01/13/2011 3:30PM

Alvarado returns 'a little sore' after paddock accident


OZONE PARK, N.Y. − Usually, the winter in New York is a time for an apprentice jockey to shine. This winter, it has been journeyman Junior Alvarado who has stood out in his first stint riding on the New York Racing Association circuit.

Alvarado, the 2009 leading rider at Arlington Park, moved his tack to New York in late fall. After going 0 for 5 at Belmont, Alvarado went 7 for 47 during the Aqueduct fall meet. But his star has risen this winter, when he has ridden 14 winners from 111 mounts, placing him third in the inner track standings.

“I’m doing real good. I can’t complain about it,” Alvarado said before the races Thursday. “I’ve had a lot of help from the trainers. They’ve given me a big chance.”

Actually, Alvarado can complain a little. On Sunday, he was kicked in the side by his mount before the sixth race and was left unattended for several minutes as he lay on the ground before being removed from the paddock by fellow rider David Cohen. Alvarado was taken to a local hospital, where he stayed overnight for observation before being released Sunday. After taking off his mounts that day, Alvarado was back to work Thursday, none the worse for wear.

“A little sore, nothing bad,” said Alvarado, who said the bulk of the pain was in his lower right rib cage.

Alvarado finished third aboard Read the E Mail in Thursday’s second race, his first mount back following Saturday’s paddock incident. Read the E Mail is trained by Gary Contessa, for whom Alvarado has ridden three winners this winter. Contessa has a long-standing friendship with Mike Monroe, Alvarado’s agent, but said he has been impressed enough by Alvarado to use him regardless of who represented him.

“I think Junior Alvarado has the potential to be a top rider,” Contessa said. “He’s got a good seat on a horse and a good head on his shoulders. Mike Monroe is a friend of mine, but [Alvarado’s] the best rider he’s gotten. He’d be a welcome addition to any rider colony.”

Contessa said Alvarado needed a little time to adjust to the dirt track at Aqueduct after riding primarily on the Polytrack surface at Arlington. Alvarado acknowledged that a jockey does have to ride differently on dirt than on synthetic.

“On Polytrack it doesn’t matter if you’re last, because you don’t get dirt in your face,” Alvarado said. “Horses that don’t like dirt, they make you go wide, and you can lose the race because of it.”

One of the Contessa horses Alvarado rode to victory was Preachintothedevil, a promising 3-year-old who took the Champagneforashley Stakes for New York-breds on Jan. 5. Preachintothedevil, a son of Pulpit, is being pointed to the $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes here Feb. 5.

“They told me he’s a grass horse, but the first time I rode him, he was real impressive,” Alvarado said. “He really handled the dirt pretty good. The second time, he finished third in a stakes, but that was his first tough race. He then came back and won real easy. He won’t have any problem going longer.”

Alvarado, who came to the U.S. from Venezuela in 2007, said his goal is to do well enough this winter to show he belongs on the NYRA circuit full-time.

Affectionately fails to fill

A sixteenth of a mile made a significant difference for some trainers, which is why Sunday’s feature will be the $60,000 Lady on the Run Stakes at a mile rather than the $65,000 Affectionately Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

Eleven of the 17 nominees to the Affectionately were also nominated to the Lady on the Run, which originally was scheduled for Friday but did not have enough entries to be used that day. Wind Caper was the only mare not nominated to both races. Wind Caper, when stretched out around two turns for the first time, blew a large lead in the stretch when she finished third in the Sky Beauty Stakes at a mile and 70 yards on Dec. 16.

The likely favorite for the Lady on the Run will be Quiet Giant, who won the Cheap Seats Stakes by 8 3/4 lengths going a mile over the inner track Dec. 12. Indian Burn and Mined Over Matter, third and fifth behind Quiet Giant in the Cheap Seats, are back in this spot, as is McVictory, who finished fourth in the Garland of Roses going six furlongs last out.

◗ Rereadthefootnotes, unraced since taking the Hollie Hughes Stakes last Feb. 15, breezed four furlongs in 49.15 seconds over the Belmont training track Thursday. It was his seventh breeze since returning to the worktab Dec. 5. Rereadthefootnotes is eligible for an overnight stakes for New York-breds next Thursday, but trainer Mike Hushion said he didn’t think the horse would be ready. The Hollie Hughes, which Hushion has won four times since 2003, is run Feb. 21.

◗ R Betty Graybull ($6) made a six-wide move at the quarter pole under Eddie Castro and ran past 4-5 favorite Shine Upon in the final sixteenth to win the $60,000 Leecoo Stakes for New York breds by 1 1/2 lengths. Big Brownie finished third. R Betty Graybull, a 5-year-old daughter of Holy Bull, won for the seventh time in 19 starts for Fantasy Lane Stables. She is trained by Linda White, a former assistant for longtime NYRA kingpin Gasper Moschera. R Betty Graybull covered the mile in 1:38.70 and returned $6.80 as the second choice.

◗ The stewards fined jockey David Cohen $500 for failing to ride his mount, Summer Flick, to the wire in the sixth race on Jan. 5. Summer Flick just got caught for third by Dita.

◗ Brian Morgan has taken over as the agent for Cornelio Velasquez.