months this time. "When I first saw him, he looked like he had been in a ring with Mike Tyson," said Diane Shear, his wife of 46 years. Mike Shear, their only child, told me that he had made remarkable improvement after the first 24 hours. "He's talking and laughing. That's a good sign."
The father of the little girl said that he would bring his daughter in to see Shear in a few days. "There's not a scratch on her," he said to Shear. "She would have been severely injured or even killed if you hadn't done what you did."
Also in the room were Gail McNeal and Ellis Davis. Before her retirement, McNeal ran the press elevator at Santa Anita for 33 years. Davis has been the Equibase and Daily Racing Form chart-taker at California tracks for decades. The four of them--John and Mike Shear, McNeal and Davis--were scheduled to spend a few days in Las Vegas, with McNeal the chauffeur. They tell me that John Shear is nobody to fool with when the game is Texas hold-em.
"John, we'll have to make that trip around October I guess," McNeal said.
"I don't know how I'll be able to do that," Shear said. "I'll be back working."
Mike Shear said he and his mother had suggested once that John Shear retire. He's been working at Santa Anita since 1962. Most of the people he knows are there. "He just loves working," Mike Shear said.
John Shear started out as a jockey, in his native England, but during World War II he took some shrapnel in the shoulder and couldn't ride competitively anymore. Around the age of 30, he trained horses in Canada, before moving to California in 1955. That was the year Swaps won the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbys, but earlier a horse named Colonel Mack beat Swaps. Shear was the exercise rider and groom for Colonel Mack.
"John Shear is my hero, that's for sure," said Vince De Gregory, the agent for Alonso Quinonez, who was to have ridden Sea and Sage. The horse was eventually rounded up and returned to trainer Gary Mandella's barn, unharmed.
"God bless John Shear," De Gregory went on. "When that horse came running, most people would have run the other way."
Shear turned 90 on Jan. 17. A few days later, De Gregory (78 and no spring chicken himself) saw him in the paddock, and said: "Hey, John, how old are you?"
"I'm 90," Shear said. "Just turned 90."
The next day, the same thing.
The third day, more of the same.
"I'm 90," Shear said. "Come on, Vince, you know how old I am."
The Sierra Madre Tattler, Shear's neighborhood newspaper, published an item about his heroics, prompting dozens of responses.
"It isn't often that a person gets a chance to save a life," one of them said. "For those of us who know this principled man, that cannot be a surprise. . . He just acted on his instinct to do the right thing. . . This is old-school heroism. He's been an example for all of us."
But there's a miscreant in every crowd. Somewhere on the Web, someone wondered what the hey a 90-year-old man was doing, still working.
Saving a little girl's life, that's what.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Jockey Reece Potter dies after fall
The family of the 23-year-old made the decision to turn off his life support on Monday after doctors at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred hospital performed exhaustive tests on the badly inured rider.
Potter received severe head injuries after he was thrown from his mount which fell after breaking its pelvis.
He was transported to Dubbo Airport before being airlifted to RPA late on Saturday night where he remained in a critical condition on life support.
Potter was a grandson of Harry Williams, a former champion Western Districts jockey, and was a nephew of top Goulburn trainer Danny Williams.
“This is a tragedy and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Reece’s mother Vikki and his family,” Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said.
“This is a very sad day for the NSW thoroughbred racing industry and on its behalf, I would like to offer the Potter family and friends our sincere condolences for their loss.”
Racing NSW has offered counselling to all riders that participated at the Tottenham race meeting.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Napravnik Rides Five Winners Saturday
From Fair Grounds Communication Department
It was the second five-win day for a jockey this season after Miguel Mena
’s quintet on Feb. 21.
The Fair Grounds record of six winners on a program has been accomplished seven times, by James Bowlds in March 1965, E.J. Perrodin in Nov. 1979, Randy Romero in Feb. 1984, V.L. “Billy” Smith in March 1990, Shane Romero, who accomplished the feat twice in February 1991, and Shaun Bridgmohan in Dec. 2007.
Napravnik’s win total for the season now stands at 92, well ahead of current runner-up Shaun Bridgmohan with 68 wins. The last rider to win 100 races in a Fair Grounds season was Joe Talamo, who finished the 2006-2007 meet with 118 victories as an apprentice. The all-time Fair Grounds record for wins in a Fair Grounds season remains safely in the hands of Hall of Fame jockey Randy Romero, who made 181 trips to the winner’s circle during the 1983-1984 season.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Bravo! Jockey Riding for Fun and Profit
By Ed Gray/Gulfstream Park Communications Department
With 4559 trips to the winner’s circle, the New Jersey native has served them well.
