Garrett Gomez, Joel Rosario and Rafael Bejarano. There’s not a better trio of jockeys anywhere riding at the same race track. The 70th Del Mar meet, which begins Wednesday and runs through Sept. 9, is going to be something special, because except for the days when Gomez and/or Bejarano are out of town to ride in big stakes races, these three guys will be vying for the title that was won by Bejarano last summer.
Rosario just snapped Bejarano’s streak of six consecutive SoCal riding titles, winning the Hollywood Park spring-summer meet, 79-69. Bejarano had 73 less mounts because he spent a lot more time out of town riding in the Triple Crown races and other selected stakes. The reaction by Rosario and his agent, Vic Stauffer? Who cares. When they look back at the 2009 meet five to 10 years from now, the only thing that counts is that Rosario’s name will be atop the standings.
After all, when Bejarano joined Chris McCarron (1982-83) as the only jockeys to win six consecutive Southland titles since the Hollypark autumn meet was added in 1981,
the 27-year-old native of Peru had 151 more mounts than Gomez, who took off in early April to ride full time at Keeneland before returning to the Southland for good last month during the Hollywood Park meet.
“I thought I had a chance to win this meet,” Rosario said of Hollywood Park. “I was second last year and second at Del Mar and third at Santa Anita. You need to be a little lucky, but I thought if I tried hard it could happen.”
This will be only the second summer that Gomez, Rosario and Bejarano have ridden together at Del Mar. It should be a treat for racing fans.