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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jockeys’ Guild to Focus on Non-Participating Tracks in 2012

FORT LAUDERDALEFla. – The Jockeys’ Guild  membership has renewed its call for all thoroughbred and quarter horse racetracks to contribute to the Guild to help pay for critically needed insurance benefits such as life insurance, AD&D insurance, temporary disability and other benefits for jockeys. The Guild decision to focus in 2012 on educating the industry and the public about tracks that are not participating was made during the 2012 Jockeys’ Guild Annual Assembly, held in Ft. Lauderdale.


“The challenges of the past several months concerning track participation has really unified the Guild,” said John Velazquez, chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild. “It’s become clear that some tracks have been shirking their responsibilities and riding on the backs of other tracks who are contributing.  Now that the Stronach Group, NYRA and CDI have reached an agreement with the Guild, it’s time for other tracks, such as those owned by PNGI, to live up to their moral obligations to jockey health and safety.”


The issue was shown in more human terms during a videotaped interview with Jacky Martin, the award-winning quarter horse jockey who was injured on the track last September, showing his progress toward recovery.  In addition, Nancy Lasala, executive director of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, an independent charitable program that assists disabled jockeys, explained the financial hardships being experienced by injured riders and the consistent shortage of funding for their ongoing living expenses and long-term care. 


Also, Dr. Dalton Dietrich, Scientific Director of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami, explained the new advancements in spinal cord injuries, including stem cell research and how it will affect the future of the sport.


Velazquez said a highlight of the two-day session was a round-table session, conducted by the Guild board, to listen to ideas and concerns from the members concerning short-term and long-term revenue options, safety and unity.  “There was a spirited exchange, and a lot of great ideas and suggestions came out of this session,” said Velazquez.  “Now we will look for ways to implement many of these ideas for the benefit of our members.”


During the two-day session, members of the Guild heard from a variety of experts on insurance, regulations and health and safety issues.  Highlights of the Assembly included the following:

·        Tim Ritvo, Gulfstream Park President and General Manager, told the jockeys they were the “rock stars” of the industry, and encouraged them to continue to live up to the high ethical standards that are required of them.

·        Ed Martin, President and CEO of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, said the Guild “is on its way up,” and complimented members on their contributions to the sport.

·        Bobby Clarkson and Chip Atkins, of RH Clarkson Insurance Company, explained to members their current group life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance package, as well as information on a workers’ compensation program.

·        Dennis Mills, of Racing Future, discussed ways to appeal to the “Millennial Generation,” and how young fans can better relate to jockeys. and the sport.

·        Members also learned about new equipment options and research, ongoing communications and lobbying efforts and plans to better showcase jockeys to the racing public.

During its awards luncheon, the Guild honored three men for their positive impact on the sport.  Jacky Martin was honored for outstanding achievements to the quarter horse industry. In the future, that award will carry his name.  DeShawn Parker received the Laffit Pincay, Jr. Award for outstanding achievements for a thoroughbred jockey.  Dave Hicks, retired steward, was presented the Eddie Arcaro Award for exceptional commitment to the Guild.


The Guild membership also re-elected John Velazquez as chairman and G.R. Carter as vice chairman.  Joel Campbell was chosen as the new Guild treasurer and Rodney Prescott is the newly elected secretary.


Velazquez called the Assembly a tremendous success.  “This was a great opportunity for riders to get together and learn more about what’s being done to help us, both personally and professionally.  Now it’s up to us to go back to our tracks and encourage more jockeys to join the Guild.”


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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jockeys’ Guild Honors Three for Industry Achievements

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.- The Jockeys’ Guild today honored three men for outstanding achievements and contributions to the horse racing industry. The awards were presented during a luncheon at their honor at the 2012 Jockeys’ Guild Assembly in Fort Lauderdale. 

