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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

SANTA ANITA PARK ANNOUNCES 2014 GEORGE WOOLF MEMORIAL JOCKEY AWARD FINALISTS

Santa Anita Park has announced five finalists for the prestigious Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, with the winner to be announced on HRTV in January following a vote of jockeys nationwide.

                Veteran jockeys David Amiss, Dennis Carr, Aaron Gryder, Corey Lanerie and Scott Stevens are the 2014 finalists for the trophy that has been presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950.

                One of the most prestigious awards in all of racing, the Woolf Award recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.  Awarded to a different jockey each year, the winner’s trophy is a replica of the life-sized statue of legendary jockey George Woolf, which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.

                The statue was created through donations from the racing public after Woolf’s death which followed a spill at Santa Anita on Jan. 3, 1946.  Woolf, who was regarded as one of the top big-money jockeys of his era, was affectionately known as “The Iceman,” and was revered by his colleagues, members of the media and fans across America as a fierce competitor and consummate professional who was at his best when the stakes were highest.

                The 2014 Woolf ballot features five highly regarded riders who have plied their trade in a wide range of geographic locales with honor and distinction. 

                David Amiss, a 48-year-old native of New Hampshire who won his 1,000th career race on Sept. 22 at Suffolk Downs, broke his maiden in May of 1986 at Rockingham Park and is a mainstay on the New England Circuit.  “There have been some bumps in the road,” said Amiss of his milestone achievement, “But I am so grateful to have it happen here, at Suffolk Downs.”  Amiss also winters on occasion at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida.  

                Dennis Carr, a native of Long Island, New York who broke his maiden in January, 1987 at Aqueduct, is currently riding full-time at Golden Gate Fields, where perennial kingpin Russell Baze continues to lead the standings on a regular basis.  After moving his tack on three separate occasions from New York to Northern California, Carr is once again positioned to compete for the top spot in the Bay Area.  He has won more than 2,700 career races and his mounts have earned more than $52 million.

                Aaron Gryder, who was raised in nearby Covina and broke his maiden in January, 1987 at the now-shuttered Agua Caliente south of the border, first gained national attention when he led all reinsmen at the 1987 Hollywood Park Fall Meeting of Champions as an apprentice.  Gryder has ridden full-time throughout North America and has commanded the respect of his colleagues and the media wherever he has competed. 

                A winner of more than 3,600 races, Gryder’s career highlight came on March 28, 2009, when he piloted Well Armed to a front-running, 14 length victory in the $6 million Dubai World Cup—the world’s richest race.

                Corey Lanerie, a Louisiana native who has become a fixture at Churchill Downs and at Fairgrounds in New Orleans, has won more than 3,500 races and is held in the highest regard by jockeys and horsemen wherever he has ridden regularly. 

                Lanerie, who broke his maiden in April 1991 at Evangeline Downs in Lousiana, has won riding titles at Churchill Downs and at three tracks in Texas; Lone Star Park, Sam Houston and Retama Park, and has also been leading rider at Ellis Park in Kentucky.

                Veteran Scott Stevens has truly stood the test of time as he has overcome life-threatening injuries on several occasions en route to posting more than 4,250 victories in a remarkable career that began nearly 40 years ago.

                A six-time leading rider at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Stevens has also been leading rider at Les Bois Park in Boise, Idaho and at Canterbury Park in Minnesota. 

                Born in Idaho on Oct. 6, 1961, Stevens broke his maiden in May, 1976 at Les Bois Park in Boise and he has also ridden regularly at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Canada, Emerald Downs near Seattle, and briefly, in both Northern and Southern California.

                In recognition of his ability on the track and overall professionalism, Stevens has been inducted into both the Canterbury Park and Idaho Racing Halls of Fame.  Scott’s younger brother, superstar jockey Gary Stevens, electrified the racing world in 2013, returning from a seven-year hiatus to win the Preakness Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Distaff and Breeders’ Cup Classic.  Gary Stevens won the Woolf Award in 1996.

                The Woolf Award is typically presented in mid or late March, depending upon the winner’s riding schedule.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Veteran Jockey David Flores Should Flourish At Fair Grounds

From Fair Grounds Communications Department
Nationally recognized reins master David Flores is hanging his tack at Fair Grounds Racecourse & Slots on a season-long basis for the first time this winter, promising to be an additional star attraction in an already quality-laden jockey colony at the Crescent City oval.

Why the change from his base in Southern California where he has spent the majority of his career and boasts numerous riding titles earned during Santa Anita, Del Mar and Oak Tree meetings?

"It was just a matter of timing that I got the chance to try the New Orleans meeting," said Flores, who arrived in town last week from his Arcadia, California, home. "When the California circuit moved on to the fairs for a while earlier in the year I got the chance to go to France for several weeks last summer and rode some horses for (trainer) Wesley Ward while I was there. He told me at the time if I wanted to ride back east for a while he would use me on his horses there. I rode several horses for him at Churchill, Keeneland and Kentucky Downs and that fit nicely with riding in New Orleans this winter.

"My agent in Kentucky was Jay Fedor, and Jay and Wesley are good friends," Flores said. "Wesley and Jay suggested I try New Orleans this winter and it seemed like a good idea.

"Jay is one of the best in the business," Flores said of Fedor, who has teamed to win riding titles with the late Michael Baze, Chris Emigh and others at places like Arlington and Oaklawn Park. "Jay and I decided it was the right time to come to Fair Grounds this winter and fortunately we've gotten off to a good start."

Flores won the second race on opening day last Friday aboard Lucky Man Racing and Howard Durand's Leroixdessioux ($10.80) for trainer Tom Clark with his first mount of the meeting and came back Saturday to win the third with Dan Lynch, Ken Sentel and Merrill Scherer's Blue Cliff ($10.60) for conditioner Merrill Scherer, as well as that day's finale astride Winchell Thoroughbreds' Squall Line ($14.60) for 13-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Steve Asmussen.

