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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jockey Pereira Follows Family Tradition

by Bill Mooney
Pereira’s efforts in 2011 at Mountaineer resulted in 213 wins, a total surpassed only by the 380 achieved by DeShawn Parker.
     
“I don’t care if my horse is a 2-1 or  99-1,” Pereira said. “It doesn’t matter who the owner or trainer is. I always give one hundred percent. If I can’t win, I want to be second. If I can’t be second, I want to be third. The people who prepare race horses put in a lot of work, and it’s always my goal to give them my best.”

Pereira, now age 37, is originally from Arema, Trinidad. He comes from a racing family. Two of his uncles were jockeys. When he was 11, a trainer named Patrick DeFraitas gave Pereira a job at Trinidad’s Santa Rosa Park. He mucked stalls, was a hot walker and groom, and became an exercise rider. “
     
“But my mom had been in the United States for many years, and was working in Hempstead, Long Island, for some show horse owners,” said Pereira. “So, I went to Long Island and spent a summer as a handyman. I thought the people my mother worked for might give me a job on their farm, but it didn’t happen.
     
“I went to Manhattan and did a lot of things. I worked in a deli, from seven o’clock at night until seven in the morning, stacking shelves, mopping floors, running deliveries,” he said. “I worked in a gas station for a while. I was an assistant for an electrician in Brooklyn, rewiring houses and stuff like that. I got tired of all this, and booked a flight to go back to Trinidad with my grandmother.
     
“But, just before I was about to leave, one of my uncles introduced me to the trainer Fastino Ramos, and I started working for him in New Jersey – at Atlantic City, Monmouth Park, the Meadowlands and Garden State Park. Mostly galloping horses. I eventually went back to New York, and it was at Aqueduct where I got my victory as a jockey. It was aboard a little New York-bred filly. She paid $128 to win.”
     
Longshot scores frequent Pereira’s resume. He began riding at Mountaineer in 2002. His first stakes triumph came in 2006, when he booted Solo Cat to a 1 ¾-length score in Mountaineer’s Memorial Day Handicap. “Drew clear late under strong handling,” stated the Equibase chart notes. Solo Cat returned a win price of $13.60.
     
In 2008, Pereira won Mountaineer’s Ohio Valley Handicap aboard Thor’s Daughter. At odds of 9-1, the mare was the longest shot in the five-horse field. Thor’s daughter was a runner who came from off the pace, and “I tried to keep her near the rail in the early going,” said Pereira. Closing strongly, Thor’s Daughter drew clear by 3 ¼ lengths at the wire.
     
Later that year, Pereira was victorious in Mountaineer’s Summer Finale Handicap with the Allnightdance. It was a photo finish, and Allnightdance returned $28.40 to win. “She was a big, nice looking mare, with really long strides,” Pereira said. “Allnightdance liked to circle to the outside for the stretch run, which is what I did with her that day.”
     
And in 2009, Pereira won the Buckeye Governor’s Cup at Thistledown with Smarmy. “He was a big chestnut horse, who also liked to come from off the pace,” said Pereira. “That was a mile-and-a-quarter race, and we won it by closing on the rail.” The margin of victory was a head, and Smarmy returned $15.20 to win.
     
For seven years, Gary Patterson was Pereira’s agent at Mountaineer. His book is now handled by 47-year-old Billy Johnson, who is also Parker’s agent. “It’s a situation that works well for all three of us,” Johnson said. “I’ve been booking mounts for 16 years, and I’ve had good second riders before, but never one as good as Oswald.
     
“I put it all on the trainers – I let them decide who they want,” Johnson said. “If two people want DeShawn, I say, ‘Hey, I’ve also got Oswald Pereira, he’s second leading rider.’ And it goes the same the other way. If two people want Oswald, I say, ‘I can give you DeShawn.’ I don’t get turned down very much.”
     
Pereira rode this winter in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle at Charles Town, where he remains in sixth position in the rider standings. All told, Pereira has 1,622 career wins. His mounts have earned over $22.2 million. Both figures are constantly on the climb.
     
“Our plan right now is to ride seven days a week – five at Mountaineer and two at Charles Town,” said Johnson.” It’s a four-hour and ten-minute drive between the two tracks. For a rider with Pereira’s talents, it never hurts to branch out. Last year was a dream year for us. This year promises to be a good one as well.”

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ramon Dominguez Named Winner of George Woolf Award

From Santa Anita Communications Department
The Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing.

Retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who won the Woolf Award in 1996, made the announcement from Santa Anita’s winner’s circle on HRTV Sunday afternoon.

Dominguez, a 35-year-old native of Venezuela, outran fellow finalists Corey Lanerie, Martin Pedroza, DeShawn Parker and (Gary’s older brother) Scott Stevens to win one of racing’s most coveted awards.

America’s leading jockey by number of wins in 2001 and 2003, Dominguez has won back-to-back Eclipse Awards as North America’s champion jockey in 2010 and 2011. In addition to these honors, Dominguez won the Isaac Murphy Award in 2004 for having the highest win percentage among American-based riders.

Dominguez has two Breeders’ Cup wins to his credit, winning the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf with Better Talk Now and most recently, the 2011 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile this past November at Churchill Downs with Hansen.

Born Nov. 24, 1976 in Caracas, Venezuela, Dominguez began riding at Hialeah Park in Florida in 1996. He has become a dominant force in New York, with 13 NYRA riding titles to his credit, dating back to 2007-08.

The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize the legendary jockey George “The Iceman” Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big money riders of his era and who died following a spill on Santa Anita’s Club House turn on Jan. 3, 1946. The Woolf trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.

Dominguez resides in New York with his wife Sharon and son Alexander. First presented by Santa Anita in 1950, the Woolf Award was won last year by Garrett Gomez.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

SANTA ANITA JOCKEYS WIN CHARITY GAME; GOOD TIME HAD BY ALL

From Santa Anita Communications Department           
 
 “It was fun; we had a good time,” said jockey Talamo, who thought he tossed in a three-pointer, but was only credited with two. “I thought it was a three-pointer. I closed my eyes and made an ‘Our Father’ and shot. I know I led in one statistic—personal fouls. We had a good turnout.”

            Other scorers for the jockeys were Eswan Flores (six points), Omar Figueroa (five), and Talamo, Josh Desormeaux (son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent) and Rafael Bejarano, two each.

           Proceeds from the game benefit the Holy Angels athletic program and the Kentucky-based Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). A total of $5,000 was raised in net proceeds, $1,000 more than last year.

            The monies were evenly divided between Holy Angels and PDJF.

            Hall of Fame riders Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary Stevens and Mike Smith were on hand to autograph photos and other memorabilia. They served as honorary captains as well. David Flores was the jockeys’ game captain.

