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Racing News

Published Mar 22, 2024
by Mike Henry
jose batista
Boot Barn Jockey of the Month Jose Batista

Four two-victory performances over a period of 10 racing days have propelled Jose Batista to the Boot Barn Jockey of the Month Award.

The 27-year-old product of Chepo, Panama, who notched career victory No. 400 during his streak aboard 3-year-old filly Turbo Millie for trainer Monica McGoey, is ninth in the Tampa Bay Downs standings with 24 winners.

Batista’s agent Eddie Joe Zambrana, a former jockey, attributes his relatively slow start at the 2023-2024 meet to the increased depth of talent in the Tampa Bay Downs jockeys colony.

“It’s a really tough meet, and he’s worked hard to keep moving up,” Zambrana said. “It’s easy for me to push him (with trainers). I tell them they’re getting a strong rider who is good on turf and dirt and is always in the top 10 in the standings by the end of the meet.”

Batista is quiet by nature, and some observers have wondered if his low-key personality might limit his opportunities. Entering today’s action, his 170 mounts were fewer than any of the jockeys ahead of him in the Oldsmar standings.

However, Zambrana said Batista is reaching out more than before to trainers and others on the backstretch while trying to improve his English, which can only help to raise his profile. “We are working on that, and I know we will keep working on it,” Zambrana said. “Some people get opportunities in this business quicker than others, and I think when he gets some of those chances he’ll be ready.”

Batista will be heading with Zambrana to Delaware Park after the current meet.

Trainer Juan Arriagada, who has put Batista on four recent winners, believes he has the skills and desire to achieve his goal of competing at bigger tracks. “He wants to be better. He is very professional in his approach,” Arriagada said. “If I tell him to be at my barn at 7 a.m., he’s there by 6:45.”

The conditioner predicts Batista’s future will remain bright as he continues to mature and adhere to the old racetrack maxim “Hurry up and wait” – a nod to the importance of saving a closer’s best stride for the stretch run.

Batista said he studies veteran Jesus Castanon, who won the 2011 Preakness on Shackleford, for clues on how to apply patience to his own style. “I try to learn from everybody,” Batista said through his jockeys’-room valet, Walter Cicero. “The important thing for me is to work hard every day.”

Batista – who won the Grade II Gulfstream Park Hardacre Mile Stakes on Conquest Big E in 2018 – hopes to one day ride on the New York circuit, but getting there will also require good fortune. “I’m waiting for the opportunity to ride the right horse,” he said.

Around the oval. Owner Victoria’s Ranch, trainer Juan Carlos Avila and jockey Carlos Olivero teamed for two winners today. They captured the sixth race with Mr. Swagger, a 4-year-old colt, and added the ninth and final race with 4-year-old gelding Silver Slugger.

Leading jockey Samy Camacho and Samuel Marin also rode two winners apiece today. Camacho was aboard 3-year-old filly Amirati in the second race for owner Robert Deckert, Jr., and trainer Michael V. Simone. Camacho added the seventh race with Off the Meds, a 7-year-old gelding owned by Anthony Granitz and Wadie F. Khalaf and trained by Granitz.

Marin won the fourth race on first-time starter Khozan’s On Fire, a 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding bred and owned by Stonehedge LLC and trained by leading Oldsmar conditioner Kathleen O’Connell. Khozan’s On Fire was claimed from the race for $16,000 by trainer Lynn Rarick for new owner ABE Racing.

Marin also won the eighth race with Ejtimaa, a 3-year-old gelding owned and trained by Mike Dini.

Thoroughbred racing continues Saturday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:15 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule and is open every day except Easter Sunday, March 31 for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at the Downs Golf Practice Facility.

Tampa Bay Downs will simulcast two “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points races Saturday: The Grade II, $1-million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby from Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and the Grade III, $700,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks from Turfway Park Racing & Gaming. Both races are the 12th on their respective cards, with the Jeff Ruby Steaks scheduled for 6:25 p.m. Eastern Time and the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby for 6:42.

There are 14 horses entered in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, including a pair of also-eligibles. Tampa Bay Downs jockey Jesus Castanon will be in Florence, Ky., to ride West Saratoga, who was third in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 10 at Tampa Bay Downs and second here on Jan. 13 in the Pasco Stakes, won by Book’em Danno. West Saratoga will break from the No. 12 post for Castanon and trainer Larry Demeritte.

Agate Road, who finished second to No More Time in the Sam F. Davis, has been assigned the No. 4 post for the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby, which has 12 entrants. Irad Ortiz, Jr., is scheduled to ride for trainer Todd Pletcher. Agate Road is also entered in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, but Pletcher said earlier this week he plans to run him in New Orleans.

Both races offer 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, 50 for second, 25 for third, 15 for fourth and 10 for fifth.




jose batista
Boot Barn Jockey of the Month Jose Batista

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