Gary West’s 2015 Derby Rankings (4/21/2015 Update)

Jockeying for position begins, of course, long before the doors of the starting gate open. And John Velazquez has taken his position for the Kentucky Derby: He’ll be on Carpe Diem, as expected, rather than Materiality. And with that, several assignments have become clear as the Derby approaches. Javier Castellano will ride Materiality, and Mike Smith will stay with Far Right. And three-time Derby winner Calvin Borel has a mount, replacing C. C. Lopez on El Kabeir. A few assignments, though, and a few horses for the Derby still remain uncertain. And with all this settling, Victor Espinoza moves...

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Gary West’s 2015 Derby Rankings (4/14/2015 Update)

American Pharoah had to travel through a blizzard of praise, but he arrived safely Monday afternoon in Louisville as the one to beat in the Kentucky Derby. His recent victory at Oaklawn Park couldn’t have been easier, nor his performance more impressive. He won the Arkansas Derby by eight lengths even though Victor Espinoza was pulling up the handsome colt at the wire. With that, American Pharoah moves to the front of the line among Kentucky Derby contenders, and Espinoza moves to fourth among the jockeys. But, of course, if there are no defections, Espinoza will occupy the top...

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Gary West’s 2015 Derby Rankings (4/6/15 Update)

John Velazquez must soon make a most difficult decision: Carpe Diem or Materiality. Velazquez recently won the Blue Grass Stakes on Carpe Diem, and already he had won the Florida Derby on Materiality. Aimed at the Kentucky Derby, both horses are among the leading contenders for the first event in the famed Triple Crown. So on May 2 which horse will the sport’s all-time leading jockey (in purse money won) ride? And who will ride the other? Joel Rosario joined the leading jockeys on the way to Kentucky with his victory on Frosted in Saturday’s Wood Memorial at Aqueduct....

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Gary West’s 2015 Derby Rankings

After winning the Florida Derby on Materiality, John Velazquez holds a pair of aces as he moves closer to the most famous of races, the Kentucky Derby. He’s the regular rider for two of the top five horses on the road to Kentucky, as well as Madefromlucky, who’s to make his next start April 11 in the Arkansas Derby. Florent Geroux, a native of Argentan, France, may have his first Derby mount after riding Stanford to a runner-up finish at Fair Grounds in the Louisiana Derby. And Santiago Gonzalez joins the jockeys hoping to converge on Churchill Downs in...

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Panamanian Journeyman Starts Fresh at Hawthorne

By Rick Albright, JockeyTalk360.com When the gates flew back just before 2 p.m. in Chicago for the first race of the 2015 Spring meeting all the jockeys were bracing for the chilly run down the backstretch. It was a whole new experience for accomplished rider Dick Cardenas.  Overcast skies replaced sunny ones, tall industrial smokestacks replaced overhanging Palms and temperatures in the single digits were far from the balmy climes of Caymanas Park. This 30 year old journeyman had 500 plus winners in just over six years at that premiere racecourse located in Portmore, Jamaica. He was the winner of the 2011 riding title there. Other highlights of his time in Jamaica include his Triple Crown feat aboard MARK MY WORD in 2010 and winning six consecutive races on a program in September 2011. He also had a second Derby winner in the front running outsider TECHNOMOTO for trainer Anthony Nunes, and Gold Cup wins aboard HAIL THE GENIUS and SAINT CECELIA. Previous to that stint in Jamaica Cardenas was an apprentice in Panama, a nation that is known for its export of fine riding talent, where he rode just over 300 winners. One of the people that has influenced his career the most is his fellow countryman Fernando Jara, a rider who has had proven success in the United States. Jara had the winning ride in the 2006...

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