            “Nancy Dollase and David Flores were instrumental in making this year’s game a huge success,” said Director of Publicity Mike Willman.  “Nancy and her team at Holy Angels did a great job in promoting the event and David was responsible for the best jockey turnout we’ve ever seen.”

            The Eye on Jacob Foundation co-sponsored the event. The Eye on Jacob Foundation is named for the 13-year-old son of Kent Desormeaux, who was diagnosed several years ago with Usher’s Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes loss of hearing, imbalance and eventual loss of sight in approximately 12,000 children in the United States.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Castellano Notches Career Win 3000

            “It feels great. It was time. I stayed patient and rode the same way I always ride,” Castellano said. “I’ve been very blessed to have all the support from all the owners and all the trainers and my agent, Matt Muzikar. People think it’s only myself, but it’s not. I have a lot of help.”

            The 34-year-old native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, who currently leads the jockey standings at Gulfstream with 71 victories, had ridden four winners on Thursday’s card at Gulfstream to put him in the position of winning on one of five mounts Friday to reach the career milestone.

            “Florida is my home. I ride in New York, but this is where I rode first when I came to this country,” said Castellano, who is scheduled to ride at Fair Grounds in New Orleans Saturday. “I love Florida; I love the people; they’ve supported me my whole career.”

            Castellano reached 3000 on his third mount of the day. Virtuously dropped far off an extremely fast pace set by favored Scootles in the mile turf race. The Dale Romans-trained mount remained several lengths back as the field turned into the homestretch before responding to Castellano’s urging and launching an impressive wide drive to catch the tiring pacesetter by three-quarters of a length.

            Castellano began his riding career in Venezuela in 1996 before venturing to the U.S. the following year. He rode his first winner, Phone Man, at Calder shortly upon his arrival.

            A prominent rider on the New York-Gulfstream circuit for several years, Castellano counts Bernardini, the 2006 Preakness Stakes winner, and Ghostzapper, the 2004 Horse of the Year and Breeders’ Cup Classic victor, among the top horses he has ridden during his career.’

            Having reached 3000 career wins, Castellano has set a more immediate goal on his way to No. 4000.

            “I hope this Sunday we have a great performance,” said Castellano, who’ll ride the Todd Pletcher-trained El Padrino in Saturday’s Risen Star (G2) at Fair Ground, “and hopefully find the right horse to the (Kentucky) Derby.”

            Castellano had to make a tough choice between two mounts in Sunday’s $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. He opted to ride the Pletcher-trained Algorithms, the undefeated winner of the Holy Bull (G3) and morning-line favorite for the Fountain of Youth, over Union Rags, whom he rode to victories in the Champagne (G1) and Saratoga Special (G2) last year.

  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

British jockeys breathe sighs of relief

Tim Nichols/Thoroughbred Times TODAY 
On Tuesday, the BHA decided that a when a jockey uses the whip eight times during a flat race, one over the maximum of seven, a review of the ride will take place rather than an automatic suspension.

The automatic suspension caused great frustration among jockeys. Richard Hughes, a top British rider, turned in his jockey’s license last autumn to protest the rule, which originally was enacted on October 10, 2011.

The move came in advance of the popular Cheltenham Festival, which starts in March.

“While well intentioned, and in accordance with initial requests from jockeys for clarity and consistency via a fixed number, in practice the new rules have repeatedly thrown up examples of no consideration being given to the manner in which the whip is used as well as riders being awarded disproportionate penalties for the offense committed,” BHA Chief Executive PaulBittar told  Racing Post.

The Professional Jockeys’ Association lauded the move and individual riders were quick to express relief about the change. “From our point of view, it has been proved a number of maximum times a jockey can hit a horse] doesn’t work,” jockey Andrew Thornton said. “In the heat of a finish, you are entirely focused on winning the race.

“Thankfully, common sense has prevailed, and it has been resolved now. It was made out to be a welfare issue, but it never was.”

A major problem with the old rule was it penalized riders not only for going over the allotted number of strikes, but that the number decreased within the final furlong of the race. The old rule limited a rider to seven strikes of the whip and five in the final furlong.

Hughes nearly missed a start at the Breeders’ Cup World Championship due to the rules. “The people who made these rules have no idea how hard it is, because they don’t ride,” Hughes said last October. “Frankel could go from [being worth 100-million British pounds to 50-million British pounds] for the sake of two smacks. What would you do?”

Additionally, the board altered the penalties a jockey would face for excessive whip use with an aim of proper proportionality of offenses. Going one or two strikes over the limit would result in a two-day or four-day ban, rather than the previous standard penalty of five days. Also repeat offenses will not result in multiplying penalties.—

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bejarano Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week

The Southern California-based Bejarano won both divisions of the Southwest Stakes (G3), guiding winners Castaway, who secured his first stakes win for owners Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith; and Secret Circle, who picked up his first graded stakes win for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. Both horses are trained by Bob Baffert.

Bejarano delivered similar rides in both races, keeping both horses close to the early pace while racing in second. Both horses went to the lead in early stretch with Castaway drawing off to a 3¾-length score while Secret Circle edged Scatman by ahalf-length.

Bejarano ranks fifth this season by purse earnings with $1,898,674.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mark Guidry Named Jockey of the Month at Tampa Bay

From Tampa Bay Communications Department
The skill and judgment that have enabled Guidry to win more than 5,000 races were on full display again during the Feb. 17 card. Despite a spot of trouble at the outset of both races, Guidry piloted a pair of Kentucky-bred, 3-year-old first-time starters to victory for trainer Tom Proctor – Temeraine and the filly Never Tell Lynda – in maiden special weight sprints.
 
The 52-year-old Guidry – who won the 2006 Kentucky Oaks on Lemons Forever – actually retired after the 2007 fall meeting at Churchill Downs. That was a year after his peers honored him with the George Woolf Award, both for his riding achievements and humanitarian efforts assisting victims of Hurricane Katrina in his home state of Louisiana.
 
But after struggling as a trainer – winning only 30 races over a three-year period – Guidry decided to start anew last summer at Ellis Park, at the combined urging of Proctor and trainer Dale Romans.
 

Guidry is seventh in victories at Tampa Bay Downs with 21 and sixth in purse earnings with more than $300,000. “Every time I go out, I get better and better,” he said. “It’s all coming back – my fitness is good, and I’m very comfortable here.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sunland Park to hold fundraiser for Jacky Martin

From Thorughbred Times TODAY
Wagers placed for Martin’s cause can be any denomination from any racetrack. A special Quarter Horse feature race on Sunday’s card also will be named in Martin’s honor.

