Verderosa rides high in saddle

January 02, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

When other jockeys were considering "walking," Raphael Verderosa was thinking riding.

Even though the anticipated walkout by Jockeys' Guild members was aborted yesterday after a last-minute settlement with track owners was reached Friday, Verderosa's career still might benefit from the canceled strike.

Normally Verderosa rides an average of six horses per week. But when the plucky 22-year-old jockey planned to defy the majority of his peers and ride yesterday, he became an overnight sensation.

He was named on 11 mounts, actually rode six horses and won one race for King Leatherbury, Maryland's leading trainer who picked him as a strike-induced stand-in for his regular rider, Mark Johnston. Even though the contract dispute was settled, Leatherbury kept Verderosa on his mounts yesterday.

"I feel like I'm ready to ride one more," Verderosa said after he hopped off his final horse. "I actually get on 15 or 16 horses in the morning, so I'm pretty fit anyway. I thought I rode a good race for Mr. Leatherbury and if he decides to keep me on that horse [Banditback], then I'd sure appreciate it."

Verderosa also finished on the board with two other Leatherbury mounts and temporarily caused tempers to flare when Johnston claimed foul against him in the featured $30,000 Toes Knows Stakes.

Johnston, who finished off the board with the 6-5 favored Cherokee Wonder, alleged that Verderosa drifted in front of him during the stretch run. But Verderosa quickly corrected his mount, Ask Me Out, from impeding Johnston. The stewards disallowed the claim.

Verderosa said he felt no heat from other the jockeys yesterday. "I don't know why they'd be mad with me anyway," he said. "I'm not a guild member."

He hopes to benefit from his heightened visibility. He has hired an agent, retired trainer Bill Wolfendale, and also picked up a couple extra mounts on today's card.

Mary Wiley, another jockey who defied the guild, said she heard "some snide comments. But we [women jockeys] have our own room, so I can just shut the door."

Wiley had been named on 14 mounts, ended up riding four and won one race. When the walkout was called off, most trainers abandoned their substitute riders and re-claimed their regular jockeys. Wiley was taken off two winners and also lost the mount on the winning Dust Bucket in the Toes Knows Stakes, although trainer Billy Turner officially had left the mount open.

"I was standing in line behind Mario Pino for the mount in case he didn't ride," Wiley said.

However, she added, "I have no hard feelings. I wasn't riding so I could profit from the walkout. I was riding because I was doing what I believed in."

Eight of the 10 winners yesterday were ridden by guild members such as Johnston, Pino, Rick Wilson and Albert Delgado.

At Aqueduct, most of the substitute riders stayed on their mounts. Richard Migliore rode four winners and Diane Nelson won two, including the $100,000 Interborough Handicap with Lottsa Talc.

NOTES: Asserche, who tied Taking Risks in number of Maryland stakes wins in 1994, is getting an eight-month rest. Owner-trainer John Alecci said he had a bone chip removed from the horse's ankle and is going to give Asserche plenty of time to recuperate. "He had the chip for three years and it bugged him from time to time," Alecci said. "I thought now was as good a time as any to take it out." Asserche and Taking Risks each won four Maryland stakes last year. . . . Dust Bucket is not a glamorous name for a thoroughbred. But trainer Billy Turner said that because she is a "dusty gray," the wife of the horse's owner, Milton Ritzenberg, thought "her color reminded her of the ashes that are in a bucket by the fireplace." Turner said Mrs. Ritzenberg had picked the horse out of an auction as a yearling in Kentucky. Yesterday the filly, now 4, won her first added-money race by prevailing by a neck over Alecci's Whenourshipcomesin in the Toes Knows Stakes.

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