Jockey Mike Smith, regular rider for 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, has switched agents, going from Brian Beach to Bob Meldahl. Beach had represented Smith since the rider's move from New York to the west coast in 2001.
Ironically, both Beach and Meldahl saw clients sustain serious injuries recently. Laffit Pincay Jr., whom Meldahl has represented for 13 years, fractured two bones in his neck March 1 and is out at least eight weeks. Julie Krone, whose book Beach handles, suffered two vertebrae fractures March 8.
"I just found out about Mike last night," Meldahl said March 10. "I compare Laffit and Mike a lot because they're such good people and everyone likes them. Obviously, he's a very talented rider and hopefully we'll get lucky." Smith rode 2002 champion 2-year-old colt Vindication throughout his undefeated campaign last year, and won Breeders' Cup races aboard both he and Azeri.
Meldahl represented Corey Nakatani for 11 years, but they parted company at the beginning of the current Santa Anita meeting.