The honorees include the following:

--Jacky Martin received the top award for quarter horse jockeys, an award that has been named in his honor. Martin has won nearly 3,000 races, and his mounts have earned more than $45 million. He is a seven-time winner of the All-American Futurity and voted AQHA Champion Jockey twice. He rode for nearly 40 years and is a member of the Ruidoso Downs Racehorse and Oklahoma Halls of Fame. Martin is currently recuperating from a racing accident at Ruidoso Downs and is continuing his rehabilitation. 
--DeShawn Parker was presented with the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award. The honor goes to a thoroughbred jockey for outstanding achievement during the year. Parker has been the nation’s leading rider by wins the past two years. In 2010 he became the first African American to win the most North American races since James “Soup” Perkins achieved the feat in 1895. He is the all-time leading jockey at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort and is approaching 4,000 career wins. 
--Dave Hicks was honored with the Eddie Arcaro Award, presented for exceptional commitment to jockeys and the Jockeys’ Guild. Hicks worked his way from groom to trainer to steward, a position he’s held for some 50 years. He has served as steward in Massachusetts, New York and Florida. He’s known for creating his Apprentice Program, an ongoing effort to work with young riders on safety, financial and security issues, while maintaining the integrity of the sport. 

“These men have brought great honor to the sport of horse racing,” said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “Each has shown a lifelong commitment to excellence, and they are extremely deserving of their accolades.”

The 2012 Jockeys’ Guild Assembly is a gathering of quarter horse and thoroughbred jockeys to discuss issues and opportunities that affect them. Those issues include health and safety, insurance, personal and professional growth and development and the future of horse racing. The Assembly will conclude Tuesday.

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 jockey
Friday, January 27, 2012


From NYRA Communications Department

“When I was growing up in Puerto Rico, we used to listen to the races on the radio,” said Rodriguez, 21, shortly after winning Thursday’s fourth race aboard D’ Sauvage for his fourth victory of the inner track meet. “I used to ride my uncle’s horses [on the farm] and as soon as I could I went to the jockey school in San Juan. I always wanted to be a jockey.”


After attending the Escuela Vocacional Hipica, or Vocational Equine School, for two years, Rodriguez turned professional, riding briefly in Puerto Rico before moving his tack to Louisiana. He notched his first United States victory with his first mount, Storm Kitty, at Delta Downs on February 9, 2011, and within a month began riding in Florida, first at Gulfstream Park and then at Calder Race Course. After riding only nine winners at Calder from April 25 through September 30, Rodriguez subsequently finished tied for sixth place with 18 winners at the Tropical-at-Calder meet which ended on November 30.


Next stop, New York.


“The best riders are in New York, and that’s where I wanted to be,” said Rodriguez, who currently has a seven-pound weight allowance. “They are more professional, and the racing is a better class.”


Apprentice jockeys often fare well at the Big A during the winter months, when many of the top name riders head to Florida, but this year’s jockey colony has proven exceptionally strong. Headed by reigning Eclipse winner Ramon Dominguez, the ensemble not only includes veterans such as Cornelio Velasquez, Mike Luzzi, David Cohen, Alan Garcia and C.C. Lopez but also two established apprentices in Ryan Curatolo and Irad Ortiz., Jr. and a handful of other bug boys.


“His time will come,” said former jockey Jose Amy, who took Rodriguez’s book three weeks ago. “I see a lot of talent, and he’s willing to work hard. Already I see the effects of what I have been telling him – simple things, like using the whip only when necessary, concentrating on saving ground, being patient and keeping the rhythm of the horse. There’s more to being a jockey than sitting on top of a horse, and this kid is learning.”


Rodriguez’s willingness to learn and work hard, along with his natural ability, has attracted the attention of horsemen.


“This is as good a jockey colony as it’s ever been, and I think this kid is going to wind up doing well,” said trainer Carlos Martin. “He’s a strong finisher, and he’s got a good work ethic. He comes out every morning and he’s a nice young kid, too.”


While being able to ride at Aqueduct this winter has been a dream come true for Rodriguez, he is determined not to let it stop there.


