JOCKEYING FOR BEST PROVEN RIDERS TEND TO GET DERBY'S FAVORED HORSES.Byline: Kevin Modesti Staff Writer
For 10 sunny days this spring, jockey Alex Solis Alex O. Solis (born March 25, 1964 in Panama City, Panama) is a jockey based in the United States. He currently lives in Glendora, California and rides predominantly in Southern California. He first gained national prominence when he won the 1986 Preakness Stakes with Snow Chief. thought he had found his Derby horse in the form of a fast-blooming colt named Buddha.
Buddha's trainer, Jim Bond Jim L. Bond (born 1936) is a minister and emeritus general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. , had phoned unexpectedly from Florida to offer the mount. Solis' agent, Scott McClellan, had checked Buddha's resume and recommended accepting.
``I said, `Oh, man! He's a great horse!' '' Solis said this week, recalling his optimism.
If the business dealings of horsemen and jockeys were that simple, Solis probably would have been aboard when Buddha won the hard-fought Wood Memorial in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of two weeks ago, and Solis likely would have gone into the 128th Kentucky Derby Kentucky Derby
One of the classic U.S. Thoroughbred horse races. It was established in 1875 and run annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs track in Louisville, Ky. With the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, it makes up U.S. racing's coveted Triple Crown. next Saturday in Louisville with the 3-year-old now considered one of the season's best.
But Bond called back. And he had bad news. Buddha's owners wanted Pat Day.
``(It) wasn't very nice,'' McClellan said at Hollywood Park Hollywood Park may be several places:
He was introduced to the sport of thoroughbred racing by his older brother, jockey Gregg McCarron. . ``It really messed up our plans. Since I went with (Buddha), I turned down others and basically ended up with nothing at the time.''
Day rode Buddha in the Wood Memorial and will ride him in the Derby. Solis had to scramble to secure a Derby assignment and ended up with Ocean Sound - a long shot.
``It's aggravating,'' Solis said. ``But you can't cry about it. That happens.''
At the racetrack, especially as the first Saturday in May approaches, everybody understands that this is the way the game is played.
The approximately 2,000 jockeys who compete in North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. each year covet cov·et
v. cov·et·ed, cov·et·ing, cov·ets
1. To feel blameworthy desire for (that which is another's). See Synonyms at envy.
2. To wish for longingly. See Synonyms at desire. a chance to ride a good horse in the Derby. The trainers and owners of Derby hopefuls are desperate to hire one of the handful of jockeys proven in that pressure cooker. Any of the above would go back on a verbal agreement in a fifth of a second if it would improve his chances.
Note that the reason Buddha needed a new jockey for the Wood Memorial is that Edgar Prado Edgar S. Prado (born June 12, 1967 in Lima, Peru) is a thoroughbred horse racing jockey.
Now a resident of Hollywood, Florida in 2004 Prado became the 19th jockey in thoroughbred racing history to win 5,000 races. had jumped ship so he could ride Harlan's Holiday on the same day in the Blue Grass Stakes The Blue Grass Stakes, currently sponsored by the Toyota Motor Corporation, is an American Grade 1 horse race for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds held annually in mid April at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky. in Lexington, Ky. It's hard to fault Prado's choice - Harlan's Holiday won the Blue Grass and will go into the Derby as the favorite.
The deciding factor in the reversal by Buddha owners Gary and Mary West might have been nothing more than the fact Day has ridden a Derby winner (Lil E. Tee Lil E. Tee was an American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse who in 1992 scored one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Kentucky Derby.
A bay colt, Lil E. Tee was bred in Pennsylvania by Lawrence I. Littman. , 1992), while the Southern California-based Solis has finished second three times in the past five years but hasn't won.
``I don't think it'll ever change,'' two-time Derby-winning jockey Eddie Delahoussaye Edward J. Delahoussaye (born September 21 1951) was an American thoroughbred jockey from New Iberia, Louisiana.
He began his career in 1968 and in ten short years became the top American jockey with 384 wins. said of this cold-blooded game of musical saddles. ``There's never been true loyalty.''
Soon after the Derby-winning horse and rider This article is about the constellation. For the equestrian magazine, see Horse & Rider.
The Horse and Rider is an informal name given to the stars Mizar (ζ UMa) and Alcor (80 UMa) because of their close proximity in the sky. cross the finish line at Churchill Downs Churchill Downs, Ky.: see Louisville. on Saturday, they will be permanently coupled in news photos, history books and crossword puzzles. As details fade from memory, it will seem as if they always were teammates.
