Handicapping jockeys: How will Joel Rosario do in New York?

A matchup of East vs. West begins to play out today at Belmont Park, where top Southern California rider Joel Rosario has moved his tack.

Rosario, 27, has targeted the lucrative Saratoga meeting (July 20-Sep 3), but he came to New York a little early to get his foot in the door.

Southern Califiornia always has great riders, but right now the New York jockey colony is the deepest in America. Rosario will be riding against Ramon Dominguez, Javier Castellano, John Velazquez (when he retruns from injury), Rosie Napravnik, Jose Lezcano, Rajiv Maragah, Eddie Castro, and a bunch of semi-capable riders.

I expect Rosario will do well in New York. He is strong, has good timing, and is an excellent finisher.

That said, Rosario is going to have to prove himself outside the California bubble. New York bettors (best hecklers in the game?) might greet Rosario skeptically considering the interloper Julien Leparoux's so-far underhwelming performance. Leparoux, a seven-time leading rider at Keeneland, has seen his win rate drop from 22% this spring in Lexington to 12% at Belmont.

However, Leparoux (France) and Rosario (Dominican Republic) are very different riders. Leparoux is a patient, rating jockey. For my gambling dollar, Leparoux is the world's best rider on synthetic tracks. But he sometimes stuggles on dirt surfaces, where a fast start and tactical position can be keys

Rosario is good out of the gate and aggressive. He appears equally adept on all surfaces and run styles. Physically, Rosario can ride with the best in New York.

We'll find out a lot about Rosario over the next two months. I doubt he will be getting the quality of mounts he got in SoCal. Bettors and horsemen will be paying close attention to see how he quickly he adjusts to the New York track configurations, surfaces, and biases.


Leave a Comment:

steve from st louis

I can't see Rosario setting the world on fire up east and I would bet money (what else?) that he returns to California by this time next year. The days of California having the deepest colony of riders has passed years ago. Talamo, Pedroza, Gomez, Flores (both), Garcia and Sutherland would starve up east. And I have no skin in either jurisdiction.

27 Jun 2012 3:40 PM
Rolling Thundar

I think that Rosario will do just fine in the east. Even though he was based out in Calif. It's not like he didn't travel to other tracks for big races, and face the best of the other Jockeys. One nice thing now might be that you will be able to get odds of 6-1 or higher on him. You were lucky to get 2-1 on him in Calif, even if the horse he was on had no chance of winning.

27 Jun 2012 4:30 PM
Pete Denk

Rolling Thunder-

Yeah the next few weeks will be the time to bet Rosario in NY if you are a believer.

27 Jun 2012 5:58 PM
Minnesota Kid

steve from st. louis,

Chantal would never starve, regardless of her location.

27 Jun 2012 9:08 PM
Pete Denk


Score one for the Minnesota Kid.

27 Jun 2012 9:24 PM

Rosario trying NY reminds me of Patrick Husbands, long Woodbine’s top two riders every year this decade.  He tried NY in a winter meeting several years back and I think he won something like 3 of his first 61 races.  It didn’t take long for him to give it up, and this a jockey who one year won the Met Mile with Exciting Story.

I agree with Steve and can easily see Rosario returning to Cali within a year, if that long.  Without connections and also competing with the deepest jockey colony in N/A he’s going to have a tough time.  The New York riding colony is doing alright without him and I don’t see him adding improvement

As for Gomez, to me he’s winding down after several very demanding and rewarding years.  When he wants to be at the top I don’t see him taking a back seat to anyone.

27 Jun 2012 9:34 PM

I think it all depends on the type of horses he gets.  As good a jockey Rosario is, he needs to get some good mounts.  I wouldn't be surprise to see him win 3 or 4 races this week.  He was getting good odds here in Cali, unlike Russell Baze, regardless of what horse he rides, he goes off at 2-1 or lower, I stopped betting him a long time ago.  The very rare times he goes off at 4-1 or higher, I never bet him lol.

Good luck to Rosario, but I for one would welcome him back to Cali with open odds :)

27 Jun 2012 11:49 PM
an ole railbird

 i will quote an old jocks agent, who was trying to get the book of a fairly succesiful rider & to move his tack to the old waterford park track. his words " new faces in the jocks room, create new ideas ". have a nice day .  "an ole railbird".

28 Jun 2012 9:15 AM

Rosario will get the runners that will enable him to succeed. He has the agent to guide him thru, w/ many connections. If I were a gambling man, my "ducat" would be on Mr. Rosario

28 Jun 2012 9:57 AM
steve from st louis

You are probably right, "Kid", she could always do the Lady Godiva tour. I'm sure Vanity Fair would pay big bucks for a more explicit shot. And fetish lovers would line up to see her use her whip.

