02/06/2007 1:00AM

Rosario leads trio of new faces making an impact


ALBANY, Calif. - Three young men - jockeys Joel Rosario and Luis Contreras, and their agent, Ramon Silva - are making a big splash at Golden Gate Fields.

Rosario, a 22-year-old rider from the Dominican Republic, arrived in northern California in November and finished ninth in the Bay Meadows jockey standings during the fall meet. He is currently second at Golden Gate Fields with 26 victories, six ahead of third-place rider Jason Lumpkins. Russell Baze, who is expected to return to action Thursday after sustaining a cracked rib on Jan. 28, leads with 41 victories.

Contreras, 20, a native of Mexico, scored his first U.S. victory last Thursday and had three second-place finishes Sunday.

Silva, 22, a nephew of Jose Silva, who was one of northern California's top trainers when stabled here, is booking their mounts.

The Dominican Republic is better known for shortstops than jockeys. Rosario laughs when asked if he ever thought of becoming a baseball player and says his size worked against him.

That he became a jockey is a bit unusual. No one else in his family is connected to racing.

"When I was a child, I liked horses," he said.

But he never thought about riding until his brother took him to watch races one day. Rosario was so taken with racing that his brother sent him to a jockey school where he learned to ride.

Rosario has ridden for six years, competing in his native country at Galapagos Hipodromo V Centenario Racetrack in Santo Domingo, which has racing three days a week.

He has also ridden in Puerto Rico, where he won the Angel Cordero Jr. Jockey Challenge at El Comandante in 2005 and finished second that year in the prestigious Classico del Caribe.

"I've learned a lot of things since coming here," said Rosario, who talks a lot with journeyman rider Roberto Gonzalez and also watches lots of films.

Hustling to establish himself, Rosario routinely gets on a half dozen or more mounts each morning and has been successful in getting business with a number of trainers.

"Over here, there are better horses," he said. "I like to ride come-from-behind horses, but I try to do whatever the horse wants. I'm learning a lot and want to be the best."

Contreras, who rode for four years in Mexico, is 1 for 21 since arriving here last month. He, too, competed in the Classico del Caribe last year, riding a horse for one of Silva's uncles.

Contreras grew up at the track and was one of the leading riders in Mexico City.

"I always had a dream to ride [in the United States]," he said. "I want to become a better rider."

He finds himself learning a lot as he gets on better horses here. Contreras has a good sense of pace and said, "I like to ride from behind," but his lone victory came going wire-to-wire with Flyinsyn, whom he relaxed nicely for a maiden victory.

Silva, who has been an agent for a year, also tries to get Contreras on as many mounts as he can each morning to help build his business.

Hollendorfer has trio for Oaks

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who sent out three runners in the California Derby, will also saddle three fillies in Saturday's $100,000 California Oaks at 1 1/16 miles.

Hollendorfer will send out Glorification and Storming Starlet, who ran one-two in the six-furlong Tiburon on Jan. 13, and Eastlake Avenue, who comes off a 10-length victory in a one-mile allowance race.

Tough Tiz's Sis, Quickandquietqueen, Whims and Fancies, and Black Hills Goldie are also entered.

Eastlake Avenue, who won her maiden for a $7,500 claiming tag at Emerald Downs, has three career victories and is undefeated in two northern California starts. Glorification and Whims and Fancies, who won her maiden in a turf claimer at 1 1/16 miles and just captured a starter allowance race at a mile, are the only other runners with more than one victory. Glorification and Storming Starlet are the only runners with stakes experience.

Vaderator's next start uncertain

Trainer Dean Pederson was proud and realistic after Vaderator's wire-to-wire victory in Saturday's six-furlong Fairfax. The race was his stakes debut, and his victory meant that all five runners in the race were now stakes winners.

But Pederson said, "He made his stakes debut a month ago in all honesty," pointing to a second-place finish to subsequent Sunshine Millions Sprint winner Smokey Stover in an allowance race.

Vaderator held off Britt's Jules by a nose in the Fairfax, with comebacking Trickey Trevor third.

"I think if the first three ran 10 times, they'd win three each, with luck giving one of them the fourth win," Pederson said.

The Grade 3, $100,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint on March 11 would appear a logical spot for Vaderator. But Smokey Stover, who defeated Vaderator by 10 lengths, probably has that race on his dance card as well.

"I don't know what we'll do next," Pederson said. "I hate to run for second money."

* George Memis Jr., 49, whose riding career spanned more than 30 years, died Dec. 15. A native of Philadelphia, he began his riding career on the East Coast and later came to California, where he became one of the first mule riders, primarily for Harris Farms.

* Trainer Ed Moger Jr. was fined $750 for failure to report the gelding of stakes-winning Zoning In prior to his running in the Stinson Beach on Jan. 1. Zoning In, who won his maiden in the Malcolm Anderson last year as a 2-year-old, was fourth in the Stinson Beach. He subsequently won an allowance race for 3-year-olds.