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Barn Notes: Saturday, June 09, 2012

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/09/2012 #

In Today's Notes: Jockey Julio Felix Feels Like He's 'Improving With Age'; Reminder: 'Galloping Out' Fundraiser Saturday

JOCKEY JULIO FELIX FEELS LIKE HE'S 'IMPROVING WITH AGE'

Felix The Cat had nine lives, and so, apparently, does jockey Julio Felix. After a career of more than two decades in the saddle, much of which was spent being hot in Cleveland with multiple riding titles at Thistledown, the Bronx-born, Virgin Islands-raised jockey brought his tack to Chicago three years ago and has climbed up in the Arlington standings steadily each summer since his arrival.

Following a riding double June 8, Felix had placed himself in a solid fourth position in the Arlington standings after finishing sixth at the end of the 2011 summer session.

"Rosemary is riding real good right now," said a smiling Felix when speaking of fellow jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr., alone in the third spot at the time. "Every time I catch up with her she goes off again with another good day.

"I think I'm improving with age," said Felix, speaking in the jockeys' quarters moments after stepping out of its exercise room on Belmont Stakes Day. "I feel like I'm 18 again. I don't think I could feel any better. I love coming out in the mornings and getting on horses You get to know them better that way. Then I come over here and work out.

"I think I'm riding better now than when I was younger because I'm a lot smarter now," he added. "When a trainer gives you instructions you have to follow them, but I also like to think I know what I'm doing. The Lord gives me confidence. I know what I can do. All I need is a shot and I'll have a very good meet.

"I don't ride for the big guys except for Mike Stidham," Felix said. "He gives me a shot every once and awhile. He loves to win and I love to win, and he always puts his horses in the right spot. So does Ingrid Mason, but she's not using me this year because she has Inosencio Diego now. He started riding for her at Oaklawn last winter while I was at Turfway."

Speaking of Turfway, it was at that northern Kentucky oval where Felix achieved a long time goal by recording his 2,500th victory last February aboard Bradlee Rainwater's J. Pa. The win came just two days before Felix's birthday.

"That was a big win for me," said Felix. "It was a longtime goal of mine and I also got my 100th stakes win last winter.

"Now, another goal is to make it to 3,000 wins," Felix said. "Who knows? Maybe 4,000 wins someday is out there for me, too, but that will take awhile. I like to set more immediate goals than that, and right now I want to win 100 races this year."

When speaking of his win aboard In His Favor Stable's even-money shot Mulata, a horse that Felix saved from oblivion in the fourth race June 8, Felix said, "I almost went down in the early part of that race. I had a very rough trip, but I kept my mind on my business even after dropping back to last. I knew I had time to regroup and the horse was able to come back for me.

"Everything falls into place for me sometimes," Felix concluded. "Sometimes I get in a zone and I get a good feeling with very good vibes, and that's where I am right now. The horses feel that and they respond. Sometimes, however, the trainers don't see that and I have to remind them.

"Chicago is my home base now," Felix added, "except when I go to Turfway in the winter time. My family is with me now and we have a very nice home in Bartlett. I like doing all this work I do for them. It's not about me any more."

REMINDER: 'GALLOPING OUT' FUNDRAISER SATURDAY

Guests of Arlington and racing fans throughout Chicagoland are reminded that the second annual "Galloping Out" Fundraiser to include a buffet and live entertainment will be held in the Park beginning a half-hour after Saturday's last race. Tickets are $50.

Galloping Out Foundation, launched in 2010 as a cooperative effort between the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the Chicagoland Thoroughbred race courses, is a 501(c)-3 non-profit organization to provide for the care of retired Thoroughbred race horses.