Search Results for: jockey profile

Industry Profile: Perry Ouzts, The 66-Year-Old Jockey Who Won’t Quit

Perry Outz John Engelhardt photo

John Engelhardt photo

Being a jockey is all Perry Ouzts has ever wanted to do. He wasn’t a thrill seeker or a daredevil as a kid. But he grew up in small-town Arkansas with a gaggle of cousins nearby. One of them, Earlie Fires, became a Hall of Fame jockey in 2001. Most of Earlie’s eight brothers also worked in the horse industry.

One day, fifth grade Perry Ouzts sat at his desk. He was the kid whose feet still couldn’t quite touch the floor. His assignment? Write about what you want to do when you grow up.

“Well, this is the first year when my cousin Earlie — when he started riding. This is 1965.” Perry says. “And I got to hear the stories about him and stuff, and I got to thinking, ‘Well, that would be a really cool job,’ because I liked horses already. I was small. And that’s what I wrote about: I wanted to be a jockey…

continue reading about Perry Ouzts

Industry Profile: Jockey Frankie Dettori and his Incredible Year

UK correspondent Edward Sadler has a sit-down interview with superstar jockey Frankie Dettori to look back on his incredible year in the saddle in 2019.

Industry Profile: QnA with Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith

After over 40 years in the saddle, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith remains at the top of his game. To date, the 54-year-old (as of today — happy birthday, Mike!) jockey has 26 Breeders’ Cup wins, the winner of two Eclipse Awards, and an Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award. Mike has won horse racing’s largest races including two Kentucky Derbies, two Preakness Stakes, and three Belmont Stakes and has piloted some of the best-known Thoroughbreds like Unbridled’s Song, Arrogate, Bodemeister, Zenyatta, Songbird, and 2018 Triple Crown winner, Justify…

4. Who is your favorite horse at the moment?
McKinzie (four-year-old colt, with seven wins out of 12 starts and $2,238,560 in earnings).

5. Which racetrack do you enjoy riding at the most?
In California: Santa Anita and Del Mar. In New York: Belmont and Saratoga. I love Lexington, Kentucky, and Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. All special for different reasons.

Industry Profile: Jockey Alex Birzer, rider of the heartland

While researching Alex’s accomplishments, I came across a race that really grabbed my attention. On July 28 at Prairie Meadows, I watched Alex Birzer aboard She’s Our Fastest engaged in a spirited stretch duel with Our Majesty who was piloted by David Cabrera.

As they battled it out, Cabrera and Our Majesty came over a path or two and leaned heavily on She’s Our Fastest and the two bumped and nudged each other down the lane. But I was then utterly amazed when Cabrera started throwing elbows at Alex and hounded him through the entire stretch all the way down to the wire. Alex never stopped riding and didn’t try to retaliate. He just put his head down and persevered on his mount.

Our Majesty finished a head in front of Alex and She’s Our Fastest but the horse was taken down and Alex was rightfully awarded the win. This was no big deal to Alex but it was impressive to me, that he didn’t take the bait for a fight and he also showed what kind of work ethic he has from that one race. Alex wasn’t going to waste time swatting at a pesky jockey nor was he going to jeopardize his safety or the betting public’s money. He just did his job and rode …

Industry Profile: Jockey Gary Stevens

He says he’s lucky not to be in a wheelchair. Towards the end of the month, he’ll go under the surgeon’s blade. “If I don’t have surgery, [the vertebrae’s] going to continue to degenerate, and eventually I would be where I don’t want to be from the neck down,” he added.

Sure, he was well into his final act in the saddle, and so, the incident in the post parade ring at Del Mar last month–the one that gave him whiplash, and a new injury to go with all the rest–can hardly be said to have cheated him his dues. Yet, there was, at least, one more scene to play out. The problem was the shepherd’s crook that appeared stage left.

“I was thinking through the first Saturday in May, if everything went right from December. Five months. And if the horse that I had my eye on worked out to what I think he can be, then that would’ve finished up the year,” Stevens said, playing coy with the horse’s name. “Everything was making me happy two weeks ago. I was enjoying what I was doing.” The mounts were on the wane, yes. “But the horses I had were good horses.”

By the time we spoke, on a rare wintery California morning …

Industry Profile: Jockey David Cohen

David Cohen — enjoying a banner season after resuming his promising riding career following an injury-induced hiatus spanning almost four years — is the recipient of JockeyTalk360.com’s fourth annual Comeback Jockey of the Year Award, presented by Red Brand Fence.

