Rafael Bejarano Wins Six at Santa Anita

By Claire Novak
Rafael Bejarano missed Keeneland's card to ride nine mounts in Southern California Saturday, including Triple Crown candidate Point Determined in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). The trip proved worthwhile when six of Bejarano's horses – four in succession – brought him to the winner's circle.

Bejarano started the day off by booting home Natalie Baffert's Hockey the General ($4) in the first race on the card. He failed to win the second or third and was without a mount in the fourth, but rode to victory in the fifth with the $8 million colt, Mr. Sekiguchi ($3.80), who broke his maiden in his second career start. He finished second aboard Point Determined in the Santa Anita Derby, before striking out in the seventh.

The Peruvian started his four-win streak when he brought home B. Wayne Hughes' Moonlit Habit ($17.60) for trainer Richard Mandella in the eighth, then followed that race by winning the Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) with Gary Mandella-trainee Silent Name ($14.40). He took the tenth with Julep Cup ($10.20) for trainer Bob Baffert, and piloted Bobby Frankel trainee Urban King ($6) to a win the eleventh race finale.

A Louisville resident who came to the United States in April of 2002, Bejarano has earned riding titles at five Kentucky race tracks (including Keeneland and Churchill Downs) and at Aqueduct in New York. He is the eighth different jockey in Santa Anita history to win six races in a single day and the first since Corey Nakatani in 2000. The track record is seven wins, set by the now-retired Laffit Pincay Jr.

"I really liked the track, it was very fast, and all the horses I had today (had speed)," Bejarano said. "All of the trainers gave me great opportunities, they really did a good job. The horses were very, very good, and that's because of my agent. We both work together, we make a really good team. I'd like to thank my agent (Joe Ferrer) very much."

Bejarano was making his second visit to California – he rode there once for Bobby Frankel – and although he enthusiastically told reporters, "I would love to stay here, I love this place," his agent says he's named to five mounts at Keeneland on Sunday. According to Ferrer, "He takes a red-eye tonight and goes straight to the (jockey's) room in the morning."