Ryan Fogelsonger

Ryan Fogelsonger

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Fogelsonger Starts New Chapter in PA

Jockey Ryan Fogelsonger is trying a different racetrack this season.

From Presque Isle Downs

Take a look at Ryan Fogelsonger’s career record and you’ll see he has accumulated 1,187 victories. Not bad at all for a 26-year-old jockey who never rode any sort of a horse until he was 18.

Fogelsonger, who usually is based in Maryland, decided to make a change and has moved his tack to Presque Isle Downs near Erie, Pa. Live racing begins May 9.

“I don’t come from a racing family,” Fogelsonger said. “My father was a pharmacist in the United States Navy. There was a guy in my neighborhood who galloped horses for (Maryland trainer) Dale Capuano. He saw me playing basketball in a local park, saw that I was athletic and said, ‘Hey, did you ever think about becoming a jockey?’

“Well, I had just graduated from high school and didn’t plan on going to college, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ Two weeks after that, I shipped down to Elloree Training Center near Aiken, South Carolina, and that’s where I got started.”

At Elloree, Fogelsonger said he “got on about 15 or 20 2-year-olds per day, breaking them and just pretty much learning how to sit in the saddle. From there, I went to Bonita Farm in Maryland, which is run by the Boniface family. I was there for about a year, and that’s where I really learned about grooming and breezing horses. Then I worked a year exercising horses for Dale. That’s the road I followed to become a jockey.”

While Fogelsonger was born in Portsmouth, Va., he grew up in Silver Springs, Md., near Washington, D.C. Maryland, therefore, is essentially his home state. At Springbrook High School, Fogelsonger ran track and was a midfielder on the soccer team.

In 2002, Fogelsonger won 267 races, and for his exploits received the Eclipse Award as North America’s outstanding apprentice.  He was not the first Maryland-based apprentice to gain that honor; Hall of Famers Chris McCarron and Kent Desormeaux are among the predecessors.

Fogelsonger has accumulated 68 career stakes triumphs, seven of which have come in graded events. His most prominent scores have come in the 2003 edition of the grade II Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs, with an Irish-bred horse named Hoh Buzzard; and in the 2004 edition of the grade II Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park, with Bear Fan.

This season, Fogelsonger and his agent, Michelle Barsotti, decided to find out how well they will fare at Presque Isle. It is not the first time Fogelsonger has set up a different operational base. During most of 2003, he rode in Southern California, where he won two stakes at Santa Anita Park and three at Fairplex Park.

On opening weekend at Presque Isle, Fogelsonger ride will Wonderful Luck in the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes for trainer Steve Asmussen May 9. He will ride another Asmussen trainee, Carson’s Legacy, in the $100,000 Tall Ships Stakes May 10.