Cohen will receive the award during the Jockeys’ Guild Assembly luncheon Tuesday at Top Golf located adjacent to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Irad Ortiz will be honored as JockeyTalk360 Turf Jockey of the Year, with Drayden Van Dyke recognized as JockeyTalk360 Breakthrough Jockey of the Year. The JockeyTalk360 awards are in addition to the honors handed out at the luncheon by the Jockeys’ Guild at their annual assembly.

The 34-year-old Cohen has won 109 races and almost $6.5 million in 2018 purse earnings through Friday, according to Equibase statistics. That’s the jockey’s most wins since 2012 and most purse earnings since 2010. In taking the Grade 2 Hill Prince on Have At It and the Grade 3 Matron on Lonely Road, Cohen won his first graded stakes since Golden Ticket’s historic dead-heat for victory in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Travers Stakes six years earlier.

Cohen was among the sport’s rising stars when he was kicked in his lower right leg by his mount in the paddock at Aqueduct on Feb. 1, 2014. His badly fractured fibula and tibia required surgery involving a plate and six screws to repair.

“It was never a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when’ I was going to return,” Cohen said. “If you’re not right mentally, it’s going to show. I wouldn’t do that to people trusting me with the horses and giving me an opportunity if I wasn’t 100 percent ready, not just physically but the mental state as well. It was just wanting to do it the right way.”

Cohen spent much of his childhood in Las Vegas and says the return for the Jockeys’ Guild Assembly provides a memorable homecoming. “The year has developed over time to becoming a very good year,” he said. “You’re always honored if you’re recognized for something. I’m just very fortunate for the support I have from the owners and trainers I rode for and am blessed to be back in the sport I love so much.”

The cancer-related death of his father, California horse owner Morry Cohen, several months after the paddock mishap had the jockey struggling to heal not only physically but emotionally. He rode six races in late 2014 but was determined to have a torn meniscus in his right knee. Cohen suffered another personal loss a year later with the death of his sister, Dana.

He did not ride again Nov. 30, 2017, at the Fair Grounds. That proved the first step toward a big winter meet at Oaklawn Park, where he finished third in the standings with 37 wins, before rejoining the New York circuit last spring.

“David had to deal not only with his initial injuries and subsequent complications, but then the devastating double toll of losing his dad, who was his best friend and got him into horse racing, and his sister,” said C.J. Johnsen, publisher of JockeyTalk360.com. “Being a race-rider requires far more than physical ability. The mind strength of jockeys is really under-appreciated. Riding races is extremely challenging, not just physically but mentally. David knew he had more to mend than just his leg. But his perseverance to come back, and to come back the right way, just shows his strength, passion and respect for the game.”

Career Started in 2004

Cohen has won 1,347 races and almost $50 million in purses in a career that started in 2004.

“My leg now, I can’t even tell,” the jockey said his injuries. “It came back better than I ever could have hoped for. My agent, Bill Castle, is very tactical and we really wanted to come back and do well and win right away, not just pop up and say, ‘Here I am’ at Saratoga. I was very fortunate with the support I had in my return at Oaklawn Park. That return was very well thought-out. I could have returned maybe six months earlier. But I just took a long time in the gym getting my body strong and getting my weight down over the time, the healthy and right way.

“My father was an owner and breeder, so I respect that people are giving me their business, their money on the line, their opportunity that they could give to someone else. I’m coming back with the best riders in the world and saying, ‘Give me an opportunity.’ It’s not a sport that people can just put up money and say, ‘Let’s hope it works.’ The trainers, the exercise riders, grooms, everyone working their tail off day in and day out, I wouldn’t do that to them. I wanted to make sure I was in the right place, and I believe it showed. I had a lot of good feedback from horsemen. If it was the opposite way, I don’t think I’d have had the year I’ve had.

“I’m riding for a lot of high-end trainers and getting opportunities I didn’t get prior. Probably for the first six, seven months of my return, I didn’t take one day off from going to the track working horses in the morning. I just went out there, rode hard, rode to the wire on every horse and just showed that I was here for my love of the horses and what I was doing. It was more of a blessing to get back to doing what I love than worrying about how well I was going to do.”

press release

Industry Profile: Jockey Harry Hernandez

It’s been a competitive jockey colony at Arlington International Racecourse so far this meet due to the addition of a few new faces in the jocks room. One of those is Harry Hernandez, who has enjoyed a solid beginning of the 2018 meet with six victories in 29 mounts.

