Up-and-coming rider Matthew Rispoli and trainer Jamie Ness topped the 2012 jockey and trainer standings, respectively, at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
Rispoli, a 22-year-old native of Long Branch, N.J., burst onto the Penn National scene in 2011, finishing third among all riders with 103 victories. With a full campaign under his belt, Rispoli racked up 158 wins this year, 25 more than Dana Whitney, who had claimed the Penn National jockey title in 2010 and 2011.
"It doesn't feel any different to be the leading rider," said Rispoli in a release. He credits his father John, uncle Joe, agent Tom Pointer, and Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron for getting him to this point in his career. "I just ride horses and that's what I love to do."
Rispoli began riding in 2009 on the Maryland and Pennsylvania circuits, but injuries he sustained in a car accident sidelined him for 1 1/2 years. Last year marked his first full year as a professional jockey.
Ness, 38, led all trainers at Penn National with 83 victories in 2012, 14 more than Stephanie Beattie, who was the track's leading trainer in 2011.
Not only did Ness top the Penn National yearly rankings, but for the first time he led all North American trainers in wins, with 396 through Dec. 30.
"The bigger purses this year at Penn National were a big reason that we concentrated on the races there," said Ness, a native of Heron, S.D., in a statement. "It feels good to be the leading trainer at Penn National and in the country."
Midwest Thoroughbreds, one of Ness' major clients, topped the Penn National owner standings with 83 wins.