Churchill Downs news: Top jockeys returning to New York

Churchill Downs news: Top jockeys returning to New York
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

The majority of the riding colonies from New York, Indiana and Ohio converged on Churchill Downs throughout the opening two weeks of the Spring Meet, but several riders are planning a return to the Empire State.

That group includes Hall of Famers Javier Castellano and John Velazquez, as well as Eclipse Award winner Jose Ortiz and Joel Rosario, who will base at Belmont Park once it opens June 3.

“I really enjoy riding at Churchill Downs, but New York is home for my family and me,” Castellano said. “I’m thankful Churchill was able to open early and let us ride here.”

Through the first four days of racing at Churchill Downs, New York-based jockeys had won 10 of 42 races with Velazquez tied alongside Ricardo Santana Jr. atop the rider standings at four wins. Fellow New York-based rider Rosario has three victories while Ortiz has two.

“We love Kentucky racing and the people here, but Jose is going to head home," said Ortiz’s agent, Jimmy Riccio.."It’s been a long time since he’s been there."

Stakes probables hit the work tab

Saturday’s work tab at Churchill Downs featured several horses aiming at races next weekend beneath the Twin Spires including Winning Colors (G3) contenders Bell’s the One (half mile in :48.60), Break Even (half mile in :47.60) and Spiced Perfection (half mile in :51.80).

Lothenbach Stables’ Bell’s the One worked with jockey Corey Lanerie alongside stablemate Tell Your Daddy (half mile in :48.80). Bell’s the One continued to gallop out strongly passed the wire in front of her workmate. Trained by Neil Pessin, Bell’s the One was the 13-1 upset winner of last year’s Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland. 

Klein Racing’s Break Even worked her half-mile about five minutes after Bell’s the One. Trained by Brad Cox, Break Even reeled off six-straight victories to begin her career prior to a runner-up effort in the Prioress (G2) at Saratoga. Break Even returned to the winner’s circle in her last start at Oaklawn with a comfortable three-length score in an allowance event.

Haruya Yoshida’s multiple Grade 1 winner Spiced Perfection appeared to have a maintenance work early Saturday morning for new trainer Mark Casse.

Entries for next Saturday’s program, which also features the $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep (G3) for fillies and mares on the turf, will be drawn Wednesday.

Down the stretch

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen trails Dale Romans 737-733 wins for the all-time trainer title at Churchill Downs. Asmussen has six entries on Saturday. … Ken and Sarah Ramsey are one win away from 500 victories at Churchill Downs. They have Backyard Heaven entered in Saturday's ninth race, the Blame Stakes.

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