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Churchill Downs notes: Jockeys pass on Saratoga to stay in Kentucky for the summer
By Marty McGee
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maybe it has to do with the breathalyzer tests in NY.
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
It just goes to show how bad the racing at CD has gotten. 5 and 6 horse fields continuously.
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.
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.
Whats worse trying to make a horse at Ellis Park, Finger Lakes or Parx. So bad..........
I wish Shane would come to the Spa, he was always good on some route distance horses at the Spa between 95-99.
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