03/22/2011 2:26PM

Golden Gate proving to be comfort zone for Krigger

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ALBANY, Calif. – Jockey Kevin Krigger is used to making big splashes.

In June 2001, he left his native St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands at age 18, came to the United States to begin his career as a jockey and won 50 races at Thistledown in his first meet, riding his first race on Aug. 29.

He came west three months late and made the Top Ten in the jockey standings at Golden Gate Fields, recording 54 victories.

Krigger, now 27, returned to Golden Gate earlier this year and has been on fire of late.

Though he has ridden only 81 mounts, his 18 victories are tied for ninth in the jockey standings, and his 22-percent winning percentage is third-best behind leading rider Russell Baze (29 percent) and Juan Hernandez (24 percent).

Though he had only 1 victory from 5 mounts Sunday, he has ridden 13 winners from 32 mounts since March 12. Seven of those 13 winners were on horses saddled by Steve Sherman, who rode Krigger on 10 different runners.

“I’ve been riding for the right guys,” said Krigger. “It’s been very good for me that they’ve given me a shot. It’s more than a privilege to ride for them.”

Krigger is amazed by his run of luck with the red-hot Sherman.

“Almost everything he puts me on wins,” said Krigger. “Every time I sit down on those horses, I have more than enough confidence. Steve wants to win, and he knows I want to win.”

Krigger still has Boone McCanna as his agent. McCanna was instrumental in convincing Krigger to come to Golden Gate Fields a decade earlier. Krigger had six mounts the first time he rode at Golden Gate on Nov. 28, 2001.

“We have always done well,” said Krigger. “I always felt the work ethic both of has is important. Trainers like that. We don’t ever take a day off.”

Krigger has made his way into trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s barn, and getting mounts from the leading trainer is important for any jockey at any meet.

Hollendorfer sent Krigger to Portland Meadows on Wednesday to ride his entrant in the Portland Derby, Alec’s Moon, who had won the Portland Meadows Oaks under Portland’s leading rider Joe Crispin, and in the Portland Mile, Pretty Katherine.

“I really liked the way Pretty Katherine finished for me here, so I’m excited to get a chance to ride her back,” said Krigger of the 5-year-old mare who would be taking on males after being the third head in a photo behind Lady Railrider and Antares World in a March 5 allowance race here.

Krigger has made a number of stops in his career and was the leading rider at the 2005 Emerald Downs meeting.

After missing most of the 2008 and 2009 seasons, riding only 187 races total those two years because of injuries, Krigger began his comeback last year at Emerald Downs, finishing fifth with 66 victories.

He says that he is making Northern California his home base from now on.

“A lot of people thought I came back here just to get fit for Emerald Downs, but I’m here to stay.”

Krigger and his fiancee will be married shortly, and he says they and their four children are putting down roots.

“If you have a family, you have to have a home, and you have to have a home track. I have no plans of leaving.

“I think this is the best place to go. You can ride year round. I’ve been chasing my dreams of being a top rider on good horses. I’m still in position to chase my dream, and I understand things a lot more. I understand I can find good horses right here. I don’t have to chase around the country to do it.”

It’s all positive

Trainer Billy Morey is spending the week in Kentucky, where Positive Response will run in Saturday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.

“We’re ready. The horse is going good,” he said.

Morey was pleased with Positive Response’s 1:01.80 five-furlong work Sunday, which was the third-fastest of eight runners at the distance. Clockers called the move breezing.

“This track is not real fast in the morning,” Morey said. “It was a good work, just what we were looking for.”

Northern California runners have performed well in this race in the past.

Event of the Year won it in 1998 two years before Globalize scored a victory. Both horses were trained by Hollendorfer.

Dates cutback

Golden Gate Fields, which had originally been scheduled to begin running five days a week in May, has received approval from the California Horse Racing Board to continue with four-day race weeks through the end of the meet in June.

The move was a logical one given the horse population. Also making it a smart move is the fact that Hollywood Park will not be racing on Wednesdays, and Northern California needs to be tied to the Southern California signal to maximize mutuel revenue.