Martin, a seven-time winner of Quarter Horse racing’s All-American Futurity, was paralyzed from the neck down when his mount fell after the finish line and threw the rider to the ground on September 2 at Ruidoso Downs. He currently is undergoing a costly rehabilitation process.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME, GONCALVES SEEKS NEW WAYS TO IMPROVE

Tampa Bay Downs Communications Department
Like any professional athlete, jockeys are capable of getting in ‘the zone,’ where it seems every move they make is correct and they keep coming home on top. But the ongoing success of Goncalves – who has 58 victories at the midway point of the 2011-12 meeting, 26 more than runner-up Ronnie Allen, Jr. – can be attributed largely to his thorough, professional approach on a day-to-day basis.
 

Sure, it helps that Goncalves rides a bunch of horses for perennial leading trainer Jamie Ness. But that only begins to explain how the 29-year-old Brazilian finished 2011 third in the nation with 298 victories and is in the top 10 nationally for 2012 with 43, after riding three winners on Sunday’s card.

“He (Goncalves) makes great decisions during a race,” said James McMullen, the trainer of Seeking Reason, after Sunday’s six-furlong claiming win. “He doesn’t make many mistakes, and he doesn’t panic. He had not been on (Seeking Reason) before he rode her the first time this meet (Dec. 23, a fifth-place finish), but he learned a lot in that race he was able to use these past two times.
 
“She got in a little trouble the first time he rode her. She’s a little nervous, a little anxious and she doesn’t like to be in the mix – she likes to be in the lead or on the outside, away from other horses,” McMullen said. “After she got to the lead today and another horse challenged, he inched her to the outside where she is more comfortable.
 
“He handles himself professionally all the way around,” McMullen added. “He is also very descriptive of the horses he works in the mornings and what he feels they need.”
 
Goncalves is always quick to credit his agent, Jimmy McNerney, and the horsemen who provide his opportunities for success. With each passing day, though, the portrait of a young man ready and eager to excel on a national stage emerges.
 
Goncalves expects to get such a chance Saturday, when he rides the promising 3-year-old Shared Property for trainer Tom Amoss in the Grade II, $300,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Louisiana Derby Preview Day.
 
“Sometimes you have a couple of days where you don’t win any races, but I just keep working hard because I have lots of confidence in myself and my agent,” Goncalves said. “I know I’m going to win races as long as I stay healthy and safe.
 
“It’s easy sometimes when you ride good horses and you might not have to think too much or do much physical work. The cheaper horses, you usually have to do more. But all the jockeys I’ve spoken to in the past told me to ride every race the same. Of course the stakes are more important, but if you want to keep stepping up, you have to try your best every single race.”
 
Goncalves also is proving himself as a premier turf rider on an almost-daily basis. He almost stole Saturday’s $75,000 Turf Dash aboard the Ness-trained Western Prospector, then returned two races later to win a mile maiden special weight on first-time starter and 22-1 shot Andrew’s Girl for conditioner Edgar Estevez.
 

Goncalves rode two additional turf winners Sunday. In the eighth race, he guided the H. Graham Motion-trained 4-year-old gelding Under Control (like him, a Brazilian-bred) to an impressive win for owner Live Oak Plantation.

Then, in the 10th, he won aboard 4-year-old gelding Concorde Express on the turf for owner-trainer Butch Silva.
 
“I just like to be patient on the grass,” he said. “I always watch Julien Leparoux and John Velazquez on the grass, and I watched Gary Stevens a lot before he retired. They always take their time, and that is pretty much how the trainers I ride for want me to ride, so it is working out.”
 
While Goncalves enjoys a healthy lead in the Tampa Bay Downs jockey standings, Ness has already run away and hidden in the trainer standings. His two victories from three starters Sunday – with 5-year-old mare Slewsville in the third race and 3-year-old filly Sugadadeze in the ninth, her third consecutive triumph at the meet – gives Ness 45 winners from 98 starts, a virtually unheard-of 46 percent win rate.
 

With his three victories Sunday, Goncalves was matched by Ademar Santos, who rode three winners on the card. Santos won the first race on the 3-year-old filly Black Tie Voyage for trainer Derek Ryan; the fifth on 4-year-old filly Media Lady for Javier Negrete; and the seventh on 8-year-old gelding Summerlucky for owner-trainer Ron Potts.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hansen on top of initial Kentucky Derby Graded Stakes Earnings List

 From Churchill Downs Communications Department

The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975, and graded stakes earnings accumulated in prestigious races on “The Road to the Kentucky Derby” have helped determine the field for the 1 ¼-mile classic since 1986.

 

Hansen, owned by Dr. Kendall Hansen and Harvey Diamond’s Skychai Racing, heads the initial list with $1.16 million in earnings. He’s followed in the Top 20 by Union Rags ($830,000), Sabercat ($600,000), Wrote-IRE ($556,630), Creative Cause ($488,000), Liaison ($375,000), Dullahan ($375,000), Excaper ($240,736), Algorithms ($240,000), the filly On Fire Baby ($211,729), Drill ($210,000), Alpha ($180,000), Rousing Sermon ($164,000), Prospective ($155,452), I’ll Have Another ($151,000), Currency Swap ($150,000), Genten ($123,826), Battle Hardened ($120,000), Brother Francis ($120,000) and the filly Disposable Pleasure ($120,000).

 

The initial Graded Stakes Earnings List includes all 3-year-olds – colts, geldings and fillies – who were made eligible to this year’s Triple Crown at $600 per horse when the early nomination period closed Jan. 21. The late period for nominations at $6,000 each will close Saturday, March 24.

 

Sixty-two North American graded stakes events for the crop of 2009 have been run since June – 35 for colts and geldings or open company and another 27 for fillies. Of the 398 early nominees, 94 have earned graded stakes money thus far. Another 25 open company races and 17 for fillies remain to be run over the next 11 weeks in advance of Kentucky Derby 138.

 

A trio of graded stakes preps are scheduled for the week ahead: Saturday’s Grade III, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate (1 1/8 miles over Tapeta), Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Vicente at Santa Anita (seven furlongs) and the Grade III, $250,000 Southwest at Oaklawn Park (one mile) on Monday.

 

        Restricted to 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, horses only have one chance to win the Kentucky Derby, and it’s quite an accomplishment just to receive a berth in the starting gate. The North American registered Thoroughbred foal crop for horses born in 2009 is estimated at 34,000 by The Jockey Club, but only 20 are allowed to run in “The Run for the Roses.”