"I got to New Orleans Wednesday and worked some horses Thursday and Friday," Flores said. "I worked some more horses Saturday morning after all that rain Friday and I was surprised at how good the track was. This track really has a great drainage system."

With well over 3,500 career wins, the 45-year-old Flores, born in Tijuana, Mexico, as the son of a former jockey, is looking forward to the 4,000 win milestone.

"I love my job," said Flores, who has ridden the winners of three Breeders Cup races, three Hollywood Gold Cups, three Eddie Read handicaps and three Del Mar futurities as well as one Arlington Million, one Pacific Classic and one Kentucky Oaks among countless other stakes during his illustrious career so far. He also rode 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta during the first three starts of her career.

Before arriving here for the current Fair Grounds season, could Flores recall the last time he came to New Orleans to ride a stakes horse here?

"I think it was in 2010 when I rode (Arnold Zetcher's) Zardana to upset (2009 Horse of the Year) Rachel Alexandra (in Fair Grounds' inaugural $200,000 New Orleans Ladies,)" Flores said.

"I love the atmosphere here at Fair Grounds," Flores concluded. "It's a great environment. However, they told me to be careful about all the good food they have down here because I have to be strict and watch my weight. I think that was probably very good advice."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2014 Jockeys’ Guild Assembly scheduled for January 26-28 in South Florida

The annual Jockeys’ Guild Assembly will be held in Hollywood, Florida Monday, January 27 and Tuesday, January 28, 2014. A welcome cocktail reception will be held Sunday evening, January 26.

 

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. Also, an awards dinner will be held in honor of top Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred jockeys as well as others who have made significant contributions to the Jockeys’ Guild.

 

“Last year’s Assembly was a great experience,” said Thoroughbred jockey John Velazquez, Chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild. “We were able to learn about so many different new things affecting jockeys. It also was great getting together with my fellow Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse jockeys and sharing our common issues.”

 

“One of the best parts of the Assembly was being able to spend time with our colleagues in the thoroughbred industry,” added G.R. Carter, Vice-Chairman of the Guild and a leading Quarter Horse jockey. ”We come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, but it’s really good to learn from each other and share our common bonds.”

 

“Once again this year, 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 on the issues and future priorities of the Guild.”

 

The 2014 Jockeys’ Guild Assembly will be held at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida.  For more information on the Assembly, contact the Jockeys’ Guild office at (859) 523-5625 or 866-465-6257.

 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

JOCKEY FLORENT (FRENCHY) GEROUX NEW RIDER AT FG

From Fair Grounds Communications Department
Jockey Florent (Frenchy) Geroux, born in the historic town of Argentan in France’s Normandy region, has been a regular rider on the Chicago circuit for seven seasons, but the first time he set foot on the Fair Grounds property was when he drove through the stable gate Monday night.

 

“I had the most successful meet of my career at Arlington last summer,” said Geroux.  “I finished second in purse earnings and third in number of wins, so with that momentum I felt now was a good opportunity for me to try a place like Fair Grounds with its high-class racing.”

 

The son of famous French former jockey Dominique Geroux boasts a leading rider title at Hawthorne in the fall of 2011 and capped off his most recent Arlington summer with two graded stakes win in the closing days of that session.  One came aboard Marshall E. Dowell’s’ Wayne Catalano-trained Solitary Ranger in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity and the other astride Hit The Board Stable’s Catalano-conditioned I’m Already Sexy in the Grade III Pucker Up.

 

Interestingly, the filly is nominated to Fair Grounds Pago Hop Stakes on Nov. 29 although her most recent start in Churchill’s Grade II Mrs. Revere last Saturday would make an appearance in the Pago Hop extremely unlikely.

 

During the 2012 Arlington season, Geroux won the first graded stakes of that summer’s local season by annexing the Grade III Hanshin Cup on Silverton Hills’ Havelock, but was quickly sidelined for much of the meet when less than a month later he broke his collarbone during a race at the northwest suburban oval.

 

“That turned out to be a major setback for me because all the horses I was supposed to ride before I got hurt came back and won,” Geroux said.  “Until that happened, I was on my way to having a very good summer that year.”

 

Geroux’s agent is Doug Bredar, who served as the racing secretary at Louisiana Downs in 2007-2008 for two thoroughbred meetings and one quarter-horse session.

 

“Obviously, because of that, I know a lot of the local horsemen here very well,” said Bredar, “but in addition to that I must say that the people who don’t know us have been very positive in their reception.

 

“Frenchy and I both felt it was time for us to try and try some bigger and better things this winter, especially since Hawthorne has been watching their purses very carefully,” Bredar concluded.  “We had to stay and ride the night card at Churchill last Saturday, but we’re here now and ready to get going.  We have some good outfits behind us like Wayne Catalano, Doug Matthews, Mike Stidham and Michelle Lovell, so we are both looking forward to the Fair Grounds season.”

 

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Velazquez continues his recovery, thanks all who have expressed concern

Jockey John Velazquez, Chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild, continues to recover at his home in Long Island, New York. Velazquez was injured on November 2 at Santa Anita Racetrack when his mount, Secret Compass, broke down during the running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

“Thankfully, the paramedics were there to work on me right away and made the decision to go to a trauma hospital. That helped saved my life,” said Velazquez.

After the accident, Velazquez was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. Upon arrival, the trauma team set to work on Velazquez. It was quickly determined he had severe internal injuries and within minutes was taken in for emergency surgery. Surgeons removed Velazquez’ spleen and repaired a damaged pancreas.

“I would like to thank Dr. Brian Lugo and Dr. Jonathan Phillips,” said Velazquez.  “The doctors, my nurses in ICU, and entire staff were excellent. They took really good care of me.”

Velazquez spent five days in the hospital and another five days in California before returning home to New York. 

“So many people helped Leona and me while we were in California,” Velazquez said. “We’d like to thank Craig Fravel and the Breeders’ Cup for their help when Leona and I needed to stay longer. Mr. Scott Ford (who owned Secret Compass) was responsible in getting my children and us home to New York and we are very thankful for his help.”