“If everything works out, I want to stay in New York,” he said. “This is the best place, and that’s where I want to stay.”




Thursday, January 26, 2012

Alcohol Testing for New York Jockeys Approved

Tom Precious/The Blood-Horse
“I think it’s a step toward integrity and also safety,’’ state Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini said Jan. 25.

The expected approval of the new rule, given preliminary okay last summer, provides that a blood alcohol content of .05 or higher will be considered alcohol impairment.

Jockeys testing positive will be banned from racing that day and could face suspensions, fines and other penalties, including mandatory alcohol counseling.

The race-day screening has been in place for years for harness drivers, and has been a practice by the New York Racing Association. The new rule mandates the testing with approved devices at all NYRA tracks and Finger Lakes racetrack.

Officials say the new rule will put New York in compliance with an effort by the Racing Commissioners International.

The new testing also permits the “discretionary’’ testing of other people with racing licenses at Thoroughbred tracks, though officials said the primary focus of the new rule is on jockeys.

Tracks will have until the end of February to notify the racing board of the kinds of devices it has purchased, which will then be followed up with a training program. The tests must be administered by employees of the racing board or track officials they designate.

The racing agency earlier this week released a chart on existing rules around the country for jockey testing:
State Is there BAC testing of jockeys/drivers? State Rule or In-House Track Policy?  BAC Threshold Differ between TB/HB/Etc.?
Nebraska Yes with Cause State Rule 0.05 No
Delaware Random or Probable Cause DTRC Rules 0.04 TB and Arabian
Illinois Yes with Cause IRB Rules 0 No
Wyoming Yes with Cause State Rule 0.05 No
New Jersey Random or Probable Cause State Rule 0.05 No
Washington Random or Probable Cause State Rule 0.02 No
Minnesota Yes with Cause State Rule 0.04 No
Oregon Yes with Cause State Rule 0.02 TB and Quarter
Michigan Yes with Cause State Rule 0.05 No
Maryland Random or Probable Cause State Rule 0.05 No
Louisiana Yes - Mandatory State Rule 0.05 TB and Quarter
New York Yes - Mandatory - Drivers State Rule 0.05 Yes
Indiana Yes - Mandatory State Rule 0.05 No
Ontario Yes - Mandatory State Rule 0.02 No
Ohio Yes - Mandatory State Rule 0.035 No
Kentucky Yes - All, Random or Probable Cause.  Policy is to test daily. State Rule 0.05 No



Monday, January 23, 2012

Jockeys’ Guild announces agreement with Churchill Downs Incorporated

While terms of the agreement were not disclosed, CDI agreed to make payments to the Jockeys’ Guild to subsidize health insurance, life insurance and disability benefits for all jockeys who are members of the Guild and ride in the United States. CDI tracks include Churchill Downs Racetrack, Calder Casino & Race Course, Arlington Park and Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.


“We sincerely appreciate the commitment made by CDI to support the benefits that impact our jockeys,” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “This agreement will directly benefit approximately 950 active, retired and permanently disabled members. It is critical that we receive support from all of our racetrack partners within the industry. “


Currently, the Guild provides life insurance, AD&D insurance and temporary disability benefits to its active members, as well as life insurance and aid to the permanently disabled members. 


About Churchill Downs, Incorporated


Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”) (NASDAQ:  CHDN), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., owns and operates the world-renowned Churchill Downs Racetrack, home of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, as well as racetrack and casino operations and a poker room in Miami Gardens, Fla.; racetrack, casino and video poker operations in New Orleans,. La.; racetrack operations in Arlington Heights, Ill.; and a casino resort in Greenville, Miss. CDI also owns the country's premier account-wagering company,, and other advance-deposit wagering providers; the totalizator company, United Tote; and a collection of racing-related telecommunications and data companies. Information about CDI can be found online at


About the Jockeys’ Guild


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 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, January 20, 2012

NYRA Apprentice Profile: Irad Ortiz, Jr.