 

Twenty horses have entered the Derby every year since 2004, and 11 of the last 13 years. The 20th and final spot in the starting gate – a.k.a. “the bubble” horse – has varied year to year. The final horse to make the field last year, Derby Kitten, had $120,000 in graded stakes earnings. Two years ago, it took a record $218,750 for eventual fourth-place finisher Make Music for Me to make the Kentucky Derby lineup. Over the last five years, the final horse to make the field has earned an average of $132,650 in graded stakes races.

 

Graded stakes are considered Graded or Group status assigned to the race by the International Cataloguing Standards Committee in Part I of the International Cataloguing Standards as published by The Jockey Club Information Systems, Inc. each year.

 

In the case of a tie for the final entry position or the determination of all remaining starters, preference is given to horses that accumulated the highest earnings in non-restricted stakes races. If a tie still remains, the final spots in the starting gate will be determined by lot or a “shake.”

 

For the first time since 1984, there will be an “also eligible” list with as many as four horses eligible to draw into the field until scratch time on Friday, May 4 at 9 a.m. ET.

 

In addition to Triple Crown nomination fee, owners must pay $25,000 to enter the Kentucky Derby by 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, May 2, and an additional $25,000 to start. If there are less than 20 Triple Crown nominees entered, a horse may be supplemented to the Derby for $200,000.

 

The Kentucky Derby post position draw – a traditional “pill pull” in which horses’ entry blanks are pulled simultaneously with a numbered pill to determine what stall a horse will break from the starting gate – will be held at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, May 2, at 5 p.m. ET.

 

The winner of the Kentucky Derby will receive a gold trophy plus an estimated $1.24 million payday. A total of $400,000 will be awarded to the runner-up, $200,000 to third, $100,000 to fourth and $60,000 to fifth.

 

The 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby, which is the oldest continuously held sporting event in America since its inaugural running at Churchill Downs in 1875, is the first leg of horse racing’s coveted Triple Crown classics: three races at three racetracks over three distances in a five-week period. The 137th Preakness Stakes near Baltimore at Pimlico Race Course over 1 3/16 miles will be held two weeks after the Derby on Saturday, May 19. The annual series concludes three weeks after the Preakness on June 9 with the 144th Belmont Stakes – the 1 ½-mile “Test of the Champion” – at New York’s Belmont Park.

 

A Triple Crown sweep – one of the most difficult feats in all of sports – hasn’t occurred in 33 years and has been accomplished on just 11 occasions: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1942), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978). Fifty others have finished one win shy of the honor.

 

 

Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2012, and its Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at ChurchillDowns.com.

 

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

John Velazquez Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week

Velazquez also was tied for second during the time period for most wins with eight.

For the year through Tuesday, Velazquez ranks second nationally by purse earnings with $1,750,090 and seventh by victories with 39 wins.

Velazquez, 40, captured the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) aboard Hymn Book on Saturday after winning the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G2) with three-year-old colt Thunder Moccassin, giving him four graded stakes wins on the year thus far. He also won the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) and Forward Gal Stakes (G2) in January.

Velazquez, originally from Puerto Rico, won his first Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) in 2011 as he guided Animal Kingdom to victory. He also was the leading rider at the Saratoga Race Course meet last year.

Velazquez started riding competitively in 1988 after being admitted to the Puerto Rican jockey school. In 1990, he came to the U.S. to ride in New York, where he went on to win four straight NYRA riding titles from 2001-2004. He won the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey in 2004 and 2005.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

DOMINGUEZ WIDENS LEAD IN JOCKEY STANDINGS WITH 5-WIN WEDNESDAY

From NYRA Communications Department
Dominguez began the afternoon by piloting Fiscal Stimulus ($7.40) in race 1 and returned to the winner’s circle following race 4 aboard favored What’s the Record ($3.20). The 37-year-old rider then fashioned his own late Pick 3 ($136) beginning with longshot Coosada ($23.60) in race 7, continuing with Midnight Visit ($8.20) in race 8, and wrapping up with Nolita ($4.20) in the ninth and final race.

 

In his other mounts, the Venezuelan-born Dominguez finished sixth in race 2, third in race 5 and fourth in race 6.

 

Dominguez, who also rode four winners at the Big A on February 1, is on top of the inner-track jockey standings with 73 winners, nine ahead of second-place Cornelio Velasquez.

 

In 2011 on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit, Dominguez twice rode five winners on a single card, had one six-win day and set the NYRA record for consecutive victories with seven over a two-day period on December 14 and 15.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

PDJF 2011 Karaoke Event on You Tube

The Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund videos of their fundraising Karaoke events are now on You Tube.
 
Friday, February 10, 2012

Alvarado Wins Five At Aqueduct

 From NYRA Communications Department

The 26-year-old Alvarado started his day by winning the first race, a six-furlong claimer, aboard Pretty Cozzy ($11). After finishing third in race 2, Alvarado kicked off a sweep of the next four races with favored Hardened Wildcat ($3.10) in race 3, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds. In race 4, Alvarado scored with last-to-first Awesome Arceno ($15) and next posted a front-running victory with North Freeway ($8.30) in race 5.

 

Alvarado’s final victory of the afternoon came aboard Muster Up ($8.70) in race 6, a one-mile claiming race for 3-year-olds. He then finished fifth in race 8.

 

It was the second big day at the Big A this year for Alvarado, who launched 2012 with a four-win afternoon on January 1.

 

The victories moved Alvarado past Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the standings, where he trails reigning Eclipse Award winner Ramon Dominguez, who leads with 66 winners, and Cornelio Velasquez, in second place with 62 winners.

Friday, February 10, 2012

SANTA ANITA JOCKS, HOLY ANGELS CAGERS GAME TO BENEFIT YOUTH, DISABLED RIDERS

From Santa Anita Communications Department           
 The Eye on Jacob Foundation will co-sponsor the event which will again enjoy the support of Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary Stevens and Mike Smith.  All of these legendary jockeys will be available from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and at halftime to autograph photos and other memorabilia.  They will all serve as honorary captains as well.

            Top jockey David Flores will again be the jockeys’ game captain.  “This is something we look forward to every year,” said Flores.  “It’s just a fun night and it’s great to be able to bring our families and have some laughs—and who knows, we might even win.

            “It’s nice to be able to meet all the young kids from Holy Angels and to be able to raise money for their school and for the PDJF.  Racing is a great game, but it’s also very dangerous.  There are a lot of guys around the country who have been injured badly and we need to try and do all that we can for them.”

            The Eye on Jacob Foundation is named for the 13-year-old son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who was diagnosed several years ago with Usher’s Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes loss of hearing, imbalance and eventual loss of sight in approximately 12,000 children in the United States

            “We’re very happy to be a part of this event,” said Jacob’s mother, Sonia Desormeaux.  “We’re hoping to be able to provide some nice prizes and to make people aware of Usher’s Syndrome, which is extremely rare.  Jacob is looking forward to the game and he’s elated that he’s going to be able to be a part of it and that he’ll be able to be with the jockeys during the game.”    