“We’d also like to thank Bob and Jill Baffert for their help and kindness,” added Velazquez.

According to doctors in New York, Velazquez’ recovery is progressing nicely and will follow up with another appointment next month.

“I really wanted to thank everyone for their prayers and well wishes,” said Velazquez.  “I really appreciate it. I’m doing well and looking forward to a full recovery.” 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Jockeys’ Guild National Manager: Portion of gaming revenues should support jockey health, safety

A portion of West Virginia gaming funds should be earmarked for jockey health and safety programs, according to the National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.

Terry Meyocks told a finance subcommittee of the Interim Joint Committee on Finance he’s concerned about the lack of benefits for jockeys who ride at the two tracks in West Virginia, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town in Charles Town, and Mountaineer Park in Chester.
 
“While we recognize that the gaming funds are on the downturn, we would respectfully request that you consider a percentage to be allotted for the health and welfare of the jockeys here in West Virginia,” said Meyocks. “Many neighboring states, including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, provide workers’ compensation coverage and/or health insurance benefits.”
 
In West Virginia, with the exception of the on-track accident policy provided by the racetracks, the only benefits jockeys receive are from the Jockeys’ Guild, and those benefits are limited to the jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild. The benefits provided to the members include life insurance policies, accidental death and dismemberment insurance and temporary disability benefits, as well as representation.
 

In comparison, Meyocks quoted statistics from other states:

  • Delaware legislation requires annual payments of $350,000 for use towards insurance for the jockeys who are eligible.   
  • In Pennsylvania,  $250,000 annually is paid by the horsemen’s organization for the Thoroughbred jockeys’ organization at the racetrack, for health insurance, life insurance or other benefits to active and disabled Thoroughbred jockeys in accordance with the rules and eligibility requirements of that organization.
  • In New Jersey, $150,000 is provided to the Jockeys Health and Welfare fund to provide health insurance.  The funding comes from uncashed pari-mutuel tickets at the off-track wagering facility or through the account wagering system on races conducted out-of state. 
  • Additionally, the New Jersey jockeys are covered under workers’ compensation in the event of an injury.
  • Riders in New Jersey, Maryland and New York also are covered under workers’ compensation in the event of an injury. 

 

Meyocks added that since 2007, the Jockeys’ Guild has paid over $5.1 million in benefits to jockeys.   Of this amount, approximately $165,000 was spent on temporary disability alone for riders in West Virginia.

In addition to the benefits provided to active riders, the Guild also assists more than 50 permanently disabled jockeys, including Gary Birzer, who was paralyzed at Mountaineer in 2004. Those benefits include life insurance and aid such as prescription costs, co-pays, breathing tubes, oxygen, replacement parts for wheelchairs, etc.
 
The Jockeys’ Guild receives its funding from essentially two sources: the jockeys who pay $100 per year annual dues as well as $4 per mount and the contributions from racetracks.  Neither of the thoroughbred racetracks in West Virginia contributes to the Jockeys’ Guild.
 
After the hearing, Meyocks said he was encouraged by the interest legislators showed to the plight of jockeys in West Virginia. “We understand that the funds from the racinos are being squeezed by competition from other states, and the state budget is a huge challenge,” said Meyocks. “However, we’re just asking that committee members consider what the surrounding states have done for the athletes who are such an integral part of racing.  They risk not only injury, but their lives every day, in order to generate funds for the racetracks.”  
 

The Jockeys’ Guild is the organization representing professional jockeys in Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in the United States, was founded in May 1940 and has approximately 1100 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, November 18, 2013

New York Horsemen Donate $50,000 to Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund

The Board of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) voted unanimously at its meeting Thursday night, Nov. 14, to donate $50,000 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).

“November is an important month for Thoroughbred racing,” NYTHA President Rick Violette Jr. said. “From the two days of the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita to the 10 days of the Keeneland November Sale that wrapped up in Lexington yesterday, our industry is in the spotlight. It’s a fitting time for New York’s horsemen to recognize the permanently disabled jockeys as respected members of the racing community.”

The PDJF was established in 2006 to provide financial assistance to jockeys who suffer catastrophic on-track injuries. There are currently 59 former riders receiving benefits through the organization. For more information, or to donate, go to http://www.pdjf.org/[1].

Monday, November 18, 2013

Jay Hovdey: Jockeys endure brutal version of 'Survivor' daily

In his capacity as national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild, Terry Meyocks was attending the opening session of the 13th International Symposium on Fatigue and Fracture Mechanics in Jacksonville, Fla., last Wednesday when he received word that Javier Castellano – not only North America’s leading rider but Meyocks’s son-in-law as well – had been taken to the hospital after a ninth-race accident at Aqueduct.

Meyocks’s first reaction was to seek further details, learning at some point that Castellano was taken to a Long Island hospital with chest pains. His second was to hope and pray that Javier would be the last jockey of any kind to go down in this tumultuous year of 2013, but Meyocks kind of knew he might as well be spitting into the wind.

“We deal with it every single day,” Meyocks said. “We know it’s not a matter of if, but when a jockey will get hurt. It’s our goal to minimize the severity of injuries as much as possible.”

To that end, Meyocks and regional manager Jeff Johnston were representing the Jockeys’ Guild at the Jacksonville conference presented by the American Society for Testing and Materials International and the European Structural Integrity Society. That’s a lot of typing, but you get the idea. Basically, they put protective gear through hell.

“We’re trying to find out what works and what doesn’t in the way of safety vests, helmets, safety reins,” Meyocks said. “Everything that has to do with protecting the riders.”

To review, Rajiv Maragh, Groupie Doll’s regular companion, began 2013 grounded by a fractured vertebrae sustained at Aqueduct on New Year’s Eve. Ramon Dominguez went down at Aqueduct on Jan. 18, suffering head injures that led to his retirement. On April 7, also at Aqueduct, John Velazquez fractured a rib and broke a bone in his wrist. On Aug. 23, Joel Rosario broke his foot in a fall on the Saratoga turf course. On Oct. 23, barely two months after he joined the Hall of Fame, Calvin Borel broke his leg at Keeneland. Then on Nov. 2 it was Velazquez again, kicked after falling from the fatally injured Secret Compass in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita and hospitalized with internal bleeding. His spleen was removed.

