Author: Wynn Elliott

Graham Pulls Five-Bagger On Sunday Afternoon At Fair Grounds

Fair Grounds Press Release By Ryan Martin Jockey James Graham NEW ORLEANS (January 27, 2019) – Sunday afternoon at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots proved to be a banner day for jockey James Graham, who scored a total of five victories on the program, the last three for the owner/trainer combo of Tom Amoss and Maggi Moss. Graham scored his quintet of victories with Great Sky (Race 1, $9.20), Wristlet (Race 4, $43.00), Twin Farms (Race 5, $5.20), Fair Shot (Race 7, $5.60) and Antarctic (Race 8, $6.60). “It was fantastic,” Graham said at the end of his successful day. “Tom has been a big part of my career since I started here. I just appreciate everything that everyone has done for me. I’m having fun, enjoying what I’m doing. I had a bit of a sickness over the weekend and had to take off Friday, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. Things are going great. I’m riding for good people. The horses are running well and they keep knocking on the door. If they aren’t winning, they’re right there. A big thanks to Tom. A large number of the wins on the meet have been from his barn. I was building momentum from the start of the meet, but a big thanks to Tom and all the owners who keep putting me on winners.” With Adam Beschizza riding the Houston Racing Festival card at Sam Houston, Graham was...

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Making Up For Lost Time

Oaklawn Park Press Release Ezequiel Lara And Wes Hamilton (photo Credit: Anthony Schafer) Ezequiel Lara, one of at least two apprentice jockeys scheduled to ride regularly at the 2019 Oaklawn meeting, didn’t have his first mount until he was 21, making him a relatively late bloomer in the industry. “School was the main reason,” Lara, 22, said Friday morning. “I wanted to drop out and get out of it, but my parents wanted me to finish.” Lara grew up near Remington Park in Oklahoma City, where his father, Martin, a former rider, works as valet in the jockeys’ room, before graduating from Del City High School in 2015. Ezequiel Lara said he’s been around horses all his life, but his only riding experience before graduating from high school was “getting on a pony.” “I had to completely wait until I was done, so I’m late, real late,” Lara said of his riding career. “I left my house right when I graduated. Right when I was 18, I left my house.” Lara rode his first race Sept. 14, 2017, at Remington Park. He scored his first victory Feb. 13, 2018, at Sam Houston. “Just a learning process to become a jockey,” Lara said. “It’s just not something you jump into. It’s a learning process.” Lara said he’s fortunate to have somebody to lean on for advice. His agent is retired...

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Puerto Rico Makes it’s Presence Felt at Santa Anita

Santa Anita Press Release By Ed Golden Jockey Heriberto Figueroa Heriberto Figueroa is one of the best-kept secrets on the Southern California circuit so far, but that’s likely to change soon. Winning races in bunches for assorted trainers will do that. “He’s learning every day; that’s what we’re concentrating on,” said his agent, Nelson Arroyo. “He’s getting better every day and he has all the natural talent in the world. Now he’s putting it all together. “He watches replays every day, stays humble, and that’s the main thing with him. He’s improving all the time and you’ll see that every week.” Figueroa, like Arroyo a native of Puerto Rico, is a 19-year-old graduate of the Island Nation’s famed Escuela Vocacional Hipica riding school, which has produced the dynamic Ortiz brothers, Jose and Irad Jr., Evin Roman, John Velazquez and Manuel Franco,  among others. “He attended the jockey school for two years in Puerto Rico,” Arroyo said. “He rides for several different top trainers and in the mornings, works for everybody every single set just about every day.” But wait. There’s more. Arroyo expects another promising young rider from Puerto Rico to be under his wing at Santa Anitua shortly. “The same person who called me about Heriberto called me again and told me I had to look at this kid. ‘I think I found you another freak,’” he said....

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Flavien Prat To Ride Audible In $9 Million Pegasus World Cup

Gulfstream Park Press Release Jockey Flavien Prat (Photo Credit: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup) HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Flavien Prat, a leading rider on the Southern California circuit, will be aboard 2018 Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1), the richest race in North America, Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park. Audible’s trainer, Todd Pletcher, confirmed the mount Sunday afternoon after speaking with Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar Farm, which co-owns the 4-year-old colt with China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners and Starlight Racing. Prat, 26, moved from his native France to Southern California full-time at the end of 2014 and has won riding titles at Santa Anita and Del Mar. He owns two career Breeders’ Cup victories, including Battle of Midway for WinStar in the 2017 Dirt Mile (G1). Earlier that year, Battle of Midway ran third in the Kentucky Derby (G1).  “Just in talking to the connections, and I talked to Elliot a little while ago, we had discussed Flavien,” Pletcher said. “We had success with him, winning the Breeders’ Cup with him on Battle of Midway. We thought he’d be a good fit, so we decided to go with him.” Audible has been ridden by Hall of Famers Javier Castellano and John Velazquez in his eighth-race career. Velazquez was aboard for both his maiden win and the Florida Derby,...

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European Rider Jamie Spencer Takes A ‘Working Holiday’ At Gulfstream Park

By Paulick Report Press Release European Jockey Jamie Spencer European jockey Jamie Spencer started a working holiday in the U.S. at Gulfstream Park Sunday, riding Brendan Walsh-trained Bantu to a fourth-place finish in the ninth race, a one-mile allowance for older horses on turf. “I’m basically on a working holiday. I came do some track work for Brendan Walsh, Wesley Ward. I’ve been galloping for Patrick Biancone also,” said Spencer during his first visit to Gulfstream and its satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, Palm Meadows. “I’m enjoying it. The weather is good, better than it is in Europe this time of year. I’m picking up a few rides, so it’s working out well.” The 38-year-old international star is scheduled to ride Ward-trained Zipaway in Thursday’s seventh race, a five-furlong maiden special weight race on turf, at Gulfstream before venturing to ride at Fair Grounds Friday and Saturday. In addition to riding Walsh-trained Dubara in the Marie G. Krantz Stakes and Brad Cox-trained Compass Zone in an allowance race Saturday, Spencer is named to ride Jack Sisterson-trained High Mounte in a maiden race on Friday. Walsh and Spencer go back a long way. “The guy I was assistant to at Newmarket, Mark Wallace, had a very good sprinter named Benbaun, and Jamie used to ride him from time to time,” said Walsh, who was born in Ireland. “He...

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