            Raffle items include: a 20 inch street, trail and park bike, valued at $369.00 that has been donated by manufacturer Free Agent and Temple City Bike Shop.  A 29er mountain bike, valued at $600.00, which has been donated by Diamond Back and Temple City Bike Shop, as well as basketballs which will be signed by all jockeys and student-players.    

            Other prizes include one free Santa Anita Club House admission for every two game tickets purchased, as well as a halftime chance for five lucky people to make a half-court free throw and win two nights at Treasure Island, Las Vegas.  Additional prizes will be announced prior to and during the game.

            This year’s Santa Anita jockey team figures to include: Captain David Flores, Paul Atkinson, Rafael Bejarano, Hector Berrios, Alex Bisono, Brice Blanc, Antonio Castanon, Keiber Coa, Victor Espinoza, Omar Figuero, Eswan Flores, Martin Garcia, Mario Gutierrez, Kevin Krigger, Modesto Linares, Edwin Maldonado, Corey Nakatani, Alonso Quinonez, Joel Rosario, Christian Santiago Reyes, Kayla Stra, Chantal Sutherland, Mike Smith, Joe Talamo and perhaps others.

            HRTV’s Kurt Hoover will again coach the jockeys’ squad, while Matt Denny’s Restaurant’s Matt McSweeny and Marcel Pidoux will head the Holy Angel’s crew.

            La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles northwest of Santa Anita Park.  Admission is $5.

 

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

KY Horse Industry Cites Chamber's Support

by Tom LaMarra/the Bood-Horse
Racetracks and horsemen’s groups were represented at a press conference in the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort where the chamber announced the “Kentucky Alliance for Jobs,” which has more than 30 members including individuals or organizations in business, labor unions, teachers, local government, and the horse industry.

“We have a very simple goal—let the people decide how to handle this issue of casino gaming,” chamber president and chief executive officer David Adkisson said. “Year after year, the Kentucky chamber has polled business leaders across the state on this issue. And year after year, our members overwhelmingly support expanded gaming and the citizens’ right to vote. We believe it is time to finally put the issue on the ballot.

“This alliance represents the broadest coalition to unite behind a major piece of public policy in Frankfort in more than a decade. And the broad show of support by this alliance is only surpassed by the even broader desire by the public to vote on this issue.”

Adkisson cited a December 2011 poll that indicates 87% of Kentuckians support a referendum on casino gambling regardless of their position on expanded gambling. Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican Sen. Damon Thayer have fashioned a constitutional amendment that is on hold pending resolution of legislative redistricting and the establishment of the filing deadline for the November 2012 election.

“Kentucky is struggling to hold on to its status as the ‘horse capital of the world’ due to our inability to compete with other racing states that use alternative gaming revenues to increase purses and breeding incentives,” Adkisson said at the well-attended press conference. “We are losing tax dollars, world-class horses and horsemen, and most importantly the jobs that go with them, to these other states. Permitting our citizens to vote on this important issue is a very reasonable economic response.”

Patrick Neely, executive director of the Kentucky Equine Education Project, cited the poll results and noted the diversity of the statewide coalition.

“This is an extremely broad coalition of business, labor, education, and tourism, and certainly representative of the almost 90% of people that want this on the ballot,” Neely said. “This has moved beyond being driven solely by the horse industry.”

“It speaks to the broader appeal of the issue and the impact it has on the state,” said Vince Gabbert, vice president and chief operating officer at Keeneland.

Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery said Kentuckians realize the importance of protecting one of the state’s signature industries and creating jobs. “This is all positive from my perspective,” he said.

Stu Silberman of the Kentucky Education Action Team and Larry Roberts, state director of the Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council, said a gaming referendum has widespread support, and that casinos can create jobs and help fund education.

“We believe that new revenue is needed to adequately fund the needs of our classrooms,” said Silberman, former superintendent of the Fayette County School District.

Adkisson said the coalition is a 501c4, which means it can raise money to promote its agenda. He said it’s not likely much money will be spent because of the short-term nature of the effort to ask lawmakers to put the gambling question on the ballot.

“We’re mainly asking our members to talk to their legislators,” Adkisson said. “But if we need to raise money to get the message out, we will.”

Adkisson and others said there is growing momentum in the General Assembly to pass legislation authorizing a constitutional amendment, but it’s too soon to say there are a definite number of votes. Adkisson also said the chamber hasn’t discussed what it may do should the question make the November ballot.

Beshear has said the ballot question will be “simple” and most likely lacking in details. If voters were to approve casino gambling in the state, the General Assembly would have to approve enabling legislation that would spell out things such as specific locations, revenue percentages, and regulation.

Members of the newly formed “Kentucky Alliance for Jobs” include:

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Kentucky Education Action Team
Kentucky State Building & Construction Trades Council
Kentucky Association of Manufacturers
Greater Louisville Inc.
Commerce Lexington
Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Paducah Chamber
Kentucky Education Association
Kentucky School Boards Association
Kentucky Association of School Superintendents
Kentucky League of Cities
Kentucky Association of Counties
Kentucky County Judge Executives Association
Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray
United Auto Workers Local 862
Teamsters Local 89
Teamsters Local 783
Kentucky Association for Economic Development
United Food & Commercial Workers
Jefferson County Teachers Association
Kentucky Distillers’ Association
Stagnaro Distributing
Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau
Kentucky HBPA
Jockeys’ Guild
Kentucky Equine Education Project
Kentucky Equine Health & Welfare Alliance
Kentucky Horse Council
Kentucky Thoroughbred Association

Thursday, February 09, 2012

In a career like jockey Mike Smith's, what's 12 more victories?

Jockey Mike Smith is in the legacy-building stage of his career. That comes after bug boy, journeyman and star.

The foundation is like a rock. In a 31-year career still going strong, he has won races worth $224 million, has won two Eclipse Awards as the best jockey in the country, went into racing's Hall of Fame in 2003 and shares the record for most victories in the Breeders' Cup with retired Jerry Bailey at 15.

He has also won each leg of the Triple Crown once.

"I'd like to do that one more time," he says, "but on the same horse."

Racing would like that too. It hasn't had the interest boost a Triple Crown brings since 1978 and Affirmed.

Among racing's next milestones will be Smith's 5,000th win. He is 12 away, and when it happens, most likely at Santa Anita, he will be the 25th rider to achieve it.

Top 25 has a nice ring to it. At age 46, Smith lends nice perspective.