Bravo could call it a career tomorrow, and no one would have the right to ask any more of him –except the 39-year-old jockey himself.
Instead of looking back on a rewarding career, in which he captured 13 riding titles at Monmouth Park and 9 more at Meadowlands, Bravo is looking forward to many more years of riding winners. He already has an inkling what retirement would feel like, and he prefers the thrill of riding winners that he’s experienced on a regular basis at the current Gulfstream Park meeting.
“You know what makes me enjoy it as much as I do now? It was sitting on the sidelines,” said Bravo, referring to injury-enforced periods of inactivity in 2001.
“To tell you the truth, it was getting a little bit like a job to me. I won a lot of races. It got to be old hat. Sitting on the sidelines with injuries and watching the game go by, gave me a very, very big appreciation for it. I want to be out there. It’s great.”
Bravo has ridden 25 winners from 148 mounts to rank among the Top 10 at the highly competitive Gulfstream Park meeting.
“I’m ecstatic just to have a job again. I’ve had a great career with a lot of success. I had 13 years without an injury, then I got into a pretty good spill, breaking a lot of bones,” Bravo said. “It was a sad period in my life. I think it’s why I enjoy the game so much at this point and time.”
Bravo has enjoyed particular success in turf races, scoring 18 victories on the grass course, including stakes triumphs aboard Little Mike in the Fort Lauderdale (G3) and Canadian Turf (G3) and Justaroundmidnight in the Marshua’s River (G3). Only leading rider Javier Castellano has more turf victories (25) than Bravo.
“The whole key about winning turf races is to be on a good horse. Good horses make you look good and bad horses make you look bad. But in turf racing more so than dirt, positioning is a big advantage,” he said. “On turf, you don’t have to quite have the best horse. You can have a mediocre horse in position with a good punch. Everything is the last eighth of a mile, not the first mile.”
Bravo has a special appreciation for the nuances of turf racing.
“It’s exciting. A horse could be last turning for home and still have a game effort to win the race,” he said. “On dirt, you don’t see that as much because, it’s almost like you’re running on the beach. It takes time to get into stride and get into gear and get the rhythm down running on dirt, whereas a turf horse will get up underneath you and grab a hold of the bit – cut and go.”
Bravo, who has ridden 24,600 mounts, is being somewhat more selective in accepting mounts at this stage of his career.
“I want ride a horse with a shot to win, and I think trainers know that. I’m not going to waste your time wanting to ride a horse I don’t think has a shot,” Bravo said. “If I’m asking to ride a horse, it’s because I really think he’s going to be somebody, maybe not that start, but down the road. It’s not only to win the race but to develop a horse. I think that’s the biggest thing. Winning is great, but if you can develop a horse to win several races in a row, that’s a big advantage.”
Bravo, though, is far from riding out the string. He’s riding with a renewed passion for his craft.
“In this game, I don’t care if you’re 100 years old, you’re always going to learn something. I go out there every day and learn something new. You use that to your advantage,” he said.
Bravo is also riding for the fun of it.
“If you don’t enjoy this job as a jockey, you better stop before you get started, because you’re going to lose 80-percent of the time when you have a good year. It’s a very tough injury. There are a lot of injuries ahead of you,” he said. “You better enjoy it, and I love it. It’s not a job it’s a life.”
Friday, March 11, 2011
STATEMENT OF MAGGI MOSS
In this particular case, there were no specific rules of racing violated by Mr. Velazquez, as admitted by the KHRC. They speak about “common sense” and have charged my client with a catch-all rule of racing that his actions were not “in the best interest of racing”. I submit they missed the “common sense” of the knowledge of the riders, the risks the jockeys take every time they climb on the back of a horse and the duties of all of the participants involved.
To “charge” a jockey such as John Velazquez with “not acting in the best interests of racing” is the equivalent of stopping a driver and charging him with a crime due to the police not liking what he said or how he acted, without any real violation. More tantamount is how do regulators dictate to jockeys when to scratch and- when to ride a horse? A jockey is not going to intentionally ride a horse that he or she believes is truly in distress or injured. To do so would not only jeopardize their own life and the horse’s life, but the lives of all of the jockeys and horses. The risk is great without any additional factors.
