Rider’s Race May Go Down to the Wire at Fair Grounds

(Miguel Mena holds on to slim lead in the chase for the rider’s title at the Fair Grounds / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

The Fair Grounds’ race meet started way back on Nov. 18, 2017. Now, it has 14 race days to go before the annual racing extravaganza concludes with the Louisiana Derby and other festivities on March 31.

Without a doubt, for the jockeys that have participated here from the get-go, it is like riding in a 11/4-mile endurance test. Very few breaks. Lots of time in the saddle. A grind all the way to the finish. In short, the riders are just as whipped.

But this year’s race to be the leading rider may be a head bob at the wire.

After Sunday’s races were concluded, Miguel Mena — who got a jump start on this year’s meet by moving his tact down to New Orleans a bit early — continues to hold on to the lead. But it is my the slimmest of margins and noses.

Currently, Mena — one of the most affable and likable people in the jock’s room — has a one win lead over the fast-closing Shaun Bridgmohan, who has been on a riding tear of late.

Adam Beschizza, riding for the first time at the Fair Grounds on a regular basis, has become somewhat of a local folk hero. He is just four wins off the pace, and since he rides regularly for one of the top trainers at the meet, Joe Sharp, he figures to have plenty of mounts to finish out the meet.

And, then there is Corey Lanerie — who returned to the Fair Grounds for the first time in years, moving his winter travel plans from South Florida. Currently, Lanerie is just 6 wins from the top spot with 49 trips to the winner’s circle this meet.

Yet, Lanerie sits atop the leader board in purses earned this meet, holding an approximate $150,000 lead over Mena. Lanerie’s horses have earned over $1.827 million so far this meeting, while Mena’s have cashed in for over $1.671 million.

Lanerie is a bit compromised in his run for the riding title, though. He has to sit out six days, due to a stewards’ ruling after a disqualification last week.

Here is closer look at the top 25 riders this meet:

1Corey J. Lanerie319496157$1,827,39015%16752%
2Miguel Mena350554143$1,671,03816%13940%
3Florent Geroux256454435$1,614,31018%12448%
4Shaun Bridgmohan233543628$1,585,48723%11851%
5Adam Beschizza274503938$1,325,97018%12746%
6Mitchell Murrill382444761$1,243,05012%15240%
7Joe Bravo139371622$1,129,60527%7554%
8Colby J. Hernandez252352931$957,24014%9538%
9James Graham241292728$890,38112%8435%
10Marcelino Pedroza284354224$877,22012%10136%
11Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.191222224$798,71512%6836%
12Gabriel Saez231302531$792,92013%8637%
13Jose Valdivia, Jr.211182928$768,6159%7536%
14Jack Gilligan189212125$521,45011%6735%
15Robby Albarado182112120$504,1706%5229%
16Chantal Sutherland165152118$437,9449%5433%
17Jose Riquelme14814249$332,5309%4732%
18Sophie Doyle130101511$267,0908%3628%
19Calvin H. Borel896511$252,6207%2225%
20Javier Castellano13221$237,80015%538%
21Jamie Theriot918611$228,2809%2527%
22Christopher A. Emigh1148127$204,6407%2724%
23Diego Saenz7212$187,63829%571%
24Aubrie Green817613$141,1609%2632%
25John R. Velazquez7112$124,01014%457%

He broke very nice. When we came to the three-eighths pole Justify and Good Magic took off on us. Because my horse doesn’t have a quick turn of foot, it took me time to get him going. He was coming and coming down the stretch, and I thought we were going to catch Justify.”

Luis Saez, Jockey, Bravazo, 2nd
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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