Joel Rosario, who moved to New York from Southern California in late June in hopes of taking his career to the next level, has fired his agent for the second time in two and a half years, switching from Ron Ebanks to Ron Anderson, effective with the next Saratoga condition book that starts Aug. 7.
Fourth in the Saratoga jockey standings by races won going into today's program (65 mounts, 8-11-9), Rosario ranks sixth nationally by money won. The 27-year-old native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, had his best year in 2010, finishing third in the national standings with earnings of $15.9 million. He has been in the top 10 every year since 2009, when his mounts were booked by Vic Stauffer. Rosario hired Ebanks in March 2010. Anderson becomes his fifth agent since coming to the U.S. in 2006.
“I was completely blindsided and shocked,” said Ebanks, an ebullient racetrack character known as the “Love Man.” “I'm broken-hearted. I liked him so much and thought we had such a good relationship. Never had a cross word. I was shocked when he called me last night to say he had bad news. I thought maybe he got hurt. I thought we were doing amazing, and we just got here. Business was increasing every day.”
Rosario has won riding titles at all three major Southern California tracks (Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Del Mar) since shifting his base from Northern California and once won six races on a single card at Hollywood Park in 2009. He began his career in his native country, graduating from a jockey school there at the age of 15.
Anderson, who began his career as a jockey agent in Southern California in 1973, has worked for Hall of Famers Gary Stevens, Jerry Bailey and Kent Desormeaux, along with Corey Nakatani, Garrett Gomez, David Flores, and Chris Antley. From 2001-09, his jockeys won seven North American money titles (Bailey, 2001-03, Gomez 2006-09). He said his first big break came in 1980 when Fernando Toro hired him. The two had a relationship that lasted 10 years.
He currently has Alan Garcia's book and plans to continue handling Garcia and Rosario.
“Joel wanted to make sure Alan was OK with it,” Anderson said. “I've had two guys in the past and always made it work.”
Anderson called Rosario “an awfully, awfully good rider. I don't know him real well, but I think he's got the right attitude, the right demeanor. I'm very impressed with his ability and his way of doing business. I'm very excited.
“He's extremely strong, seems very durable and adaptable. He has adapted very well, and this place is not easy to find your way sometimes. He's been very well received. I can see it with a lot of the horsemen I've talked with this morning.
“I like his demeanor. He's soft-spoken, not cocky at all. Lots of times guys his age who have had some success think they know everything.”
Anderson said he plans to keep Rosario in New York and then head to Florida for the winter. “I can't see an upside going back to California,” he said. “There's not enough horses, not enough opportunity. Opportunities in New York day in and day out far outweigh California. For someone like him trying to get to the next level, I just can't see it. If you want to get to Eclipse Award stature, you're not going to achieve that in California riding four days a week.”
Ebanks, who has been based in the East, Midwest, and California over the years, has booked mounts for a number of top riders, including Joe Talamo, Shane Sellers, Pat Valenzuela, Mark Guidry, Jorge Chavez, Tyler Baze, Michael Baze, and Chris Antley. He said his immediate plans were to spend time with family in New Orleans.
“I asked what caused it,” Ebanks said of his conversation with Rosario. “He said, ‘It's just what I want to do.' He told me he shouldn't have left California, but then said he's going to stay in New York. It doesn't make sense. Then he told me he didn't think he was riding the best horses for the best trainers and that he was on too many claimers.
“I'm very proud of the job I've done with him and the success we've had. I worked really hard for him and it's just starting to pay off. It's like flying a kite. Getting the kite up in the air is the hard part. Once it's there, anyone can fly it.”
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