Hernandez, 21, is currently tied for fourth in the standings with Sophie Doyle, who also is riding her first full season at the Chicagoland oval. He has finished in the money at a rate of 48%.

“I’m really excited and I’m really focused on my job,” Hernandez said. “Just trying to stay focused on winning races. I thank God and thank my agent [Ben Allen] and the owners for the opportunities that they have been giving me. I’m just trying to show off my experience.

Hernandez began his riding career in his native Puerto Rico and attended the Escuela Vocacional Hipica, graduating in the same class as leading riders Jose Ortiz, Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Eric Cancel.

Arlington Park racetrack“That school is such a nice school,” Hernandez said. “Before you graduate they make sure that you’re a hard worker and that you’re professional and respectful. Most importantly, they make sure you’re watching your weight because that’s the most important. They teach you how to gallop, teach you how to position. It’s awesome.”

Upon moving to the United States, Hernandez began riding at Finger Lakes in New York where he was consistently finishing in the top of the jockey standings.

“When I graduated I wanted to start riding in Puerto Rico since that’s where I’m from and that’s where my family is from,” Hernandez said. “But I always have wanted to come to the United States. This is where the good money is, it’s where the good owners and trainers are and you’ll learn more riding with good jockeys. This is where you learn more. I always wanted to ride in the United States and make a name for myself here.”

Check out other AGOS Jockey Profiles

It was good friend and accomplished rider Jose Ortiz, however, that gave him some encouragement to give Arlington a try this summer.

“I want to thank God for giving me these opportunities with the trainers and the owners,” Hernandez said. “My family always have supported me. I want to thank my really good friends, especially Jose Ortiz. He was the one who called me up and said ‘Hey, [Ben Allen] is a good agent’. He told me to go try it out.”

Source: Press Release

Industry Profile: Jockey Santo Sanjur

While all eyes were recently on Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., as Justify trained up for his bid for the Triple Crown, one man was been busy making headlines for himself 100 miles North of the Twin Spires. Santo Sanjur, a native of Panama City, Panama, has taken the Indiana Grand jockey colony by storm in his first year riding in the Hoosier state.

Although the track’s meet started only 37 days ago, Sanjur has picked up 108 mounts so far, and has already 22 wins under his belt. This ties him for Indiana Grand leading rider standings by wins ahead of local veterans such as Rodney Prescott and Marcelino Pedroza.

What’s more? This is only the 22-year-old’s fifth year riding competitively. With an in-the-money percentage of 53% this meet, many have taken notice of the new kid with those numbers. Others have taken notice of Sanjur for another reason: his name.

While officially taking the last name “Sanjur,” Santo is no stranger to having family in the racing business. Indiana racing natives will recognize the name of Sanjur’s cousin, Juan Saez, a rider who was killed tragically in an accident at Indiana Grand in October of 2014.

Though he was on a path nearly identical to that of Santo, Juan is not the young rider’s best known relative. His most famous cousin is Luis Saez, pilot of horses such as Will Take Charge, Gunnevera and, more recently, Arkansas Derby winner Magnum Moon.

Just like his two well-recognized cousins, Sanjur also attended Panama City’s famed Laffit Pincay Jockey School.

It was a perfect fit. According to the school motto, it is directly in the heart of “the cradle of the best jockeys in the world.” During his two years at a school he considers to be “one of the best,” Sanjur said he learned the basics of being a successful jockey, though it was his desire for more that brought him to the United States.

“I had always wanted to come and ride here and make my family proud,” Sanjur said.

With his record so far, he is doing just that.

Despite being new to Indiana, Sanjur is by no means new to racing in the Midwest. He spent the first four years of his American riding career at Arlington Park in the suburbs of Chicago, where he had much of the same impact as he has had at Indiana Grand. From May of 2017 to September of the same year, Sanjur rode 452 horses and picked up 57 wins that totaled almost $1.5 million in purse money. He finished second that year in the Arlington jockey standings.

The impression those four years in Illinois gave him carried over across the border to Indiana, where horsemen of all types cannot get enough of him. Michelle Elliott, trainer and daughter of the well-known Indiana breeder Jim Elliott, is one of them.

“I think he’s the new up-and-coming rider. He’s going to be amazing,” Elliot said of Sanjur, who she met through his agent, Jeremy Acridge. A short time before the Indiana Grand meet began, Acridge called Elliott, asking her to “give his guy a chance.” Sanjur brought Crossed, a filly in Elliott’s barn, home first in the sixth race on Indiana Grand’s opening day card, and has been riding for her ever since. “I really like this kid,” Elliott said. “I’d put him on just about anything.”

