Del Mar 2022: Who are the hot and cold jockeys after 2 weeks?

Del Mar 2022: Who are the hot and cold jockeys after 2 weeks?
Photo: Courtesy Del Mar

With Del Mar now a quarter of the way into its eight-week summer meet, it’s time to check in on how the jockey colony has performed before the action picks up again on Thursday.

Juan Hernandez, who was the leading rider at last year's Del Mar fall meet after being runner-up in the summer, leads the standings again with 13 wins from 54 mounts, which is a 24 percent strike rate. In June, Hernandez wrapped up his first riding title at the six-month Santa Anita winter-spring meet. With the departure earlier this year of Flavien Prat, Southern California's former kingpin, Hernandez has become the dominant force on the circuit. He is scheduled to ride seven races on Thursday and six on Friday, including the Real Good Deal Stakes aboard Big City Lights for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. Below is a closer look at three other jockeys who have gotten off to fast starts at Del Mar and four who have struggled. Hot jockeys Joe Bravo (29: 8-3-3, 28 percent)

Formerly known as “Jersey Joe” when he was the perennial top rider at Monmouth Park, Bravo appears to have found a home on the West Coast.

Through the first two weeks of the Del Mar stand, he had eight wins from 29 mounts, a 28 percent success rate. At last summer’s Del Mar meet, Bravo’s first in Southern California, he ranked sixth in the jockey’s standings with 21 wins from 126 mounts (17 percent). According to the Horse Racing Nation Hot Jockey Report, Bravo has outperformed expectations on both dirt and turf this meet. His HRN impact number, which through a proprietary algorithm compares "expected wins" with actual wins, is 150 percent on turf and 54 percent on dirt. That makes him an excellent bet on either surface, but particularly the grass. Umberto Rispoli (40: 9-8-4, 23 percent)

After a brief stint riding full-time in Kentucky this spring, Rispoli returned to California in May and has been heating up since the move to Del Mar. Of Rispoli’s nine winners, eight have come on the turf, including a pair of stakes tallies. He won the one-mile Oceanside for 3-year-olds on opening day and added the San Clemente (G2) aboard Bellabel a day later. Rispoli’s HRN Impact score on turf is a robust 114 percent. On dirt, it’s a solid 54 percent. On Thursday, Rispoli has four mounts, including three on grass. He has eight more rides on Friday with half on turf. Mike Smith (15: 3-1-0, 20 percent)

The Hall of Famer doesn’t ride as many as he used to, but the production this meet has been solid with a limited number of mounts. Smith’s three winners include Royal Ship at 9-1 in Saturday’s San Diego Handicap (G2) for Mandella, Maven as a 3-1 favorite in an allowance optional claimer on turf last Friday for trainer Wesley Ward and Hail Freedom for trainer Doug O'Neill in another allowance optional claimer on dirt July 24. Smith has only one mount Thursday, aboard Tiergarten in a maiden special weight on turf for trainer Clifford Sise. On Friday, Smith is booked on three rides, including Smuggler’s Run in the Real Good Deal Stakes on dirt for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Cold jockeys Armando Ayuso (27: 0-1-2)

The 30-year-old native of Panama was among the leading riders at Golden Gate Fields before shifting his tack south for the recent three-week Los Alamitos meet that immediately preceded Del Mar. He went 1-for-33 at Los Alamitos and is winless so far at Del Mar.

Ayuso has two mounts Thursday and four Friday.

Diego Herrera (26: 0-1-1)

As a 17-year-old apprentice last summer, he went 0-for-37 at Del Mar. He picked things up at the fall meet when riding six winners from 40 mounts. He completed his apprenticeship in April at Santa Anita and ended that meet ranked ninth in the jockey standings with 34 wins from 349 rides. But similar to last summer at Del Mar, it’s been a rough go for Herrera at the current stand. He has five mounts scheduled for Thursday and Friday combined, including a pair for top trainer Doug O’Neill. Ricardo Gonzalez (20: 0-1-4)

After a decent meet last summer at Del Mar (9-for-79), it’s been a slow start for Gonzalez. His losing streak the first two weeks included a ride aboard the favorite Leggs Galore in last Friday’s Daisycutter Handicap for trainer Phil D’Amato. Gonzalez has one mount on Thursday, a maiden special weight on turf aboard Adelie for trainer George Papaprodromou. He also has three on Friday, including on stakes winner Straight Up G in the Real Good Stakes going seven furlongs on dirt for trainer Mike Puype. Ryan Curatolo (27: 1-1-2)

The 30-year-old native of France, who rode in North America from 2010 to 2013, made a return to the U.S. last season to ride the Del Mar fall meet and finished 2021 hitting at a solid 13 percent clip (34 for 265). At the recent Santa Anita winter-spring meet, he finished 17th in the jockey standings with 30 wins from 232 mounts, also a 13 percent win rate. At Del Mar, things have yet to get on track for Curatolo. Curatolo’s only winner came July 24m when he guided favorite Secret Fix to a victory in a $40,000 maiden-claimer going six furlongs on dirt. Although he has struggled, Curatolo continued to get his share of opportunities. He has three rides booked for Thursday and six more on Friday, including a pair for trainer Neil Drysdale.

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