Jockey Heriberto Figueroa is the latest jockey to move their tack from the Southern California circuit. Figueroa is heading to Turfway Park in Kentucky with an eye on the Spring meet at Keeneland and the opportunity to ride more horses. It is no secret field sizes are down at Santa Anita and it has been difficult to fill races. That has prompted several riders to move their tacks to places like the Fair Grounds and Oaklawn Park. Because he intends to ride the prestigious Keeneland spring meet, Figueroa opted for Kentucky and Turfway Park.
Figueroa should fit right in with the Turfway colony. He will be represented by his Southern California agent Nelson Arroyo Sr., who will also continue to represent his other rider Jorge Velez at Santa Anita. Nelson has made a habit of recruiting and developing young apprentice riders and Heriberto is one of them. The pair have enjoyed a good deal of success together since Arroyo brought Figueroa to Southern California after he found out about him. Both rider and agent are from Puerto Rico where Figueroa graduated from the Escuela Vocacional Hipica jockey school.
Under Arroyo’s tutelage and handling, Figueroa was the leading apprentice in California last year. He was the leading rider at all three Los Alamitos meets. He finished fifth in the standings at both Del Mar meets. After losing his bug he was still able to finish in the top ten at Santa Anita. After spending some time riding in Northern California Figueroa returned to the Bing Crosby meet at Del Mar and was again able to finish in the top ten in the standings, without the bug.
With Figueroa at Turfway, and Velez at Santa Anita, Arroyo will be a busy agent. His son, Erick Arroyo, also an agent, will be on the grounds at Turfway assisting Nelson with Figueroa. Nelson will also be traveling back and forth. Having both riders at Keeneland remains a possibility.
Figueroa already has a call with William Morey who he will ride for. He is also set to start working horses for Wesley Ward as well.
In addition to winning races in bunches for multiple trainers, Figueroa has also had some success in stakes. He piloted Bob and Jackie to victories in the Let it Ride Stakes at Del mar and the Eddie Logan at Santa Anita for trainer Richard Baltas. He also won the Barretts Debutante on Kim K for Peter Miller at Los Alamitos.
Of course you have to be able to ride, and to produce which Heriberto can, but being in Arroyo’s hands is a help. This is especially true for a young rider. Nelson, a former rider himself, is building up quite a resume as an agent. In 7 years his riders have won 11 leading rider titles. 4 in Kentucky and 7 in Southern California. He has won 36 stakes with 15 being graded, including the Grade 1 Pacific Classic with Martin Garcia on Collected for Bob Baffert.
With Figueroa’s ability, and Arroyo’s familiarity with Turfway, they can have a strong meet. Arroyo has worked 5 Turfway meets in the past, including his first meet ever as an agent when he finished second with Victor Lebron. He won the next 2 Turfway meets with Lebron, and the two after that with his brother Norberto who he also helped orchestrate a comeback that took him to the top of the Southern California standings. Nelson has also been successful at Keeneland with Stewart Elliott, Gabriel Saez, and Norberto Arroyo.
Figueroa is set to arrive at Turfway on February 7th and begin riding on the 8th.