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NATION’S TOP JOCKEYS SET TO RIDE AT SANTA ANITA, BEJARANO, GOMEZ, ROSARIO, SMITH TOP ELITE ROSTER
As The Great Race Place readies for its most highly anticipated opener in many years, the world’s finest reinsmen are once again set to converge on Arcadia for Santa Anita’s traditional winter/spring opener on Dec. 26.
Rafael Bejarano, Garrett Gomez, Joel Rosario and Hall of Famer Mike Smith headline an extensive “A” List jockeys’ colony that will also include Tyler Baze, Brice Blanc, Victor Espinoza, David Flores, Martin Garcia, Corey Nakatani, Martin Pedroza, Joe Talamo, Alonso Quinonez, Chantal Sutherland, Patrick Valenzuela and others.
Bejarano, a 28-year-old native of Peru, shifted his tack to Southern California in 2007 and quickly became a Southland sensation—winning six consecutive major meet riding titles in 2008 and through the 2008/2009 Santa Anita meeting.
Hard-working and likeable, the unassuming Bejarano is in search of his fourth consecutive Santa Anita title, a feat most recently accomplished by the great Pincay in 1973. In addition to being a great judge of pace, Bejarano has an uncanny ability to adapt to any game-day scenario and approaches each race with a refreshingly positive attitude. By all accounts, Bejarano, should he remain healthy, is destined to become a member of Thoroughbred Racing’s Hall of Fame.
Bejarano, through Dec. 12, had 2,370 career wins and he will again be represented this winter by his long-time agent, Joe Ferrer.
Garrett Gomez, fresh off victory aboard Blame in last month’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, has been America’s leading money-winning jockey the past four years and was named the nation’s Eclipse Award winning rider in 2007 and 2008.
As he demonstrated in the Classic on Nov. 6, Gomez is one of the strongest finishers in racing today and this, along with his hard-charging style, has helped to make him one of the greatest big-money riders of all time.
The son of a jockey, “Go-Go,” as he is known throughout the racing world, is a native of Tucson, Arizona. Although he missed most of 2003 and 2004 due to readily acknowledged substance abuse problems, Gomez rebounded to become Santa Anita’s leading rider in 2007. He finished fourth in the 2009/2010 standings and is seeking his second Santa Anita riding title.
Gomez, who through Dec. 12, had 3,423 career victories, is represented by agent Ron Anderson.
As he closes in on a double digit victory in the race for leading rider at the current Hollywood Park Fall Meeting, 25-year-old Joel Rosario could well be the most dynamic up-and-coming young talent in America today.
A native of The Dominican Republic, Rosario, at 5’2” and 109 pounds, is a tremendous finisher who reminds many horsemen of a young Pincay.
Rosario’s first Southern California riding title came at the expense of Bejarano, as Rosario snapped Bejarano’s run of six consecutive riding titles, by leading the standings at the 2009 Hollywood Spring/Summer meeting with 79 winners, 10 clear of Bejarano.
Rosario then went on to run away with leading rider honors at the 2009 Del Mar meeting, registering 55 wins, 23 clear of runner up Tyler Baze.
Rosario has finished fourth, third and second the past three years at Santa Anita’s winter/spring meet and he’s in search of his first Santa Anita title as the 2010/2011 meet approaches. He currently has 948 career wins and he is represented by veteran agent Ron Ebanks.
The regular rider of the recently retired superstar mare Zenyatta, Hall of Famer Mike Smith anchors a deep and powerful Santa Anita jockey colony.
Smith, a 45-year-old native of Roswell, New Mexico, has won 13 Breeders’ Cup races, including the 2009 Classic aboard Zenyatta, in what was perhaps the most dramatic moment in Breeders’ Cup and Santa Anita history.
America’s Eclipse Award winning jockey in 1993 and ’94, Smith, like Gomez, is regarded as one of the greatest big-game riders in the history of the sport. Along with his 13 Breeders’ Cup triumphs, Smith has three Triple Crown wins, the 2010 Belmont Stakes with Drosselmeyer, the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo and the 1993 Preakness with Prairie Bayou.
In a career that has spanned three decades, Smith had amassed 4,925 career wins through Dec. 12. He is represented by agent Brad Pegram.
First post time on opening day is 12 noon. For more information or ticket reservations, fans are encouraged to visit www.santaanita.com, or to call (626) 574-RACE.