Rocco Jr. wins on 1st N.Y. mount

January 15, 2000|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Joe Rocco Jr., the promising apprentice jockey, began riding Thursday in New York after failing to catch on with Maryland trainers.

Rocco won with his first mount at Aqueduct, the 3-1 Scooby Dooby Do. Then he piloted the 22-1 Dream Prosperous to a second-place finish.

Rocco, 17, said from the Aqueduct jockeys' room yesterday that he simply hadn't been getting as many mounts at Laurel Park as he would have liked. Also, he said, one of New York's top agents, Drew Mollica, who handles Aaron Gryder, offered to secure him rides with New York trainers.

Rocco's father, Joe, also a jockey, said "the bug," a term describing apprentice, or beginning, jockeys, was not hot at Laurel Park. His son was one of only two apprentices based in Maryland. In New York, several apprentices are doing well.

"When that happens, trainers get bug in their mind," said the elder Rocco, a veteran on the Maryland circuit. "That wasn't happening here. He was riding two or three horses a day, and he thought he was wasting his time. If he could have done well, he would have stayed."

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