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Monday, October 31, 2011

November is ‘Jockey Health and Safety’ Month

 In support of the proclamation, the Jockeys’ Guild is asking all horse racing supporters and fans to wear something green to the track during the month of November to show their appreciation for jockeys. Green symbolizes both safety and “go” – two topics always on a jockey’s mind.


The Jockeys’ Guild is inviting several disabled jockeys to enjoy the Breeders Cup as guests of the Guild.


“There aren’t many professions like horse racing, where ambulances follow you as you work,” said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “We want race fans to understand the risks jockeys take on the track while constantly looking for ways to reduce those risks. To have jockeys see this visible sign of support will be greatly uplifting.”


Unfortunately, the danger that jockeys face has been highlighted this year with severe injuries to Eibar Coa, winning jockey of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Coa is undergoing rehabilitation after suffering a broken neck in a spill in Florida in February. In addition, Jacky Martin, the legendary quarter horse jockey, remains paralyzed after a serious spill at Ruidoso Downs in September.


“Nearly one in five riders who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild suffered some sort of disability last year, either temporary or permanent,” said Meyocks, “and since the median income of our riders is $38,000 or less per year, that presents a tremendous hardship on our jockeys and their families. We want to focus on the health and safety of jockeys to ensure that the sport of horse racing thrives.”


Jockeys will be discussing the issue of rider safety at various events throughout November, including public appearances and charitable events. They also will be handing out green “Jockey Boot” patches for people to wear to show support for rider health and safety.

Jockeys’ Guild, Inc., the organization representing professional jockeys in American Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing, was founded in May 1940 and has approximately 950 members, including active, retired and disabled jockeys. The purpose is to protect jockeys, strive to achieve a safer racing environment,  to obtain improved insurance and other benefits for members and to monitor developments in local, state and federal laws affecting the racing industry, and in particular, the jockeys. 


Friday, October 28, 2011


From NYRA Communications Department
Originally designed for jockeys to aid in practice and development of their specialized skills, the Equicizer has since been successfully used to conduct therapeutic exercises for children and adults with disabilities, and is used throughout the country in private homes, rehabilitation facilities and therapy centers.


Joining the jockeys in making the presentation to Jan Mitten, Vice President of Development for St. Mary’s, and Angela Sculti, St. Mary’s Director of Communications, were Elizabeth Bracken, Vice President of Simulcasting for The New York Racing Association (NYRA), and Sharon Dominguez, wife of NYRA’s leading jockey, Ramon Dominguez.


Headquartered in Bayside, N.Y., St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children provides intensive rehabilitation, specialized medical care and education for 4,000 children with special needs throughout the New York-metropolitan area.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guidry Happy To Be Back in the Saddle

He did it during the 5,043 trips to the winner's circle over a 33-year-span, and he did it every time he added to his résumé races like the Kentucky Oaks.

The reason the 52-year-old jockey finds himself back in the starting gate is he was never quite as comfortable anywhere else as he was when in the saddle. After nearly four years away from racing, Guidry couldn't ignore that any longer.

On Nov. 10, 2007, at Churchill Downs, Guidry pulled off his silks for what he thought was the last time when he decided to retire from riding after three-plus decades of highs, lows and overall burnout.

In August, however, the Louisiana native ended his self-imposed hiatus and relaunched his career at Ellis Park, and he has continued his comeback at Keeneland against one of the nation's toughest jockey colonies.

Though Guidry laughs that some of the younger jockeys "don't know who the hell I am," his accomplishments are notable. Included with his 5,043 victories are numerous meet titles at Hawthorne, Arlington Park and Churchill Downs as well as wins in such prestigious contests as the 2006 Kentucky Oaks aboard long shot Lemons Forever, the 2005 Santa Anita Derby, and the Humana Distaff and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, both in 2002.

The years of mental and physical demands convinced Guidry he was doing the right thing by walking away. As he tried his hand at training horses the past couple seasons — and even took classes to become a steward — he realized he wasn't ready to stay away.

"I think it was last winter, I was training horses at the Fair Grounds and I was around (jockey) Robby (Albarado) and a lot of the boys, watching them ride on an everyday basis, and from there I just started getting the itch," Guidry said. "I guess everything just kind of started bubbling for me inside and I said, 'You know what, let me try this.'

"I applied for a stewards job in Shreveport this past summer which I didn't get, so I sat around for a couple months not doing anything, and I said, 'I've got to do something, I'm just going nuts.' The only thing I basically do know how to do is ride. So here we are."

Guidry was respected for his fair but aggressive style in the saddle and his leadership in the jock's room. The latter hasn't changed, but it has proven a challenge getting back his fitness and timing. That should only get better with more mounts.

Among those pushing the veteran rider the hardest is trainer Dale Romans, for whom Guidry worked for as an assistant in May. If it were up to Romans, Guidry wouldn't have gotten off horses, so he had no problem using him on a dozen or so horses in the mornings this summer as Guidry worked to get his weight back down.

