Author: Wynn Elliott

Morales Ending Apprenticeship With a Bang

Churchill Downs Press Release by Kevin Kerstein, Churchill Downs Communication Jockey Edgar Morales will lose the five-pound weight allowance that is granted to apprentice riders on Saturday, but the 20-year-old Puerto Rico native has made the most of his final week with the “bug” by winning three races Wednesday to vault to the top of the Churchill Downs jockey standings with 11 victories. “I just hope we keep the momentum going,” said Morales, who is represented by retired jockey Julio Espinoza. “We’ve had a great meet at Keeneland and things are really going well (at Churchill).” Morales grew up in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, which is located almost two hours from the closest racetrack. Once Morales finished school he came to Louisiana and worked as a hot walker and groom prior to becoming an exercise rider. Edgar’s brother, Roberto, also is an accomplished jockey on the Louisiana circuit. Morales got his start as a jockey in 2017 when he finished 12th on his first mount, Basheba, at Keeneland. He recorded his first win one week later on the late Jack Van Berg-trained Star Dog. Morales began Thursday’s card with 98 wins and hopes the successful apprenticeship can lead to an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. “It would be an honor to even be considered,” Morales said. “That was one of the goals and I think this run we’ve been...

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On Verge Of Another Milestone, Velazquez Thinking About Next Big Horse

Paulick Report by Tom Pedulla As John Velazquez pondered his riding career through the years, he kept two things in mind. He might retire soon after he turned 45; he would surely not ride past 47. Things change. As Velazquez nears his 47th birthday on Nov. 24, there is no hint that a Hall of Fame career that made him the runaway leader with more than $395 million in earnings is close to ending. He is instead focused on reaching 6,000 wins – he was four victories shy going into the Nov. 16 card at Aqueduct – and on securing mounts in the new year that can take him to the Triple Crown races in the spring, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in autumn and every other major race in between. “The day that I don’t feel I’m getting opportunities that I think I should be getting, and I’m not having horses that I can get excited about, then I’ll just walk out,” Velazquez said during an interview at Aqueduct. He trusts that Angel Cordero Jr., his long-time agent and mentor, would never stand by and allow him to slip into mediocrity if his reflexes should dull or his instincts no longer be sharp. “I’m like his father. I would be the first to tell him,” Cordero said. “But he’s completely on his game.” According to Equibase, Velazquez entered competition on...

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Apprentice Rider Carroll Moving To Fair Grounds For The Winter

Paulick Report Apprentice rider Declan Carroll has got off to a good start since making his riding debut in late September and could not be any more excited to be spending what he hopes to be a successful winter the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La. Carroll, 19, grew up in Louisville, Ky. and spent quite a bit of time on the backstretch of Churchill Downs. His father David was a trainer and now oversees trainer Mark Casse’s string of horses at Fair Grounds. “I’m looking forward to coming into the Fair Grounds meet,” Carroll said. “It’s a very tough jockey colony and there are a couple of bug riders that I appreciate very much. One being Ezequiel (Lara), he’s coming down in top form and he’s a great rider I look up to as a bug. Edgar Morales is another I look forward to riding with. Now I just hope to come in, get lucky and learn a lot. It’s going to be a big opportunity for me. I’m very excited to be here at the Fair Grounds, it’s a great place to be and there are great trainers, owners and horses.” So far Carroll has ridden three winners in 20 mounts, including two at Churchill Downs during their Fall Meet. He is anxious to ride more winners and hopes that he gets plenty of opportunities to do so this...

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Jockey Benjamin Hernandez earns first NYRA win

NYRA Press Release by Najja Thompson Jockey Benjamin Hernandez earned his first career win in the continental United States in the second race on Wednesday’s card at Aqueduct Racetrack, piloting Alright Alright [No. 5, $10.20] to victory for trainer John Toscano. “It’s so exciting,” said Hernandez, a native of Puerto Rico. “The best moment of my life. I’ve been waiting a long time for this. It’s been a long journey, so it’s very exciting.” Hernandez, 27, graduated jockey school at Hipodromo Camarero earning his first win in Puerto Rico in 2012. Following an injury that delayed his career, Hernandez moved to New York and returned to the sport as an exercise rider on the NYRA circuit. He made his return to riding in the final weeks of the fall meet at Belmont Park, including a strong second aboard Kerry Boy on October 19. “My goal is to keep riding and working hard every day,” added Hernandez. “In the mornings, I breeze horses and try to improve my skills and gain the confidence of the trainers and more opportunities. I’m looking forward to a great winter.” The lucrative 23-day Aqueduct fall meet, which runs from November 2 through Sunday, December 2, continues Thursday and Friday with a first post time of 12:20 p.m. Stakes action returns this weekend with the Grade 3 $200,000 Red Smith Handicap slated for Saturday and...

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Castellano to Try International Jockeys’ Championship

By BloodHorse Staff The world’s best jockeys will compete for the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship in a spectacular night of racing at Happy Valley Dec. 5. Hong Kong’s champion jockey Zac Purton lifted the coveted IJC trophy for the first time last year and is clear about where the event ranks on the world stage. “I think it’s probably the strongest jockey’s competition out of all those around the world,” he said. “It’s certainly the most exciting one, being at Happy Valley under lights as part of international week.” Purton heads the list of four Hong Kong-based jockeys who will take on eight of their very best counterparts from all over the globe in pursuit of bragging rights and the lion’s share of the HK$800,000 ($104,000) prize pool, which makes the four-race showcase at the iconic city track the world’s richest jockey challenge. Seven of the eight overseas challengers have been champions in their home or adopted countries in recent years and all have proven their elite talents with big-race successes on the sport’s greatest stages. They include Silvestre de Sousa, champion jockey in Britain for a third time this year, along with the 2017 champions of Ireland and Japan in Colin Keane and Christophe Lemaire respectively. Lemaire won this year’s JRA World All-Star Jockeys, while compatriot and fellow group 1 ace Mickael Barzalona brings further flair to the...

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