Just 15 days prior to the Breeder’s Cup races at Churchill Downs, Garrett Gomez, told the KHRC vet at the starting gate that there was a problem with the horse he was riding at Keeneland, Stream of Gold. The state vet didn't see anything that merited scratching, and allowed the horse to run with a different jockey and the horse finished a poor seventh. How does the public, or authorities ever reconcile the ever changing scenery?
Throughout this investigation, the truism best spoken by Mr. Velazquez is as follows “I’ve ridden thousands of horses: some do not warm up perfect and run brilliantly. Conversely, some warm up perfectly and run poorly.” As indicated by the KHRC and those interviewed, it was never a case of the unsoundness of this great mare. Any attempt to notify personnel of a horse being quiet would never have led to a scratch, especially given the caliber of the race and the interest of the public.
On behalf of all jockeys in the world, this precedence is at most chilling, and now sets an unworkable standard for all jockeys. By electing to proceed with such a charge, the regulators are essentially setting a precedent that jockeys should scratch every horse that warms up sound but sluggish. Otherwise, they could potentially be to subject to sanctions or other penalties.
We do not make light or undermine the travesty to racing and the betting public as a result of the “Life at Ten incident” during the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies' Classic. However, charging John Velazquez, an individual with such great integrity, after months of “investigation” will never improve the image of our sport and rebuild the public trust. He is, quite simply, a scapegoat. The entire process, as well as the charges against Mr. Velazquez, will not withstand legal scrutiny.
The only thing that is apparent as a result of this investigation, is that the incident with Life at Ten was a debacle and the perfect storm of mistakes, with the real harm to the betting public and further derogation of our beleaguered sport. It was, in all likelihood an aberration that will never occur again. Worse yet, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission only darkened racing and sadly “indicted” the wrong person. All of us passionate about this sport, and the public, plead for the National leadership to restore reason, regulation, and trust, and sadly, the industry has failed again.
Friday, March 11, 2011
NYRA Jockey Profile - Guarinox Rivera
From NYRA Communications Department
Instead of beginning his career in his native Puerto Rico, he immigrated to the United States where he started galloping horses prior to competing in his first race last September.
And when Rivera was looking for a place to ply his trade this winter, the apprentice decided to come to Aqueduct Racetrack, despite its deep riding colony.
“A couple of people told me, ‘Don’t go to Aqueduct because it will be hard for you,’ said Rivera. “Most people wanted me to go somewhere else, but for what? New York is where you learn from the best jockeys. That’s why I’m here.”
Hailing from Caguas, Puerto Rico, Rivera was introduced to racing through his father’s ownership of an off-track betting facility. After studying psychology for two years at Turabo University, he dropped out to become a jockey.
“I learned everything by myself,” said Rivera. “I had wanted to be a jockey for a long time. I bought my own equipment and worked hard every day.”
Rivera moved to the United States three years ago and began exercising horses at Finger Lakes Race Track for trainer Charlton Baker, who gave the apprentice a leg-up when he earned his first victory on November 8 aboard Turned to Gold.
After closing the Finger Lakes meet with five more wins, Rivera opted to move his tack to Aqueduct for the winter.
“If other people can ride at Aqueduct, why can’t I?” said Rivera. “I try to keep positive.”
Rivera won his first race at the Big A on January 7, and, after picking up his second win on February 5, the apprentice rattled off three more victories in the ensuing four weeks. Through Wednesday, Rivera is 5-0-4 from 65 mounts who have earned $79,672.
“Before, I would ride one horse per day who wouldn’t have much of a chance,” said Rivera. “But now I ride two or three horses, and I know they have a chance.”
More importantly, Rivera has gained invaluable experience by competing against some of the best jockeys on the East coast.
“At other tracks you can ride super tight, but here I learned what you need to do when you make a move. I didn’t know that then, but I know that now. When I first started riding here, I was riding like I was at Finger Lakes.”
Rivera is also thrilled he’s had the opportunity to show off his riding ability on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit.
“I’ve made good connections,” said Rivera. “I tell myself, ‘Keep going, keep going, keep going! You’re going to make it!’”