"I started to think about 5,000 after Del Mar this year," he says. "People started telling me to look at it, go get it, enjoy it. I'm ready to do that now."

The first milestone he recalls with any detail is No. 4,000, June 17, 2001, at Hollywood Park, on a horse fittingly named Lift Off.

"When you are young, you are doing a lot of things," he says. "Something special comes along and you treat it like another day. I remember having days when I won five, even six races, and I didn't think much about it. Now, you get a little older, you start savoring things, because you know they won't always be there."

One memory that lingers is when he met his hero, Laffit Pincay.

"I started when I was 16, and I wasn't much older than that when Laffit came to Keeneland to ride a race," Smith says. At the Lexington, Ky., thoroughbred racing facility "I got to the jocks' room early and was all alone when he walked in. I introduced myself. I watched him drink his tea. He heated it with a metal prong. Then he gave an attendant a time to wake him for his race. I walked over and asked if he would wake up about 30 minutes earlier. He looked at me kind of funny and asked why. I said, 'Because, then you can watch me ride.' "

Pincay did, Smith won, and afterward, Pincay called the shot for the future.

"You're gonna be good, kid," he said.

Smith's first Kentucky Derby was 1984. Pincay won aboard Swale.

"I went to the airport afterward," Smith says, "and I saw a big crowd at a gate. I got up on a chair so I could see what was going on, and it was Laffit, signing autographs."

After years of riding in the East and Florida, Smith moved his base to California. It was 2001 and his first race was a five-horse field. The others were being ridden by Pincay, Eddie Delahoussaye, Chris McCarron and Gary Stevens.

"I couldn't believe it," Smith says. "All four guys, Hall of Famers. I had no chance."

Smith joined their club a few years later and eventually won the Kentucky Derby, getting a perfect trip in 2005 on 50-1 Giacomo. Smith had won the Preakness on Prairie Bayou in 1993 and completed his personal triple with Drosselmeyer in the 2010 Belmont.

In November, only the second time he had gotten on Drosselmeyer, he booted him down the endless home stretch at Belmont to win the Breeders' Cup Classic, passing former girlfriend Chantal Sutherland, who had looked like a winner aboard Game On Dude. Trevor Denman's classic call: "Mike Smith, like a ghost, from the outside, dressed in all white …"

That was his record-tying 15th Breeders' Cup win, and Smith says it's special for more than just the number.

"Both Jerry [Bailey] and I have all 15 wins in original Breeders' Cup races," he says, "not in any of those add-on races they did to make it a two-day event."

Then, of course, there is Zenyatta.

Smith rode all but three of her 19 straight victories, including a Breeders' Cup Classic win at Santa Anita in 2009. The boys were beaten for the first time in that $5-million race and the sport momentarily returned to the days of Secretariat-like buzz.

"There was nothing like her," Smith says. "She had a way of looking over the field, just before she made her big final run. The she'd pull herself up, like she was saying. 'I can do this,' and run them all down."

The next year's Classic, at Churchill Downs, was to be Zenyatta's grand finale, a victory sending her off to the breeding shed with a 20-0 record. But her stunning final dash fell inches short. A horse named Blame did what no other Zenyatta competitor had been able to do. He held on.

"If Blame had just folded one inch, just labored for one half a step," Smith says, "we would have won."

After the race, an emotional Smith blamed himself. Asked now why he did that when he had done nothing wrong in the race, he says simply, "I'll take it because I'm sure not going to let her take any."

Zenyatta is expected to have her first baby around the first week of March. By then, Smith probably will have won No. 5,000.

Special moments, special legacies.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Ramon Dominguez Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week

Dominguez, 35, led all riders by purse earnings and tied with Edgar Paucar with ten victories during the period. He currently leads all jockeys by purse earnings for the year through Tuesday and ranks second by total victories.

Dominguez won a pair of stakes on Saturday, taking the Withers Stakes (G3) aboard Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) contender Alpha and the Correction Stakes on Nicole H.

Originally from Venezuela, Dominguez won the 2010 and 2011 Eclipse Awards as outstanding jockey. He won last year after leading the nation in purse earnings and finishing second by victories. In 2010, he led all North American riders by purse earnings and won the overall New York Racing Association title with 353 wins, nearly double the amount of victories racked up by runner-up David Cohen.
Thursday, February 09, 2012

Community groups to discuss making jockey's house a landmark

By Charlie White/Louisville Courier-Journal
The meeting starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Kentucky Derby Museum, 704 Central Ave.

The Louisville Metro Landmarks Commission will soon hold a public hearing on the proposed designation, possibly as early as March 15.

The century-old, three-story house at 3012 S. Third St., near Churchill Downs, was home for many years to Goose, who rode 91-1 long shot Donerail to victory in the 1913 Kentucky Derby.

Nearly a century later, Goose’s win remains the highest-priced upset in Derby history.

Goose and his brother Carl Ganz — a jockey who rode under a variation of the family’s German surname and won the 1913 Kentucky Oaks aboard Cream — bought the spacious brick house near Churchill Downs for their mother.
 

Goose served as mentor for the 1937 Triple Crown winning jockey Charley Kurtsinger and other riders, who were often invited to stay on the third floor of the house.

Last year, a group of leaders from the Wilder Park, Beechmont, Oakdale and Iroquois neighborhoods known as the South Louisville Neighborhoods Connection began talking with some of Goose’s descendants and the nonprofit preservation group about how they could save the house from being demolished for a proposed commercial development.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Jockey E.J. Perrodin announces his retirement

Bob Fortus, The Times-Picayune
Perrodin won 3,083 races from 21,370 mounts in a career that began in 1975.

On Nov. 18, 1979, Perrodin rode six winners on a Fair Grounds card, equaling a record now shared by eight jockeys. His most lucrative victory came in 2003 in the Explosive Bid Handicap on Candid Glen, who won that $650,000 turf race at 84-1 odds.

Perrodin won the New Orleans Handicap on Listcapade in 1983 and won the Fair Grounds Oaks twice – on Quite a Gem in 1988 and Silky Feather in 1993.

“It’s kind of hard now, so I figured it was time,’’ he said Saturday.

“Tee Joe was a really good rider,’’ said jockey Corey Lanerie, using the nickname by which Perrodin is known around the track. “He was a great grass rider.’’

Monday, February 06, 2012

HBO’S LUCK INKED FOR SECOND SEASON,

From Santa Anita Communications Department
The series, which is centered primarily at Santa Anita and stars such “A” List actors as Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina, has garnered a gross audience of 3.1 million viewers to date, according to ratings compiled by Nielson.  

