|EDITED RELEASE HRI STAFF—FRANKLIN, Ky.– Jose Ortiz, Kentucky Downs’ defending leading rider, enjoys a substantial three-win advantage in the standings heading into Thursday’s final day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, with eight victories overall. Tied for second with five wins are past meet champions Florent Geroux and Julien Leparoux as well as Adam Beschizza. |
It’s already been a banner meet for the 26-year-old Beschizza, who also has a second and four thirds in 31 starts. Four of Beschizza’s wins have been for his main outfit, Joe Sharp, the current leader in the training standings with that quartet of victories at the meet averaging $2.3 million a day in purses.
“My agent Liz Morris and I have been working hard aiming to have a good meet there,” Beschizza said Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs. “… We’ve stuck around and we’ve kept hustling. You put in the groundwork, and that’s what we’ve done.
“We’ve picked up a lot of nice contacts along the way, and it’s nice that they’ve stuck by me and Liz and shown their support. We’ve had a lot of live mounts going into the first day, and they were all running really well. So far every day we’ve had a winner. If you can at least have one in any condition of a race there, it’s pretty fruitful.”
In his second full year of riding in America, the British-born Beschizza captured the Fair Grounds riding title with 82 wins at the New Orleans track’s winter meet after falling one short, 66-65, behind Shaun Bridgmohan the prior season.
After winning 19 races at Churchill Downs’ spring meet, Beschizza had a quiet summer at Ellis Park, with a 5-10-10 record out of 74 mounts. The jockey missed much of the meet while serving a couple of suspensions and also riding out of town, including winning two graded stakes at Arlington Park on July 13 and finishing third in the Grade 1 Arlington Million aboard Bandua a month later.
“It’s been a very steady, laboring sort of summer,” Beschizza said. “It’s nice that I’ve sort of come out of that recession to feel like a winner again.
“I do love riding around there,” he said of Kentucky Downs. “I just wish it went on for a bit longer.”
A year ago, Beschizza had two wins out of 33 starts at Kentucky Downs, his five seconds including narrow defeats in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile with Tracksmith losing by a head to future Grade 1 winner Henley’s Joy and Mom’s On Strike closing to be a head shy of Tricky Escape in the Ramsey Farm Stakes.
“We were ultra unlucky last year,” the jockey said. “We’ve probably had as many wins so far as we had seconds last year. We’ve sort of made amends this year.”
Beschizza could end the meet on a big note by taking Thursday’s $500,000, Grade 3 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson for 3-year-olds aboard the Michael Stidham-trained The Last Zip.
That horse shortens up to 6 1/2 furlongs after weakening late to third in Arlington Park’s Grade 1 Secretariat at a mile and dropping a neck decision in the 1 1 1/16-mile, Grade 3 American Derby.
“I think Kentucky Downs will suit him to a tee,” Beschizza said. “As far as where we’re at right now, you can’t be too greedy. I’m very happy the way it’s going, but it would be nice to go in there (closing day) and have a winner or a couple of winners.
“I know Jose is three away, and he’s a very hard man to beat anywhere. But we’ve got some nice maidens running Thursday — touch wood, a couple I really like.”
Beschizza also rides his Ellis Park allowance winner Lantiz for trainer Rodolphe Brisset in the $500,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes.
Sharp’s four wins put him one-up in the standings over his former boss Mike Maker, Kentucky Downs’ four-time defending training champion and the track’s all-time win leader, with Wesley Ward and Ian Wilkes also at three wins.
Maker also has 11 seconds, easily the most of the meet, with Steve Asmussen’s four the second-most seconds.