28 Jun 2012 11:12 AM
steve from st louis

Laz, I disagree with you regarding Gomez. He's over the hill, just like Borel, Albarado and Prado. Age takes it toll on all athletes, especially jockeys. When they lose "it", their win percentage drops quickly. The above mentioned riders used to win with above 25% of their mounts. Now, it's closer to half that rate.

28 Jun 2012 11:19 AM
Minnesota Kid

Pete Denk,

I was wondering about the current pecking order in NY. Is Ms. Napravnik already considered the 4th best?(behind the obvious big 3 of RD,JC, and JV)

She has turned in some great performances in the past year, but that is a somewhat meteoric rise up the national jockey ladder, no?

Jay Jay,

Great point at the end of the other blog about not chasing after lost $ during a tough day.  It took me some time to learn that lesson as well.

It turns out there will be some races tomorrow...and the next day....and the day after that.

steve from st. louis,

Prado used to be my favorite jockey, what happened?  Is it just age w/ him?  I imagine he was the favorite for many people. Now, if you had 40 choices for someone to ride your horse, would he be one of them?

28 Jun 2012 11:57 AM
Pete Denk

I have been a Gomez fans since his days at Arlington Park.

Unfortunately I have to agree that he has been slipping the last couple years.

Prado is a shadow of his former self.

Albarado was never great. He might do well at Arlington this summer because the jockey colony there is so subpar.

Borel is a one-track pony, and he makes plenty of mistakes.

28 Jun 2012 12:00 PM
Pete Denk

Minnesota Kid-

Napravnik seems to be getting a lot of respect. She has not proven to be any better than riders like Jose Lezcano, Eddie Castro, Rajiv Maragh, etc...but she is a capable rider, and an attractive female, so she gets a lot of attention.

28 Jun 2012 12:12 PM
an ole railbird

 horses make riders. seldom do riders make horses . but it has happened. have a nice day. "an ole railbird."

28 Jun 2012 12:27 PM
Curlin 1:53.46

Hey Pete, just read your comment about Albarado. Do you think when he was riding Curlin, that Curlin made him a better rider then what you think he is?. Or do you think any jockey could have rode him?.

28 Jun 2012 12:39 PM

I was a big fan of Prado but the last couple of years, he has lost a lot of the good mounts he used to have.  I'm not sure if it's an agent issue or what but he doesn't get the good mounts anymore.  I also think his riding skills has diminished.  There was a time that Prado would always, always get a Derby mount and even have 2 or 3 really good horses to choose from.  I think Javier has a lot to do with that.  Javier has taken a lot of Pletcher horses from Prado (and other jockeys).  Javier is a great jockey but Johnny V has him beat with experience in big races.  Yes, JV is getting old and I honestly don't know if JV will come back as his old self after this injury but I hope he recovers well.

It's so weird that I've totally forgotten about Gomez lol.  I guess because he hasn't been riding that much (or winning for that matter).  I'm not throwing the towel on him just yet, Laz could be right.  He's probably biding his time for the 2nd half or maybe he's just settling into riding the big races.  Win one $1M race and you earn what most would consider a year's paycheck.  Mike Smith is old as dirt but he knows how to get the right mounts.  In the end, I guess it's really about how good your agent is.

Longshot jockeys I keep an eye on :  Angel Serpa, James Graham and Tim Thornton in the east coast.  Frank Alvarado, David Lopez, Martin Garcia, Agapito Delgadillo and on very very rare occassion that he rides, Joe Steiner.

Semi off topic : I wasn't sure how Martin Garcia would do after "breaking up" with Baffert but this kid is really good.  I watch him pick up mounts that are so-so and still win.  These are horses from the not so well known trainers.  He's a hard worker and I hope for him to have continued success.  I also hope that him and Baffert get over the break-up and team up again in big races.  I think Martin will probably try NY as well come next year.  This kid started at Golden Gate fields and gave Base a run for his money then moved to SoCal and made a name for himself.

28 Jun 2012 12:40 PM
Pete Denk


U carried Albarado for sure. He is an average jock.

28 Jun 2012 1:06 PM
Pete Denk

If you guys ever bet Chicago, look our for ET Baird on speed horses. He is great on the front end. Always breaks well and is tough to pass.

National simulcast players probably don't know much about him, but he is solid on the front end.

28 Jun 2012 1:08 PM
steve from st louis

Ole Railbird: Have someone wipe that drivel from your chin. No horse has ever won without a rider on his back. When a horse gets a great trip and wins, it's because of the jock. Same thing when a horse gets a lousy trip. By your account, 10-pound bugs should lead most track colonies. But they don't. There is great athletic and mental skill in negotiating open spaces opening and closing at 35 MPH. The jock means more to the success of a horse than you let on. Certainly more than what they get paid for.

