Billy Antongeorgi III is the son of two former riders, but his pedigree wasn't enough to prepare him for his first mount. Somehow, though, he ended up in the winner's circle Sunday afternoon at Hollywood Park aboard Five O'Clock.
Antongeorgi, an 18-year-old native of Long Island, N.Y., resembled a Hollywood stunt rider after losing a stirrup as the field broke from the gate in the fourth race. He took a severe pounding as Five O'Clock ($6.40) raced to the lead in the $12,500 claiming race for 3-year-old fillies, but he managed to hang on for seven furlongs en route to a two-length victory.
"It felt great," Antongeorgi said afterward. "I wish I could have done it with a little more style, but that's the way it goes."Racing fans, often a jaded group, burst into applause when the youngster and his mount were led into the winner's circle."I just lost my stirrup on the right when we broke out of there," he said, "and I couldn't get it back the whole way. My boot was a little slippery, and, well, it was my first time. Anyway, I kept riding. I felt I had a lot of horse under me. Actually, I was confident the whole way, and she just kept going."
Antongeorgi is the son of a jockey by the same name. "He rode back east," said the apprentice. "He rode a little out here, but mostly back east in the New Jersey area. And my mother (Alex) rode in Kentucky as an owner-breeder-trainer. She used to ride show jumpers."Antongeorgi said he experienced little if any nervousness prior to the race.
"I've been working horses in the morning for about two years," he said. "I've worked this particular filly twice, so I knew her pretty well."
Paul Aguirre, who trains Five O'Clock, gave Antongeorgi the mount after watching him in morning workouts. "He's worked about ten horses for me, and I've been impressed," Aguirre said, "but I had to do a little talking to my owners to convince them to use him."