From NYRA Communications Department
Originally from Trujillo Alto in Puerto Rico, Ortiz is a graduate of that country’s Escuela Vocacional Hípica, a school for prospective jockeys. His grandfather, also named Irad Ortiz, was a jockey, and so is his uncle, Ivan Ortiz.


Irad Ortiz, Jr. began his riding career at Hipódromo Camarero on New Year’s Day, 2011, and rode there until June 19, winning 76 races from 357 mounts, good for a 28.3 winning percentage and earnings of $453,845.


Pito Rosa, a NYRA peace officer who works in the jockeys’ room at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course, took notice of Ortiz’s success in Puerto Rico and asked New York-based jockey agent Tony Micallef if he’d be interested in carrying Ortiz’s book.


“I looked at the tapes, and my first impression was he didn’t look like a bug boy,” said Micallef.


In June, Ortiz was off to New York to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Cordero, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988 and won 7,057 races, including many of New York’s biggest events.


“I wanted to ride against the best jockeys,” said Ortiz of his decision to come to New York. “I learn a lot by being able to ride with jockeys like Ramon [Dominguez] and Cornelio [Velasquez].”


In three full meets on the NYRA circuit, Ortiz tied for 12th at Saratoga Race Course with 11 wins, tied for sixth at Belmont Park in the fall with 21 wins, and tied for fourth at Aqueduct Racetrack in the fall with 11 wins. Through Thursday, Ortiz is fourth in the inner-track jockey standings with 35 victories from 164 mounts.


Ortiz’s ascent has not gone unnoticed by horsemen.


“He is very talented,” said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “I think he handles himself well. He carries himself well. I like the way he listens. I think Irad is learning every day and it’s really fun to watch. He is one of the most natural athletes I’ve seen in a long time.”


Richard Migliore, who heads NYRA’s apprentice jockey program, said Ortiz has become a formidable force as he has gained experience and poise, which will help him after he loses his apprentice allowance February 2.


“I think his potential is unlimited,” said Migliore. “He looks good on horses and has just the right balance of confidence and humility. His confidence has hit a place that has enabled him to ride at an even bigger level. We’ve really seen him blossom from a confidence standpoint.”





Thursday, January 19, 2012

G.R. Carter Named Champion Quarter Horse Jockey

AQHA Communications Department
This year, Carter rode 171 winners of 885 starts, with earnings of $4,311,455, which narrowly lead all jockeys by money earned, only $33,312 ahead of 2009 champion jockey Ramon Sanchez. Carter rode Grade 1 winners Llano Teller, Sixes Streak and Louisiana Senator this year, as well as sharing riding duties on champions Feature Mr Bojangles and De Passem Okey.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Irad Ortiz, Jr. TT TODAY Jockey of the Week

Ortiz’s most lucrative victoryduring the period came aboar Two Seventeen, a three-year-old Thunder Gulch colt who won a one-mile, 70-yard maiden special weight race on January 15 at Aqueduct. His 18 wins ranked third among all North American jockeys through Tuesday. He trails only Victor Lebron (23 wins) and Ramon Dominguez (20).

Ortiz, 19, has enjoyed a quick start to 2012, winning 18 races from 75 starts, including a four-win day on January 2 at Aqueduct.

The rider came to the U.S. in 2011 after winning 75 races in his native Puerto Rico. He was involved in a scary spill last May at Belmont Park, but rebounded to win the Corma Ray Stakes at Belmont last September.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mark Guidry Talks About His Return to Riding

