07/08/2011 2:30PM

Hastings: Mosqueira learned well from winter in Florida


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Jockey Ismael Mosqueira was hoping the lessons he learned over the winter riding at Calder and Gulfstream would help him get off to a strong start at Hastings this year. His plans went awry when he stopped off at Emerald Downs to visit a friend on his way to Vancouver.

“I went to visit a few trainers I know and I was standing around and got kicked by a horse and fractured my elbow,” said Mosqueira. “I’ve been back riding for four weeks and I’m feeling a hundred percent now.”

Mosqueira has shown steady improvement as a rider since arrived here in 2007 and won just two races. At 25 he is still learning his craft, and he said riding in Florida this winter was one of the best things he could have done to improve as a rider.

“It was a great place to learn,” he said. “All the great jockeys on the East Coast ride there in the winter. At Gulfstream my locker was close to Kent Desormeaux, Johnny Velasquez, Edgar Prado, and Joe Bravo. They are all very classy and were more than willing to give me tips on how to improve as a rider. They couldn’t have been any nicer to me.”

Patience was one of the skills Mosqueira learned from some of the best jockeys in North America.

“Joe Bravo was particularly helpful, but they all suggested I get more balanced on the saddle,” said Mosqueira. “Try and keep my body more still and use the strength in my arms more. Patience with a horse was also important. Give them the time they need to get their feet underneath them, and don’t override them.”

Mosqueira used the skills he learned in Florida to put on a riding clinic at Sunflower Downs in Princeton on June 30. He may have been riding at a “B” level track but, he put on an A-plus performance, winning all six races he rode. He would have swept the card, but his generosity got in the way. When he arrived at Princeton he was surprised to see his name on the program for the first race.

“I wasn’t named on the overnight, so I wasn’t expecting to ride the race,” said Mosqueira. “The kid who was named on the overnight had made the long trip from Vancouver to ride the one horse, and he was pretty upset. I told him not to worry, that I would talk to the stewards and they would let me take off. I saw the horse was the favorite but it just didn’t seem fair to Gabriel. Winning six in a row was a lot of fun.”

Mosqueira was thrilled when Gabriel Asencio won aboard Pardon, who paid $5 as the favorite.

Because of his injury, Mosqueira is just getting started at Hastings. Trainer Dino Condilenios was happy with the way he rode Embankment to a win last Sunday.

“She has been having a hard time getting out of the gate, and he did a great job of getting her out of there in a hurry,” said Condilenios. “He’s a great kid. He works hard, and he’ll gallop a horse for you if you’re stuck. I’m happy to use him.”

Apprentice making herself known

Apprentice jockey Marni Williams made an immediate impression in her first week of riding at Hastings. Riding longshots only, she had a win and a third from seven mounts.

She was a 10-pound bug before she won her fifth career race aboard Medano Beach, who paid $44.60. She will receive seven pounds until she wins her 30th race.

Williams started her career in Ontario, where she won four races at Fort Erie. She also rode at Woodbine. She can tack around 102 pounds, and Hastings is one of the few tracks where horses will actually carry that low a weight.

“The main reason I came out here is that I was told it is a very bug-friendly track,” said Williams. “Plus, Vancouver is really a great city.”

Many woman jockeys start out as show riders. Williams is an exception.

“I came from the real world,” said Williams. “My best friend’s sister made a joke that since I was so small I would make a great jockey. I decided to look into it, and it has been an adventure ever since.”

Williams journey began five years ago when she went to California to a riding camp, where she learned the basics. She returned to Ontario and thought she was ready for the track.

“I was so not ready,” she said. “So I went to work for Mark Casse. I mucked stalls and got to gallop a few horses every day. I also did some ponying for him and got to see great riders like Patrick Husbands up close. I also learned a lot from Wendell Bharath, who is about the same size as me. It was a great education.”

Williams seems to be bursting with positive energy, and she was pleased with how her first few days at Hastings went.

“I really love it here, and it’s been a great start,” she said. “The track is really nice. It is a speedy little track, and it is very similar to the Polytrack at Woodbine with the fibers in