Thursday, March 10, 2011
DeShawn Parker Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week
Parker had a busy week, with 43 mounts during the time period. His most lucrative win of the week came at Tampa Bay Downs on March 2 when his mount, Blushandbashful, finished second in a one-mile optional claiming race on turf and was placed first via disqualification.
Since turning professional in 1988, Parker has won 3,530 races, including 18 stakes, as of Tuesday and his mounts have amassed $39,508,551 in purse earnings.
Parker was elected to the Jockeys’ Guild Eastern Region Senate last November.
He also was a finalist for the 2010 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, given to the rider who brings esteem to the sport through his or her career and personal character. Parker was second among all riders in 2008 with 333 wins.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Sam Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament March 28
From AQHA Communications
The tournament will feature a hole in one competition that will provide golfers an opportunity to win a brand new 2011 Ford F-150 Pickup courtesy of David Wilson’s Ford of Orange. Sign ups for the golf tournament are $125 person and will include a steak dinner following the tournament. All horsemen are invited to sign up. Activities will also include a silent auction, raffle and a fun filled and fast paced live auction featuring Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg as the special celebrity auctioneer. Additional tickets for diner may be purchased for $25.
Auction items to include a week’s stay at a Grand Pacific Resort California location, custom made trophy saddle from Kathy’s Show Equipment, autographed sports memorabilia and numerous raffle items. At the conclusion of the auction there will be a grand prize drawing for a 40 inch flat screen TV from Best Buy.
For more information, tournament sign ups, dinner reservations and donations please contact Ed Reese at (714)470-2003, Geoff Waxler at (626) 235-3501 or Jim Anderson at (626) 536-7858. All reservations must be made by March 23
The fundraiser remembers the late and well-respected Sam Thompson.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Jockey Potts Wins 3,000th Race
From the Blood-Horse
The win aboard Beattie’s own Forever Tango
in the $32,000 seventh race allowance feature was Potts’ 3,000th riding victory in a career that began in 1990 at Blue Ribbon Downs.
Potts’ two tallies moved him into second behind Dana Whitney in the 2011 Penn National standings. He scored his 2,999th win with She Said She Said in the six-furlong third race. He finished second with another Beattie-trainee Banker Bailout in the sixth race before getting his historic tally with Forever Tango.
Forever Tango led all the way in the mile and 70 yard race to win in 1:45.89 while posting her third victory from 11 starts.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Golf Tournament to Benefit Eibar Coa and TRAC
The Florida Derby Golf Tournament will benefit injured jockey Eibar Coa and the Florida Thoroughbred Retirement & Adoptive Care Program (TRAC).
The tournament, a four-person scramble, will be limited to the first 144 players at $150 per person. Players will receive welcome gifts, free lunch and drinks and an awards banquet. There will also be a live auction held after the tournament hosted by Gulfstream analyst Ron Nicoletti.
“Our inaugural golf tournament is a fantastic way to kick off Florida Derby week and all the activities and great racing we have planned,” said Steve Calabro, President and GM of Gulfstream. “The tournament will also benefit two causes very dear to our hearts – jockey Eibar Coa and thoroughbred retirement. The management and staff of Gulfstream is looking forward to an exciting day that will bring the thoroughbred community together.”
Woodmont Country Club features two distinctive 18-hole championship courses. The tournament will be held on the par 72, 7,043-yard Cypress Course, which has long been rated as one of South Florida’s top courses.
For reservations, to be a sponsor, or donate items to the silent auction, please contact Susan Stofsky at 954.457.6672.
Friday, March 04, 2011
Marriage, Fundraiser Next for Paralyzed Rider
By Jack Shinar/Blood-Horse
According to his agent and spokesman Dennis Patterson, the 24-year-old Panamanian-born jockey is going to marry his longtime sweetheart, Charlotte Garcia, in a small private ceremony at their San Pablo, Calif., home March 4. Two days later, Martinez plans to attend a fundraising dinner in his honor to be held at the San Pablo Moose Lodge.
"He's doing well," Patterson said. "He's undergoing several different types of therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and he's adjusting to his life. He's been really positive about it all."
Patterson said Martinez is especially looking forward to seeing his racetrack friends and acquaintances during the fundraising event. About 300-350 people are expected to attend.
"This will be his first chance to see a lot of these people since the accident," he said. "So he's excited."
