A budding superstar jockey from the Dominican Republic is under investigation by the California Horse Racing for allegedly not putting forth his best effort in a race at Del Mar in September, and a retired Hall of Fame rider is outraged at the charges.
Joel Rosario, a 24-year-old jockey who won riding titles at Hollywood Park's spring-summer meeting and at Del Mar this summer, has had a complaint filed against him for violation of CHRB rules 1894, 1692 and 1902. The complaint contends that Rosario did not give his best effort in riding Cedros to the finish line in the 11th race at Del Mar on Sept. 6, 2009. A hearing was conducted Nov. 19 and is scheduled to continue tomorrow, Dec. 3, in the stewards' office at Hollywood Park.
Cedros' trainer, John Glenney, complained to the CHRB about Rosario's ride after he told the Daily Racing Form he received a call from Rosario's agent, Vic Stauffer, the morning after the race, allegedly inquiring about whether or not Cedros might be for sale. Cedros had finished fourth, beaten a head for third place, in a maiden special weight race. Glenney was quoted as saying he had instructed Rosario to keep Cedros to the outside (he started from the nine post, coming out of the infield chute in the turf race going 1 1/16 miles), but when the field turned for home, Rosario was toward the rail.
Rosario, who had never ridden Cedros, was the fourth jockey to ride the horse in five starts. Prior to the Sept. 6 race Cedros had finished tenth of 11 horses at Churchill Downs; sixth of 10 at Churchill; eighth of nine at Del Mar and second of nine at Del Mar—all maiden races. After finishing fourth under Rosario, Glenney shipped the horse to Kentucky, where he finished last of eight starters in the Grade 3 Bryan Station Stakes at Keeneland, and fourth of six in a maiden race at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
On the day in question, Rosario rode in all 11 races, and won four, including two stakes (Del Mar Derby and Torrey Pine Stakes), finished second in another race, third in another, and had two fourths. His mounts earned $432,748 that afternoon. That's more than horses trained by Glenney have won in all of 2009; he's trained eight winners from 59 starts for total earnings of $414,627. Rosarioi ranks sixth among the nation's jockeys by mount earnings, with $12.2 million thus far in 2009.
When Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens heard about the complaint against Rosario, he said he “immediately got on the computer and said I've got to see this.” After watching the film of the race, he contacted Stauffer and said “if you need me to testify I will because this is a joke. After seeing the patrol films, I said I've got to say something about this.”
Stevens, who serves as an analyst on HRTV and recently began training, said he has no vested interest in helping Rosario and when we spoke last week had never ridden him on one of his horses. But Stevens calls him a “throwback—a very humble guy with a bright future. I've never associated with Joel, but I'm an admirer of him. He's got superstar potential—a great work ethic and a good riding style. I have a lot of respect for him.
“One of the things that is going to make him a superstar is his patience,” said Stevens. “He had (Cedros) second on the outside and the horse was trying to lean in down the backside. Somebody hit the fire button and went right past him down the backside, but Joel sat where he was. He knew he couldn't go from the half-mile pole all the way to the wire.
Stevens testified Nov. 19, for more than 30 minutes by his account. “I told the deputy DA prosecuting the case, 'Sir, I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I did not have a conversation with Joel prior to my testimony here. This is purely a retired jockey stepping up for a fellow rider being questioned for something he didn't do.”
Jockeys' Guild representative Darrell Haire also spoke on Rosario's behalf. The day's other witness was backup steward Luis Jauregui, a retired jockey who represented the CHRB.
“Luis said Joel didn't put forth his best efforts. My response is this guy doesn't how to read the films,” said Stevens.
“This is really upsetting to me that this kid's integrity is being questioned over something that is so, so simple to watch. We've got a deputy DA who's probably never watched a horse race questioning him. There are legitimate excuses in a race; my job as an analyst is to pick a race apart and analyze why something may have happened.
“I said I thought the horse was lugging in and pointed out several times that the horse was attempting to lug in and pointed out the premature move by two other jockeys. Obviously these guys never watched Pat Day (another retired Hall of Fame rider), who would let guys pass him all the time, and then come back up the rail to win.
“I hate to see something so stupid like this happen.”
As for Stauffer allegedly asking if Cedros was for sale, Stevens said, “I can't believe he would be stupid enough to say something to (the trainer). John was upset with the ride…we all get upset with riders. But you never do that (offer to buy a horse), even if you won the race.”
Stauffer has not been charged by the CHRB with any wrongdoing.
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