Tampa Bay Communications Department
The Lafayette, La. native also won the 2006 George Woolf Award – presented annually to a rider whose career and personal character earn esteem for himself and the sport of Thoroughbred racing – both for his feats in the saddle and his efforts assisting victims of Hurricane Katrina in his home state. After hanging up his tack, Guidry tried to get a job as a racing official and worked as a trainer, but when he began exercising horses last year for trainer Dale Romans, he regained the urge to compete. After launching his comeback last summer at Ellis Park, Guidry soon won a stakes at Kentucky Downs aboard Snow Top Mountain for trainer Tom Proctor – proof four years had done little to dull his skill and instincts. At Tampa Bay Downs, he currently is eighth in the standings with 10 victories and has finished first or second with 41.3 percent of his mounts. Guidry and his wife Tina have three grown children: sons Marcus and Mecus and daughter Fallon.
My biggest fear about coming back was I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. I don’t think that fear has evaporated yet, I really don’t. I didn’t want to deflate anything that I have accomplished in my career. That was the No. 1 thing.
I’ve always been my worst critic. I don’t blame nobody but myself when I don’t win a race. I don’t blame the other riders, because I feel like I should have known better, maybe put myself in a better position. Whatever happens, I’ve got the reins. I’ve got control. So nobody has to be hard on me because there ain’t nobody harder on me than I am on myself.
The last couple of years before I retired, I was at a point where maybe I was burned out after riding for 32 years. It seemed like every time I talked to a trainer after a race about how things went, I was defending myself, defending my actions. Now, it’s not like that.
I think I’m more competitive now than I was before I retired. I’m feeling real good, so we’re just going to go as long as we can.  I’m going day by day, and I’m very grateful for the opportunities everyone is giving me.
When I came back at Ellis Park in August, it was kind of like having the bug again. I didn’t know what kind of response I was going to get; heck, I didn’t know how many of the riders knew who I was. But I was always comfortable around my peers and they made it really cool. Like
Jon Court
, he said ‘Gid, it’s so nice to have you in here.’ Corey Lanerie, Little Brian (Hernandez), Calvin (Borel), it was basically all my homeboys from Louisiana, and
Jon Court
. They helped to pick me up.
It’s taken me a long time to get fit, maybe because I’m 52. It’s been a grind, and there have been a few times when I got disgusted with running a lot of seconds. But I just tell myself how much I’ve had to dedicate to get where I am right now. When I started galloping for Dale Romans at Churchill, I was getting on 10 or 11 in the mornings, coming down from 152 pounds, so it was tough, but I was enjoying it.
I rode in that race for retired jockeys at Arlington and didn’t do any good, but that was my platform on my comeback. It’s been slow, but it’s been good. Tom Proctor’s been really good to me since I’ve been back. He told me ‘take it easy, take it easy, it’s going to come.’ Like with Dale Romans, I’ve got a real good relationship with Tom outside of racing, so if he’s got something on his mind he lets me know, and the same for me.
Getting the George Woolf Award was my biggest accomplishment. I never even dreamed it was possible because it is so prestigious, and knowing my peers voted for me made it even more meaningful. I was riding in Chicago the summer when Katrina hit, and myself and a couple of other riders were torn up seeing the devastation in our state and not being able to do anything about it.
We decided we were going to start collections for the victims, and I organized our relief efforts at Arlington Park – food, money, clothing for all the little kids. A lot of what we did was just horsemen helping horsemen. My mother, who passed away in October, did a lot of relief work back home through the Catholic Church. When we got everything together in Chicago, I drove the truck to Louisiana and helped distribute the supplies.
To get an award like the George Woolf for doing something you believe in, it was cool and it helped out a whole lot. But it was doing something for the people I felt for. I would have done it for others as well.
I’d shipped in here to Tampa Bay Downs a few times in past years and won some races. In 2003, I won the Florida Oaks for George Steinbrenner and Billy Mott on a filly named Ebony Breeze. But I’d never been here before for an extended stay. I really love it – it’s laid-back, the weather is beautiful and I play golf with my friends here.
