If Santa Anita’s jockeys’ race were a political election, Rafael
Bejarano would be declared the winner in a landslide. With a 26-win lead
over his closest competitor and only seven racing days remaining in the
71-day meet, some might even call it a mandate.
With four wins from four mounts yesterday, the 30-year-old
Peruvian held a commanding 82-56 lead over runner-up Edwin Maldonado and
appeared well on his way to his fourth Santa Anita title, even though
he rides at Keeneland today and Oaklawn Park tomorrow.
One of Bejarano’s wins Thursday came aboard Top Kisser for Jerry
Hollendorfer in the seventh race. It marked the 22nd time from 35 rides
this meet riding for the Hall of Fame trainer that they have landed in
the winner’s circle, nearly 63 percent.
Bejarano is among the leaders nationally, as well. Through April
9, he ranked fourth in purse earnings with more than $3.8 million and
was ninth in wins with 72.
Joe Ferrer, his agent of eight years, says all the kudos should go to Bejarano.
“Give all the credit to Rafael,” Ferrer said. “I’ve never seen
him ride better. He’s done it all by himself. He’s done an incredible
job. He’s getting better and better with age.”
Told he should receive at least some plaudits, Ferrer was respectfully dismissive.
“It’s good to ride 4-5 shots,” he said.