Where he continues to experience days where he rides three or even four winners on the same card, it is easy to see why Sanjur continues to make news in the Midwest. Though he doesn’t see himself moving out of the Hoosier state anytime soon, Sanjur does have a few races in mind that he would really love to win more than anything: the Kentucky Derby and a Breeders’ Cup race. And if his current success is any indicator, it won’t be long before we see Sanjur on a bigger stage.

Source: Press Release

Industry Profile: Jockey Antonio Gallardo

Two seasons ago, Antonio Gallardo rode a 3-year-old first-time starter named Imperial Hint to an eye-opening victory in a 7-furlong Tampa Bay Downs allowance in a sizzling time of 1:22.39. The Luis Carvajal, Jr.-trained Florida-bred colt lowered that time to 1:22.15 in his next start with Gallardo in the irons, the Florida Cup Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes.

“That is the dream of every jockey every year, to have a nice horse like that,” said Gallardo, who watched Imperial Hint race to a second-place finish in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint last month under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano. “In this game, you stay positive because you can find a good horse anywhere.”

The 30-year-old Spaniard, whose meteoric rise upon moving to the United States resulted in three consecutive riding titles at both Tampa Bay Downs and Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa., has shown a knack for winning all kinds of races, including five graded stakes the last two years.

But while Gallardo’s quest to secure another “big horse” continues at full speed, he’s a devoted family man who strives for the right balance between his professional and personal lives.

Gallardo’s early-meeting Oldsmar performance, with 17 victories, has earned him the SenÞor Tequila Mexican Grill Jockey of the Month Award.

When the 2017 season at Presque Isle Downs in western Pennsylvania ended in early October, Gallardo, his wife Polliana and their two children, Carlos, 9, and Christa, almost 4, traveled to his hometown of Jerez in Cadiz, Spain for about a month to visit his relatives.

Gallardo’s ambition to be known as one of the world’s best jockeys hasn’t changed. But the pull of home, both in Spain and Tampa, helps charge his batteries to succeed on the track.

“That (traveling to Spain) helped me a lot. My family is real close, and I was able to have fun with them and forget about the horses for a while,” said Gallardo, who got to visit his parents, his sister, his grandmother and other relatives. “If one of us is crying, everybody is crying, and if one of us is happy, everybody is happy.

“It was good for me mentally and good for my muscles and my bones. If I have a chance to go next year, I’m going again,” he added.

After riding in New York last season, where he finished seventh in the 2017 winter meeting standings at Aqueduct with 19 victories, Gallardo has returned to his home away from Spain on Florida’s west coast.

Gallardo, who finished second in North America in victories in both 2015 and 2016, riding 652 winners during that two-year period, recently bought a home on a farm a few miles from Tampa Bay Downs. The property includes a seven-stall barn, several paddocks and a riding arena.

Gallardo said the reasons he has returned to Tampa Bay Downs are “simple. It’s my home, my family is here and the weather is good. I was making more money in New York, but I wasn’t as happy.

“As a jockey, you risk your life every day. Yes, you have to make money, but you have to have fun and enjoy your family. Money comes and goes, but when time leaves, it never comes back to you.”

Gallardo finished third in the Monmouth Park standings this year with 50 victories. On Dec. 16, he won the inaugural $125,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Marion County Florida Sire Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on 3-year-old gelding Mo Cash with a bold move between rivals on the turn.

Among his five graded-stakes victories is the 2016 Grade II Nashua at Aqueduct on Hemsworth. He also won the $400,000 (ungraded) Poseidon Handicap last winter at Gulfstream on Imperative on the Pegasus World Cup Invitational card and finished fifth on War Story in the $12-million Pegasus.

It appears Gallardo’s next major assignment is a matter of “when,” not “if.” Whoever it happens to be with, the connections can rest assured their jockey will know the way home.

 

Source: Press Release

Industry Profile: Morning Line Maker Jon White

ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 24, 2019)–An unmistakable treasure on the American Racing landscape, the indefatigable Jon White is back for his 11th year as Santa Anita’s highly respected Morning Line Maker as the track opened on Friday, Sept. 27.

A proud native of Spokane, WA, White’s affinity for horse racing traces back to trips with his late father to tracks such as Playfair in Spokane and Yakima Meadows, where his dad worked in their pari-mutuel departments.

