06/27/2012 2:12PM

Churchill Downs notes: Jockeys pass on Saratoga to stay in Kentucky for the summer

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Tom Keyser
Leandro Goncalves will take a trip back home to Brazil when the Churchill meet ends.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Since the era of Pat Day, the end of the spring meet has meant that the next stop was Saratoga for some in the Churchill Downs jockey colony. But after the 2012 meet ends Sunday, not a single Churchill jockey will ride regularly at the Saratoga meet that starts July 20.

“I can hardly remember a time when not one Kentucky jock went to Saratoga,” said Fred Aime, a longtime agent who represented Day for years and now works for Miguel Mena and Shane Sellers.

Aside from frequent out-of-town stakes engagements this summer, including perhaps some spot-riding at Saratoga, the leading riders at the Churchill spring meet – Corey Lanerie, Shaun Bridgmohan, and Calvin Borel – intend to ride mostly at Ellis Park, the western Kentucky track that starts its 29-day summer meet next Wednesday, July 4. Also, Aime said Mena and Sellers will move to Arlington Park as soon as Churchill ends.

Besides Day, who retired in August 2005, a handful of other Kentucky-based jockeys typically moved on to Saratoga for the summer. In more recent years, Robby Albarado, Julien Leparoux, Kent Desormeaux, and Borel have ridden there, as have Bridgmohan and Mena. But a confluence of varying circumstances involving all of those jockeys has yielded this unusual development.

“Saratoga is going to be extremely tough this year,” said Lenny Pike, agent for Bridgmohan. “Besides the regulars like Ramon [Dominguez] and [Javier] Castellano, you’ve also got Rosie [Napravnik] and [Joel] Rosario there for the first time. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for any of us to go up there for six weeks just to try to max out with 8 or 10 wins.”

Leandro Goncalves, third in the Churchill standings entering the final week of action behind Lanerie and Bridgmohan (Borel was a close fourth), is heading home to Brazil for a few weeks before starting back at the Hoosier Park meet that begins Aug. 1. Other Churchill jockeys planning to ride regularly at Ellis include Brian Hernandez Jr., Gabriel Saez, Jon Court, and Victor Lebron.

Quite a few Churchill trainers will stable at Saratoga, with Steve Asmussen, Dale Romans, Ken McPeek, and Rusty Arnold among those shipping out sizable strings.

Eight for Bashford Manor

Working on the assumption that racing will be held here Saturday night as scheduled, the highlight will be the Grade 3, $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes. From the rail out, this is the field of eight 2-year-olds: Good Tickled, Circle Unbroken, Go Jack Go, Praetorian Prefect, Special Jo, Roman’s Avenue, Positively, and Hightail.

Likely favorites in the six-furlong race include Positively, with Borel riding for Pat Byrne, and Special Jo, with Sellers aboard for Asmussen.

First post Saturday is 6 p.m. Eastern, with the Bashford Manor, the sixth of 11 races, set for about 8:30.

◗ Yuichi Fukunaga, the leading jockey in Japan, has been named on five horses for Saturday night and also is scheduled to ride here Sunday. His Saturday mounts are in races 2, 3, 4, 8, and 11.

After this weekend, Fukunaga, 35, will go to California to ride the last couple of weeks at the Betfair Hollywood Park meet before trying his hand at Del Mar, which starts July 18. Fukunaga has prior experience in America, with his biggest win coming aboard Cesario in the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood in 2005.

◗ Jockey Pat Johnson has been named back on Humor’s Punch in the eighth race Friday. Johnson, 53, won his first Churchill race since 2008 when he urged Humor’s Punch to a nose victory in the first race June 16. Humor’s Punch is trained by 78-year-old Tom McCarthy of General Quarters fame.

Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
The 1st race winner at Belmont today is whats starting to turn my stomach about horse racing. Completely outclassed and wins at 33-1. I'm all for long shots that make some kind of sense. I left after that race. I'm not going to deal with that s~%t.
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
I'm shocked that these top class jockeys plan to ride at Ellis Park. I have nothing against Ellis Park but these jockeys are out of their mind for not trying to compete with the best.
Georgia More than 1 year ago
I think Joel Rosario made a good move leaving Ca. The fields are getting smaller and smaller and think he can get a run for his money on the East coast. We no longer live in Ca. but have so many great memories at HWood Park and Santa Anita..even, fun days at Fairplex Park. It's just not the same there any longer, which makes me really sad.
Norman Albanese More than 1 year ago
Maybe it has to do with the breathalyzer tests in NY.
t More than 1 year ago
i pay more attention to the riders that step up to NY-KY or Cali from delaware-maryland and sometimes louisiana. There are lot of jockeys that are just waiting for a chance at smaller venues across the country. Someone like CJ McMahon would be in Saratogas winner's circle as much as Calvin would be if he was given the the chance
Matt Harper More than 1 year ago
It just goes to show how bad the racing at CD has gotten. 5 and 6 horse fields continuously.
t More than 1 year ago
oh yeah? you just full of envy because CD doesn't care what u think I don't see that way,,, California is the capital of small horse fields and sorry betting CD knows how to make a racecard,,, There could be 14-20 horse fields in every race like it is cheap Louisiana land. Not every race has to be 10-14 horse field,,, 6 to 10 horse fields actually makes for some nice exotic handicapping with a two or three 10 horse plus races . CD doesn't need six should be 99-1 shot running in every field with no chance just make a program look good. Gulfstream among the tracks that overuse full fields on their racecard and there alot of horse players that won't play because its basically handicapping a lottery
Kevin Catalano More than 1 year ago
Where you recently hit in the head? Kentucky will only get worse as it's government kills racing with each vote against racino's, casino's, etc. Santa Anita averaged almost 8 horses/race and that is for the entire meet. Churchill Downs averages 6/race except maiden claiming races and maiden special weight races. Their meet has been a disaster. Churchill mdnspwgt races go for 53k but if you read the fine print, if you are not a Ky bred then it is $ 9,800 less. At Belmont you are running for 70k and 13k more if NY in open company. At Indiana Downs the same open class runs for 35k. So 35k In, 44k Ky and 70K in Ny. Gulstream, Keeneland and Saratoga is where the real racing is held. I live by Ellis Park and will be home playing "the spa" not watching one race from the most poorly owned/ran track in the country. Have fun betting Amoss and Cox at 3/5 for a few more days.
t More than 1 year ago
Sha-tin is where the real racing is,,, one day handle is biggest then the whole saratoga meet
Matt Harper More than 1 year ago
Do you know the difference between CD and Eliis Park? About 131.2 miles. That's it...that's the only difference!!! Same jockeys, same trainers, same horses... Well, ok, maybe one more difference...CD cancels racing in the 100 degree heat, or moves the post time...Ellis races no matter the weather at 12:50p.m.!!!!
Paul Patane More than 1 year ago
Everyone is thinking Joey Talmao is gonna wipe the Delmar meet clean. Hes ok, but I like Flores,hes young and aggresive and can bring a some nice prices.
MGropenSDREADER More than 1 year ago
Who's "everyone?" While Talamo is talented and Eswan Flores is an up-and-comer, Rafael Bejarano is the mostly likely meet leader. And don't forget Gomez. As for ROI, E. Flores is certainly good--as is Maldonado.
Mike More than 1 year ago
Bejarano is most likely to dominate, but please don't talk up Maldonado. I love getting big prices because no one gives him credit for how good he is.
Dave Schuler More than 1 year ago
Look out when betting against martin garcia-lolk-DS
ECarlos727 More than 1 year ago
Gomez takes del mar. Other than Bejarano no one else is a big name guy with the backing.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
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D More than 1 year ago
might want to work on your politically correctness while in a public forum, lol
Paul Patane More than 1 year ago
Robert Messina and Les Hutlet use to ride at Finger Lakes in the early 90s when I first started following this rig and crooked game. I swear, they would always turn for home on 2-1 shot with a 6 length lead, and it was so bad they would get nipped at the wire everytime. Id be playing dirty Aqueduct with Jorge Chavez, a young Johnny V and Robbie Davis, just laughing my face off. Finger Lakes is hillarious. I know a few buddys who do good there, just because they play random 5 horse/number boxes and sit back, its really the only way to play that hole.
Paul Patane More than 1 year ago
Whats worse trying to make a horse at Ellis Park, Finger Lakes or Parx. So bad..........
Paul Patane More than 1 year ago
I wish Shane would come to the Spa, he was always good on some route distance horses at the Spa between 95-99.
D More than 1 year ago
Shane Sellers can't finish in a race and if you watch CD on a regular basis you will see him getting used day in and day out at low odds. Plus he is as low class of a human being as you can get so it all balances out I guess, lol
smitty More than 1 year ago
i guess youve met him,lol
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
You must be related to him. He's the Mike Luzzi of Kentucky and only wins when they put over a race.
Donald Todd LaLonde More than 1 year ago
Mike Luzzi is a great guy, and can ride with the best of them.....he's only held back by the quality of his mounts.....give him Ramon's horses or Javier's seconds and he's on top. The jockey colony @ Saratoga is A-1; the best of the best: only wish Chantal would make the trip out!