Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Sunday, June 23, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/23/2013 #

In Today’s Notes: Hall of Famer Desormeaux Takes Command in Jockey Ranks; Unlucky Royal Ascot Runner-up Dandino Now Possible for Million

Jockey Kent Desormeaux has established a slight lead in the jockey standings in what has been a remarkably competitive Arlington International Racecourse meet for riders.  After 31 race days – roughly one-third of the meet – five jockeys are within two wins of one another. 

Desormeaux leads with 24 wins, followed by a three-way tie between Emmanuel Esquivel, Florent Geroux and Channing Hill, and James Graham in fifth with 22 wins.  After Graham, there is a four-win gap back to Rosemary Homeister, Jr., with 18 wins.  It is worth noting that Hill, who previously had a lead in the jockey standings, has only ridden one race since a spill on June 8.  Additionally, Homeister, injured in an incident on Wednesday, June 19, has been off her mounts and not named since.  Hill has the highest strike rate of 25%, while Homeister has the highest in-the-money percentage of 51%.

After riding 28 of the 31 days, Desormeaux is averaging almost one win per day – an impressive statistic considering how few multi-win days he has earned.  Desormeaux has not only been in the winner’s enclosure 19% of the time, but has done so while averaging $10.10 for a win payoff, second highest among that top tier.

When elite jockeys shift their tack to new facilities, they will often find one or two leading trainers from whom to draw immediate support and make an abrupt impact on the standings.  What is intriguing about Desormeaux’s current Arlington ascent is that in his 24 victories, only two trainers have collaborated with him to win more than two races – Eduardo Rodriguez and Richie Scherer with three each.  This is a testament to an admirable job spreading his services by agent Penny Ffitch-Heyes.

Balance seems to be one of the themes of Kent’s current tenure at Arlington.  Not only has he been producing a substantial win payoff, but conversely has been striking at 45% with betting favorites.  That same sense of equilibrium is evident in his main course vs. turf course numbers.  On the Polytrack main course, he is currently winning 17% of his races.  On Arlington’s world-renowned turf course, that rate moves slightly yup to 21%.  As a winner of the Arlington Million and three-time victor of both the Beverly D. and Secretariat Stakes, the latter is not too much of a surprise. 

“I love the Midwest and want to thank everyone for their support,” Desormeaux said Sunday morning.  Desormeaux also is third in earnings for jockeys – a stat flattered by the fact that he has yet to earn a stakes victory. 

The Group II Hardwicke Stakes, a Royal Ascot fixture inaugurated the year prior to the Arlington Million, may have produced a truly international prospect for Million Day this year when Australian-owned and British-trained Dandino lost after a trouble trip.  A 6-year-old horse owned by Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock and trained by Marco Botti, Dandino lost valuable momentum in the 12-furlong event when a loose horse impeded his course.  Ultimately, Dandino recovered to run a huge race to finish second.  Botti and ATB brought Jakkalberry to Arlington to win the inaugural American St. Leger after that horse finished fifth in the Hardwicke.

A son of Breeders’ Cup Mile third-placed Dansili, Dandino shipped across the Atlantic last year to run a good second in the Canadian International in 2012 and is nominated to both the Arlington Million and the American St. Leger.  Highly effective from 10-14 panels over the kind of firm ground most often found in America, the horse is ultimately aiming toward the Group I Melbourne Cup in November in his owners’ native country.  Ron Flatter, international correspondent for RSN, said in a tweet, “Owner #DarrenDance says #Dandino may have #MelbourneCup prep at @Arlington_Park.”