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Stroll Winner Balance the Books Might Wait for Jamaica

Balance the Books and Julien Leparoux win the 22nd running of the Bourbon Grade 3 $150,000 on the turf at Keeneland racecourse for owner Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence and trainer Chad Brown. October 7, 2012.

Stroll Stakes winner Balance the Books could wait until the Grade 1 Jamaica on October 5 at Belmont Park to make his next appearance, trainer Chad Brown said Thursday morning.


Javier Castellano guided Balance the Books to a rail-skimming neck victory over Hardest Core in the 1 1/8 mile race, giving Castellano his 33rd winner of the meet and Brown his 14th.


"[The Jamaica] is a little ways away, so I have a bunch of time," Brown said. "I don't know if I want to wait that long on him, but it depends on if there's anything between now and then that makes sense to me. If not, I'm not afraid to train him up to the race. He's not a real big, heavy horse; he doesn't take a lot of training. He's very lightly made, so he might be OK."


Winner of the Grade 2 With Anticipation and the Grade 3 Bourbon, Balance the Books has been no worse than third in six starts on turf.


"He's a real competitive horse. That's his biggest asset, I'd say," Brown said of the Lemon Drop Kid colt, who was purchased for $160,000 by Klaravich Stables out of the 2012 Keeneland April 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.


"He breezed so well at Keeneland that day, I was thinking when I bought him that if he panned out he could be a [Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes] horse next year," Brown said. "And he just wasn't good enough or I didn't have him ready enough, but he won't be on it [synthetic] anymore."


*           *           *


Having arrived with modest expectations, jockey Joe Rocco, Jr. has enjoyed his first full summer of riding at Saratoga.


The 31-year-old Rocco entered Thursday's card with 12 wins from 79 mounts and $795,587 in earnings, having picked up a pair of victories on Wednesday to move into a tie for sixth in the jockey standings with Irad Ortiz, Jr.


One-third of Rocco's wins have come in stakes, led by the Grade 1 Prioress on July 27 aboard Lighthouse Bay. He also won the $100,000 Troy on Hogy, the $100,000 Auntie Mame with Summer of Fun, and the $100,000 Evan Shipman on Bigger Is Bettor.


"It's been great," Rocco said. "I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to ride some really nice horses when I came up here. I'm very glad it all panned out. It's been above my expectations."


Rocco has had two multiple-win days, picking up two on Wednesday and three on August 10. His 12 victories have come for 11 different trainers.


"Joe is a good rider, a smart rider," said trainer Ian Wilkes, who teamed with Rocco to win with Elusive Act on Monday. "He's a horseman's rider. He understands the horse and doesn't just get on the horse and go around in a circle."


Rocco, who began riding in 1999, has won 11 stakes in 2013, a single-year high, with seven of those coming in graded stakes, including the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park on Tiz Miz Sue.


The leading rider at Delaware Park in 2011, Rocco earned his 1,000th career win on January 24 aboard Rustler Hustler at Gulfstream Park.


"I put him on a few horses down at Gulfstream and in the Mid-Atlantic region before, so I was kind of familiar with him," said trainer George Weaver, for whom Rocco won the Prioress and Auntie Mame. "I think he's a really good communicator, and I think he's got a lot of talent on a horse. He's kind of a natural. He's a young guy that's just going to become more and more popular. I'm sure that better and better horses are going to be there for him to ride in the future.


"Certainly, winning some stakes races and holding his own against this colony has brought him more opportunities," he added. "You try to win races and get noticed, and he's done that. I'm glad for him. He deserves it. He works hard. He put me in the winner's circle a couple of times, in a couple of big races. It's a great thing for him."







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