Author: C.J. Johnsen

International Jockey Zac Purton is All Business

By Pete Monaco, The Eighth Pole When I first met Zac Purton a couple years back, I was impressed by his drive, ambition, and matter of fact style of speaking. But what really struck me about this clean-cut young man was that he was all business and as serious as a heart attack. There were times Zac didn’t care for, or even understand my odd sense of New York humor but he’s always been a complete gentleman about it. I recently spoke with Zac to see what he was up to lately and thought a column on my friend would be interesting. Zac Purton is an Australian jockey who has been riding in Hong Kong since 2007, where horse racing is the number one sport. He made history there, in the 2013-2014 season, becoming the first Australian jockey to win the riding title since 1991 and only the third ever from his country to do so. It was also a pretty big deal, as in winning the title, he ended the 13-year champion reign of Douglas Whyte. Zac has also won the International Jockeys Championship, which is the richest jockey challenge in the world. He’s also won the World Super Jockeys Series in Japan and ridden in 9 different countries and has been first or second in the jockey standings in Hong Kong for the last 7 years. This...

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Beschizza Gets Off to a Hot Start This Meet

by Ryan Martin/Fair Grounds Barn Notes Since becoming a familiar face on the Fair Grounds riding circuit, jockey Adam Beschizza has made quite a name for himself and only hopes that such success will continue on throughout the meet. A native of Cambridge, England, Beschizza rode twice at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in January 2015 for trainer Joe Sharp before returning home. He is a multiple stakes winning jockey in England where he won at 20%. This fall he made yet another journey across the pond to the Fair Grounds and is currently finishing in the money at 60% as a leading rider. “When I was 18, I was a bug boy back home and then I got a bit of experience on the racing scene here,” Beschizza, 24, said. “I breezed horses here for a few months for Michael Stidham, Joe Sharp was his assistant then and that’s how we’ve sort of built up this connection ever since then. That’s been about seven or eight years now.” Beschizza has won ten races so far this meet, all of which have been for trainer Joe Sharp. “Joe said that he would help out in putting us on the map, but he’s really done more than just that,” Beschizza said. “He’s really helped us out so we’re delighted for that. We’re always taking things one step at...

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Recent Retiree Torres to Begin Focusing on New Career

by Ryan Martin/Fair Ground Barn Notes Former jockey Francisco Torres, whose retirement ceremony took place in the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots winner’s circle this past Sunday, may not be returning to the saddle, but the 48-year-old leading rider at five different race tracks will be still be as busy as ever as his attention shifts to becoming a jockey’s agent. “That’s the plan,” Torres said. “Retiring, for me, was kind of hard to do up until the last incident that I had (on Thanksgiving Day) when (Mesoma) broke his leg. It was like the light bulb went...

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The Life and Times of “Frankie” Lovato, Jr.

By Peter Monaco for The Spectrum Retired jockey “Frankie” Lovato, Jr., is a true horseman with many talents, and he wears many hats. After spending some time with Frankie, I’d describe him has an ambassador and an educator of horse racing. Frankie was in the saddle from 1979-2004, securing 1,686 wins from 15,604 mounts. Included in those wins were 111 stakes victories at 25 different tracks! And, in 1980, he won the Eclipse Award for Apprentice Jockey. Frankie is the inventor of a product called the Equicizer, a therapeutic horse riding simulator that can aid in the rehabilitation of injured jockeys. He also founded Jockey World, an educational and training program in the horse racing community in which members learn and share their experiences. He also started Jockey Camp for young, aspiring riders. So, to say he’s a busy man these days would surely be an understatement. But, still, he found time to speak with me. Frankie Lovato Jr., well, he isn’t really. Born Shawn Francis Lovato in 1963, son of successful jockey, Frank Lovato, he inherited the incorrect name from his father’s friends who called him “little Frankie.” But Shawn was so shy, easygoing and mellow, he didn’t see it fitting to correct anybody and the name Frankie stuck. He was the youngest of four children and the only sibling to be interested in horse racing. At age...

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