05/14/2013 3:40PM

Rosario's Kentucky Derby win bittersweet for ex-agent

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After spending the last 25 years as a jockey agent, Ron Ebanks said Joel Rosario was going to be his last client.

“Whether it was him or I who walked away, he was going to be my last rider,” Ebanks said.

The split came abruptly last August at Saratoga, about six weeks after Ebanks brought Rosario to the East Coast from Southern California. While Rosario basks in the glow of victories in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup, Ebanks is no longer in racing, having started two new business ventures.

Rosario’s Kentucky Derby victory aboard Orb was somewhat bittersweet for Ebanks, who counts Orb’s trainer, Shug McGaughey, and McGaughey’s wife, Alison, among his closest friends.

“I was happy for Shug and Alison, and I don’t wish Rosario any bad luck, but it wasn’t nice what he did to me,” said Ebanks, who was at the Derby, an event he said he has attended for the last 25 years.

Ebanks, 49, brought Rosario to New York late last June after he had lost some of his stakes horses in California. The Saratoga meet was offering record purse money and jockey John Velazquez was going to miss some time because of an injury.

Ebanks, who enjoyed the California lifestyle, said, “This is the right time. You have to go now.”

PREAKNESS STAKES: Rosario returns to Pimlico on top of his game 

Rosario ended the Belmont meet on a 1-for-33 skid, but had won 9 races from 74 mounts through the first 12 days of Saratoga and was third in the standings when, on Aug. 2, he decided to make a change, firing Ebanks and hiring Ron Anderson.

“I never saw that coming,” Ebanks said.

Neither Rosario nor Ebanks would be specific on what caused the split. Ebanks, a former jockey who admits to firing three or four agents in his career, said, “People get in your ear and tell you things.”

“Ronny was a good agent,” Rosario said, “but I just felt like [Anderson] was one of the best in the business.”

Ebanks, best known as the agent for Shane Sellers − for whom he worked for 14 years − now says Rosario did him a favor. Ebanks is a partner in a Southern California-based company that manufactures Save-Sorb, an absorbent used to clean oil-based spills. Ebanks also runs a UPS franchise in New Orleans.

“My life is better than it’s ever been,” said Ebanks, who is based in Southern California but spends one week a month in Louisiana. “I had quite a few opportunities to [represent jockeys], but I said this not what I want the rest of my life to be.”

Now, Ebanks said, “I’m selling something that can’t fire me.”

* An earlier version of this article misstated Joel Rosario's record at the 2012 Saratoga meeting at the time he switched agents. He had won with 9 of 74 mounts, not six of 50.

