by Tom LaMarra and Dan Liebman
Jockey Terry Thompson is taking his first opportunity to ride in a Breeders' Cup race quite seriously. This week he gave up his regular nighttime schedule at Hoosier Park, where he is close to becoming the all-time leading rider, to get a handle on the Arlington Park surface.
Thompson will ride Oasis Racing Stable's Ruby's Reception in the Oct. 26 Long John Silver's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Thompson has ridden the Rubiano filly three times for trainer Larry Jones and has a win, a second, and a third.
Thompson rode Ruby's Reception to a fast-closing second-place finish in the Oct. 4 Walmac International Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland. That effort led Jones to give the Breeders' Cup a shot, and he decided Thompson should keep the mount.
"I had calls from four or five agents for top riders," Jones said. "I wanted to stick with Terry. He won't be worrying about his mounts in other races. He will be totally honed in on Ruby's Reception."
"Getting to ride in the Breeders' Cup is a great honor," said Thompson, who this year traveled the Oaklawn Park-Prairie Meadows-Hoosier Park circuit. "And for Larry Jones and the owners to stick with me is a great honor. This for me could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Thompson rode at Arlington Oct. 23-24, and bagged a second and a third in only three mounts.
"I came up here to get some races over the track, and to see how the track is playing," Thompson said. "I wanted to be courteous and show how interested I am in riding this filly. This probably will get me for leading rider at Hoosier Park, but the Breeders' Cup is way more important. Jockeys usually have two goals: to ride in the Kentucky Derby and to ride in the Breeders' Cup. Here I am to ride in one."
At the start of the meet, Thompson needed 56 wins to beat Jon Court's record as the all-time leading rider at Hoosier Park, which opened for Thoroughbred racing in 1995. He currently has 45 wins at the Indiana racetrack, which closes in early December.
Court left Hoosier a few years ago to try his hand at tougher meets and was successful. Thompson said he'd love to get the record, but that next fall, he, too, may move on, depending upon conversations with his agent. He mentioned Chicago as a candidate.
"I think this is my last year there," Thompson said, "but I'd really like to get that record by the end of the meet."