The 2014-15 jockeys race at the Fair Grounds is wide open now.
Rosie Napravnik controlled the jockeys standings for the previous four seasons, winning the title four straight times and capturing many of the big stakes races.
Last season, that included the Fair Grounds Oaks and Louisiana Derby on the same day.
But Napravnik is stepping down from the saddle. She recently announced her retirement, and is expecting a baby with her husband, trainer Joe Sharp.
Shaun Bridgmohan, second in the 2014 Kentucky Derby on Commanding Curve, and Leandro Goncalves will not return this season.
That opens the door for the rest of the jockey colony. Who will win the title this season is anyone’s guess.
Here are a few jockeys to watch during this upcoming season:
The similarities of Forest Boyce and Rosie Napravnik go beyond the obvious.
Both followed similar paths, coming up through the Baltimore ranks under the tutelage of the late Richard ‘Dickie’ Small. They were both Eclipse Award runner ups for outstanding apprentice jockey in their respective years (Napravnik in 2006, Boyce in 2010).
So when Napravnik called her and told her to give New Orleans a shot, she decided to take the chance.
Boyce doesn’t have the name recognition of Napravnik quite yet, but she’s been doing well for herself on the Pimlico and Laurel Park circuits. Boyce has 488 career wins and earnings of almost $14 million.
She already has mounts lined up for Napravnik’s husband, Joe Sharp, and Al Stall.
Graham has finished second in the jockey standings six times. He has yet to win a leading rider title at the track.
This could be his year.
With 200 wins already in 2014, Graham is set to surpass his career high of 204, which he set in 2011.
He will likely pick up many of the mounts that previously went to Napravnik, including several stakes winners from the barn of Tom Amoss.
Miguel Mena is already off to a quick start in New Orleans, hitting the board on half of his 24 starts.
The 28-year-old has captured leading rider titles at Ellis Park (2006) and Presque Isle Downs (2007), but he’s yet to win one at the Fair Grounds.
With several jockeys out of the picture this year, Mena is likely to move up from his eighth place finish last season.
He finished third in the standings during Churchill Down’s September meet, hitting the board 22 times in 52 starts.
Richard Eramia finished a solid third in the Fair Grounds standings last season with 83 wins.
Eramia has first call on several horses trained by Ron Faucheux, including Sunbean and Gantry, who gave him his first graded stakes win in 2012.
Eramia has only won three graded stakes in his career to date, but with two of them coming in 2014 on Grand Contender, that list will likely lengthen in short order.
Robby Albarado has won seven leading jockey titles at the Fair Grounds, more than any jockey in the track’s horse.
Who’s to say he can’t win No. 8?
Albarado finished fourth in the Fair Grounds standings last season with 58 wins. He won five races on one card last season.
Personal issues and legal problems have followed the Hall of Fame jockey in recent years, sending him down the rankings. But as he’s rebuilt his reputation, things have started to look up for him.
He could be a dark horse to re-capture his title.