'World-class talent' Rispoli joins Santa Anita jockey colony

December 12, 2019 09:43am
'World-class talent' Rispoli joins Santa Anita jockey colony
Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club
Southern California racing is set for a much-needed shot in the arm next week with the arrival of two-time champion Italian jockey Umberto Rispoli.

Longtime jockey agent Ron Anderson said Rispoli is scheduled to touch down in Los Angeles from Hong Kong on Sunday and will get his first glimpse of Santa Anita Park on Monday morning. Plans are for Rispoli to ride full-time at Santa Anita until at least March, beginning with the opening day program on Dec. 26.  Anderson, who represents eastern-based rider Joel Rosario, will also handle Rispoli’s book at Santa Anita. He expects Rispoli to be a welcome addition to a jockey colony that’s been losing riders in recent weeks.  “It’s really an exciting prospect to think about bringing a new world-class talent here to the States,” Anderson. “We’ll see how things go until March and then go from there.” The arrival of Rispoli on the southern California circuit follows the departure of jockey Martin Garcia for Kentucky last month. In addition, Joe Talamo and Tyler Baze announced they will be leaving Santa Anita for Oaklawn Park when it opens on Jan. 24. All three riders cited the lack of opportunity California due to less racing and shrinking field sizes.  Rispoli will look to fill some of that void in the jockeys room. The 31-year-old Italian began riding in 2005 and was the champion jockey in Italy in 2009 and 2010. Most recently competing full-time in Hong Kong, Rispoli has collected Group 1 victories in Italy, Japan, Hong Kong and France.   Anderson said he was turned on to Rispoli by his countryman and top international rider Frankie Dettori.  “I’ve known Frankie since he was a little kid and he called me and said, ‘Look, this kid is a word-class rider. He is in Hong Kong and wants to come to the States,” Anderson said.  Rispoli, who has never ridden in the U.S., flew out to Saratoga this summer and spent two days with Anderson. As Anderson was looking to add a second rider, a relationship formed, and eventually the decision made for Rispoli to shift his tack stateside.  “He checks all the boxes,” Anderson said. “He’s 30 years old, a world-class rider who’s been successful everywhere he’s been. A family man. Fankie termed him as someone with unlimited energy and enthusiasm who will work tirelessly in the morning.” All the early indications are Rispoli will be in high demand this winter by horsemen. “As soon as the news broke he was coming I was getting calls asking about him,” Anderson said. “I’m anticipating he’ll be very sought after and very successful. “There aren’t many riders from any jurisdiction that can be successful in the places he’s traveled, so it’s kind of a given that he is a talented rider,” Anderson continued. “Just to be allowed to ride in Hong Kong is a big [endorsement]. It’s very difficult to even be a jockey or trainer there. You have to be elite. That means a whole lot.” Anderson, the so-called agent to the stars who has previously represented such riding luminaries as Gary Stevens, Jerry Bailey, Garret Gomez and Chris Antley, does not foresee a long adjustment period for Rispoli. “With these elite riders, it’s almost like they have a sixth sense,” Anderson said. “Watching film, watching pace, watching guys ride. He will adapt quickly. He’s been in so many countries, on so many racetracks and on so many horses. These kinds of guys I don’t have to sit down and make a blueprint for them. He’ll figure things out quickly.” Rispoli completed his three-year stint in Hong Kong with three mounts on Sunday at Sha Tin.  He has ridden 122 winners in Hong Kong with the most notable coming in the 2012 QE II Cup (G2) about the Japanese-trainer Rulership. 


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