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Updated on 09/17/2011 11:08AM
This nice guy finishes first
ARCADIA, Calif. - Edgar Prado, a jockey who deflects attention from himself and onto the horses he partners, will be forced into the spotlight at Santa Anita Sunday.
Prado, the accomplished East Coast rider, is traveling from his winter base in Florida to be honored by his fellow jockeys with the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, to be presented between races.
The award is given annually by jockeys, honoring one of their own for success and for character.
"It was exciting to be chosen by my peers," Prado said.
Prado is receiving the Woolf award at an ideal time. In 2002, he won the riding title at Saratoga, pulled an upset aboard Sarava in the Belmont Stakes, and had mounts that earned $18,027,329.
This year, Prado is off to a strong start. Through Wednesday, his 2003 mounts had earned $3,042,420, ranking him fourth in the national standings. His major stakes wins include the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap aboard Milwaukee Brew, and the Louisiana Derby aboard the Kentucky Derby hopeful Peace Rules.
"Even if I hit the lotto, I'll still be back in the morning," Prado said. "I enjoy riding so much, I hope I don't hit it."
Prado, 35, admits that without the top mounts, he would be "one more guy in white pants trying to do the job."
Prado has been in the United States since 1986, when he emigrated from his native Peru, where he was a leading rider.
"Before I came to this country, it was called horse racing," Prado said. "When I'm gone it will be horse racing. If you don't have the ammo, you can't do good. I've been riding for good people. I've been lucky.
"I prefer to ride a bad race on a good horse than have a perfect ride on a bad horse. Bad horses don't take you anywhere."
Prado spends the winters in Florida and the rest of the year in New York. In 1999, he moved to New York from Maryland, where he was the dominant rider in the mid-1990's.
He said he remembers how difficult it can be starting something new.
"When there is a young rider or a bug boy, why not help out?" Prado said. "You've been there before. It shouldn't change because you are one step ahead of them. I learned that from my family."
Several past winners will attend the ceremony, including Merlin Volzke, the 1958 winner, and Mike Smith, the 2000 winner.
Gary Stevens, the 1996 recipient, will present Prado with the award. Stevens plays the role of Woolf in the upcoming movie "Seabiscuit." Stevens said the role did not require a significant amount of homework; he was aware of Woolf and his accomplishments.
Woolf rode Seabiscuit to victory in a match race at Del Mar in 1938 and later won a match race against Seabiscuit aboard War Admiral at Pimlico. Woolf died in 1946 from injuries suffered in a spill at Santa Anita.
"I didn't know a lot of the small things, but I knew quite a bit about him," Stevens said of Woolf.
Woolf kept an apartment in a small space above the Derby restaurant, which is near Santa Anita. The room is now used for special occasions. Stevens had his 25th birthday party in that room.
"To the jockey colony, I think it's the most prestigious award because it's voted on by your peers," Stevens said. "At my house, that trophy sits in front of my Eclipse Awards and my Breeders' Cup trophies."
Replay program resumes
A nightly replay program will resume on broadcast television in the Los Angeles area, beginning Wednesday. Since the start of the current Santa Anita meet, a replay program was available on Saturdays and Sundays only.
The program will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on KDOC (Channel 56) in the Los Angeles area.
A replay program has been shown on the Fox Sports Net cable television network, but aired at 1:30 a.m. on the morning following races.
As of Friday, an agreement had been reached for the program to be aired on a year-round basis with the exception of the Del Mar meet. Last summer, a replay program did not air on KDOC during the Del Mar meet.
A prime time replay program aired regularly on KDOC as recently as the Hollywood Park fall meet. A prime time replay program is seen as a way to reach casual fans.
In recent months, racing officials and executives from the Thoroughbred Owners of California have met with management of KDOC. The program will be underwritten by the racetracks, with some financing coming from a statewide marketing fund designed to promote the sport.
"This is extremely important," said Amy Zimmerman, Santa Anita's director of broadcasting. "The deal came about because of a management change at KDOC. They were anxious to get it done. We're just sorry it took so long."
Stevens will not make Dubai trip
Stevens on Friday said he will not travel to Dubai next weekend to ride on the Dubai World Cup program, citing concerns about the war with Iraq.
Stevens won the 1998 Dubai World Cup aboard Silver Charm. Last year, he won the Godolphin Mile with the California-based Grey Memo, who will attempt to defend his title next Saturday.
"I didn't feel comfortable about it," Stevens said. "I'm sure it is safe over there. I've always followed my instinct, and my instincts were to stay put."
Kent Desormeaux has picked up the mount on Grey Memo. Desormeaux is also riding Outta Here in the $2 million United Arab Emirates Derby.
Farina drops suspension appeal
Jockey Tony Farina has dropped an appeal of a seven-day suspension for causing interference in the fifth race March 1, the race in which Laffit Pincay Jr. suffered two broken bones in his neck.
Pincay's mount, Trampus Too, was racing behind Farina's mount, Rainman's Request, when Rainman's Request crossed in front of Trampus Too. Pincay was thrown from Trampus Too. The world's winningest rider with 9,530 winners, Pincay has not ridden since the accident and faces an uncertain future.
Farina, 23, will be suspended from March 26 to April 3.
* Congaree, the winner of two graded stakes races at this meet and the runner-up in the Santa Anita Handicap, breezed a half-mile in 48.40 seconds Friday. Trainer Bob Baffert said the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap April 5 is being considered for Congaree's next ride.