06/13/2012 1:18PM

Hastings: Beato fitting right in with strong jockey colony


There was a large vacuum created in the jockeys’ room at Hastings when the top two riders in the standings last year vacated the premises. Richard Hamel, the leading rider the past two years is recovering from knee surgery. Mario Gutierrez, second in 2011, is making a name for himself in Southern California and around the country, having won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness aboard I’ll Have Another.

The jockey ranks were also thinned when Dave Wilson was injured in a spill on May 6. Wilson won’t likely be returning until September at the earliest.

Despite the losses, Hastings has one of its deepest groups of riders in years. Fernando Perez, the leading rider here in 2009 and second in 2010, returned after a successful meet at Northlands Park last year. Veteran riders Enrique Gonzalez, Jeff Burningham, and the top apprentice in Canada last year, Ryan Pacheco, have joined the ranks. Amadeo Perez has improved his skills and is the leading rider at the meet with 32 wins, one more than Fernando Perez.

Adding more depth to the field is Inoel Beato, a 26-year-old native of the Dominican Republic.

Beato began riding at the Hipodromo V Centenario in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, when he was 16. He was the leading rider in three of the six years he rode there and second twice. Beato said the three times he was leading rider, Joel Rosario, one of the top riders in Southern California was second. Rosario was the leading rider both times Beato finished second.

Beato has been riding in North America since 2007 when he moved his tack to Golden Gate. Riding mostly in Northern California, Beato won 240 races from 1,931 mounts for earnings of $3,879,301 before arriving at Hastings. He is familiar with the Pacific Northwest. He rode at Emerald Downs in 2010 where he won 45 races, good for eighth in the standings.

Beato arrived after the current meet was underway and understandably had a hard time getting on live horses. That figures to change, and last weekend he won two races. One of his wins was aboard Matchabull for trainer Craig MacPherson. MacPherson finished second in the trainer standings the last two years and has a barn full of live horses. He said Beato would be riding quite a few of them.

“He’s ridden a couple of horses for me now and he’s done a good job,” said MacPherson. “I heard a lot of good things about him, and now that he’s starting to adjust to his new surroundings I think he is going to do real well here.”

Beato was introduced to the races by his uncle Mateo Trinidad, who is a trainer in the Dominican Republic. Despite Beato’s success there he decided to try and make a better living riding in the United States.

“I think I won over 1,200 races at home but I didn’t earn a lot of money,” he said.

One of the reasons he rode in Seattle in 2010 and here this year is his dislike for riding the fair circuit in Northern California. So far he is happy to be at Hastings.

“I like it here,” he said. “It is a little different riding on the smaller track, but I think I am adjusting well. You have to be a little more aggressive and you can’t afford to go wide around the turns, particularly the first one.”