Martinez, a five-year racing veteran who was the second-leading rider at Golden Gate Fields when he was injured last Sept. 12, fell when the horse he was riding clipped heels, stumbled, and pitched him to the ground. His head and spine were trampled in a crush of hooves and he suffered significant brain bruising in addition to severe spinal damage. He underwent 11 hours of emergency surgery at an Oakland hospital and spent weeks hospitalized.
Johnny Palmer, a friend of Martinez who was at the track that day, said, "At first it looked like he was dead. Then later they said he was totally paralyzed. And now it turns out that he's paralyzed from the waist down. He's doing pretty good, considering."
Palmer, a part-owner of a horse that Martinez rode for trainer Bill McLean, is coordinating the March 6 fundraiser.
"After this happened, I told Bill, 'We've got to do something for him. He's our friend,'" Palmer related
The event, with a $20 donation, gets underway at 5:30 p.m. with a cocktail hour followed by a buffet dinner catered by local restaurant La Strada. There will be live musical entertainment and a raffle and silent and live auctions will be held. Moose Lodge 550 is at 13233 San Pablo Ave. Phone (510) 734-5469 for more information.
Those who cannot attend but would like to make a donation can do so by check to the "Michael Martinez Fund" at First Bank, 13830 San Pablo Ave., Suite A, San Pablo, 94806. Palmer said a charity golf tournament for Martinez is being planned in May. In addition, Golden Gate Fields has maintained a fund for the injured rider since the accident.
Palmer said some of the proceeds are to to help Martinez travel to a stem-cell treatment hospital in Lisbon, Portugal.
Dr. David Seftel, track physician at Golden Gate Fields, said efforts are being made to get Martinez stem-cell therapy treatment at the Egas-Moniz Hospital in the near future with a strong possibility of success if he can overcome immigration issues that could prevent him from returning home.
Seftel visited Martinez the week of Feb. 21 and said he was impressed with his progress. He believes that the Lisbon hospital, which uses stem-like progenitor cells found in the nose in its treatment, could aid Martinez with "regaining as much function as possible." In particular, it could help with bowel and bladder use in the lower region and strength in his upper half, he said.
"This is one of the best organized stem-cell programs in the world," Seftel said. "They have achieved some remarkable results."
However, Seftel said Martinez can't go until he has clearance from the immigration department allowing him to return to the United States once the treatments are completed.
Meanwhile, Martinez is to be married to Garcia. They have a 5-month-old daughter, Merari Charlotte, who was born at the same time that Martinez was recovering from surgery at the same hospital.
As far as the future, Martinez's plans are undecided, his agent Patterson said.
"He wants to stay in the (San Francisco) Bay Area," Patterson said. "He hasn't really talked about what he's going to do."
Having his wife and child around him "has probably been the high point" of his road to recovery, Patterson added.
"She has been tremendous, sticking through this with him," Patterson said Martinez's fiancé. "I can't say enough good things about her."
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Safety Alliance Updates Code of Standards
From Tom LaMarra/Blood-Horse 03/03/2011
The alliance, launched in 2008, began accrediting racetracks in 2009. Tracks accredited in the first year are up for renewal; the NTRA has implemented a new fee schedule for 2011 to encourage participation by alliance-member tracks that haven’t yet applied for accreditation.
In regard to reporting of injuries, the updated code requires members to report equine injuries and fatalities during non-race periods at racetracks. The code requires information gleaned from mandatory pre-race veterinary examinations be recorded in an electronic database, and also calls for post-race veterinary “inspections.”
Discussions among Jockeys’ Guild representatives and alliance committee members brought about new parameters for providing timely and quality medical care for human injuries at tracks. The code “strongly” recommends tracks having designated medical directors or a “reasonable strategy for timely provision of comparable services”; on-site emergency medical staff such as nurses and emergency medical technicians; on-site first aid facilities; and outlines protocol for the transfer of injured riders.
Also, tracks are “strongly encouraged” to develop working relationships with a “trauma level one” facility.
“The addition of guidelines to promote jockey health and safety is the single biggest change to the alliance’s 2011 code of standards,” alliance executive director Mike Ziegler said. “In addition, the code has been made even more rigorous in a number of other areas, including injury reporting, pre-and post-race veterinary inspections, and safety training and continuing education.”
The alliance is soliciting feedback on the 2011 code; respondents can do so by March 9. The updated code is available here.
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