It’s a strong jockey colony. There are a lot of seasoned riders here like Ronnie Allen Jr., Jesse Garcia, now we have Scott Spieth here. Leandro (Goncalves) is a good rider and Willie (Martinez) will get the job done. Rosemary (Homeister Jr.) is always competitive, always consistent. Pablo Morales, I admire his style. I think he is going to be an up-and-coming rider.
Just like anywhere else, there are going to be a few riders who aren’t bad, they just aren’t seasoned. Some older riders don’t take the time to talk to the younger jockeys and try to make them better, but if I see a young kid needs a couple of things straightened out, I’m quick to do it. If I’m riding with him, I’m going to keep him aware of his mistakes to make it safer for myself and the rest of the riders. You want to ride safely. That’s No. 1.
My hat is off to all the trainers. That is probably the hardest gig they got on the backside. Dealing with the owners, the help, getting paid on time so they can pay everybody else. I won about 30 races training, but I found out it’s just really, really tough. Sometimes when I was riding and I’d get beat for third, I didn’t really think too much about it, but I found out for the trainers that could be a guy’s only percentage for the month. I’ve got a whole different outlook on the training part of it now.
I’m getting inducted this summer into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, which is a big thrill. People always ask me why so many top jockeys seem to come from Louisiana. Well, in my era and with the guys older than me – Eddie D. (Delahoussaye), Randy Romero, Craig Perret, Ray Sibille, Ronald Ardoin – we had so many opportunities.
I was riding show horses when I was 4, so being on a horse was just natural. We didn’t have no bicycles. We just rode our horses in the ditch wherever we wanted to go, so it was pretty cool. It was a great, great upbringing.
I really miss those days. We had six or seven bush tracks running on any given Sunday. Heck, I was riding match races when I was 9 and anything went. My momma didn’t want me to ride, so we didn’t tell her. She didn’t know about it until I broke my wrist when I was 10 ½. I walked through the door holding my wrist, and my dad had to tell her. I’ve got five sisters and I was the only son, so momma kind of babied me, God bless her.
But the big thing was, we had a whole lot of chances. And horsemen didn’t just put you up on a horse right away. You learned the game first. You cleaned the stalls, put on the wraps, did everything to get the horse ready. They taught you to be a horseman first and a jockey second, and that helped all of us tremendously. That training helped a young jockey in knowing where a young horse was hurting or whatever, because we had been riding five or six years already.
I’ve ridden a lot of great horses in my career – Black Tie Affair, Buck’s Boy, Perfect Drift, Balto Star, Roses in May, Offlee Wild, Meafara, Buzzard’s Bay – the list goes on and on. I rode my 5,000th winner for D. Wayne Lukas. I tell you what, he’s one of the biggest motivators you’ll find. You’d be on one of his horses that was 30-1, didn’t fit a race whatsoever and he’d tell you ‘This horse is doing so good,’ you’d leave his barn knowing there was no way you were going to get beat.
My biggest win might have been in the Kentucky Oaks in 2006 for Dallas Stewart. It was near the end of my career – OK, the first end of my career – and I won on Lemons Forever, who was 47-1.
But I think the biggest race I won, because it came at such a great time, was on Buzzards Bay in the 2005 Santa Anita Derby for Jeff Mullins. A few months earlier, a bunch of riders had stood up in Kentucky because we believed our insurance policy was inadequate. Tony D’Amico had been hurt in a spill, and he reached the $100,000 policy limit in about four days. A few of us said, that’s not right, and we chose not to accept mounts at Churchill. At that point, we were ejected from the track.
To make a long story short, I went to California to ride for Mullins, and the first three or four weeks everything went good. Then Pat Valenzuela came back and took a lot of my horses, but I was still riding Buzzards Bay. I won the Golden Gate Derby on him, then we won the Santa Anita Derby at 30-1.
To have that opportunity, to me, was huge. It wouldn’t have happened if I’d stayed in Kentucky. Then, the very next spring I’m back at Churchill and winning the Oaks with Lemons Forever. I guess it proves everything comes full circle and – I know it’s a bad pun – when you get lemons, you should make lemonade
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Frey First for Apprentice

