There were 22 total races this holiday weekend at Kentucky Downs. Jockey Joel Rosario had mounts in 19 of them. He won 10. Yes, TEN. Only two races on the two-day card had purses less than $100,000. Included in that mix was a $1,000,000 dollar race along with a $750,000 and two $500,000 races.
Rosario chose to skip closing day at Saratoga to ride the opening-day card at Kentucky Downs, so the astute horse fan had to know at least some of his mounts were live, especially in the high dollar races. And, we were not disappointed.
When asked about his stellar two-day performance, Rosario credited his agent for negotiating the best mounts. However, there were other very talented jockeys riding the card with equally talented horses. So, when further pressed, he gave the us the secret. Joel Rosario is a very smart rider. Let me explain.
Unlike any other track in the country, Kentucky Downs is turf only. There is no dirt track. On any given racing day at a track with both surfaces, no more than half the races are typically on the grass. Therefore, the grounds crew has time to make repairs in between races. Not so at Kentucky Downs. Rosario said he watched the track being chewed up throughout the day from repeated use and determined where to put his horses to give them the best footing. If you watch the replays, you will see that he swung most of his horses to the outside, especially as the day progressed. So even if he did not have the most talented horses in all ten races, he knew where to put them to give them an advantage. Brilliant.
One thing Joel Rosario did not mention is that he has a turf riding style rivaled by none. This young man has an uncanny ability to time his moves and usually comes from behind to pass his rivals at the wire. You will not see him on the lead too often, unless his horse is a pure frontrunner.
For the betting public, the remaining four days of the six-day meet are not likely to offer much value on a Rosario horse. But, I can tell you this, if my horse has four sound legs and a pulse, I want Joel Rosario to ride for me at Kentucky Downs!!