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Fogelsonger 'Eclipses' field to end ride

February 03, 2003|by LARRY YANOS

Maryland-based jockey Ryan Fogelsonger reached the ultimate winner's circle last Monday - capturing an Eclipse Award as the nation's leading apprentice rider.

The 21-year-old Fogelsonger was named the best apprentice jockey of 2002 at the 32nd annual Eclipse Awards - capturing 80 percent of the votes by The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form (DRF) and National Turf Writers Association (NTWA).

Fogelsonger received 175 1/2 votes on the 221 ballots, easily defeating runner-up John McKee (36 1/2), while seven other bug riders combined for nine votes.

"It was awesome, just unbelievable" Fogelsonger said of his experience on the West Coast. "It was my first time out there, the people very friendly, the weather was great and Santa Anita is so beautiful."

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In 2002, Fogelsonger led all bug riders in victories (267), earnings ($4,489,311) and winning percentage (22 percent), while riding in a colony that featured six of the top 25 riders in the country based on wins.

After taking two months to win five races and officially begin his apprenticeship, the Silver Spring, Md., native took off in the second half of the year - winning more races than any other rider in the nation (244) to capture both the Pimlico summer/fall meet and Laurel Park fall meet titles.

Fogelsonger was joined at the Eclipse Award banquet by his parents, a brother, a sister and agent Kevin Witte and his wife."I was surrounded by family and friends and I got to meet some folks in the horse racing and entertainment business. It was neat," Fogelsonger said. "The Eclipse Award is really something special. I have worked very hard and maybe that hard work paid off."

Fogelsonger, who does not lose his apprentice status until May 24, becomes the ninth Maryland-based rider in the 32-year history of the Eclipse Awards to win this category - joining Chris McCarron (1974), Ronnie Franklin (1978), Alberto Delgado (1982), Allen Stacy (1986), Kent Desormeaux (1987), Mike Luzzi (1989), Mark Johnston (1990) and Jeremy Rose (2001).

Fogelsonger admits being nervous leading up to the Eclipse Award presentation.

"I didn't know until they said..... and the winner is," Fogelsonger said. "I was shaking, I was so nervous that my palms were sweating. It was an experience I'll never forget."

Fogelsonger said before the ceremony began, McCarron and Gary Stevens came over to his table and took a picture.

The talented jockey is continuing his success in 2003.

Through the first month of racing, Fogelsonger ranks third in the nation in wins.

"I am living a dream world and don't know when I'll come down from cloud nine," Fogelsonger added.

Family affair


All in the family.

Joe Servis, a former steward at the Charles Town Races and Slots, had an enjoyable day at the racetrack last Saturday.

Servis traveled to Laurel Park to watch Martha's Music, a horse trained by his son John, compete in the $50,000 Nellie Morse Stakes.

Martha's Music not only competed in the 1-1/16th mile race, she won it.

Hours earlier, Servis watched on television as Best of the Rest won the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Florida's Gulfstream Park.

Best of the Rest is trained by Servis' son-in-law Eddie Plesa.

For Martha's Music, it was her third stakes win in three tries at Laurel Park. She previously captured last year's Martha Washington Breeders' Cup and the Anne Arundel Stakes (Grade III).

Martha's Music, with jockey Stewart Elliott aboard, finished four lengths clear of 50-1 longshot Mystic Notion, while Pass The Virtue was third.

The winner paid $5.

Following the race, Servis said "As much as I hate to take her off this racetrack, I think we're going to venture to New York and give her a step up and see how she moves on."

It was the second added-money victory of the month at Laurel Park for Servis, who saddled Ladyecho to the winners' circle in the Marshua Stakes four weeks ago.

He plans to send Zonk to Laurel Park this month to compete in the Grade II Barbara Fritchie Handicap.

Servis was also happy for his son-in-law Plesa.

Best of the Rest rallied to lead a sweep by Florida thoroughbreds on their home track.

Favored Best of the Rest, an 8-year-old gelding who has overcome four knee operations, passed Booklet in the final yards and won the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic by a half-length.

The purse was the day's most lucrative in the inaugural $3.6 million Sunshine Millions, an event limited to horses bred in Florida and California in four races at Gulfstream Park and four at California's Santa Anita Park.

Best of the Rest, ridden by Eibar Coa, covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:49 2-5 and paid $9, $4.80 and $3.80. Booklet edged third-place California-bred Grey Memo by a head in the race for 4-year-olds and up.

"Every step was an anxious step until he got to the wire first." Plesa said. "Booklet really hung on tough."

Best of the Rest won $550,000, more than doubling his career earnings to $1.2 million. He has won 14 of 27 starts.

Taking a breakfrom a break

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