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Gaines Set to Return From Suspension

At midnight tonight, with the end of trainer Carla Gaines’ 30-day suspension, Jerry Quinn’s watch at the helm of Gaines’ stable will officially be over. Quinn’s time in service, according to Equibase figures through Wednesday, resulted in three wins, three seconds and a third from 18 starters, a 17% win and 39% on-the-board rate and earnings of $248,600 or $13,811 per start.

Quinn has one more horse to saddle, Sri’s Red in Friday’s seventh race. Two other horses, Cautious Giant in Saturday’s fourth race and Gervinho in a division of the Del Mar Derby on Sunday, are currently entered in Quinn’s name, but may be switched to Gaines’ upon her return.

“It has been good,” Quinn said Friday morning. “The horses have been running well, but they have to be. You know Carla shoots at a 20 percent rate so you have to keep the standard up.

“It’s a very good team here with good horses and it was really nice to go over to the paddock and look at the tote board and see 2-1, 7-2 and 9-2. Some of the ones I’ve had in the past it was more 15-1 and 20-1.

“When you’re training nice horses it’s a little more enjoyable.”

A former steeplechase rider in Ireland and England, Quinn came to the U.S. and worked for Charlie Whittingham and Bryan Mayberry in the West and later was an assistant in the east for Elliott Walden and Mike Stidham.

On his own, Quinn had strings at various tracks and experienced success in races with six-figure purses in New Orleans. Six years ago a broken femur took him out of training for two years and he had been, in his own words, “struggling” in comeback attempts for the past several years.

Six months ago, he started helping in the Gaines barn. When Gaines’ bid for a stay of the suspension was denied, Quinn was called into service.

“If I’m needed to saddle horses over the weekend, I’ll stay here,” Quinn said. “If not, my second daughter is 14 days old and I’ll be heading up to Los Angeles to see her.”

Nicolas Has Gone From MMA To J-O-C-K-E-Y

As athletic professions go, Gonzalo Nicolas prefers thoroughbred jockey to mixed martial arts fighter. And the 23-year-old apprentice rider should know because, he’s done both.

“Not in a million years would I have thought I’d be riding here and be able to win a few races,” Nicolas said recently. “It’s wonderful and I’m very happy. Every day I’m learning and every day is different, that’s one reason I like it.”

Nicolas was born in Guatemala but came to the U.S. at age 10. He grew up in Riverside where he was an accomplished high school wrestler in the 110-112 weight divisions, earning MVP of his team honors for two of three years.

While still a teenager his goal was to become a professional boxer. But one night at a Moreno Valley program there was no opponent for him in the 115 pound weight class. There was, however, a 130-pounder available for an MMA-type bout.

“I’m 18 years old, I have a wrestling background and I figured what have I got to lose?” Nicolas recalled. “So I fought him and I won.”

In time he was fighting as an MMA professional with a 9-2 record before he gave up the sport. “I won three by tap-outs, I got choked out for one of my losses and my last loss was by decision though a lot of people in the crowd thought I won,” he said.

A friend with racing connections, noting Nicolas’ strength and diminutive stature, got him on the path to riding. He learned the basics at a ranch in Perris, moved on to tracks and was introduced, three months ago, to veteran jockey agent Vince de Gregory by former jockey Luis Jauregui, who currently serves as Del Mar’s safety steward.

Nicolas has four wins from 32 starts at Del Mar. On Thursday, stewards ruled he be suspended for three days (September 4, 27 and 28, 2013) for causing interference aboard Magic Number in the eighth race on Wednesday, August 28.

 

 

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