11/24/2011 4:28PM

Aqueduct: Ex-jockey Lakeman wins first race as trainer

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Andrew Lakeman with Thisskysabeauty last year. Thisskysabeauty gave Lakeman his first win as a trainer on Thursday at Aqueduct.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – A somber Thanksgiving Day at Aqueduct ended on a positive note when Thisskysabeauty overcame a slow start to win the final race, giving former jockey Andrew Lakeman his first win as a trainer/owner.

In May 2007, Lakeman was paralyzed in a spill during a race at Belmont Park. Following his recovery, Lakeman’s family wanted him to return to his native England, but Lakeman said it had always been his dream to train a horse and win a race on the New York Racing Association circuit. Lakeman purchased Thisskysabeauty, a son of Sky Mesa, as a 2-year-old, and the colt won in his eighth start, first for a claiming price of $25,000.

“When I got hurt, this was from the beginning my goal,” Lakeman said. “I wanted to stay here in New York, I wanted to train. My parents wanted to take me back home to England. From the moment I could speak again, I told them I’m not going home, I want to stay here and train in New York and I want to win. A lot of people thought I might get over that, but I stuck to my plan and my dream and it feels awesome to have won my first race in New York.”

Ramon Dominguez rode Thisskysabeauty, capping a five-win afternoon on what was his 35th birthday.

Lakeman, whose career was plagued by substance-abuse problems, rode in New York from 2000-07, winning 7 races from 181 mounts including the Huntington Stakes here aboard Saint Daimon. That horse was trained by Allen Jerkens, the Hall of Famer for whom Lakeman worked as an exercise rider. Lakeman said his first phone call after the race was to Jerkens.

“I called Allen Jerkens, he didn’t get to see it, but they told him about it,” Lakeman said. “He is my hero. Getting to ride and win races for him was a blessing, and now to train and win my first race in New York is pretty awesome.”

Lakeman, who has since picked up a second horse to train, gave a lot of credit to his stablehand Alfonso Camacho, who serves as the groom and exercise rider for Thisskysabeauty.

“He did a brilliant job,” Lakeman said.

Thisskysabeauty’s victory came at the end of a card in which two horses had to be euthanized, including General Maximus, who suffered a condylar fracture and sesamoid fracture to his left foreleg during the running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap for which he was the 2-1 favorite. Earlier on the card, B Z Warrior had to be euthanized with a sesamoid fracture to his left foreleg after pulling up following the seventh race.

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