09/11/2012 2:09PM

Fairplex Park: Bisono enjoying renaissance as rider

Benoit & Associates
Jockey Alex Bisono rides Zoe B to a maiden win at Del Mar for trainer Eric Kruljac.

POMONA, Calif. – Horsemen and handicappers in Southern California are catching on to the surprise jockey of late summer.

Although he did not win a single race from late March to early August, jockey Alex Bisono never gave up.

“I was putting in a lot of work, and I was like . . . when is it going to get better?” Bisono said.

Turns out, it was Aug. 1.

After 59 straight losses, Bisono rode Zoe B to a maiden upset for trainer Eric Kruljac at Del Mar. Four days later, Bisono won for trainer Gary Stute with longshot Willie Brown. Six days later, another upset with Stute-trained Romeo Royale.

Bisono is back, though he never really left. And when he climbs aboard Zoe B again in the feature race Thursday at Fairplex Park, Bisono will rank as one of the season’s hottest riders. From Aug. 1 through Sept. 9, Bisono won 10 races from 41 mounts.

“I’ve been on rolls before, but to know that you’re really busting your butt and gaining success is out of this world,” Bisono said last week at Fairplex after his third consecutive winner, Stute-trained Heart Fever.

Bisono is 28, married with two young children, and among the most likeable jockeys on the circuit. But after he won the Grade 1 Ancient Title as an apprentice in 2004 on PT’s Grey Eagle and three stakes as a journeyman with turf filly Foxysox in 2006, business tailed off.

During 2010 and 2011 combined, Bisono won just 23 races.

It was Kruljac who turned things around. In spring, he offered a proposition.

“We entered an agreement regarding a client who had a lot of young horses coming in,” Kruljac said. “I told [Bisono] he would ride most of them, but only if he did a lot of the galloping.”

It was a demotion, from jockey to exercise rider. Bisono had few options. He went to work for Kruljac in the morning and rode an average of one a day in the afternoon at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. Bisono stayed hopeful.

“I had a really slow Hollywood meet [0 for 35], but I was putting in a lot of work with Eric,” Bisono said.

When the circuit moved to Del Mar, hard work began to pay off.

His second mount at Del Mar, Bisono guided Zoe B to a $24.80 victory, and the roll began – three winners from his first seven mounts.

“Once people saw me win for a guy like [Kruljac], it helped me gain momentum,” Bisono said. “I’m ecstatic.”

He should be. Business is good and getting better. Bisono has ridden winners recently for Emily Mode, Molly Pearson, David Hofmans, and Rafael DeLeon.

He had six wins at Del Mar and was the circuit’s leading jockey by return on investment. A $2 win wager on each of his 33 mounts produced a $151.40 total return ($4.59 per 42 win bets).

Thursday at Fairplex, Bisono is back aboard Kruljac trainee Zoe  B in the race 8 feature, an optional claimer for California-bred fillies and mares. Trapper’s Bounty is favored at 6-5; Zoe B is second choice at 2-1.

The odds are dropping on Bisono. The first three Fairplex winners by Bisono returned $14, $7.80, and $6.

Bisono credits Kruljac for the career revitalization, but the trainer said it was the jockey.

“He rejuvenated himself,” Kruljac said. “Other people are using him.

“He’s a great kid and excellent on the back of a horse.”