05/04/2013 8:41PM

Kentucky Derby: Rosario's win on Orb completes incredible run

Barbara D. Livingston
Joel Rosario celebrates winning the Kentucky Derby aboard Orb only five weeks after he took the $10 million Dubai World Cup on Animal Kingdom.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When he guided Orb to a decisive triumph Saturday in the Kentucky Derby, jockey Joel Rosario completed an amazing run that began five weeks earlier with his victory aboard Animal Kingdom in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

In between winning two of the most prestigious and important races in the world, Rosario also found time to set a record for victories at the Keeneland spring meet and to kick off the 2013 Churchill Downs season by winning five races on opening night.

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Rosario’s career began in Northern California in 2006, and he moved to Southern California in 2007. There, he won riding titles at Del Mar, Hollwood, and Santa Anita. Rosario's career really began to skyrocket when he decided to leave the West Coast and come to the East on a permanent basis last summer at Saratoga. Rosario hired veteran agent Ron Anderson to take his book early in the meet and the pair have formed a potent team ever since. Rosario won 74 races during the second half of the season in New York, then blossomed this winter at Gulfstream Park, posting 89 victories to finish second in the standings behind only defending champion Javier Castellano.

“I never met Joel or really watched him ride until last summer at Saratoga, but I could see he was a young, eager and ambitious rider and I knew once he got used to riding on the East Coast he was going to have a lot of success,” said Orb's trainer, Shug McGaughey. “To have the meet he had at Gulfstream, go to Keeneland and set a record there and then win five races here opening night is incredible. And you saw the race he rode out here today without having as much experience as many of these other riders in the Derby. It just shows how talented he is.”

Rosario, 28, had ridden in only three previous Kentucky Derbies. He was Orb’s regular rider from the time the colt opened his career with a hard-luck third place finish in a seven-furlong maiden race last summer at Saratoga until he won an entry-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26.

McGaughey then reached out for John Velazquez, who guided Orb to victories in the Fountain of Youth and again five weeks later in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

Getting the mount back on Orb for the Derby as well as the ride on Animal Kingdom for the World Cup culminated a series of intertwining events that began in the week leading up to the Fountain of Youth.

“Shug and I got crossed up because Orb wasn’t supposed to run in the Fountain of Youth," said Rosario's agent, Anderson. "He wasn’t sure he was going to run because he felt the track wasn’t conducive to his running style and he was thinking about taking him out of town. By the time he decided to stay there for the race, I’d already given a call to Eddie Plesa with Speak Logistics and I wouldn’t take off because I like Eddie. He’s been nice to us.

“Had we won the Fountain of Youth, we’d have been obligated to ride Orb back in the Florida Derby instead of being freed up to go to Dubai for the World Cup. So we traded a million for 10 and then ended up back on this horse when Johnny was committed to Verrazano.”

Rosario said winning both the World Cup and the Derby in little over a one-month span is like a dream to him.

“I can’t explain how good I feel right now,” said Rosario, who credited Anderson for much of his success.

“He’s a great agent,” said Rosario. “After I got him, things have gone very well for me.”

Rosario will waste little time getting back to New York despite all his recent success in Kentucky. Anderson had him  named on seven horses at Belmont on Sunday.

“He’s not only a very talented rider but he’s also a really nice kid,” said Anderson. “And I think he’s only going to get better and better as time goes on.”

Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
It will be no "Little Feat" for him to win the Triple Dipper as fresh legs will be waiting for him in Baltimore/New York...But I hope like hell he can shoot the Moon three times!!!...
CassSpeaks More than 1 year ago
Why do you say he's at the END of a terrific run? Are you writing off a Triple Crown for him?
Sigrid Wallace More than 1 year ago
Another great combo for Ron Anderson. A great agent and a great rider . Yes Ron Anderson deserves a special Hall Of Fame recognition. How many Hall Of Fame or nominated to Hall of Fame riders has he been agent for?
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Actually the TRIPLE CROWN would complete a great run !
Kenny Black More than 1 year ago
I've been saying this since the first year he came to so.cal "this kid is as talented as anyone I've watched ride a race horse,and I think I know a little bit about this subject,and it's even better when you meet this young man and know the kind of man he is he's a personable friendly and respectful kid who deserves all the good fortune that will and has come his way.I remember the first horse he rode for me the summer of 2008 at hollywood park he was maybe 4th or 5 th leading rider at the time and my owner was not to happy and asked who the hell is ROSARIO LOL, AND my response was "he's the leading rider in so.cal. for the next ??? years to come I promise you" and some credit and props to agent Vince Degregory who spotted him in no cal and brought him to LA TO ADD TO HIS LIST of star riders he has found and help to reach star status over a hall of fame caliber career of his own,great ride from a great kid,and on the subject what was CASTELLANO DOING ON NORMANDY INVASION GOING TO A FIRE OOPS ??? TALK ABOUT PREMATURELY EJACT-+%ING???
Tamara Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Joel did not start his career in california, he was a respeced and loved rider in the Dominican Republic long before this. I wish someone would do an article on what is happening at that track , there has been a stop to racing for about 8 weeks, all the jockys grooms and other workers are starving to death! They have started to eat the horses to stay alive. The stuation is dire.
CassSpeaks More than 1 year ago
TAMARA: Give us links to more info. Write to Joel.
Senor Enrico More than 1 year ago
Went to the Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in 2003. I went to the race track (V Centenario) which was a block or two away from the Caribbean Ocean and had a nice afternoon. All the races that day were for about $1200. A young rider by the name of Joel Rosario won 3 of the 5 races carded. I brought the program back to New York with me and still have it. Last summer I had Joel sign it at Saratoga. It's amazing how this young man went from nothing to one of the worlds most elite jockey. Good luck JR in going for the triple crown!
Edward Tiger More than 1 year ago
This Jockey has as much talent as any rider I have ever watched ride over the years,,,,,,,He and Ron Anderson,,,,are the perfect team
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good job joel great win this what mike smith an gary steven smoking. but like know were the 2nd place come from...
bob More than 1 year ago
It was a great ride, so much better than the 22 & 45 joke ride by Hall of Shamer Mike Smith on Palace Malice
Brad Solomon More than 1 year ago
or the premature move by Castellano
Bryan E More than 1 year ago
I'm pretty sure Mike Smith did exactly what he was supposed to. I think he was trying to set up the race for revolutionary who was Pletcher's only real chance for victory. It helped Orb just as much but I don't think Orb really needed the help. And Castellano acted like he was working for Pletcher or Shug, not Brown. But I think Brown thought this was best strategy. Clearly a bad choice on his part.