01/05/2012 1:22PM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Ryan Curatolo

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Ryan Curatolo is an Eclipse Award finalist for champion apprentice jockey following a 2011 season in which he made his Breeders’ Cup debut and established himself as the dominant apprentice rider in New York. Curatolo, a 19-year-old from Marseille, France, won the first race of his career at Calder Race Course on Nov. 6, 2010. He was later brought on as a contract rider for one of New York’s leading owners, Flying Zee Stable, and he rode Pure Gossip for Flying Zee to a seventh-place finish in the Grade 2, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on Nov. 4.

A month earlier, Curatolo guided Pure Gossip to win the Grade 3, $100,000 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park, the rider’s second graded stakes score from four stakes victories in 2011. Curatolo’s other graded win came aboard Street Game in the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont, the rider’s first stakes win.

“Today is the happiest day of my life,” he said after the race June 18. “I’m very glad to win for Flying Zee Stable; it’s my stable.” Just a few days later, Curatolo fractured his left clavicle in a spill at Belmont. He recovered and would go on to ride in the Breeders’ Cup. Other highlights of Curatolo’s season included a four-win day at Belmont on May 21, when one of his winners paid $108. Curatolo spent time working as an exercise rider for trainer Patrick Biancone – much like 2006 champion apprentice Julien Leparoux – before launching his race-riding career in October 2010. Curatolo is currently riding at Aqueduct. He won 115 races from 897 mounts, for mount earnings of more than $4 million through Dec. 31.