"He's always been a top rider and ... I didn't want to lose him in the first place," Romans said. "He rode all my horses for several years at the end of his career. I think it's taken him a little while to get it all back together, but I thought the last few races he looked like his old self."

Time away from riding not only helped refresh Guidry's mind and body, it also gave him a different perspective.

After winning the first time out as a trainer with a horse he conditioned for his brother-in-law, Guidry said he thought he had found something he could easily master.

"I got lucky and won my first race as a trainer and ... it was kind of like the kiss of death for me," Guidry said. "I have different respect for the game and trainers as far as what they have to go through on a daily basis. Anything that is done to that horse, they're going to get billed for it."

Guidry did have moderate success, saddling 30 winners from 301 starters, but the financial strain of the job and all-around pressure of trying to get good stock produced a hard dose of reality.

All that time rubbing legs proved invaluable in another way, though. Not only does Guidry know firsthand how important it can be to ride hard for third and fourth money, but information he can impart to trainers now carries more weight.

"There are a lot of riders who can really ride but I don't think are top horseman, and Mark is a good horseman," said trainer Tom Proctor, who gave Guidry the mount on the mare Snow Top Mountain when he earned his first stakes win since his comeback in the Kentucky Cup Ladies' Turf Stakes at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 10. "He actually did well training horses. I think he just had a little trouble getting some of his clients to pay. The business aspect of it is not pretty. (Wearing) White pants is a lot easier than paying bills."

Slowly, the Guidry who has won more than 250 stakes races seems to be resurfacing. He had seven wins from 63 mounts through Monday, and on the days he is particularly rough on himself, he takes solace in the welcoming atmosphere old comrades like Calvin Borel, Corey Lanerie and Jon Court help generate.

"I had a lot of mixed emotions when I came back. I didn't know how I was going to be received by the other riders," Guidry said. "A lot has changed. You have a lot of riders who I haven't even seen before. But the old guys ... they made it real easy coming back. They always have a way of saying things that make you feel good. It was like I was home."

Guidry plans to ride at the Churchill Downs meet after Keeneland, but he isn't making long-range plans beyond that. He still has dreams of winning a Triple Crown or Breeders' Cup race, but if that doesn't happen, he knows he's already proven his worth.

"I'm never going to put a time frame on myself again. That's what I did before I retired, and it was the worst thing I ever did," he said. "I thought because I said for the last year what I was going to do, I had to stick to it, and I don't like that.

"I'm going day by day. Whether it's five years, 10 years or two years, I don't know. I'm going to put it in God's hands and see how it comes out."

Thursday, October 20, 2011


From Churchill Downs Communications Department/Brad Cummings of Paulick Report
Over 50 volunteers will be running or biking from Keeneland to Churchill Downs in a relay on November 2 to help raise money for Breeders’ Cup Charities and bring awareness to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and Thoroughbred Charities of America.
The event is scheduled to begin at 8 am at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington. Thomas Gaines, son of Breeders’ Cup founder John Gaines, will begin the relay running the first mile down US-60 towards Louisville and historic Churchill Downs. Nearly fifty runners and cyclists will complete the course culminating in a final stretch completed by Pat Day and Calvin Borel. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will be there to greet the two legendary jockeys.
“We’re delighted that Mayor Fischer has joined the ‘Breeders’ Cup or Bust’ relay in support of The V Foundation, TCA and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO. “We appreciate the increased attention to these vital and worthy causes.”

This is the third year the Paulick Report and Breeders’ Cup Charities have partnered for Breeders’ Cup or Bust. In 2009, Paulick Report owners Ray Paulick and Brad Cummings drove from Lexington to Santa Anita chronicling their journey across the country. Last year, the duo walked from Keeneland to a Breeders’ Cup Charities brunch at the Galt House in Louisville.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Larry Saumell, former rider and Jockeys' Guild rep, dies at 54

By Mike Welch/Daily Racing Form
Saumell served as a regional manager for the Jockeys Guild following his retirement from the saddle in 1999 and was working as an agent for jockey Gary Bacchas at Laurel at the time of his death.

“Larry has had health issues with his heart for a while and just died peacefully in his sleep last night,” said Saumell’s brother Frank. “He recently started working as a jockeys agent for the first time, was just learning the ropes a little bit, and was doing pretty well. Larry was a good rider. He rode for some pretty good people and won over 2,000 races, but unfortunately his career was always slowed by injuries.”

Saumell rode from 1973 through 1999, winning 2098 races. His mounts earned purses totaling nearly $25 million. Saumell, who rode primarily on the New Jersey, Maryland, Florida and Kentucky circuits, recorded over 250 stakes wins, the most important of which may have been his victory aboard Cefis for trainer Woody Stephens in the 1988 Pennsylvania Derby.

