Saratoga Summer

August, 3, 2011
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- We're riding now at Saratoga Race Course, 11 days into the summer meet. This is where I started, and it's where I won my first race in 2005, so I always feel at home every time I come back.

The first year I came here, I was working for Patrick Biancone. I was actually supposed to ride my first race at Suffolk Downs, but they wouldn't give me a license over there because they didn't know me. They knew I was galloping horses in the mornings, but I'd never ridden in a race, so they didn't want to give me a license there. Patrick told me, 'Okay, you're going to start in Saratoga,' so I did and won three races. Since then, I've been here every year.

I think Saratoga is one of the best places in America for racing, and part of that is because of the people who come here. They love racing and a lot of people actually come out to the races every day. Places like Keeneland and Saratoga are always nice like that, not to mention the high quality competition.

I've won some good stakes races here -- the Diana two times with Forever Together, the Jim Dandy with Macho Again, the Lake Placid with It's Tea Time, the Personal Ensign with Icon Project, and the Sanford and the Spinaway with Maybesomaybenot and Irish Smoke -- but I've never won two races I'll try on Saturday -- the Whitney, and the Test.

In the Test, my mount is Ava K. She's a nice filly who has won three stakes races but is still looking for her Grade I win. I've never breezed her in the mornings and never ridden her in a race either, so I'm going to meet her on Saturday. Basically, to prepare, I can watch videos of what she did before, and I'll handicap the race and see where I can be in the race based on her past performances. Usually, if I've never ridden a horse before, I'll try to stop by the barn in the morning to talk to the trainer because sometimes during the races it's difficult to talk to the trainer in the paddock when so much is going on.

In the Whitney, I have a chance on Apart, a horse I've only ridden once before. I got on him in the Stephen Foster on June 18 and we finished third by a length and a half. I'd ridden in a couple races against him, like in the William Donald Schaefer Memorial Stakes which he won on May 21, so I knew his running style, but it's a lot different when you're on them compared to when you're watching them.

This runner takes a lot of time to get going. You feel like you've got a ton of horse, then when you ask him, it actually takes him a while to kick in. He's not going to give you that fast, explosive kick. It's more of a gradual momentum that he's building.

I definitely learned a lot from riding him last time. I think I probably could have gotten better than third if I'd asked him to run a little bit earlier. He's the kind of horse that isn't going to give you everything all at once; you've really got to be smart about when you move and be sure not to go too soon, but not to wait too long. Saturday I'll be looking to get a clean trip, get over from the rail to save some ground, and be able to move wherever I want on him. He's a good horse, I think. I like him, and hopefully I can get the most out of him. We break from post 10 almost all the way outside, so I'll try to find a good position and go from there.



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