Joel Rosario’s amazing weekend at Keeneland included six stakes wins, three alone for trainer Wesley Ward, leading to Jockey of the Week honors for March 29 through April 4. The award, which is voted on by a panel of racing experts, is for jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 active riders in the United States as well as retired and permanently disabled jockeys.
Rosario began opening weekend on Friday with mounts in eight of the nine races. His stakes haul started with the Palisades Turf Sprint aboard Chasing Artie for Trainer Wesley Ward. Rosario rallied Chasing Artie from last place at the top of the stretch to win over the favorite, Fauci, in 1:03.46 for 5-1/2 furlongs.
Next, trainer Shug McGaughey gave a leg up to Rosario on Scarlett Sky in the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3). Sent off as the third choice in the field of six, Scarlett Sky took control in deep stretch to win by a half-length in 1:43.89 in the turf contest.
Winning two stakes races at Keeneland is an accomplishment but Rosario was just getting started.
On Saturday, California-based trainer John Sadler tapped Rosario to ride Flagstaff in the Commonwealth (G3), a seven-furlong contest on the dirt. Flagstaff collared the leaders inside the sixteenth pole to draw off for 1-1/4 length victory in 1:21.84.
In the Shakertown (G2), Rosario rode Bound for Nowhere for trainer Wesley Ward. Off as the slight favorite in the field of 12 and racing in midpack outside of horses, Bound for Nowhere hit the front in the final strides over Imprimis and Paco Lopez stopping the teletimer in 1:02.19 for 5-1/2 furlongs over a “good” turf course.
Rosario’s Grade I stakes double started with Malathaat in the Central Bank Ashland. Malathaat caught Pass the Champagne in the shadow of the wire in 1:42.94 for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Shadwell Stable. In the following race, trainer Wesley Ward engaged Rosario to ride Kimari in the Madison who surged to the front in midstretch to win by three-quarters of length in 1:21.53.
“Thank you to everyone: Wesley Ward, Todd Pletcher, everyone else who gave me an opportunity,” said Rosario. “It was an amazing day. I thought I had some chances to win but you never know, so it’s just great to have the opportunities and be able to win.”
Rosario’s weekly stats were 18-7-4-2 with a 38.9% win percentage and total purse earnings of $950,652.
Rosario out polled Irad Ortiz, Jr. who was leading rider by wins including six on April 3, Flavien Prat who won four stakes including the Santa Anita Oaks, Umberto Rispoli who won the Santa Anita Derby and Luis Saez who won three stakes at Keeneland including the Toyota Blue Grass and accounted for the stakes races Rosario did not win.