The local jockey colony will have a new look this meeting, with a
mixture of familiar faces infused with established talent arriving from
Most notably absent is Joel Rosario, a multiple-time leading rider
at Betfair Hollywood Park who began riding regularly on the opposite
coast in July. Inheriting the mantle of top dog is Rafael Bejarano,
who led all jockeys during the Betfair Hollywood Park Summer meeting and
has topped the local standings numerous times. The Peruvian born rider
will have his hands full fending off 22-year-old Joe Talamo, fresh from
his first Southern California riding crown at the recently concluded
Santa Anita fall meet.
Adding to the talent in the room is Julien Leparoux, winner of
Eclipse Awards as Outstanding Apprentice in 2006 and Outstanding Jockey
of 2010. The 29-year-old has been the leading rider on the Kentucky
circuit numerous times since arriving from his native France in 2005.
Leparoux has permanently moved his tack to California in conjunction
with his upcoming marriage in December to Shea Mitchell, the youngest
daughter of Mike Mitchell, who ranks second all time at Betfair
Hollywood Park with 888 wins entering Thursday.
Leparoux was scheduled to ride Swiss Tart in the 7th race Thursday
for Mitchell, but the 4-year-old was scratched from the optional claimer
for California breds. He should get substantial business during the
meet from his future father-in-law. Bejarano and Leparoux are good
friends and will share agent Joe Ferrer.
Also shifting his gear to California is Orlando Mojica, who will be
represented by Dudley Osborn. Mojica entered the meet with 1,782 career
victories and $27.6 million in purse earnings. Mojica, a 30-year-old
native of Puerto Rico, is named to ride Imperial Pride for trainer Bob
Hess, Jr. in Saturday’s fourth race.
Agent Joe Griffin said Wednesday that Eswan Flores, the leading
apprentice in Southern California until slapped with a 60-day drug
related suspension at Del Mar, will return to the saddle Saturday.
Griffin added that Flores is enrolled in the Winners Foundation Program
and has been getting fit by exercising horses during the two weeks since
his suspension was lifted Oct. 24. Flores’ apprentice status lapsed
during the suspension, so he returns as a journeyman.
An apprentice to watch is Juan Sanchez, who will be getting chances
from several top trainers, including Julio Canani, for whom he will ride
Bud’s Pal in Friday’s sixth race.