Upon graduating from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane (“ESPN’s Neil Everett went there too”), White soon set about a career in racing that has seen him cast in a myriad of roles in a number of different states. (White is also quick to point out that he attended Eastern Washington University, where he noted, the LA Rams’ Cooper Kupp also attended, as did Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd).

Santa Anita San Gabriel

copyright Cheryl Ann Quigley

“I’ve been in racing 45 years now and I’ve been involved in many different aspects,” said White, who is also married to popular racing writer Tracy Gantz, whose stories appear in BloodHorse Magazine and The California Thoroughbred, which is published by the CTBA. “I started out in 1974 as a chart-caller and columnist with Daily Racing Form at Northwest tracks and I got promoted in 1981 to the position of reporter-columnist here at Santa Anita and all the other Southern California tracks.

“The racing during that period of time was incredible, as were the jockeys and trainers that I dealt with on a daily basis. In 1986, they assigned me to be the DRF chart-caller and I worked on this circuit in that positon until 1993.”

In addition to his print career at Daily Racing Form and as a free-lancer for several industry publications, White has also toiled as a racing steward in various locales–Yakima Meadows (1979), Les Bois Park in Boise, ID (1990s) and has been a licensed CHRB steward since 2010. His most recent CHRB assignment put him in the stewards’ stand at this year’s Los Alamitos Summer Thoroughbred Meet in July.

Following the 1993 Del Mar meeting, White hired on with the newly created HRTV, working as an on-air racing personality for some 20 years until taking his current position as Santa Anita’s Morning Line Maker.

With a soft spoken, low key demeanor that belies an intense passion for racing, White’s historical perspective and broad-based knowledge are legendary in racing circles.  Following is a question and answer session with White, who will also be making the official morning line for this year’s two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 1 & 2.

     Q                Who’s your all-time favorite horse?

     A                No question, it’s (Washington-bred) Turbulator.  He didn’t race as a 2-year-old because he became so ill that he very nearly died. He didn’t race as a 3-year-old because he severely injured a knee on a farm. His breeder, owner and trainer, Tom Crawford, then tried to trade the horse for two cows. But due to the injured knee, the swap didn’t take place. Turbulator finally did make it to the races as a 4-year-old in 1969.  He lost his first three starts, but then won seven straight in just nine weeks from six furlongs to two miles at Playfair. In 1970, Turbulator broke three track records, one of those also being a world record. In another of his 1970 victories, he carried 134 pounds. A huge fan favorite, there were Turbulator T-shirts, coffee mugs, campaign buttons and refrigerator magnets, all items I possess to this day, along with two of the shoes he wore when he broke the world record for 6 ½ furlongs.

     Q                Favorite all-time jockey?

     A                Laffit Pincay, Jr., although Bill Shoemaker, Gary Stevens, Eddie Delahoussaye and Joe Baze, Russell’s father, certainly all rank right up there. I’ve said many times that if I ever needed a horse to win a race or I would die, I would pick Laffit to ride the horse. On the last day I was ever at Longacres, in a prime example of Laffit’s sheer strength on horseback, he won the 1986 Longacres Mile by a neck on Skywalker.  I flew back to LA on the plane with Skywalker and his trainer, Michael Whittingham.  Skywalker would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic later that year with Pincay aboard.

     Q                Favorite all-time trainer?

     A                It’s a dead heat between Charlie Whittingham and Laz Barrera. I was very lucky to get to know them both quite well. They were incredible horsemen and wonderful people. I miss them a lot.

     Q                Favorite all-time race?

     A                It’s another dead heat, this time Secretariat’s spectacular 31-length Belmont Stakes victory to sweep the Triple Crown in 1973 and Zenyatta’s sensational win in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, which I saw in person…As I stood in the mass of humanity during Zenyatta’s furious late charge to become the first female Thoroughbred to ever win the Classic, I was so overcome with emotion that I had tears in my eyes.

     Q                You’ve had so many great moments in racing, I know Justify’s Kentucky Derby win last year ranks way up there?

     A                As we all know, Justify didn’t make it to the races until Feb. 18 here at Santa Anita. I managed to get a one hundred dollar future book wager on him at 100 to one to win the Kentucky Derby, so that was pretty incredible. But my biggest score was hitting a Pick Six at Santa Anita that paid $45,981.  It was on Dec. 28, 2003, and I did it on a $120 ticket.

     Q                If you retired tomorrow, what would you do for kicks?

     A                I honestly don’t know. My feeling is I will cross that bridge when I get to it.