Jockey honor at Pimlico's summer meet testifies to Rodriguez's fitness

Broken back is mended

Lake, Gill also win titles

Horse Racing

August 27, 2005|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

Just four months after breaking four vertebrae in his back, jockey Erick Rodriguez ended Pimlico Race Course's nine-day summer meet yesterday with top jockey honors.

Scott Lake earned top honors among trainers with six winners, and Michael Gill was the leading owner for the 13th straight meet at Pimlico or Laurel Park, winning three races.

Rodriguez, 25, rode 12 winners and wrapped up the title in the eighth race yesterday when his nearest competitor, Eric Camacho (11 wins), finished fifth on Anyplace Anytime.

Humoristic, ridden by Steve Hamilton, won that race and paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10. It was Hamilton's third win of the afternoon. Rodriguez's horse, Academic Queen, finished third ($2.20) behind Feelin' the Breeze ($3, $3).

"It's good and I'm very, very happy," said Rodriguez, who tied for the same honor last year. "A couple months ago, I'm hurt. But trainers ride me on good horses. I'm fine, you know. I'm fine all the time."

Maryland's racing program moves to the State Fair at Timonium today through Labor Day, Sept. 5. Two $50,000 stakes for Maryland-breds will be run over the Labor Day weekend, the Alma North and the Taking Risk stakes.

Rodriguez won't be there. He, like a number of other top Maryland riders, will ride at Delaware and Monmouth Park before returning for the Sept. 7 start of the Laurel Park meet.

"Eric Camacho was right behind me in the standings," said Rodriguez, who will ride over the weekend in Delaware and then take a week off to be with his wife and their 2-month-old daughter, Ericka.

"I didn't watch the standings ... but I went to the computer this morning and saw who he was riding. I thought I was going to be tied."

Camacho will ride at Timonium, as will Jose R. Betancourt, Albert Delgado and apprentice Anna Napravnik.

NOTES: Apprentice Josue Beltran, 21, earned his first career win in the final race of the day when he directed Mighty Molly to an easy victory. ... The board of directors of Maryland Preakness Celebration, Inc., the not-for-profit entity that has promoted and organized many of the civic and charitable events that surround the Preakness Stakes, yesterday suspended formal operations to restructure the organization. Board president Mary Esmond said, " ... the board believes it is appropriate to spend this year examining whether there is a different role for the organization to play in the recognition of one of the most important events in our state." ... Yesterday, jockey Richard Monterrey began serving a suspension of 10 racing days - five days for an infraction in May and five days for filing and then withdrawing an appeal deemed "frivolous" by the stewards.

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