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I've been at D.M. live for three days, and the other two I've watched every race from home. Not a professional handicapper(obviously) but I generally try to see every Southern Cal race(have for years now). These are my quick observations on the local jock colony. I've been hanging aroung the jock's room(not in that way) to watch the jocks demeanors while in the paddock preparing for the post parade. You can tell a lot at Del Mar since every Paddock scene is a party in itself. No grades A-F here, just some comments. What do you guys think of the jocks' first week? I'll divide into two posts, so those bored will only have to suffer half the pain.
In Order of Jockey Standings:
T. BAZE: Completely on his game right now. Not only a great gate jockey anymore, but has learned how to relax closers to make the last run. Equally adept on grass or wax.. Has always been blessed with riding skills, but has now added “stretch strength” ala Laffit or Rafael. Shows what hard work, intelligence, and getting your personal life in order can accomplish.
J. TALAMO: Surprised he’s not related to the Bazes, because he really does remind me of the family’s riders. Best skills are on closers rather than front runners. Will tend to try to save ground until the stretch, and then “swing out. That’s exactly what wins races. It also gets his horses stopped on occasion. I’ll still take that trade off. If he ever learns to be patient while looking for a spot to move (instead of ducking and weaving back to the rail), I guarantee you he’ll top a meet.
J. ROSARIO: I don’t know who this guy’s agent is, but the man is he earning his keep. It’s scary how much Joel has improved in every category is such a short time. I want him to watch some tapes of Bo-rail and learn how many lengths are saved(especially in 2-3 turn races). Joel likes to keep his horses in the clear, and again, that has its plusses and minuses. Has become one of the strongest finishers in the game.
V. ESPINOZA: Best physical condition of any jockey. Seems to be slowly but surely coming back to his top form. Watch out for him on any of the top trainer’s mounts. Will still ride just as strong in those last races of the day. Watched him live this past weekend and looked more relaxed and focused(and yes, those two can be combined) than he had in a long time(or is just Del Mar that brings that out in everybody).
C. NAKATANI: The sunning himself outside the jocks room(in front of the nice ladies) was gone. The streaks in his hair was gone. I’ve heard his personal life is back on track. And like mentioned on the athletes above, he really seemed different to the casual/professional eye. By far, the “Toro” award as the best rider on the turf. I love him on sprints on the rail, as he’s always known when to pull the trigger with his move. Can he sell himself to some of the trainers who gave up on him? That will decide whether he comes back to the peak level of his past.
M. SMITH: Just doesn’t ride enough to ever be on or near top of standings. Could be best $ rider out there. However, I question whether his heart is COMPLETELY in it in anything lower than an allowance race. I love the guy, but it’s fair to question the commitment to excellence with his grape endeavors and now that he’s a big time t.v. star.
Don’t know how much of his time he’s flying to Canada and back. Best talent + brains out there when it’s on display.
C. SANTIAGO REYES: Our own horse/poker/baseball specialist Joel touted this guy before the meet started and that analysis gets an “A” so far. Watched him closely this past week and can’t believe how talented he is. DO NOT DISCOUNT how many trainers at Del Mar want that weight advantage to get a win for their home town owners. Hitting the board is not good enough here, so trainers will drop horses in price, drop or add equipment, and definitely want this guy riding their horse to help insure a winners circle picture with all the old frat brothers. I don’t know where this guy came from or who he learned his skills from, but I’m a believer. He knows how to ride and looks like he’s been doing it for years. While he’s got his bug, pound him at the windows.
G.GOMEZ: A enigma wrapped in a puzzle put inside a jelly donut(wait, is that how it goes?) I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something going wrong ‘round here. I’m not intimating anything. I don’t know Garrett nor do I hear anything about him. But he’s dropped off. Not the cliff or anything that far, but certainly a drop. And it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Considered by many the top jockey in the country, he sure hasn’t looked the part. I’m not talking about the numbers. I know he’s the guy that flies from here to there for the big races, I get it. But watch him. He’s been riding very indecisively. He looks like he’s going to bolt for ‘Toga and Pletcher any second. I don’t have the confidence in him I’ve had for the last few years. Any ideas?
A. SOLIS: Smith’s partner in the juice. Back in good graces with Headley. I’m fifty/fifty with Alex whenever I take a shot on his horse. Great ride, or horrific ride? Great backwheel exacta bet when on a closer with a large field and decent pace(6 ½ to 7 furlongs his real specialty). Gets a horse to relax and make that wide move move better than anyone(Joel’s catching up), but often too late to get the win.
M. BAZE: Stay thirsty my friends. Sorry, can’t get that commercial out of my head. Made me think of Michael. Thought for sure he’d be right with the big boys at the top. Is he thirsty or hungry enough in this ultra-competitive colony? Has everything you want in a top jock, but can’t seem to get the live mounts. Is he working hard enough in the mornings? Why can’t he get the “lower-odds” horses. I guess it’s a vicious cycle.
Quinonez: Rides with all out effort every time. I love watching him ride. Great longshot jockey. Do not leave him out of any tri or super.
Pedroza: Great to see him back from horrific injury. Predict him and Carava get hot sometime before meet ends. C’mon Pete, you gotta get ready to dominate the Plex!
Delgadillo: C’mon, admit it, you love to say his name like Ken on TVG. Starting to heat up himself and Del Mar provides bigger fields(usually) that can get this underrated jockey some more mounts each day.
