Rafael Bejarano and Julien Leparoux were standing side-by-side when a
visitor passed by in the Del Mar Stable area Thursday morning.
“Opening Day winning jockeys,” Bejarano, the reigning track riding champion said.
If Joel Rosario, who won four races Wednesday , had been there, the
victors of more than half the races on the card would have been
represented. But Rosario had departed for his East Coast base and
opening day at Saratoga on Friday.
“I gave him a ride to the airport,” Bejarano joked. “I made sure he got on that plane.”
MALDONADO AIMS TO STAY ON A ROLL
Jockey Edwin Maldonado has no objection to the 2012 Del Mar season being called a breakthrough one for him.
“Yes, that’s what it was,” Maldonado said Wednesday morning during a break in his rounds at the Del Mar stable area.
Maldonado, 30, a native of Columbus, Ohio, had been a regular on the
Southern California circuit since 2010 and had six races in his first
Del Mar experience in 2011 when he arrived for the 2012 meeting. His
profile with the fans, owners and trainers had been on the rise through
the first part of the year, after reuniting with veteran agent Vic
Lipton, but still had a ways to go.
Then Maldonado won 24 races at Del Mar, including his first stakes
victory at the track aboard Nechez Dawn in the Daisy Cutter Handicap,
serving notice of things to come.
He went from Del Mar to the Fairplex Park meeting in Pomona and won
26 more, unseating Martin Pedroza who had won the riding title there for
13 years in a row.
Another riding title followed at the fall Betfair Hollywood Park
meeting. His 2013 accomplishments: a second place finish behind Rafael
Bejarano at the Santa Anita winter/spring meet with 62 wins to 93 for
Bejarano and a co-title with Bejarano at the recently concluded Betfair
Hollywood Park spring/summer meeting with 51 wins.
“It’s just a matter of people getting to know you, proving yourself
and having some confidence ,” Maldonado said of the factors in his rise.
Winning 51 races and tying for the title in the final spring/summer
meeting at Hollywood Park, and overcoming a seven-win lead by Talamo
entering the final week were especially heartening to Maldonado.
“It feels great,” Maldonado said. “To know I can be competitive with these great riders is really a compliment.”
Athletes in other sports having success talk about being “in the
zone.” That’s how Maldonado said he felt during the last week at
“I thought I had a shot with every horse I was on and I felt like
everything was going right for me,” Maldonado said. “You just feel it.”