(from Laurel Park release)
Josean Ramirez, riding his first official race aboard Sir Classic Chris for trainer King Leatherbury, won a close decision over What’s What and Jason Nguyen, who was also riding in his first official race, on opening day of Laurel Park's brief summer meet Aug. 8.
Ramirez's victory came in the second race, as live action returned to Maryland after an eight-week hiatus.
“This was everything I could have hoped for,” Ramirez said. “I was a little nervous when we went to the gate, but once we went in, I put the game face on and it was time to work.”
Ramirez followed up with a wire-to-wire score aboard Resters Red Bullet ($4.40) for trainer Dane Kobiskie in the third race.
After a long stretch duel in his initial win, the two runners were separated by a neck at the finish of the $5,000 claiming event, a one-mile race over a fast main track. Ramirez left the gate from the inside post, kept his mount tucked along the rail, took, but lost the lead through the turn, and then battled back to win in the shadow of the wire. Sir Classic Chris paid $9.40.
“I knew (Nguyen) was getting desperate,” added Ramirez. “I had a ton of horse, so I held back and waited to move. I let him go and he did it.”
“I have never had a jock win his first race on one of my horses,” said Leatherbury, who ranks third on the all-time win list of trainers with 6,250 victories. “Chris McCarron won his second.” McCarron is sixth on the all-time jockey win list with 7,141 first place finishes.
The 21-year-old Ramirez was brought to Maryland by agent Herson Rodriguez last month after graduating from a Puerto Rico jockey school. He has been gaining experience through breezing horses in the morning.
“This could be an Eclipse Award winner,” exclaimed Rodriguez, who has brought five other riders to the states this decade, including solid Mid-Atlantic riders J.D. Acosta and Luis Garcia. “To win his first race for King Leatherbury is an unbelievable feeling. He is a level-headed rider who knows what he wants. We plan on riding wherever and whenever we can in Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.”
Ramirez received the traditional dousing from buckets of water upon his return to the jockeys' room.
“That was refreshing,” joked Ramirez. “I would not mind that happening every time, win or lose.”