Stra: This Kiwi(or is she an Aussie? I know there’s a big difference) has a lot of upside. If I trained horses I’d love to hire her to be my main exercise jockey. She knows how to relax a horse, and is getting better in the afternoons. Hope to see you on Jockeys 2.
Berrio: Everybody needs second chances(I’m on around my tenth). Nice to see Omar back and A.C. still supports. Best to his health and his career continued improvement.
Again, open for debate and would really like to hear what all you great people think.
No better example of this can be seen than by watching the replay of Sunday's ninth race - an epically bad ride. Note how Rosario switches positions with the eventual winner in the run to the first turn. (And, no, I didn't bet the race.)
P.S. You might be the only handicapper in California who doesn't know the name of Rosario's agent.
P.P.S. Good post!
Last edited by Marat on Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I noticed Gomez didn't ride as many winners as normal this past week... but I had no problems with his ride on Twin Turbo on opening day! Hard to get 10-1 on a Gomez horse, usually. Honestly, I've never had a problem with a Gomez ride (I'm not a big bettor, though).
I echo JDinSD77's comments. His comments were accurate, in my view, and the jocks he named and detailed are as I see them too. Regarding the later comments on G. Gomez, yes, there's some truth to that. However, remember Gomez's stature in the game. He is AT THE TOP. Does everyone recall last summer, when he won a G-1 at Del Mar, then flew late East late that night to get to Saratoga in time to WIN the Travers Stakes, the premier G-1 of the Saratoga meet? Who else does that? Answer: No one in the California colony. So keep your eyes on Gomez. He will be there when the big bucks are on the line, and then it's not a good idea to bet against him. And yes, he will still bring in those 8-1 and 10-1 shots.
Umm, they all do it if they have the chance.
Doesnt Smith ride Friday night, take the redeye, and then race about 8 hours later at Mountaineer in 9 straight races? I know Nakatani has made several trips to keeneland after riding late the day before.
I think any rider worth a salt that has a chance does what Gomez did to Saratoga. Its just who in socal right now is at the money rider level to have the chance, I know of only three at this point in time.
Nice synopsis on the Del Mar jockey colony which I think is very accurate to date. As everyone knows there are only so many Top Stables to go around & right now, it seems that Sadler, Baffert, Mandella, Ellis, Drysdale, Mitchell & Frankel all seem to be on equal levels. So if you're a jockey in So. Cal right now you've got to be in with Sadler & Baffert at the very least to stay in the running for the top glamour mounts.
Notice at the end of my list is Frankel who I've read has some mystery illness & for sure his stable simply is not what it usually is, so all the jockeys in So Cal I think are kind of waiting to see which stable will seperate from the other trainers in terms of total stock. As for Gomez, his full time move back to So. Cal seems to have created a crowd at the top & with Frankel's stable not firing like it usually does that has exacerbated things between the so-called Money Jock between Gomez, Espinoza, Rosario & the injured Bejarano. Since Baffert mostly goes with Espinoza in crunch time & the fact that Bejarano is injured right now, that seemingly would give Gomez his back in, but again some stables are uncharcteriscally cold right now & you've got guys like Avila & Ellis winning Stakes that usually are won by trainers Drysdale & Frankel.
I say Gomez is turning a lot of Favs into False-Favs with the unexpected slump in business, although its not totally his fault, its just the way things are playing out as his mounts are reaaly not the prime mounts they've been in the past. Again look who Gomez is riding for & then look at the post position he's in, ie, if he's on nthe grass he's not going to win from the extreme outside post & if he's on the poly he's not going to win from the 1 post.
Other noteworthy jockey notes is Alex Solis, Solis imho is riding like a man on a mission, offering good value for the buck as he's almost never on the favorite & his old habit of taking the widest trip of all has disappeared.
Lastly heres a shout-out for David Flores as he also has benefitted from the injury to Bejarano, especially look at Flores when his mounts are over $2-1, it seems the betting crowd has forgotten that David knows a thing or two about riding.
Agree on almost everything...you have been watching intently, haven't you? Love Talamo, TBaze right now....not so hot on Solis, Gomez, to be sure.
It's all about value, and right now, your top guys are running it (Rosario, TB, Talamo, CNak, Victor) and some are chilly (Gomez).
Thanks a whole bunch everybody for your generous comments. I really appreciate the positive and respectful and intelligent feedback and commentary. Remember, my words were only based 90% on my observations of the first week only. 10% was based on the week or two each jockey had coming into Del Mar. Everything I said could change and flip with the rotation of the earth. I do love Gomez as a tremendous athlete and jockey, and totally understand there are a ton of factors affecting his numbers. Maybe I'm just seeing some very slight frustration in his body language and riding that every jockey goes through many times a year. I'm going live today and tomorrow, so I'll try to watch for everything you guys were saying. And thanks for making it through that ultra-long analysis I posted.
P.S. Marat, it was sarcasm, baby, sarcasm(Of course you could have been using it too!) J.D. loves him some Vic and has been praising him on these boards for over a year now. Hope his health is tops and I look forward to any of his upcoming and appreciated postings on this forum.
P.P.S. I forgot that TVG said Sarge was under the weather this past Sunday. Sorry to miss you on the "Finish Line" big guy. Hope you're doing much better and also look forward to your awesome commentary re: Del Mar and racing across the country.
Garrett Gomez couldn't win a race if he was riding Secretariat right now, somethings up with him no doubt. He's been stinking it up for a while, maybe the guys burned out , he sure has been riding like he is.
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