28 Jun 2012 1:13 PM
Karen in Texas

Pete Denk----With respect to your comment that Rosie Napravnik "has not proven to be any better than riders like Jose Lezcano, Eddie Castro, Rajiv Maragh, etc."; are you saying that she is not better than they were at earlier stages in their careers? Or are you saying she is not better than they are currently? Either way, Rosie only became licensed in 2005; the three you named were riding between 2002-2004 (as far as I can tell from quick referencing). Of course she's getting a lot of respect because she's earned it rather quickly in my opinion. In two to three more years let's see where she is compared to those three and almost any other rider in the U.S.

28 Jun 2012 1:22 PM
Rusty Weisner

I'm playing the last five races or so at Belmont Saturday.  Anyone else?

28 Jun 2012 1:33 PM
steve from st louis

Pete D.: I used to cover the Chicago tracks for DRF from 1977-82. John Brown, Joe Bollero's son-in-law, was our trackman,Don Grisham was our track correspondent and John McEvoy was our editor.

That was when trainer Bert Sonnier once guaranteed me one of his first-timers couldn't lose. He was right as Meadowlake won his first out by 22 lengths. We also had a young ex-rodeo rider who was just making it as a thoroughbred

trainer. Carl Nafzger was finding success before he saddled a young crack named Unbridled for Mrs. Frances Genter and John Henry got his nose on the wire just ahead of The Bart in the very first Arlington Million. Ah, those were great times.  

28 Jun 2012 1:35 PM
Rusty Weisner

Rosario is on a horse I'm thinking of betting in the 8th, Longwood Lane, who looked like a classy prospect last year.  Had a bad post (at 1 1/16 on the inner turf) and a wide trip in his return.  Prefer him at 6-1 to the ML favorite 10.

28 Jun 2012 2:29 PM
Pete Denk

Hey Rusty-

Longwood Lane looked like he had a big class edge last time, but I remember from my video review that there was something I didn't like about him.

He ran vs some good horses last year, but he has really delayed release points. What I mean by that is ... he doesn't know how to efficiently run away from horses.

I see they are going blinkers on today. Maybe that will help him(?). He has physical ability.

28 Jun 2012 3:38 PM
Pete Denk


I agree with you that Rosie is still young and has room to grow. I've seen her give some really good rides here and there.

28 Jun 2012 3:40 PM
Rusty Weisner


Thanks.  Looks suspect just because he was dumped, and blinkers don't necessarily mean anything in the hands of a mediocre trainer; the post on that dog-leg chute is definitely a severe disadvantage, though (see longshot I will include in the 11th, East Indies).

Any thoughts on the first time starters in the 8th (though I keep away from 1st timers in turf routes)?

Lastly, do you like Aruna or Banimpire?  I am debating whether to include Mystical Star here, who broke thru and reared so badly, yet finished with interest.

28 Jun 2012 4:03 PM
Rusty Weisner

I like Unstoppable U in the Dwyer but am afraid Morgan's Guerilla might create a pace Zetterholm or Teeth of the Dog will close into.  

28 Jun 2012 4:22 PM
Rusty Weisner

Will also take a stab at exactas, trifectas in the 7th with the 1 on top and 2, 7, 10 underneath.

28 Jun 2012 4:30 PM
Pete Denk


My only quick insight into Belmont 8 is that the 10 Native Wave ran pretty well last time despite a choppy ride from Espinoza. Castellano up today. Bigtime jock switch.

28 Jun 2012 4:32 PM
Bill Two

Prado hasn't been the same since Barbaro.  His experience aboard that horse changed him for better or worse.  My theory is that he is now much more mindful of the horse's welfare than he used to be; not saying that he was oblivious before though.  He just doesn't finish on a horse like he used to and seems more tentative.

28 Jun 2012 4:37 PM
Pete Denk

Totally agree Bill. "More mindful" is a good way to put it.

28 Jun 2012 4:53 PM
Pete Denk


As much as I find Unstoppable U an interesting horse, who knows where the failed Belmont try has left him.

I like Zetterholm quite a bit in the Dwyer. Much better spacing between efforts (6 weeks) and love those 6f drills. Zetterholm was underrated going into the Preakness, and despite a solid run that day I think he still could be undervalued.

28 Jun 2012 4:56 PM
Karen in Texas

Bill Two----I also agree that Prado has been changed by the Barbaro experience. "More mindful" is a very thoughtful way to express it.

28 Jun 2012 5:08 PM

Turallure in the Firecracker.  Time to put it all together and proceed down that road to the BC Turf Mile.

28 Jun 2012 5:42 PM

Edger Prado is now 45 and has had some long hard years.  More than 5000 career victories including a 536 WIN season in ’97.  Has gone down steadily the past three years, but when he was in his prime he was right there with the best.