More likely, the horse-and-rider pairing will be the late-developing result of luck, timing and scheming.
If it were based on merit, the country's best jockey always would ride the Derby's best horse. But only once in the past quarter-century has the previous year's top money-winner ridden the Derby favorite, and only twice in that stretch has the previous year's Derby winner ridden the Derby favorite.
If egalitarianism were at work, every jockey would experience the thrill of sitting on a Derby contender as the band plays ``My Old Kentucky Home.'' But there's a class system that rewards the Days, Delahoussayes, Jerry Baileys, Chris McCarrons and Gary Stevens year after year.
In 1979, Spectacular Bid trainer Bud Delp stuck with the young and erratic Ronnie Franklin, and Spectacular Bid won the Derby and the Preakness. Franklin's performance in the Belmont Stakes widely was blamed for the superhorse's failure to sweep the Triple Crown. Delp now regrets his loyalty.
That incident seemed to mark a turning point in how Derby jockeys are chosen: Not since Franklin has a Derby rookie ridden the winner. Up until then it had happened all the time.
More and more, it seems that a jockey must pay his dues in the Derby - in essence earn his luck - before being blessed with a winner. Day won on his 10th try, Bailey his sixth, McCarron his seventh, Stevens his fourth.
``It's a Catch-22. If you can't take that ride to start with, then how are you ever going to get the experience?'' said Brian Beach, agent for Stevens and Mike Smith.
Caught in that trap is Tony D'Amico, a 46-year-old journeyman from the Midwest who never has competed in the Derby. D'Amico regularly rode Harlan's Holiday and Repent before being abruptly replaced by Prado and Bailey as trainer Ken McPeek homed in on the Derby. Repent since has been injured and won't run in the Derby.
``I am disappointed,'' Prado told the Daily Racing Form The Daily Racing Form, LLC (DRF) is a broadsheet newspaper founded in 1894 in Chicago, Illinois by Frank Brunell. The paper publishes the past performances of race horses as a statistical service for bettors on horse racing in the United States. in February. ``But that's the way this business is.''
``I don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. if he's made a huge difference,'' McPeek said this week of Prado, who took over following Harlan's Holiday's two defeats in Florida. ``But the ultimate result is winning and he has won twice for Edgar.''
Does a ``proven'' Derby jockey really make a difference? Couldn't a Tony D'Amico win if he had the best horse? Maybe not.
Because the Derby draws a larger-than-normal field of horses, traffic trouble is a constant threat to a contender, making an experienced more important, said Delahoussaye, scheduled for his 13th Run for the Roses aboard Perfect Drift.
Newcomers and nonwinners ``tend to ride differently in that race because they want to win so bad,'' Delahoussaye said. ``I stick to my plan. If I get lucky and don't get banged around by (other jockeys), my horse has a chance.''
A week before this year's Derby, riding assignments remained in flux for several of the 24 horses vying for 20 spots in the starting gate. It appeared - astoundingly - that nine of the 20 runners and jockeys will be teaming up for the first time.
Three jockeys will be Derby rookies (all riding long shots): Eddie Martin Jr. (It'sallinthechase), Rene Douglas (Wild Horses) and Glenn Corbett (Lusty lust·y
adj. lust·i·er, lust·i·est
1. Full of vigor or vitality; robust.
2. Powerful; strong: a lusty cry.
4. Merry; joyous. Latin).
Corbett, 35, little-known beyond Altoona, Iowa, where he leads the Prairie Meadows standings, hooked up with Lusty Latin in Arizona and rode the colt to third place behind Came Home and Easy Grades in the Santa Anita Derby The Santa Anita Derby is an American Grade 1 thoroughbred horse race for three-year-olds run each April at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California and carries a purse of $750,000. . Trainer Jeff Mullins said he hired Corbett because the ``big names'' weren't interested in his horse.
Now that Lusty Latin is Derby-bound, of course, jockeys' agents are hovering like buzzards.
``I don't know why you'd take a guy off who's done nothing wrong and knows everything about the horse,'' Mullins said. ``I realize the guy's never ridden in the Kentucky Derby. But I've never been to the Derby, either. My owner has never been to the Derby, either. We're all going for the first time together.
``The way I look at it, those big-name jocks and all those Derby-winning jocks all had their first day there. Glenn deserves his first day there.''
That sounds fair.
Too fair for Kentucky Derby season.
For a while, jockey Alex Solis thought he would be riding fast-blooming Buddha in the Kentucky Derby, but the colt eventually went to Pat Day.
Benoit Photo/Associated Press