By Steve Haskin/The Blood-Horse
In 2011, however, a major twist to the voting all but forced voters who went for Rosario Montanez to re-evaluate their original selection. Because the statistics provided to voters included Montanez’ wins and earnings accomplished after he had lost his apprenticeship, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and National Turfwriters and Broadcasters issued new statistics and ordered a re-vote.

The second round of voting gave the award to Kyle Frey, who got 77 first-place votes. Ryan Curatolo received 57 votes while Montanez got 19 votes. Both Frey and Montanez plied their trade at Parx Racing at Philadelphia Park in 2011.

Frey ended the year with 884 mounts, 153 wins, 132 seconds, and 128 thirds, for earnings of $4,052,449. He won with a respectable 17% of his mounts.

The 19-year-old native of Tracy, Cal., worked on his stepmother’s ranch when he was 14 and then on a ranch in Washington at age 16, eventually making his way to the racetrack, where he began mucking stalls and walking hots and then galloping horses for trainer Steve Miyadi in Northern California. He began his riding career at Golden Gate Fields, winning his first race in his eighth start aboard 13-1 longshot Terina.

In his first 45 career mounts, Frey, who employed Russell Baze’s agent, Ray Harris, won three races, with two seconds and five thirds.

Frey is following a family tradition. His grandfather, Paul Frey, was a leading jockey in California and the Northwest from the 1950s to early ’70s, winning more than 4,000 races, and his father, Jay, trained horses for a while and also was an exercise rider and currently is a jockey’s valet in Northern California.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dominguez Repeats As Top Jock

Jason Shandler/Blood-Horse
But the Venezuelan-born rider picked up right where he left off at the start of the new season and somehow even bettered his performance. The end results were 2011 numbers that dwarfed those from the previous year and a second consecutive Eclipse Award as the nation’s top rider.

He received 197 first-place votes. John Velazquez, the runner-up, had 30 votes with Javier Castellano receiving 14 first-place votes.

For the year Dominguez accumulated more than $20.5 million in earnings, which was more than $2 million more than Velazquez. He also notched 27 graded stakes victories, including 10 in grade I company—both well exceeding his output from 2010. One of those grade I tallies came in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) when he guided Hansen to an upset victory over favored Union Rags.

Dominguez’ super season included 348 wins from 1,426 mounts, which was second behind DeShawn Parker’s win total of 400.

Dominguez, 35, captured his third consecutive New York Racing Association title. He set a NYRA record for consecutive winners when he won seven straight races Dec. 14-15 at Aqueduct. On June 5 at Belmont Park, he became the first jockey in more than 13 years to win six races on a single NYRA card.

Other than Hansen, one of Dominguez’ biggest victories came in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, where he guided Havre de Grace to a win over males.

Friday, January 13, 2012


 NYRA Communications Department

“I thought, ‘If I go to Florida and I ride one horse per week, that would be nice,’” recalled Curatolo recently as he sat outside the jockey’s quarters at Aqueduct Racetrack. “There’s no way I could have seen all that’s happened to me since then.”


Indeed. The 19-year-old Curatolo, currently fifth in the Big A’s jockey standings with 25 victories through Thursday, is one of three finalists for the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top apprentice rider, the winner of which will be announced on Monday evening.


“Being a finalist for the Eclipse awards – if you had told me that a year ago, I would not have believed you,” said Curatolo, who would be the first New York-based apprentice to win the Eclipse since Ariel Smith in 1999.


Curatolo has been riding regularly on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit since April 30, and, despite missing several weeks with a broken collarbone suffered in June, finished eighth in the 2011 standings with 92 victories. Highlights include four-win days on May 21 at Belmont Park and December 2 at the Big A, and a pair of graded stakes victories in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo and the Grade 3 Hill Prince, both accomplished without his bug.


“Ryan started off with a bit of a European style and he’s adjusted very well to our game,” said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “He’s very position-oriented. He’s smart, and he’s a good kid. It’s been interesting to watch.”


Curatolo, who attended the L’Association de Formation et d’Action Sociale des Ecuries de Course (AFASEC), began his American career by exercising horses for trainer Patrick Biancone, in much the same fashion as 2006’s Eclipse-winning apprentice, Julien Leparoux. On October 31, 2010, Curatolo made his stateside riding debut at Calder Race Course, where he posted his first win within a week.


