It takes more than skill and luck to be a top jockey. It helps if you
do your homework and study the Three R’s, in this case, readin’, ridin’
and research, which have helped Rafael Bejarano attain world-class
The 29-year-old Peruvian who rode Caracortado to a
gotta-see-it-to-believe-it victory in the Grade III Daytona Stakes on
Jan. 8, had hoped to duplicate that feat in Saturday’s $100,000
Sensational Star Stakes for California-breds at about 6 ½ furlongs on
turf--unfortunately Caracortado was scratched early Friday afternoon due
to a minor foot problem.
Take it from trainer Mike Machowsky, Bejarano, now in his fifth
year as a regular on the Southern California circuit and a perennial
leader, is no one-hit wonder.
“Going to the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs last November I
was on the same flight as him,” Machowsky said. “We were on the red-eye
and he was sitting there with his mom and I asked him how many races he
was riding in the Breeders’ Cup.
“He told me eight, and he asked me if I wanted to see the past
performances. He pulled them out and I was amazed. He had each of them
in a spiral notebook with notes written next to each horse.
“I said to myself, ‘What a student.’ Here it was Monday night on
the red-eye before the Breeders’ Cup and here was a guy who had all the
PP’s and his notes printed out and he was studying the races.
“That’s something you’d expect to see from (Super Bowl
quarterbacks) Tom Brady and Eli Manning. I was impressed. That’s why
when Bejarano rode Caracortado in the Daytona, I told him nothing
(before the race). I figured he knows what’s going on and knows each
horse he’s running against.”
Reminded that Caracortado was some 13 lengths behind at the
three-eighths pole in the Daytona and seemingly hopelessly out of
contention, Machowsky was asked if at that moment he might have had
second thoughts about not giving Bejarano pre-race instructions.
“Maybe I should have said something,” Machowsky said, smiling.
“But seriously, Caracortado is one of those horses that does his own
“He doesn’t want to be sent. He wants to be into the race but he’s got so much talent you can do a lot of different things.”
The Sensational Star is one of five stakes on a 10-race program
that includes the Grade I Santa Monica Stakes for older fillies and
mares at seven furlongs. The $300,000 guaranteed Santa Monica is the
ninth race on a festive Sunshine Millions Day card.
The field for the Sensational Star: Ain’t No Other, Martin
Garcia, 6-1; Tamarack Smarty, David Flores, 20-1; Compari, Mike Smith,
5-2; Caracortado, Rafael Bejarano, scratched; My Summer Slew, Alonso
Quinonez, 20-1; and Red Defense, Joel Rosario, 8-1.
Luckarack and Mega Heat were scratched.