Jockey Steinberg wins first career race on 34-1 shot
Prairie Meadows Press Release:
Jockey Garrett Steinberg didn’t waste any time finding success in his new career.
Riding in his first career race, the 23-year-old Oklahoman won the fourth race on opening night at Prairie Meadows aboard Bullfighter, a 34-1 long shot.
“Awesome,” Steinberg said of the feeling. “I couldn’t ask for anything better. Everybody wants to win their first, but you never can tell. He looked like he had a good shot.”
Steinberg is the son of the late jockey Pat Steinberg, who died in a 1993 auto accident. Garrett was only 3 when his father passed away, and he said that when growing up, he wanted to be a baseball player, not a jockey.
“I didn’t start out wanting to (ride), but I started working on horses and just got the itch,” Steinberg said. “It’s in the family, I guess.”
Steinberg’s uncle, Don Simington, is a jockey and his grandfather is a trainer. He said he started galloping horses three or four years ago in Oklahoma, then worked as an exercise rider for trainers such as Steve Asmussen.
This spring, Steinberg decided to give race-riding a try and journeyed to Iowa for the start of Prairie Meadows’ thoroughbred meet.
“Everybody around the track said I was ready, so I gave it a shot,” Steinberg said. “A couple people that I knew in New Orleans told me to come up here. I know all the older riders.”
Bullfighter, who had been well-beaten in his first two 2012 outings, was the second-longest shot in the 11-horse field. Steinberg rated Bullfighter in fourth place through the far turn of the 6-furlong race. Then Bullfighter kicked past the leaders to win by 3 1/2 lengths.
The first race of the season wasn’t nearly as big of a surprise. Someplace Else, the 3-5 favorite, picked up where she left off in 2011.
The filly closed out her 2011 Prairie Meadows season by winning the Iowa Breeders’ Oaks on Iowa Classic Night. She was back Friday to face a stakes-caliber field headed by two-time Mamie Eisenhower winner Sakakawea and Ginger Added, a three-time stakes winner in 2011.
Owner Steve Hytrek was concerned that the 5 1/2-furlong distance was too short for Someplace Else, but she made up two lengths in the stretch to catch Sakakawea in the final strides and win by a neck. She was one of three winners ridden by Terry Thompson Friday.
“This was a stakes race,” owner Steve Hytrek said. “You had the top Iowa-breds all in this race. I was nervous about the 5 1/2 (furlongs), but we knew she has talent. We felt like we had the bulls-eye on our back this time. Hopefully, we keep it rolling.”
The feature was the $60,000 Goldfinch Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and was won by Tapajo, trained by Steve Asmussen and owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds. She was boxed in behind horses through the far turn and early in the stretch. When jockey Alex Birzer found an opening at the eighth pole, he swung the filly outside and she overtook Nurse Goodnight to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:10.14 for 6 furlongs.
It was the first stakes victory for Tapajo, the 3-2 favorite, and her second victory in six starts The win was Birzer’s third of the night.
“It looked like he had a lot of horse, and he just had to wait until he could get out,” said assistant trainer Devron Leingang, who is overseeing Asmussen’s horses stabled at Prairie Meadows. “Once she got by that horse, she just cruised on.”
“We have nine horses here right now,” Leingang said. “We’re kind of testing the waters and see how it goes. I think he’s always wanted to try Iowa. We can’t get off to a better start, I guess.”