“When I first came here, the thing I had to learn was what the poles are, and when to move,” he said. “In France, we never thought about the poles. But I have always been calm on a horse, and patient, and that has helped me.”


From Calder, Curatolo moved to Gulfstream Park at the beginning of 2011, where he tied for 17th place in winning 14 races. While in Florida, he caught the eye of the late Carl Lizza and signed on to become the first-call rider for Flying Zee Stable, which went on to be the leading owner on the NYRA circuit in 2011.


“Carl met Ryan through Patrick, saw he had some potential, and decided to give him a shot,” said Carl’s wife, Viane Lizza, now the principal for Flying Zee. “It’s worked out better than any of us expected.”


On January 29, Curatolo is scheduled to lose his five-pound weight allowance, but has every intention of remaining in New York.


“Riding here in New York, watching and learning from the top riders here, like Ramon Dominguez, has helped me so much,” he said. “I want to keep the momentum going. With all that has happened for me in the last six months, my goal for 2012 is to keep making the people I ride for happy.”



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ramon Dominguez Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week

Dominguez, 36, won the Count Fleet Stakes aboard Alpha on January 7 and the Xtra Heat Stakes on Singlet on January 5, both at Aqueduct. Overall, he won 11 of 29 starts and earned $478,740 during the period.

Dominguez, who won the 2010 Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey, is up for a second straight award after earning Grade 1 victories on Havre de Grace, Get Stormy, Stacelita (Fr), and Grace Hall.

With more than 4,600 wins to his credit, Dominguez has been a force in the U.S. since moving from Venezuela in 1995. He led the nation in wins in 2001 and 2003 and was the leading rider at Delaware Park from 2004 through 2007. He shifted his tack to New York in 2009.

Dominguez has one Breeders’ Cup victory to his credit, taking the 2004 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) aboard Better Talk Now.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The Assembly, a gathering of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse riders from across the United States, will focus on issues of importance to the members including racetrack contributions, membership as well as health, safety and insurance updates.


            “We are holding the Assembly in south Florida in close proximity to Gulfstream Park and Hialeah both conducting live racing,” said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.  It’s in the best interest of all our members to make every effort to join us to provide input and feedback onthe issues and future priorities of the Guild.”


            To make hotel reservations, contact the Crowne Plaza/Hollywood Beach at (954) 454-3223 and mention the Jockeys’ Guild block of rooms.  For more information on the Assembly, contact the Jockeys’ Guild office at 866-465-6257.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Jockey Bonnie Castaneda seriously injured in Turfway spill

by Marty McGee/Daily Racing Form
Castaneda, 50, was injured when her mount, Jolinda, clipped heels and fell in the fourth race, a $5,000 maiden-claiming event. Her husband, former jockey Marco Castaneda, is the trainer of Jolinda, who was not seriously injured.

Marco Castaneda said surgery was to be performed Tuesday or Wednesday, at which time the extent of his wife’s injuries would be more clearly determined.

Bonnie Castaneda has won 230 races since she began her riding career in 1995.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


 NYRA Communications Department

Ortiz started the streak in race 2 aboard Saltamontes ($10.20) and next visited the winner’s circle following race 5 aboard favored Tonigail ($6.30). The 19-year-old apprentice from Puerto Rico finished the afternoon with a sweep of the late double on Guyana Princess ($9.60) and Haya’s Boy ($7.50) in races 8 and 9.


Ortiz has ridden 21 winners since Aqueduct’s inner track season opened on November 30 and the total puts him seven behind leader Junior Alvarado (28) in the jockey standings. Ramon Dominguez, who led the NYRA standings in wins and the nation in earnings in 2011, is tied with Cornelio Velasquez for second with 24 inner-track victories apiece. Apprentice Ryan Curatolo currently sits in fourth with 22 winners.


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