Updated on 09/15/2011 1:25PM

Migliore looks past close call to Saratoga


ELMONT, N.Y. - Driving home from the track Wednesday night, jockey Richard Migliore winced when he thought about what could have been.

Approaching the top of the stretch in Wednesday's Belmont feature race, Migliore heard two loud pops emanating from the right side of his mount, Bonneville. It was the sound of her sesamoid bones breaking in her right front ankle. Migliore quickly pulled up Bonneville and was lucky the filly didn't fall down. He was luckier still that the riders behind him were able to avoid hitting Bonneville.

While the horse was scheduled for surgery on Friday, Migliore came away with only a broken heart, feeling empathy for a filly he had done so much work with. So shook up, Migliore took off his last mount of the day.

Nearly two years earlier, on July 17, 1999, Migliore was not so lucky. At almost the same point of Belmont Park's spacious 1 1/2-mile track, J Carson, the mount Migliore was riding, fractured his left front cannon bone and went down, hurling Migliore to the ground. Migliore, who was kicked by a trailing horse, came away with a broken right arm and a concussion. He missed more than six months.

As was the case in the summer of 1999, Migliore is riding at the top of his game. Migliore began Friday's card with 31 winners from

141 mounts [22 percent], good for second in the jockey standings behind John Velazquez [34 wins]. While he has won countless riding titles at Aqueduct, Migliore has never won one at Belmont.

"To me, it would mean a great deal," said Migliore, who has had 10 multiple-win days at the meet. "Belmont is a very prestigious meet, people take notice who's leading rider. It also kind of reinforces that the work I put in is paying off. But even if I don't win, if people look at me and can respect the effort I put in, my love for the horses and for what I do, then I've succeeded."

Most people associate Migliore with trainer John Kimmel, for whom he has ridden five winners at this meet and for whom he normally rides first-call. Nevertheless, Migliore has won races for 17 other trainers, including four races for Bob Barbara, three each for Dominic Galluscio and Michael Dickinson, and two for James Bond.

"That's what is making me successful, riding a lot of live horses for a lot of people," Migliore said. "I'm riding with a lot of confidence and when you're confident you do things that feel right instead of what looks right."

Already this spring, Migliore has won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes aboard Two Item Limit at Pimlico and the Shuvee Handicap with Apple of Kent here. Those horses are due to run back in Grade 1 races later this meet. This past Saturday, Migliore was at Pimlico to ride Windrush in the $200,000 Baltimore Ravens Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Migliore is hopeful that he can continue his success for the remainder of the meet and ride a wave of momentum when Saratoga starts. And he's hoping he can remain healthy, unlike two years ago.

"When it happened, I felt like I had so much momentum and so much business it was going to be fun in Saratoga," Migliore said, referring to the 1999 injury. "The tone of the way this meet is going and the fact that physically and mentally I feel great, and I've been riding for a lot of different people that are live, it looks like Saratoga is going to be a lot of fun this year."

Strong work for Critical Eye

Critical Eye, winner of the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap on a muddy main track, worked five furlongs in 1:00.02, handily, over a fast Aqueduct track on Friday. It was the fastest of 10 moves at the distance.

Trainer Scott Schwartz said the work was faster than he was looking for, as Critical Eye picked up some unplanned company in the work.

"A horse broke off in front of her, and it made her a little anxious," Schwartz said. "She did it all right, though. She came out of it perfect."

Schwartz said he is seriously considering running Critical Eye in next Saturday's Grade 1 Hempstead Handicap, where she most likely will have to go up against Beautiful Pleasure, the defending Hempstead winner making her seasonal debut.