These are the riders everyone knows. But there are fans of their local racing all across the land who follow Matt Garcia, Junior Alvarado, Ronnie Allen, Joy Scott, Rohan Singh, Robert Cummings, Andria Terril, Macario Rodriguez, Malcolm Franklin, Pedro Terrero, Navin Mangalee, Luis Torres, and Quincy Welch. All of them were hurt in action in 2013, along with many more in the Guild’s membership of around 800 active riders.

“Last year and the year before, we’ve been averaging 18 to 19 percent of the jocks who were out at one time or another on temporary disability,” Meyocks said.

About every other sentence from Meyocks, a former racetrack executive, contains a reference to “working together.” There have been conflicts over television rights, sponsorships, racetrack safety, and insurance that soured relationships between jockeys and other industry groups, while the Guild suffered a self-inflicted wound with a management scandal that temporarily crippled its mission. Thankfully, there are signs the adversarial atmosphere is beginning to clear.

In recent years, the Jockey Club and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association have stepped up as reasonable arbiters and industry-wide advocates for the issues of concern to riders. The Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund does yeoman’s work in helping to support riders in need who have suffered career-ending damage, while the National Safety Alliance holds racetracks to certain standards of safety and maintenance. As Meyocks notes, such efforts help everyone in the industry.

“Everybody needs to buy into the idea that you can’t put a price on safety, for both horses and riders,” Meyocks said. “I think we’re making some real progress in working together.”

Awards don’t mend broken bones or feed families while the provider is healing from surgery or wrapped in plaster. But they do serve to spotlight work well done in a necessary cause and inspire others to do likewise. After this chilling season, when so many of the men and women riding Thoroughbreds made national headlines after being injured on the job, it would be fitting if the committee in charge of such things would decide that the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund should receive the Eclipse Award of Merit, and that Ramon Dominguez and Gary Stevens should be co-recipients of Special Eclipse Awards for what they represent as high-profile survivors of an unforgiving profession.

As for Javier Castellano, in the 42-year era of the Eclipse Awards there have been only three riders to lead North America in both wins and purse money the same season: Laffit Pincay in 1971, Steve Cauthen in 1977, and Chris McCarron in 1980. This is very tall cotton, and Castellano should enjoy the view. With six weeks left in the 2013 season, he is clearly ahead in both categories, which means he should cruise to his first Eclipse Award, at age 36.

Anyway, after taking a day off Thursday to deal with a few aches and pains, Castellano was back to work at Aqueduct on Friday. There was no fanfare, no fuss, just riders up. Because this is what they do.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Irad Ortiz, Jr. wins five at the Big A

From NYRA Communications Department
Irad Ortiz, Jr. rode five winners at Aqueduct Racetrack on Friday afternoon to move into second place in the jockey standings for the fall meet.

 

The 21-year-old native of Trujillo, Puerto Rico, finished second with his first mount, then won with his next two, taking the second race with Bird House ($4) and the third with Voodoo Times ($8.80). After finishing in a dead-heat for fourth in the fourth race, Ortiz fashioned his own Pick 3, taking the fifth race aboard Canal Six ($6.50), the sixth on Royal Blessings ($9.40) and the seventh with Masasi ($6). He closed out his afternoon with a fourth-place finish in the eighth race.

 

Ortiz now has brought home 11 winners for the meet, which began on November 1. Javier Castellano leads the jockey standings with 14 victories, with Ortiz's younger brother, Jose, and veteran Cornelio Velasquez tied for third with 10 winners apiece.

 

Friday marks the second time in 2013 Ortiz has ridden five winners on a single card on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit, having also done so on January 21 at Aqueduct.

 

 

-30-

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dominguez honored with 2013 El Award by El Diario

From NYRA Communications Department
Retired jockey Ramon Dominguez was a recipient of the 2013 "El Award" yesterday. The recognition is given annually by El Diario La Prensa to the most outstanding Latino men in the community. The luncheon ceremony took place at the Grand Havana Room in Manhattan.

 

In its 10th year, the El Awards are given to the most influential and successful Latinos in academia, business, entertainment, public service, and sports. Among this year's honorees are Grammy Award winner Rafael Ithier; Steven Espinoza, Executive Vice President of Showtime Sports; Robert T. Maldonado, regional President of the Hispanic National Bar Association; Joseph A. Morales, vice president of News and Content for Telemundo NY; Rafael Ortiz, director of endovascular neurosurgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, and John Quinones, an ABC News Anchor and seven-time Emmy Award winner.

 

"Receiving this award is an honor for me and a motivation to those like me looking to make a mark on society, "said Dominguez.

 

A 36-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela, Dominguez was at the peak of his career when he retired in June, five months after a spill at Aqueduct Racetrack. He set a single-year record for purse earnings in 2012 with $25,634,852. His 4,985 victories rank 29th on the all-time list, and his $191,615,698 in purse money won places him 14th. Dominguez is a three-time winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey and was the leading rider on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit from 2009-12. He won 21 meet titles in New York.

 

Friday, November 15, 2013

NEW YORK TASK FORCE ON JOCKEY HEALTH AND SAFETY MEMBERS WILL HOLD INAUGURAL ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING NO

Contact:  Lee Park:   lee.park@gaming.ny.gov
The members of the New York Task Force on Jockey Health and Safety will hold an organizational meeting on November 20 in Roslyn.

 

The Task Force on Jockey Health and Safety was formed via Chapter 55 of the Laws of 2013 to “assess, investigate and research issues involving safety and health of jockeys who regularly race at the Thoroughbred racetracks in New York State.” The Task Force is charged with issuing findings and recommendations “concerning jockey benefits including health, life, disability, pension, or other similar benefits and how such needs can best be provided through the resources of the racing industry.”