Funeral arrangements for Saumell, who is survived by his son, Lazarus, were still pending, according to his brother.

Friday, October 14, 2011


From NYRA Communications Department 
“It means the world to me,” said Cohen, who was joined in the winner’s circle by his wife, Maria, and their children, Caleb and Arabella. “I’m happy that it happened on NYRA turf; it’s the toughest circuit in the country, if not the world, and it’s my home ground now. My last three or four hundred wins here on NYRA turf were probably the hardest wins of my career. It just makes it that more special and I want to thank all of the owners and trainers that have supported me.”


Earlier in the day, Cohen notched his 999th career win earlier when he won the first race with favored Emma’s Posse ($4.20). 


The 26-year-old Cohen, whose first full year of riding in New York was in 2010, currently is tied for third place with John Velazquez and Ryan Curatolo at Belmont’s 37-day fall meet with 15 winners. For the year, he ranks fourth on the NYRA circuit with 133 winners, including victories in the Grade 3 Bed o’Roses at Belmont aboard Tamarind Hall; the Saratoga Dew at Saratoga Race Course with Mineralogist, and the Evening Attire and Dearly Precious stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack aboard Heart Butte and Coax Liberty, respectively.


Born in California, Cohen was introduced to racing by his father, an owner and breeder, and began riding professionally on the West coast in 2004. He notched his first winner on August 11, 2004, aboard Quiten Boy at Del Mar, moved to the Mid-Atlantic after losing his bug and began riding in New York in October, 2009, after collecting riding titles at Philadelphia Park and Delaware Park.


In 2010, Cohen was the second-leading rider behind Eclipse Award winner Ramon Dominguez with 180 wins from 1058 mounts at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ramon Dominguez Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week

The victories helped boost Dominguez to the top of the list of leading North American riders by purse earnings for the week ended October 11.

Dominguez won three stakes last week, starting with the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (G1) aboard Gio Ponti on Saturday at Keeneland Race Course. The following day he rode Aruna to victory in the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1) at the Lexington track. On Monday, he rode at Belmont Park and guided Elusive Pearl to victory in the Pebbles Stakes.

Dominguez, 34, leads all North American jockeys by purse earnings for the year through Tuesday with $15,343,944 and ranks second by wins with 277 victories.

Dominguez most likely will ride Gio Ponti in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) on November 5 at Churchill Downs. The native of Caracas, Venezuela, has one Breeders’ Cup win to his credit after guiding Better Talk Now to victory in the 2004 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Jacky Martin Moved to Rehab

From AQHA Communications Department
“The doctors at both Memorial Herman and TIRR concurred that Jacky was, at last, medically stable and ready to move over to TIRR,” wife Tracey Martin posted on Facebook. “The staff at TIRR ‘rolled out the welcome mat’ and made the transition exceptionally smooth. Wednesday was spent with introductions … met the 12-plus members of Jacky’s team. These are the folks who will be with him throughout the entire program and all are committed to ensuring the best possible results.

“The atmosphere is upbeat and positive.

“Jacky and I would like to thank each and every person who has kept him in their prayers and thoughts, and God bless you all.”

Martin was injured at Ruidoso Downs on September 2. He was hospitalized in the intensive care unit at University Medical Center of El Paso before moving to Houston on September 22.

On Saturday, October 8,jockeys throughout North American donated part of their earnings to help aid Martin.

Funds for Martin’s long-term care will be partially served by the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack Chaplaincy benevolence fund, which has a longstanding mission of helping people in need, such as Martin.

Contributions to the benevolence fund can be made by writing a check to the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack Chaplaincy and indicate on the memo line it should be for the benevolence fund. Checks then should be sent to Ruidoso Downs Racetrack Chaplaincy, Ruidoso Downs, P.O. Box 449, Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico 88346.

Jim Helzer, Bruce Rimbo and chaplain Darrell Winter are the fund’s advisors. Any contribution to the benevolence fund is tax deductible and distributions are tax free for the recipients.

TIRR Memorial Hermann treats people with a range of disabilities including complex conditions like brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple trauma and amputation. The facility gained international attention as the rehabilitation facility for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head on Jan. 8 during an assassination attempt and has been released from TIRR.

Founded in 1959, TIRR Memorial Hermann is one of few hospitals in the country designated as a model system for traumatic brain injury by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. It has been named to the “Best Hospitals” list by U.S. News and World Report magazine for 21 years, every year the list has been published. TIRR is also home to one of the top residency programs in neurological physical therapy with more than 57,000 outpatients annually.

Martin is a member of the Ruidoso Downs Racehorse Hall of Fame and is a record seven-time winner of the All American Futurity, the world’s richest Quarter Horse race. He rode with winners of nearly 3,000 Quarter Horse races and his mounts earned more than $46 million during his career that started in 1972.


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