            “This is good news for horse racing and great news for Santa Anita,” said Greg Avioli, C.E.O. for Santa Anita Park.  “We’re glad the show is off to a fast start and we look forward to working together with everyone at HBO on season two.  By all accounts, Santa Anita appears on film as it is in person—breathtakingly beautiful.  To be able to command a world-wide stage of this magnitude for a second consecutive season is very gratifying and we believe, very good for business.  We can’t wait.”

            Season two will consist of 10 episodes and production is scheduled to begin in late February, with a January, 2013 target date for air.

            “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the critical response to this beautiful piece of work,” said Michael Lombardo, president of programming for HBO.  “We’re very excited about where David (Milch) and Michael (Mann) plan to take these incredible characters.”

            Milch, who has owned two Breeders’ Cup winners and is the creator of smash hits such as NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues and Deadwood, has called LUCK his “love letter” to horse racing.  Mann is the widely acclaimed director of Miami Vice and is chiefly responsible for two-time Academy Award winner Hoffman undertaking his first starring role in a television series.

            LUCK offers viewers an often edgy, behind the scenes look at the world of horse racing and those that inhabit its many enclaves—owners, trainers, jockeys and gamblers.

            In addition to Hoffman, Nolte and Farina, notable cast members include John Ortiz, Richard Kind, Kevin Dunn, Ian Hart, Ritchie Coster, Jason Gedrick, Kerry Condon, (retired Hall of Fame jockey and current HRTV analyst) Gary Stevens, Tom Payne and Jill Hennessy.

            In addition to the pilot, which aired on Jan. 29, season one of LUCK will consist of eight more episodes, which will air on HBO on Sunday nights at 9 p.m.

            LUCK’s origins and its ties to real-life people and Santa Anita-based legend and lore are explained and defined in Santa Anita’s newly constructed LUCK Lounge, on the main floor of the grandstand.

            Santa Anita’s current winter/spring meet runs through April 22.  For more information regarding LUCK, fans are encouraged to visit www.santaanitalive.com, or www.hbo.com

 

Monday, February 06, 2012

Jockey Julio Felix Hits 2,500 Win Milestone

From Turfway Park Communications Department
  Close to the pace through the first three furlongs in the 5 1/2 furlong starter allowance race, J. Pa challenged in mid-stretch and cleared late to win by a length over Voodoo Doctor.  J. Pa went off the 6-5 favorite and finished the race in 1:05.30. 

 

“I always give God the glory,” said Felix.  “I wake up thinking about Him and I finish thinking about Him.  He’s the reason why I’ve made it this far.”

 

Felix was born in New York while his father was stationed there during his time in the U.S. Army.  The family is originally from St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and returned there when Felix was very young.  Although Felix had never been around horses, his best friend was a jockey and encouraged him to learn to ride.  He started riding when he was about 15 years old.

 

“I always loved it, from the beginning,” Felix said.  “The first horse I got on started walking and I fell on my head.  But I got back up and got back on.”

 

Felix rode a few races in the Virgin Islands over the course of a year and then went back to high school to earn his diploma.  He moved to Miami in 1989 and secured his first win in the United States at Calder Race Course that year.  A successful run in Florida was interrupted by a fractured leg, and the time away affected his business there.  A trainer friend suggested he start anew at Thistledown, and many of his successes came during the 14 years he was based in Cleveland.  He holds six meet titles from Thistledown beginning in 1992 and twice, in 1992 and 1994, was the track’s leading rider for the full year. According to Equibase, the industry database, 78 of his 91 stakes wins came on the Ohio circuit.


Recent success has also come in Chicago, where Felix, his wife, and two children now make their home.  Last year he finished third among riders at Arlington Park and won stakes at both Hawthorne and Arlington with Our Lady in Red and at Hawthorne with Denham.  Other memorable mounts across his career include Lady Cherie, with whom he won 13 stakes, and multiple stakes winners Ifufeelfroggyleap, Down Thepike Mike, Buckys Brat, and Sister Milly.

 

Among Felix’s stakes scores is one graded event, the 1994 Sabin Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park with Hunzinga.  His most recent stakes win occurred just last Saturday when he guided Grand Daddy to win the Forego Stakes at Turfway.

 

In addition to his milestone win tally, Felix also has 2,591 seconds and 2,538 thirds and has amassed career purse earnings of more than $26.6 million.

 

Another native of the Virgin Islands, Turfway’s current runaway leading rider Victor Lebron, is Felix’s cousin.

 

Friday, February 03, 2012

MCCLAIN HONORED AS ONE OF TOP 25 INFLUENTIAL BLACK WOMEN IN BUSINESS BY THE NETWORK JOURNAL

 From NYRA Communications Department

“It is a wonderful honor to be named to this list by The Network Journal,” said McClain, who holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration (’93) and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Brown University (’86). “The list includes many extraordinary women and it is a great thrill to be recognized alongside them.”

 

McClain, 47, was hired by NYRA in July 2009 as senior vice president and chief financial officer. In that position, she restructured the finance organization to better meet the financial reporting, cash management and compliance demands of NYRA, a complex organization with three facilities, secure wagering operations and an extensive simulcast television network.

 

In October 2011, McClain, who boasts a 20-year track record in media finance and operations, was promoted to NYRA executive vice president and chief operating officer, becoming both the first woman and the first African-American to serve in this role for the company.

 

“Ellen is very deserving of this honor and I join everyone at NYRA in congratulating her,” said Charles Hayward, NYRA president and chief executive officer. “Her management skills – tremendous strategic vision, analytical insight, and strong collaborative abilities – made her a natural fit for appointment to one of the most significant management positions in the thoroughbred racing industry.”

 

The honorees will be featured in the March issue of the TNJ. In addition, TNJ will honor these movers and shakers during Women’s History Month at its 14th Anniversary Luncheon on March 22 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel.

 

“The women we are honoring this year are in the forefront of American leadership and symbolize the diversity and advancement that has occurred across industry lines,” states TNJ Publisher and CEO Aziz Gueye Adetimirin. The Mistress of Ceremonies for the luncheon will be Brenda Blackmon, co-anchor of My9 WWOR-TV and author of “A Mom’s Story”. The event annually attracts a ‘Who’s Who’ of prominent business executives in various industries.

 

A full list of the honorees can be found at the following site: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9159449.htm

 

About The Network Journal

 

Founded in 1993, The Network Journal a premier monthly magazine except combined issues in July/August and December/January which plays a major role in sharing information and resources that informs and educates professionals, corporate executives and small business owners by providing news and commentary on issues that affect the growth of businesses and the advancement of professionals in the workplace for an audience of predominantly African-American. Engaging over 88,000 readers, The Network Journal is distributed nationwide with a focus on the Tri-state area (NY/NJ/CT) and features successful entrepreneurs and professionals who offer insights on business and career-building strategies, The Network Journal highlights trends in key industries, providing information on valuable resources in the corporate, government, and not-for-profit sectors. For more information call 212-962-3791, or visit the web site: www.tnj.com  

 

About The New York Racing Association, Inc.

