Fresu, O’Neill Climb the Rankings With Big Weeks at Del Mar

August 31, 2023

Antonio Fresu (Benoit Photo)

Del Mar Stable Notes by Jim Charvat

DEL MAR, Calif.— It was supposed to be the week that leading jockey Juan Hernandez was to put a wrap on this year’s riding title at the Del Mar summer meet. He went into the week with a four-victory lead over his closest rival, Umberto Rispoli, who was out of town all last week representing the U.S. in a World All-Star Jockey event in Japan.

But instead of running up the score and building an insurmountable lead, another talented rider had a strong week and kept Hernandez from riding off and hiding in this year’s jockeys’ race.

Antonio Fresu won 10 races last week, sandwiching back-to-back riding doubles with a pair of riding triples. While Hernandez was winning four races to raise his total to 28, Fresu vaulted into second place and sits just five back of the pacesetter with 23.

“It was an amazing week,” Fresu says. “I wasn’t expecting that. I knew I had some live horses last week but not that live. The horses were running really well for me, and I am super happy about what I achieved last week.”

Fresu is a veteran jockey with years of racing overseas under his belt. So, a run like this one is special, but not new to him.

“Everywhere is different,” Fresu says. “Something like this at another place wouldn’t be the same. But with Del Mar, it’s a big meet and it’s so important to get winners. When you get 10 altogether in four days or 13, if you consider six days, it’s an amazing number. For a jockey, especially for me being in the U.S. for only four months and first time at Del Mar, it means a lot.

“Obviously it’s because of all of the people around me,” Fresu continues. “They’ve given me opportunities and a chance and now everything is happening. My agent (Tom Knust) is doing a great job.”

Fresu has taken quite a liking to Del Mar.

 “I love it,” Fresu says. “It’s a beautiful place and a beautiful course. The lifestyle, apart from racing, is gorgeous. It’s very easy and relaxed and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a shame it’s only a couple of months.”

Fresu plans on staying in Southern California and riding at Santa Anita this fall.

Meanwhile, Rispoli is back in town and will ride this week at Del Mar. He now sits in third place in the jockey standings with 20 wins followed by Hector Berrios at 19 and Ramon Vasquez with 16. Rounding out the Top 10 are Edwin Maldonado (14); Tiago Pereira (11); Kent Desormeaux and Geovanni Franco with eight each and Mike Smith with seven.

Doug O’Neill (Benoit Photo)

The trainer standings have a new name in the top spot. Doug O’Neill has displaced Phil D’Amato atop the leaderboard after compiling seven wins last week, five of them with Fresu in the saddle. O’Neill has 16 wins to D’Amato’s 15 and Bob Baffert’s 14. Peter Miller’s next with 12 followed by Peter Eurton with 11. Rounding out the Top 10 are Richard Mandella, Mark Glatt and Steve Knapp with seven wins apiece and Leonard Powell and Michael McCarthy with six each.

Reddam Racing continues to lead the owners’ standings with five wins, their lone win last week coming in the G2 Pat O’Brien with Anarchist. Red Baron Barn and Rancho Temescal are tied with the partnership of Michael Bello and Charles Bartlett with four wins each.

COOLING OUT

Eda came out of her win Sunday in the G3 Rancho Bernardo in good order. Trainer Bob Baffert and the connections are pondering their next move with her…

CARMAthon raised $145,000 this past weekend. The money will go to the over 20 Thoroughbred Aftercare Programs funded by CARMA…

Notable works this week, all on the dirt: Monday – Speed Boat Beach (4f, 49.60); Dua (5f, 59.40), and Muth (5f, 1:02.80). Tuesday – Defunded (4f, :47.40), and Planetario (4f, :48.40). Wednesday – Tamara (3f, 36.40); Fun to Dream (4f, :48.00), and Practical Move (5f, 1:01.00). Thursday – Geaux Rocket Ride (3f, 37.40), and Lord Prancealot (4f, :49.20).

@jonathanstettin who's the man? @jonathanstettin is THE man!!!!

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