09/23/2009 12:00AM

Frazier enjoys dominant year, nears record

Email

AUBURN, Wash. - In a game predicated on facts and figures, there's little doubt that Ricky Frazier is the best jockey at Emerald Downs. He wrapped up the riding title several weeks ago, and, with a handful of racing days remaining, is on pace to break his own record for victories in a season. Name an important statistical category - mounts, wins, stakes wins, winning percentage, in-the-money percentage, earnings - and the Arkansas native ranks first.

"It's been an awesome season," Frazier, 45, said between races last Sunday. "I've enjoyed good health and good horses. Riding Atta Boy Roy has been a big thrill. Ladyledue, Knight Raider, Gadget Queen, Winning Machine - it's kind of been a who's who of great horses."

Those five horses combined to win 11 stakes races with Frazier in the irons. Atta Boy Roy ran six furlongs in a track-record 1:07 en route to a 10 3/4-length victory in the Chinook Pass Sprint two weeks ago, his first start since a gallant fifth-place finish in the Grade 3, $300,000 Longacres Mile. Now being pointed toward the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Atta Boy Roy is scheduled to start next in the Grade 1, $350,000 Ancient Title Stakes on Oct. 11 at Santa Anita, and Frazier will be along for the ride.

"He's as fast as a horse can be, and he's doing that effortlessly - 21 flat, 43 and change," said Frazier, whose Breeders' Cup experience consists of a fifth-place finish aboard Smarty Deb in the 2007 Juvenile Fillies. "I honestly feel he would have won the Mile if he just switched leads at the head of the lane."

While Frazier will follow Atta Boy Roy as far as he can, his future with Ladyledue is less certain. After crushing a strong field in the one-mile John and Kitty Fletcher Stakes on Sept. 13, the speedy 3-year-old filly was transferred to Churchill Downs-based trainer Ian Wilkes, with plans for a winter campaign in Kentucky and Florida. Ladyledue won 4 of 5 starts this summer, all in stakes."She's been an amazing filly; she's won 6 of 7 starts for me over the past two years, and the only time she didn't win, she bled and she grabbed a quarter," Frazier said. "I'd love to have the opportunity to ride her in Kentucky. I think she's eligible to handle 3-year-old fillies anywhere."

Frazier also is parting company with Winning Machine, who is scheduled to start Sunday in the Grade 3, $275,000 British Columbia Derby at Hastings. Gallyn Mitchell, a distant second in the Emerald rider standings, will take the call on the Emerald Derby winner while Frazier completes the meeting and then heads to California for what he hopes is a productive winter. He'll stop first at the 10-day Big Fresno Fair meeting, where he has won riding titles the past two seasons, and then set up shop at Golden Gate. Veteran agent Dennis Patterson will handle his business in Northern California.

Frazier rode a record 157 winners at Emerald in 2007 and finished a close second behind Seth Martinez in the 2008 standings with 117. He entered this week with 150 wins, needing eight victories in the final four days to raise the bar he set two years ago.

"During the meet, I didn't think about it too much," he said, "but now that I'm eight away, you start to think about it. After finishing second last year, I came into this year really focused. I was looking to break some records."

* Emerald's jockey colony has dwindled in recent weeks, with Saul Arias, Jose Contreras, and Joe Crispin departing for personal or professional reasons. That has opened the door for first-year Emerald rider Robert Burney (nine wins in the past 12 racing days) and created opportunities for newcomers such as Leonel Camacho-Flores, a 26-year-old apprentice who rode his first winner at Walla Walla on Sept. 6. Camacho-Flores, an exercise rider for trainer Vince Gibson, had nine mounts last week. He's still looking for his first Emerald Downs victory.

* Jose Zunino, 40, was named the recipient of the 2009 Lindy Award for accomplishment and sportsmanship. The journeyman from Argentina ranks 11th in the standings, with 29 wins, and recorded his first two Emerald Downs stakes victories aboard Hollywood Harbor, the probable wagering favorite in Saturday's $75,000 Gottstein Futurity. Voted on by the jockeys, the award is named in honor of Lindy Aliment, the longtime clerk of scales at Longacres and Emerald Downs.

* Kathy Walsh, a four-time champion at Longacres and now a successful trainer in Southern California, was inducted into the Washington Racing Hall of Fame last Sunday during a ceremony at Emerald Downs. Also inducted were jockey Lennie Knowles, 1961 Longacres Mile winner Sparrow Castle, and breeders Wilbur and Marianne Stadelman.