 

The Task Force consists of seven individuals total appointed by the Governor, with at least one being a jockey or former jockey, and one member each recommended by the Temporary President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly. The members of the Task Force are:

·       Anthony J. Bonomo, Chair (Governor’s Appointee): Anthony Bonomo, Esq. is President of medical professional liability insurer Administrators for the Professions, Inc., which has developed national, award-winning risk management programs for medical practices. A member of The New York Racing Association, Inc.’s (NYRA) Reorganization Board, Mr. Bonomo is the Chair of NYRA’s Equine Safety Committee. An avid participant in the horse racing industry, Mr. Bonomo is an owner of Thoroughbred race horses under the banner of Brooklyn Boyz Stables and MEB Stables. He has also served as a Trustee of Hofstra University and founded the GAELS Foundation, which is dedicated to the development of youth through sports. Mr. Bonomo holds a B.A. and J.D. degrees from St. John’s University.

·       Ramon Dominguez, Former Jockey (Governor’s Appointee): Ramon Dominguez is the recipient of the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey. In 2012, he set a new record for single-season earnings by a jockey. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Mr. Dominquez began riding full time at La Rinconada racetrack at the age of 18. In June, Mr. Dominguez announced his retirement due to head injuries suffered in a fall at Aqueduct Racetrack on January 18, 2013.

·       Alan M. Foreman (Governor’s Appointee): Alan M. Foreman is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Associations, Inc., which represents more than 20,000 owners and trainers throughout the United States, as well as Vice Chairman of the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium and as counsel to many horsemen's and racing industry organizations. Mr. Foreman was a member of the New York Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety that investigated the 21 fatalities at Aqueduct in 2011-2012. He is a founding director of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association has served as National General Counsel to the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association. His law practice involves all areas of equine and horse racing law representing horse owners, breeders, farms, jockeys, stables, trainers and horsemen’s organizations. 

·       Nancy C. Kelly (Governor’s Appointee): Nancy Kelly is Executive Director of The Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation, which provides financial relief and assistance to needy members of the Thoroughbred industry and their families. She also serves as Vice President of Development for the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Inc. and serves on the board of directors for the Belmont Child Care Association, Inc. (BCCA). In 2001, Ms. Kelly was presented with the Red Smith “Good Guy” Award from the New York Turf Writers Association for her humanitarian efforts within the Thoroughbred industry.

·       David P. Leno (Temporary President of the Senate’s Appointee): David P. Leno is a real estate attorney who has long been involved in Thoroughbred racing. He is currently a partner at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, P.C., where he chairs the Zoning and Land Use Practice Group. Mr. Leno is a Trustee of the Old Westbury College Foundation and a President’s Council Member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island.

·       John Velazquez, Jockey (Governor’s Appointee): John Velazquez recently became the all-time leading money-earning jockey in North America with more than $297 million in career purses. Mr. Velazquez also became the all-time leading rider at Saratoga Race Course and has more than 5,000 career victories. Born in Puerto Rico, Mr. Velazquez has been riding in the U.S. since 1990 and has since earned multiple NYRA meet titles and won several Triple Crown and Breeders Cup races, as well as three Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Jockey. He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2012. Mr. Velazquez is currently recovering from a serious spill that occurred during a November 2 race.

·       A seventh member to-be-named.

 

The Task Force will hold an inaugural organizational meeting on Wednesday, November 20 at 1 p.m. at Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, located at 1800 Northern Blvd, Roslyn, NY 11576. 

 

This meeting will be open to the public. Space is limited. Members of the public or media wishing to attend the meeting must RSVP by 3 p.m. on Tuesday, November 19 by calling 516-277-4010. All attendees must have valid photo ID to be admitted into the building.

 

The anticipated agenda for the November 20 meeting includes:

·       Charge of the Task Force

·       On-Track Issues

·       Health Insurance

·       Equipment

·       Other Concerns

·       Outreach

·       Next Steps

·       Next Meeting Date

Friday, November 15, 2013

Castellano's fall reminds that jockey's job is most dangerous in sports

When jockey Javier Castellano fell to the track after the ninth race at Aqueduct on Wednesday, I thought to myself that bad things happen in threes. Castellano’s fall came on the heels of recent spills involving Hall of Fame riders Calvin Borel and John Velazquez.

Borel suffered a broken fibula in a spill at Keeneland on Oct. 24. The three-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider is hoping to return opening day at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 10.

Velazquez was hurt on Nov. 2, Breeders’ Cup day at Santa Anita. His mount, Secret Compass, suffered a life-ending breakdown in the Juvenile Fillies. Doctors removed Velazquez’s spleen after they discovered he was bleeding internally. He will be sidelined for the rest of this year.

Castellano got off relatively easy. He took off his mounts Thursday due to body soreness. He is expected to ride today at Aqueduct.

Few will debate the fact that riding racehorses for a living is the most dangerous job in sports. We’re reminded of that daily when in every race run in the U.S., an ambulance will follow the field of horses.

The California Horse Racing Board conducted a jockey injury study using data involving its member tracks from 2007 to 2011. Jockey falls in thoroughbred races occurred at a rate of 1.99 per 1,000 rides.

The study showed, on average, that a jockey will be expected to fall once every 502 mounts. How risky is that? Imagine riding in a car at 40 mph when the driver abruptly tells you to jump out the window. Good luck with that tumble.

These are daily reminders that a jockey’s career, and his health and well-being, can change forever in a fraction of a second. And even if you ride the top horses, and not just a bunch of $5,000 claimers, no one is immune from danger.

Ramon Dominguez won the Eclipse Award for champion jockey in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He announced his retirement in June, at the age of 36, due to injuries suffered in a spill at Aqueduct on Jan. 18.

Among his injuries was a fractured skull, leading his doctors to advise him to retire. Their fear was another fall could have dire consequences.

Dominguez in some ways is lucky. He was able to walk away from the sport he loves. When I had the chance to deal with jockeys on a daily basis, a few told me they feared paralysis more than death.

There is an organization that assists injured jockeys called the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund. Its website is www.pdjf.org.

