Joel Rosario Set for Record-Breaking Saratoga Meet

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Joel Rosario, 37, is very much in the hunt for the overall title, a competition led by Irad Ortiz, Jr. Through Thursday's program, Ortiz had 37 wins, eight more than Rosario. However, in graded stakes races, Rosario is far and away the leader with 10 victories from 19 starts, a remarkable 53% win rate. Ortiz is next with five.

With the 10, Rosario is in position to smash the current record of 11 graded stakes wins in a Saratoga season. According to Equibase stats, Hall of Famers Javier Castellano and John Velazquez share the record of 11. Castellano won 11 of 31 graded stakes starts in 2015 and Velazquez, who is nearing 1,000 wins at the track, finished first in 11 of 23 graded stakes in 2005. At 10, Rosario is on level with Castellano (2016) and Jerry Bailey (2001).

“It's unbelievable what we've done early,” Rosario said. “Thanks to all the people who gave us the opportunity. My agent, Ron Anderson, has done a really great job for me. We appreciate the opportunities from the owners and the trainers.”

Rosario is no stranger to success. The native of the Dominican Republic has finished in the top 10 in North American jockey earnings for 13 years, has a resume filled with graded stakes wins, including 13 in the Breeders' Cup. Last year, he had a career year, riding horses that earned $32,956,215 and secured his first Eclipse Award as champion jockey.

In 2020, Rosario was the leading graded stakes winner at Saratoga with seven. Last summer, he finished in a tie with Luis Saez for the top spot at six. This year, he had seven graded wins in the first 13 days of the 40-day season.

“We always are looking for a good meet,” Rosario said, “But, we've been doing really well this year.”

During the first four days of the meet, Rosario won the July 15 GIII Forbidden Apple S. with City Man (Mucho Macho Man) for trainer Christophe Clement; the GI Diana S. on In Italian (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) for Chad Brown July 16; and the GIII Quick Call S. on Big Invasion (Declaration of War) for Clement July 17. He completed the month with three wins for Steve Asmussen: the GII Shuvee S. on Clairiere (Curlin) July 24, the GI Alfred G. Vanderbilt S. on Jackie's Warrior (Maclean's Music) and the GII Jim Dandy S. on Epicenter (Not This Time).

In August, he won the GII National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame S. on Ready to Purrform (Kitten's Joy) for Brad Cox Aug. 5 and the next day won the GI Test S. on Chi Town Lady Verrazano) for Wesley Ward and the GII Glens Falls on War Like Goddess (English Channel) for Bill Mott.

Six trainers. Dirt. Turf. Sprints. Routes.

Starting on Saturday with the GI Alabama and the GII Lake Placid, there are 17 graded stakes left in the Saratoga season. Rosario has the mount on Haughty (Empire Maker) for Brown in the Lake Placid and will ride Gerrymander (Into Mischief) for Brown in the Alabama. He is likely to be up on contenders in most of the remaining graded stakes, including the Asmussen triumvirate of Epicenter in the GI Runhappy Travers S., Jackie's Warrior in the GI Forego S. and Clairiere in the GI Personal Ensign.

In 2015, six of Castellano's 11 wins were in Grade I races. Velazquez had five Grade I winners in 2005. So far, Rosario has three.


Photo credit: Lauren King