28 Jun 2012 5:46 PM
Rolling Thundar

Hey Rusty...…

I like the insight you are giving out this week.......Will wager a few dollars on your Advice and Wisdom.........Make me some money Pal........

28 Jun 2012 5:51 PM
Rolling Thundar

Oh and Rusty...…

I like when you keep your comments shorter, and not so long winded....

My attention span is of a Rookie...

28 Jun 2012 5:53 PM

being the contrarian that I am[see "Kinky Handicapping" by Mark Cramer...love that you guys seem to have written Prados' epitaph, the man can still put a horse in position to finish up. I love him on the lawn! Sweet prices. Very underated jock in NY is "Sixto" Lescano...another guy who excels on the weeds...good handicapping to all

28 Jun 2012 8:18 PM

Speaking of Prado's decline. I taped the preakness where Barbaro was injured. Donna Barton was on horseback and went on and on about how hard he warmed the horse up. Right before the started for the gate Prado looked back at the back left leg and what I thought was a on track steward. I think they had at least some doubt of the horse's soundness before going in the gate. The whole incident gets swept under the rug and Prado gets blackballed in the industry. On a smaller scale see John Veitch and Life at Ten.

28 Jun 2012 11:19 PM

There are some very valid comments here. However, I think there is another aspect which has barely been touched upon. Sure, other jocks have come to NY to try the big stage. We are not talking about the leading jock from here, or a top jock from there. We are talking about a top jock who has not only proven himself on a top circuit but nationally as well. Does that assure success in NY? Of course not. Each jock is case specific. Rosario is strong, is a very good strategist on-track, is a student of the game off-track, has a good sense of pace and timing, and is good, and aggressive when need be, out of the gate. He has the skills. Assure success in NY? No, not always.

However, the one aspect which can be a major contributory factor in or toward or his success, and can give him an advantage is . . . and I have two letters for you... "EB"

His agent, Ronnie Ebanks is a top agent. A colorful, unique and personable guy, he is a top agent. He has succeeded all over -- East Coast, West Coast, FL, NY, KY, all over. He's always handled top jocks, and more important -- he's made many of them. When he's gotten a top jock, he got them to a higher level. EB is no dummy. He's very smart. He gives Rosario an edge over just simply coming to NY. Is it a good time to come to NY? Well, that can be debated, but it's certainly a tough time. He's catch on. Might not light the world on fire, but he has the staying power and skills. In the long run, if he stays, works hard, has a good attitude, rides out the highs and lows, he'll do just fine.

28 Jun 2012 11:38 PM
Pete Denk

Good post by the New York Railbird.

I think Rosario is a talented jockey, and if he does the things you say (works hard, rides out highs and lows, stays mentally sharp, etc...) he will do fine.

But I also think he is going to realize that he had it REALLY good in that SoCal colony.

29 Jun 2012 12:10 AM

rusty, when considering a wager in the 8th Saturday, I would think about Darley bred #3, and #8 who Raviv stays with and pedigree and barn would seem to be worth a 2nd look

29 Jun 2012 12:23 PM

Regarding Edgar Prado, there was an incident in New York that I think has really hurt his career. He was riding a filly for Anthony Dutrow and tried to come up inside another horse on the rail. They didn't make it through the hole, the filly was injured (I remember it as career-ending), and Dutrow said afterward that Prado would never get on one of his horses again. It doesn't matter how good a rider you are, you've got to have the horses. As Allen Jerkins once said, "they don't call it jockey racing".

29 Jun 2012 12:34 PM

I do believe that Joel rosario will be good, in the Nyra Circuit!

he is a good rider, and the only problem is for his agent to find the good horses for him to ride and win with!! the problem with that is, the New york horsemen do have their favorites.. and they do play that, he will not get the push button horses like ramon dominguez, he have to really ride, and establish himself, from scratch,,but it's all up to the trainers and owners, if they like him, then he's got it made, however over the years, i have seen great riders come here, and they keep them out, and then they just gets fed up, and bolts, but if he is a smart kid, which I think he is, then he just have to compete, and beat Dominguez, and all of them, and who knows they will start noticing him, he can do it!!because I have seen over the years, this happens to many Jockeys, they come here,and wins a race,and they upset the applecart, and then the word gets out, and then they all gang up against him , and dont ride him!! so this in New york racing is not really racing at it's best but a who knows who, and a buddy buddy system

so then again, some Jockey never get the chance to exhibit their true talents, as they have to ride to instructions, and if they dont then simply "they are out of here"

everything is dirty Politics,just like the Salix/lasix issues..either they use it or ban it, no in between.....sometimes they all make me sick.I might need


29 Jun 2012 12:37 PM

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