At this time of year, so many worthy charities are reaching out for contributions. Maybe if your favorite jockey, be it Rafael Bejarano, Rosie Napravnik, Joel Rosario, whoever, wins the daily double for you, think about donating a small part of your winnings to the PDJF. These athletes lay it on the line every day for our enjoyment.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.

Friday, November 15, 2013

JOCKEY GARY STEVENS WINS 2013 BIG SPORT OF TURFDOM AWARD

The Turf Publicists of America announced today that its membership has elected jockey Gary Stevens, winner of the 2013 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic, as the recipient of this year’s Big Sport of Turfdom Award. The annual honor is bestowed upon a person or group of people who enhance coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with media and Thoroughbred racing publicists.

“This year has been crazy and keeps getting better,” Stevens said. “I’m honored. Some of my idols and closest friends have received this award. It’s humbling.”

Stevens, 50, returned to the saddle in January after seven years of retirement. He immediately re-established himself as one of racing’s elite riders, winning a graded stakes race within one month of his comeback, taking Santa Anita’s San Marcos Stakes on Slim Shadey. More success in racing’s premier events followed, as Stevens notched 17 graded stakes wins this year (through Nov. 14), including eight Grade I events. He won his third Preakness Stakes with Oxbow, his third Breeders’ Cup Distaff astride Beholder and his first Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Mucho Macho Man.

“Gary has long been a favorite of racing media and publicists but perhaps never more so than this year, as his remarkable comeback amazed every one of us,” said TPA President Mandy Minger. “Through it all he made himself consistently available with interviews that were both thoughtful and candid.”

During retirement Stevens served as a racing analyst for NBC Sports and HorseRacing Television (HRTV). In an already storied career before injuries sidelined him in 2005, Stevens had won more than 5,000 races, including eight Triple Crown events and eight Breeders’ Cup races.

The Big Sport of Turfdom Award will be presented at the Race Track Industry Program Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, December 10, emceed by Chris Lincoln. It is part of the 2013 Symposium on Racing & Gaming presented by the University of Arizona at the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson, Ariz. The TPA consists of approximately 150 publicity and marketing personnel from racetracks and racing organizations around the country. The Big Sport of Turfdom award has been presented every year since 1966.

Previous winners of the Big Sport of Turfdom Award include jockeys Mike Smith, Pat Day, Laffit Pincay Jr., Chris McCarron, Bill Shoemaker, Angel Cordero Jr. and Eddie Arcaro; trainers Bob Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas, Jack Van Berg and last year’s winner, Dale Romans; as well as individuals who may not be involved in the day-to-day aspect of Thoroughbred racing but made significant contributions to the sport including author Laura Hillenbrand, broadcaster Jim McKay, and actors Tim Conway and Jack Klugman.

The Awards Luncheon is included in the registration fees for the symposium. Additional information about the luncheon may be obtained by contacting TPA President Mandy Minger at (212) 366-7694.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

BOREL TAKES REST OF 2013 OFF, EYES OAKLAWN RETURN

From Churchill Downs Communications Department
Jockey Calvin Borel, a three-time winner of theKentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and a 2013 inductee into the Thoroughbred racing Hall of Fame, will take the rest of the year off as he continues his recovery from injuries suffered in an October riding mishap at Keeneland Race Course.

Both Borel and agent Jerry Hissam have confirmed that he would remain out of the saddle through the end of the year and plans to return to competition in the 2014 meet at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., which will open Jan. 10.

The 47-yearold Louisiana native suffered a fractured fibula in a spill at the Lexington track on Oct. 24. He had originally planned to be out of action for “three or four weeks,” but has now decided that he will work toward a return to competition after the first of the year.

Borel confirmed his plans Tuesday during an appearance at the “Race for Success,” an annual fundraiser for Neighborhood House in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood. He was a featured guest at the annual event along with his wife, Lisa, and retired Hall of Fame rider Pat Day.

Lisa Borel said that her husband was doing well in his recovery from the leg injury, but also suffered “some soft tissue damage” in his right shoulder during that spill that requires added time to heal on its own.

Borel won the Kentucky Derby in 2007 (Street Sense), Mine That Bird (2009) and Super Saver (2010). He is the only jockey in 139 years of Kentucky Derby history to win the race three times in four years.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stevens, Smith Lead U.S. Team for Longines International Jockeys’ Championship

A stunning line-up of 12 superstar riders will take centre stage at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 4 December for the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship, worth HK$800,000.

The top three riders in the four-race contest will each receive prize money, with the winner carrying off HK$500,000, the second HK$200,000 and the third HK$100,000.

In what is one of the strongest international line-ups ever assembled, North American legends Mike Smith and Gary Stevens will join peers from around the globe, among them the three-time British champion Ryan Moore, five-time champion of France Christophe Soumillon and two riders who have ignited the Hong Kong circuit this season, 13-time championDouglas Whyte and Joao Moreira.

“The line-up for the 2013 LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship is about as A-list as it gets,” said William A Nader, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing. “It says much about the prestige of this important international event that we have a line-up of some of the world’s great riders, all coming into the IJC in outstanding form. It will be fascinating and incredibly exciting to watch these international stars showcase their skills around Happy Valley Racecourse, one of the sport’s iconic venues.”

Representing nine countries or regions, the invited jockeys include four past winners of the LONGINES IJC, including the 2012 victor Joao Moreira. The Brazilian has enjoyed a stellar start to his Hong Kong career since arriving in late October, but on 4 December he will once again carry the Singapore flag as that nation’s reigning champion jockey. This year marks the fourth consecutive season that he has claimed the Singapore title.

The other past winners seeking further glory are Whyte (2002, 2007, 2008), Moore (2009 dead-heat, 2010) and Soumillon (2004 dead-heat).

The American Hall of Fame riders, Smith and Stevens, head to Happy Valley in tremendous form. Smith, the winner of over 5000 races in the US, will be making his IJC debut and is the most successful rider in Breeders’ Cup history. He notched his 20th career win at that event earlier this month when he also took the Bill Shoemaker Award for leading jockey at the Breeders’ Cup for the second successive year.

