05/29/2008 11:00PM

Beckon bidding to be new king at the Fort


FORT ERIE, Ontario - On Sept. 10, 2003, at Woodbine, apprentice jockey Chad Beckon rode his first winner, Lil Personalitee, for trainer Myckie Neubauer.

Beckon has been building on that success ever since. He now leads the Fort Erie jockeys in wins, and he has his sights set on keeping it that way throughout the season.

Two years ago, Beckon finished sixth in the standings at Fort Erie behind top rider Robert King.

Last year, Beckon chased the now retired King in the jockey standings to the wire.

Beckon, 28, has been hitting the winner's circle at a 21 percent clip, and his mounts have been in the money 59 percent of the time.

His 15 wins at the current Fort Erie meet put him well in front of Christopher Griffith and Cory Clark, who are tied for second with 10 apiece.

"I owe much of the success that I have had to my mentor, Dan Mooney of Huntington Farms," said Beckon. "He gave me a chance to prove myself at the beginning, and then was willing to let me further my riding education with a session down in Ocala, Fla., with Sam-Son Farms.

"The experience gained was immeasurable, and that first win gave me the needed confidence."

Now, with his apprentice allowance gone, Beckon is proving that the early education provided by Mooney was a solid building block.

Some riders have a tendency to back off once they lose their apprentice allowances, but in Beckon's case that has not happened. He is a student of Daily Racing Form and reviews the expected pattern of each upcoming race to decide on his options.

"Sometimes things do not go as planned, since the break from the gate can make you instantly alter your plans," he said. "Or in some cases other riders do the unexpected and you have to adapt immediately and change the tactics.

"But overall, if you know the opposition and do your homework, then it can be a big help as the race unfolds."

Jockey agent Scotty Lane holds Beckon's book, and the two of them have been working with a variety of trainers this year, including long-time Beckon booster John Simms.

Beckon has been aboard seven horses for Simms here this year, and won with three of them.

"Mr. Simms has given me a number of opportunities over the years and I believe we make a good team," said Beckon. "As mentioned earlier, I like to study the Form, and the two of us together take the time to discuss the horse, the field, and the preferred strategy."

Beckon has been relatively accident-free, but he did break a shoulder when helping to make a movie at Fort Erie after the meet ended in 2006.

"It was just one of those things that can happen when least expected," he said. "You ride for years in competitive races without a mishap, and then suddenly you go down when making a film."

Now fully recovered from that incident, Beckon is looking forward to continuing the success that has come his way this spring.

Sealock hurt, likely done for year

Jockey Regina Sealock fractured a shinbone during a training mishap on Tuesday morning and probably is through for the year.

"I'm guessing I'll miss the season," said Sealock, 47. "I'm going to take my time and concentrate on coming back in good shape. I don't want to be a hero and try and push it."

Sealock was off to a great start here this year, winning seven races in the first 11 days of the meeting.

* Frezacon, Fort Erie's horse of the year in 2007, came through with an impressive season debut last Sunday, turning back a number of challenges to win going away under Cory Clark. Neubauer trains Frezacon.