ron More than 1 year ago
lots of heart breaks in this business.handshakes mean very little and words by mouth less. true meaning to a door opens and a window shute.
Quite A Dude More than 1 year ago
Joel Rosario or for that matter any Jock has the right to hire or fire an agent. I have no problem with that. Ronny Ebanks or any other agent are not putting their life on the line. If Joel didn't feel Ron was his guy, so be it...
Henry Vincent More than 1 year ago
what goes around sometimes will bite you on the return.If all the talk is true that Ebanks was fired without cause then roserio has some fence mending to do.however Rosario has had some great teachers like vic and vince Gregory.hopefully he will,mend these differences some time soon.
Nanding More than 1 year ago
this kind of problems not supposed to be broadcasting in public....thie not good in racing business especially it is derby day....people are looking for a "triple crown"winne last year almost but the gambling lord or whatever reason they "scratch"i'll have another....go somewhere else to discuss "grievances"...focus on a "triple crown"//okay
Phil More than 1 year ago
If I were Ron Anderson, I wouldn't take Joel Rosario's two faced personality with a lot of confidence,he dumped Ronnie Ebanks without remorse, and don't forget how he treated Vic Stauffer as his agent on a good run. Before Vic Stauffer became his agent Vince DeGregory had Joel's book, Joel lived with Vince for 6 months as he was developing his trade in Southern California, Vince enrolled Joel into an English speaking lessons class,and also drove him around while he was obtaining his California Drivers Licence, more less Vince treated Joel as a father would with a son,setting him up in the major barns in Southern California as it paid off as Joel won 50 races in his first Santa Anita meeting,on to Hollywood, where on a day they won 3 races as Jockey-Agent team Vince was fired by a phone call message,yes a phone call message,not even enough man to meet in person,and give thanks to helping his development as a jockey,not to mention his personal family life with several children involved. So as we continue to admire his riding abilities, and put him on a riding throne,don't let that smile he portrays fool you as he could turn like a pit bull, as he has on many occasions........... Don't be fooled by an ever changing personality,be care with to high appraise with this guy................ mark my word, all things will surface in time......
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
Agreed. Didn't care for him at all in his post-Derby interview.
John More than 1 year ago
Great post! I agree wholeheartedly. I did not know about Vince de Gregory, but I certainly remember the time when Vic Stauffer had his book. He did a lot for Joel, but the end was quick and ruthless. He is a talented rider and I wish him luck riding Orb. I hope he learns that what goes around, comes around.
Edward Tiger More than 1 year ago
If there ever is a spot in the Hall of Fame for Jockey Agents,,,There more then likely will not be,,,but if so,,,,,,,Harry Silbert Shoemakers agent would have to top the list along with,,,,,Lenny Goodman,,,,,,Fats Wiseman,,,Tony Matos,,,,and quite a few others as well as Richard Depass and Joe Ferrer,,,,,But my personal favorite Charachter wise a great gentleman and one of my heros is Gill Graell,,,,,,I Do not think there is a set formula,,,but the job has become gvery high tech,,,,nomore walking around with a condition book an overnight and a pen,,,,,and going home to take a 4 hr nap,,,it is a tough job,,,,But a Good Jockeys Agent is Piceless to the careers of Jockeys
Edward Tiger More than 1 year ago
I Wish the best of BLESSINGS To both,,,,,but it is part of the buissiness in Hollywood or The Racetrack,,,,and you reap what you sow,,,,Agents steal riders from others that are supposed to be friends,,,,,,10 yrs ago,,,Jorge Chavez was setting the world on fire in the buissiness with Richard Depass that could do no wrong ,,,,,,and he got fired for another agent,,,I will not say the name,,,,Chavez career was never t6he same,,,there is no point in holding grudges it is part of the buissiness,,,,I Think Ron Ebanks is a great person,,,and a great promoter who can be good in any sport or buissiness,,,,but Rosario,,,,did what was best for him,,,in the move east,,,,,I Do not know Ron Anderson,,,,personally but from what I see he is one of those Jocks agents who,,,,just seems to have a skill for putting his Jockeys on Horses that take them to the highest level,,,,,,,as a former agent myself I HAD TO LEARN THE VERY HARD WAY,,,,,,And more importantly to forgive ALL
MT_Black More than 1 year ago
Rosario rides those horses not that bum. Bittersweet, sure, but Rosario is the jock that makes no mistakes and knows exactly where to put horses. J.R. can do what ever he wants with his career and it looks like parting ways with Ebanks was a pretty sound choice, plus why would he want an agent who was retiring and didn't to represent any more riders. Dude sounds like he was in the twilight of his agency. Rosario needed aggressive representation, and when he wins the Triple Crown both men will look back and think of the split as a necessity to history made.
Goldhybrid More than 1 year ago
Good points. Logically sound too. I wouldn't call him a bum though.
RockaFelter21 More than 1 year ago
anyone onhere that sides with Ebanks is clueless..ITS part of the game/business...Anderson is the best agent in the history of this game! its not debatable...who would turn down phil Jackson? Ebanks is a clown anyway
Christopher Lally More than 1 year ago
That's what I like about the comment section of DRF. Brilliant, thoughtful, edifying responses. Thanks RockaFelter21. Moron.
Joel Winicki More than 1 year ago
Very debatable! Tony Matos held Cordero's and Pincays books for over 20 yrs combined (in their primes). I could name about 15 other top jocks, but here's just a few.....Stevens, Desormeaux, P. Val. His jocks have won countless Eclipse Awards, BC races, & TC races including 6 KD's. He currently has Garrett Gomez' book. Like I said......Very debatable! One major difference between the two.....LOYALTY. Ron has none.
Holybull More than 1 year ago
The above article states hat Ebanks was leaving the business anyway. Why should he hold a grudge? If in fact he is doing better now, he should be thankful more than he is bitter.