Stevens, who has a profile outside the sport for his role in the blockbuster movie Seabiscuit, has won over 5000 races worldwide. Since returning from retirement in January, he has enjoyed a dream campaign, capped by the victories of Oxbow in the G1 Preakness and a long-awaited first success in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard MUCHO MACHO MAN.

Australia’s Kerrin McEvoy has ridden big-race winners around the world for Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley and Godolphin operations, and has already notched three G1 wins Down Under this season. His fellow IJC debutant, Japan’s rising star Suguru Hamanaka, as well as five-time Italian champion Mirco Demuro and France’s elite contender Maxime Guyon complete the overseas contingent.

The competition would be incomplete without the Hong Kong heroes, and as well as the reigning Hong Kong champion Whyte, Zac Purton is likely to make the line-up as he is currently premiership leader by nine wins. The final spot is open to the leading Hong Kong local jockey according to the standings on 20 November. Right now, that looks to be a three-way battle between Keith Yeung, Matthew Chadwick and Vincent Ho.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Castellano goes 6-for-7 at Aqueduct on Saturday

From NYRA Communications Department
Jockey Javier Castellano closed out a superlative day at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday by piloting North Star Boy to win the ninth and final race and register his first six-win day on the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit.

 

Castellano, the leading rider in New York in 2013 with 217 victories, won the first five races in which he had a mount, all aboard favorites. He took both ends of the early daily double aboard Coup de Grace ($3) and Jeter ($6.50), then won the fourth race with Becky's Kitten ($6.60), the fifth on One Red Cat ($2.90) and race 6, the Summer Secretary overnight stakes, with Watsdachances ($4.20).

 

Sixth in race 7 and without a mount in race 8 after morning-line favorite Anjaz was scratched from the Grade 3 Long Island Handicap, Castellano made it 6-for-7 aboard North Star Boy ($15), his only mount who did not go off as the betting favorite.

 

"When I came here this morning I was kind of disappointed to see my filly scratched from the stakes," said Castellano, a 33-year-old native of Venezuela. "All my horses today were live but I thought she was my best chance. I said, 'Let me ride it race by race,' and everything went right."

 

It was the first six-win day for a jockey in New York since the now-retired Ramon Dominguez went 6-for-7 on September 2, 2012 at Saratoga Race Course.

 

Castellano, the nation's leading rider in terms of both victories (313) and purses earned ($23.3 million), had twice ridden five winners this year in New York, on July 13 at Belmont Park and on September 2 at Saratoga.

 

"I'm very blessed; I've been having a wonderful year, winning the Breeders' Cup [Juvenile Fillies with Ria Antonia] and being the leading jockey at Belmont Park in the spring and fall and at Saratoga," said Castellano. "I am so thankful to all the trainers who put so much confidence in me, especially Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher. I hope things can continue and that God gives me the strength to be strong."

 

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Thursday, November 07, 2013

Jay Hovdey: For Velazquez, success comes at high price

John Velazquez was feeling almost human again.

“I finally got to take a shower,” he said, as he walked across the room and settled gingerly into his hospital bed with the help of his wife, Leona. Mike Smith, John’s pal, was of no help at all.

“The nurses were beginning to talk about how bad you smelled,” Smith said.

Velazquez winced. Usually he’d have a snappy comeback. Right now he was ready for a Tylenol.

“That’s all I want, just to take the edge off,” Velazquez said. “The stronger stuff just makes me feel worse.”

Velazquez had a right to feel as bad as he pleased. The nasty surgical wound beneath his left rib cage was the outward evidence of the primary damage caused last Saturday when his mount, Secret Compass, suffered a fatal fracture and sent Velazquez hard to the ground around the final turn of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, whereupon he was kicked by a trailing horse.

It was the first Breeders’ Cup race of the day, and it happened just before Leona and their two children, 15-year-old Lerina and 10-year-old Michael, had arrived at Santa Anita from their hotel. Velazquez, bleeding internally, was taken by paramedics to the trauma center at Huntington Memorial Hospital in nearby Pasadena, where he underwent emergency surgery to remove his damaged spleen. Now, four days after his surgery, the lesser bruises and abrasions sustained in the fall were coming out from hiding, revealing themselves in all their glory.

“That’s how it works,” Smith said. “When you go down like that sometimes you’ll discover a new one every day for awhile. At least your X-rays are all good.”

“The worst is my arm,” Velazquez said with a careful flex of his left arm. “You can see it’s still swollen.”

This reporter has been present at many such inventories, when jockeys must submit to the emergency ministrations of health care professionals as part of the price they pay to play the game they love. The scene was agonizingly typical, although the players in this case were unique, Mike Smith being the most successful jockey in the history of the Breeders’ Cup and John Velazquez the most successful jockey in history, period, at least when it comes to the money won by the horses he has ridden.

Velazquez is also “The Chairman” to his fellow riders, as the leader of the Jockeys’ Guild board of directors. It was in this capacity that he attended the awards dinner of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association on the Wednesday evening before the Breeders’ Cup to help honor Ramon Dominguez, whose career was cut short earlier in 2013 by a head injury sustained in a fall at Aqueduct. Together they accepted a donation on behalf of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

Velazquez, who turns 42 on Nov. 24, has paid a stern price for his cut of the nearly $300 million earned by his mounts. Just last April he fractured a rib and chipped a bone in his wrist at Aqueduct. In June of 2012 he broke his collarbone and lacerated a kidney at Churchill Downs. In April of 2006 he fractured his shoulder at Keeneland. And so on, back to Jan. 12, 1992, when he was the first rider to go down in a four-horse pile-up at Aqueduct that ended the legendary career of Angel Cordero Jr., who later became Velazquez’s agent.

“We went to the hospital together that day,” Cordero recalled this week. “They released Johnny, and I stayed for 27 days. For me it was the end of one career and turned out to be the beginning of another.”

