Fierce Competition At Saratoga

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With top riders from across the country joining the already tough New York jockey colony at Saratoga Race Course for the 143rd meet beginning July 22, the competition will be fiercer than ever.

Last summer, John Velazquez loosened Ramon Dominguez’ stranglehold as the top rider on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit, bringing home 57 winners to earn his fourth Spa jockey title and first since 2004. Dominguez, the 2010 Eclipse Award winner who was going for his 10th consecutive individual meet title, finished third behind Velazquez and Javier Castellano.

Velazquez, Castellano, and Dominguez will be making the trek up the Northway, along with New York stalwarts Eddie Castro, David Cohen, Jose Espinoza, Alan Garcia, Channing Hill, Jose Lezcano, Mike Luzzi, Rajiv Maragh, Edgar Prado, Jaime Rodriguez, Alex Solis, Maylan Studart, and Cornelio Velasquez.

Emerging New York apprentice jockeys Ryan Curatolo and Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be looking to make their mark on the Saratoga meet for the first time.

“It’s a tough meet for everyone,” said Velazquez, who earlier this year won his first Kentucky Derby aboard Animal Kingdom. “At Saratoga, everyone wants to win. When you have New York jockeys like Cornelio Velasquez and Ramon Dominguez, it’s tough. Plus, you have the top riders coming in from Kentucky, so it’s even harder.”

No fewer than eight of the top 11 jockeys at the recently concluded Churchill Downs meet will be moving their tack to the Spa, headed by Julien Leparoux, who brought home 43 winners to top the standings for the spring meet. Joining him upstate will be Shaun Bridgmohan, who was third with 36 winners, and a new face in Manoel Cruz, who was fifth in the Churchill Downs standings with 24 winners.

Rounding out the Kentucky contingent will be Kent Desormeaux, Miguel Mena, Jesus Castanon, Robby Albarado and Frederic Lenclud.

Along with Cruz, another new face at the Spa this year will be Corey Nakatani, currently riding in Chicago. The 40-year-old Nakatani, who has ridden the occasional stakes race at Saratoga, will be represented by Fred Aime, who also holds the book for Desormeaux.


On the New York worktab

TIZWAY (Tiznow), a smashing 2 3/4-length winner of the Metropolitan H. (G1), breezed six furlongs in 1:14 2/5 over Saratoga's fast Oklahoma training track on Thursday. The August 6 Whitney H. (G1) is next.

Multiple stakes scorer IBBOYEE (Medallist), eighth in the Met Mile, traveled five furlongs in 1:02 4/5.

Multiple stakes winner SWEET DUCKY (Pulpit), second in the Holy Bull (G3) two back, completed four furlongs in :49 4/5. He exits a 13th in the U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2).

Stakes queen YAWKEY WAY (Grand Slam), fifth when opening the year in June 3 Wandering Cloud S., clocked :50.

Grade 1 winner RAIL TRIP (Jump Start), a head second when making his 2011 debut in the June 5 Easy Goer S., breezed six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 on the fast Aqueduct dirt. The Whitney is a possibility.

Multiple Grade 2 winner D' FUNNYBONE (D'wildcat), fourth in the True North H. (G2) last out, exercised in 1:13 2/5.

BELIEVE IN A. P. (A.P. Indy), unraced since a second in the Demoiselle S. (G2), recorded 1:13 in advance of her three-year-old bow.

Grade 3 victor BRIDGETOWN (Speightstown), 12th in the King's Stand S. (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot last out, logged a half-mile in :49 1/5 on Belmont's fast main track.

C J RUSSELL (El Corredor), second when making his stakes debut in the Jersey Shore (G3), was timed in :49.

Grade 3 winner LETHAL COMBINATION (Broken Vow), unraced since November, finished in :49 1/5.



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