 

Founded in 1955, and franchised to run thoroughbred racing at New York’s three major tracks through 2033, NYRA boasts a lineage that actually stretches back almost 150 years. NYRA tracks are the cornerstone of the state’s thoroughbred business which contributes more than $2 billion annually to New York State’s urban, suburban and rural economy. In 2011, more than 1.8 million people attended the live races at NYRA tracks. Factoring in nationwide off-track wagering, the average daily betting handle on NYRA races totals more than $8.1 million. NYRA has a vast network of websites, including www.nyra.com, www.belmontstakes.com, and www.nyragroupsales.com. You can also follow NYRA on social media platforms Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube.

 

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Friday, February 03, 2012

Q&A With Veteran Jockey Don Simington

By Jay Privman/Daily Racing Form  
Birthdate: March 15, 1963, in Tomahawk, Wisc.

Family: wife, Deianna; son, Jarid

Got into racing because . . . We moved to Tucson, Ariz., when I was young. A neighbor trained horses. His son and I were good friends, and he taught me how to gallop. I had never been on a horse before I was 18. I think my friend put me on the horse so he wouldn’t have to gallop, and he could just ride out on the pony. I moved to New Mexico after I graduated from high school, galloped and groomed horses, and rode my first race at Sunland Park in 1984, when I was 21.

Wisconsin is not exactly the hotbed of horse racing. Did you have any interest in horses or in racing when you were growing up? None at all. I was from a little bitty town up there in Wisconsin. I had never been on the back of a horse until I was 18.

Did you play any sports growing up? I went out for wrestling, but one week before the season was going to start, I broke my wrist and never went out for it again. I never got into any sports. When I graduated from high school, I figured I’d be a welder. I had been accepted into a trade school.

But then you found the horses. Were you scared at first? I was horrified.

So why did you do it? I think I was forced into it by my friends. They didn’t take no for an answer. But after a while, I loved it. I had never been pleasure riding. The first thing I did was gallop a racehorse. Everything was so new, it was scary at first.

How satisfying was it for you to get your 3,000th win? It was real satisfying, especially looking back at all the riders who have won that many races. I know five guys here at Delta who have won 3,000 races. I’ve ridden with some good riders. I didn’t start riding races until I was 21. Some of these guys are from Cajun country, and they grow up riding. When they’re old enough to walk, they’re old enough to ride a horse. I’ve had a lot of good teachers. A lot of good guys have come through here.

Is there anyone in particular you watched closely early on? When I started out, when I had the bug, I watched Laffit Pincay Jr. and Angel Cordero Jr.

What does winning 3,000 races signify to you? A lot of years, a lot of hard work. Looking back, my first goal was just to get to 1,000 wins. I thought that was great. Then when I won 2,000, I wanted to get to 3,000.

And now 4,000? Yes, but when someone asked me what my next goal was after winning 3,000, I said, “3,001.”

One year ago, you broke nine ribs and a collarbone, ruptured your spleen, and punctured a lung in an accident at Delta Downs. How hard was it to come back from that? It was real hard at first. The recovery was hard. It was the worst accident I’d been in. But when I started exercising, and I got close to riding again, I knew I wanted to keep going.

You were in the hospital for eight days: Yes. The first three days I was in ICU. Then after I got out, I was basically quarantined at home for 60 days. The only time I left the house was to go to the doctor’s office.

Was there ever a time during that recovery when you thought, “This is it?” The first week or two. But once I started healing, I wanted to come back, do it again. If I quit I’m going to have to get a real job.

Your agent is Ron Ardoin, a former jockey whom you rode against in Louisiana and who won more than 5,000 races. What are the benefits to having an ex-rider as your agent? It’s a huge advantage. He rode around here for 30 years. He knows everyone, and everyone knows him. He’s super smart and was a good rider. His passion for the game is unbelievable. We get along real well. We’re good friends. We hunt together.

What’s your schedule like year round? I’m pretty much here at Delta all winter. I’ll go over to Evangeline. And then I’ll go up to Louisiana Downs when they open on May 4.

You’ve always been based in Louisiana. Have you ever had any desire to try a bigger circuit, like Kentucky, New York, or California? I’ve always had good business here. My son was born shortly after I got here, and he was able to grow up with the same kids all through high school before he went to college. I have no aspirations of going anywhere else.

You said before you like to hunt. What do you hunt? Deer.

Any other hobbies? Watching football. I used to fish a lot, but I gave that up. Hunting is pretty much it.

What is your favorite football team? Green Bay. I was born up there, and they were so good in the 60s. They’ll always be special.  But the Saints are my second favorite, living in Louisiana as long as I have.

Biggest win? In 2008, I won the Louisiana Premier Night Championship with Magic Sunset for trainer Jim Hudson. That’s a $200,000 race.

Best horse ridden? Most of the horses I’ve been on have been Louisiana-breds. One of my favorites has been a stakes-winning mare named Vickies in Town. She’s trained by my father-in-law, Ray Spencer.

Best horse seen? That’s a tough one. Sunday Silence was good. And Alysheba. Those are some of the best I’ve seen.

Future ambitions? I don’t know. I’ve thought about it, since I’m fixing on turning 49 years old. I’ve been so blessed in my career up to now. When I was hurt, at first I thought, “What am I going to do now?” But I still love doing this. I do know that training is not an option. I have no desire to do that. That’s out. I’d love to ride in the Kentucky Derby. But it’s hard. Hardly any good ones like that come through here.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Ramon Dominguez Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week

Dominguez currently leads all jockeys by purse earnings for the year with $1,684,181 through Tuesday and ranks second by wins, behind only Victor Lebron.

The 35-year-old’s biggest win of the seven-day period was in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where he guided classic-placed Grade 2 winner Mucho Macho Man to an easy 1½-length win.

The Sunshine Millions Classic was the fifth stakes win of the month for the Venezuela native.

Dominguez entered the 2012 campaign off a stellar season that resulted in a second straight Eclipse Award. In 2011, he led the nation in earnings and was second in victories. He was the regular rider of Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, champion two-year-old male Hansen, and Grade 1 winner Stacelita (Fr).

Dominguez also won the second Breeders’ Cup race of his career last year, taking the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) aboard Hansen. His first win came in 2004 on Better Talk Now in the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1)

Thursday, February 02, 2012

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

Riders called ‘rock stars’ at annual Assembly

 

 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 researchand 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.

 

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PDJF

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