Cordero broke three ribs and an arm that day and suffered a lacerated liver. He also had his spleen removed, which puts Velazquez in good company. Cordero was asked what life has been like these past 21 years without the fist-shaped organ that is found just above the stomach, acting primarily as a blood filter.

“You can get sick a lot,” Cordero said. “The immune system is the problem. He’ll have to stay away from people who have a cold. The fortunate thing is that it can make you try to stay even more healthy. Unfortunately for me, when I quite riding I lost my fitness, and the body does not respond the same. But I don’t think losing the spleen is going to give him any trouble physically, as far as riding.

“I was almost 50 when it happened,” Cordero added. “Johnny is only 41. He’s still got a lot of life left.”

According to Velazquez, it will take six to eight weeks of recovery from the surgery “before I can even lift anything,” which is why he is taking things day to day in the immediate wake of the trauma. Down time for any rider is always difficult and Velazquez, for all his celebrity, is no different.

His Tylenol tablets arrived, and Velazquez washed them down with a grateful pull from a bottle of apple juice brought by Smith. He turned to his wife.

“You know what Michael asked me?” Velazquez said. “He looked at me and said, ‘Dad, are you going to be able to walk?’ I didn’t even know he was worried about that.

“When I told him I would be okay, that of course I would be able to walk, he gave me this big smile,” Velazquez said. “It was like a big weight lifted off him and everything was going to be all right.”

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Jockey Club Announces Plan to Fund Baseline Concussion Tests for Jockeys

November 6, 2013

Contact: Bob Curran Jr. (212) 521-5326

The Jockey Club announced today that it will fund baseline concussion testing for all jockeys who use the Jockey Health Information System (JHIS).

 

The JHIS, which was created in October 2008, is a database that stores jockeys’ updated medical histories and enables emergency medical personnel at racetracks to instantly access that information in the event of injury. There is no cost for any racetrack or jockey to participate in the JHIS. It can be accessed via a new module of InCompass’ Race Track Operations system.

 

“Baseline concussion testing has become an integral part of any safety regimen in professional and amateur sports alike,” said James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club. “The topic was addressed at the International Jockeys' Health, Safety & Welfare Conference at Monmouth Park in September, and we’ve all read about the testing being done with football players and, most recently, NASCAR drivers. We are pleased to use the platform of the JHIS to offer this service to the riders.”

 

“On behalf of the Jockeys’ Guild and its members, I want to truly thank The Jockey Club for its continued support for the welfare of riders,” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “It is my hope that every rider will take advantage of this opportunity, and we look forward to working with the tracks and riders to see that it is widely promoted.”

 

The creation and development of the JHIS featured collaboration among InCompass, The Jockey Club Technology Services Inc., the Jockeys’ Guild, Keeneland and Dr. Barry Schumer, Keeneland’s medical director, who developed the original concept and consulted on the project. Keeneland is the only track in the country that requires jockeys to sign up for the JHIS.

 

InCompass, a subsidiary of The Jockey Club, plans to acquire a package of these tests, which would be administered free of charge by a medical professional at each track if the rider agrees to enroll in JHIS.

 

“This is a win-win situation for jockeys if ever there was one,” said Dr. Schumer, who has been associated with Keeneland for more than 30 years. “Baseline concussion testing is a crucial component that will help track medical personnel make appropriate return-to-ride assessments following head injuries. Storing this information securely in the jockey’s JHIS medical history makes it accessible whenever and wherever they ride and helps us protect our rider’s immediate and long-term health and welfare.”

 

“Keeneland is proud to be the first racetrack to introduce baseline concussion testing for jockeys, and we are grateful to The Jockey Club and Dr. Schumer for their continued efforts to enhance the safety of our riders,” said Bill Thomason, president and chief executive officer of Keeneland Association.

 

The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms, among others. Additional information is available at jockeyclub.com.

 

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Monday, November 04, 2013

MIKE SMITH WINS SECOND CONSECUTIVE BILL SHOEMAKER AWARD

From Breeders' Cup Communications Department
Propelled by three wins over the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Mike Smith won his second consecutive Bill Shoemaker Award as the most outstanding jockey of the 30th edition of the event, held at Santa Anita Park, Nov. 1-2.

 

Smith scored back-to-back victories in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon on London Bridge and Outstrip (GB) in the Juvenile Turf on Friday, and was victorious aboard Mizdirection in the Geico Turf Sprint on Saturday, extending his all-time lead in Breeders’ Cup victories by a jockey to 20. Combined with a second-place finish on Laugh Track in the Xpressbet Sprint, a third-place finish on Emollient in the Filly & Mare Turf and a fourth-place finish on Royal Delta in the Distaff, Smith’s 37-point total edged Gary Stevens by four points in a 10-5-3-1 scoring system based on the first- through fourth-place finishes in the 14 Breeders’ Cup races.

 

Stevens, 50, enjoying a remarkable return to the races after a seven-year absence, booted home winners in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff with Beholder and the Classic on Mucho Macho Man. He was awarded five points for finishing second in the Juvenile Fillies on She’s a Tiger, following a disqualification from first place; and earned another second-place finish on Havana in the Juvenile and a third-place finish on Indy Point in the Turf.    

 

The Bill Shoemaker Award is named in honor of one of the greatest jockeys in the history of Thoroughbred racing.  Shoemaker, a winner of the Kentucky Derby four times, won more than 8,800 races in a career that spanned more than 40 years. In 1987, at 56, Shoemaker won the Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Ferdinand.

 

“It was a great honor to win the award last year for the first time but winning it a second time means much more to me because it’s so much harder to do,” said the 48-year-old Smith, from Roswell, N.M.  Commenting on the late Shoemaker, Smith said “As small as he was, he was a giant of a man on horseback and off.”

 

Bill Shoemaker Award winners:

2003: Alex Solis
2004: John Velazquez
2005: Garrett Gomez
2006: Frankie Dettori
2007: Garrett Gomez
2008: Garrett Gomez
2009: Julien Leparoux
2010: Garrett Gomez
2011: John Velazquez

2012: Mike Smith

2013 Mike Smith

 

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