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Brown, Almodovar capture 2005 titles at Charles Town

January 08, 2006|By LARRY YANOS

Trainer Ronney Brown and jockey Gerald Almodovar led the way during the 2005 thoroughbred racing campaign at Charles Town Races & Slots.

Brown captured his fifth consecutive trainers' title while Almodovar gained his first jockeys' crown.

The 44-year-old Brown won 150 races at Charles Town and easily defeated second-place finisher Jeff Runco, who had 87 triumphs. Ernest Hayes (75) was third, followed by Renee Schlesinger and Stephanie Beattie (38 each).

"The 150 wins was my most ever," Brown said. "I pretty much followed the same formula as in past years - I was busy claiming horses, tried to run them in the right spots and had a great group of owners."

Original Gold, owned and trained by Brown, won the Cavada Breeders Classic for the second straight year.

"She's a nice horse but Cammie's Jet was 4-for-4 and Dinnerwithawinner had five wins, including four straight," Brown said. "I have roughly 70 horses in training now."

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The champion trainer was born and raised in Frederick County and started in the thoroughbred horse racing industry in 1983 at Charles Town. He has stabled horses there throughout, with the exception of 1992 through 1999, when he took his horses to the Penn National in Grantville, Pa.

"Things were not going so good in '92. The video lottery was voted down and the future of the racetrack was uncertain," Brown said. "I had some good years at Penn National, usually was in the trainers' standings, but I was happy to return here."

The 20-year-old Almodovar won 232 races at Charles Town in 2005 and easily defeated second-place finisher Travis Dunkelberger, who had 191 triumphs.

Erick Ramirez (140), Oscar Flores (135) and Kendrick Carmouche (130) rounded out the top five.

"It's an honor to be the leading rider at Charles Town and I hope to repeat this year," Almodovar said. "I work hard and I'm always trying."

A native of Puerto Rico, Almodovar decided to give Charles Town a look when he came to the United States and he and jocks agent Chris Boyd have proved to be a winning combination.

"I started here on Jan. 6, 2004." Almodovar said. "A friend of mine (Maryland-based jockey Luis Garcia) came here from Puerto Rico and suggested it would be a good move for me to make. I took the advice and I'm happy I made that decision."

It also brought a smile to the face of Boyd, who also handled jocks' agent duties for Garcia.

"Gerald has a good attitude, works hard and rides for a number of successful trainers. He also gets the opportunity to ride many horses shipped in here," Boyd said. "And he had a remarkable year, considering he was plagued with some injury problems."

Since arriving at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval, Almodovar has been sidelined with appendicitis, a broken elbow, a broken hand (he still rode four winners one day with the swollen hand) and numerous bumps and bruises.

While he has met and conquered the adversity, Mother Nature still bothers him every so often.

"I don't like cold weather," Almodovar smiled. "I still ride hard and try but cold weather and I don't get along. It really bothered me when I first came here."

Boyd likes Almodovar's consistency.

"The in-the-money percentage shows he rides maidens the same as allowance horses," Boyd said. "In 2005, his win percentage was 20 and in-the-money percentage was 49. He did equally well with the maidens and the allowance horses."

Almodovar plans to maintain the same type of schedule in 2006 that he endured in 2005.

"I'll concentrate on Charles Town and also ride some in Maryland and Delaware," Almodovar said. "I hope to have another good year."

For sure, trips to the winner's circle and warm weather had to be among Almodovar's holiday wishes.

Eclipse finalists



The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers Association and Daily Racing Form have announced the finalists for the 2005 Eclipse Awards, voted on and presented by the three organizations in recognition of excellence in thoroughbred racing.

Winners in all categories will be announced at the 35th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony on Jan. 23 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The Eclipse Awards finalists are:



Two-Year-Old Male: First Samurai, Henny Hughes, Stevie Wonderboy.

Two-Year-Old Female: Adieu, Folklore, Wild Fit.

Three-Year-Old Male: Afleet Alex, Flower Alley, Giacomo.

Three-Year-Old Female: Round Pond, Smuggler, Summerly.

Older Male: Borrego, Rock Hard Ten, Saint Liam.

Older Female: Ashado, Pleasant Home, Stellar Jayne.

Sprinter: Lost in the Fog, Saratoga County, Silver Train.

Male Turf Horse: Artie Schiller, Leroidesanimaux (BRZ), Shirocco (GER).

Female Turf Horse: Cesario (JPN), Intercontinental (GB), Megahertz (GB).

Steeplechase: Hirapour (IRE), McDynamo, Sur La Tete.

Owner: Michael Gill, Live Oak Plantation, Melnyk Racing Stables, Inc.

Breeder: Adena Springs, Edward P. Evans, Live Oak Stud.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Robert Frankel, Todd Pletcher.

Jockey: Jerry Bailey, Edgar Prado, John Velazquez.

Apprentice Jockey: Channing Hill, Justin Stein, Emma-Jayne Wilson

NTRA Commissioner D.G. Van Clief Jr. will present the Horse of the Year trophy to the winning connections at the conclusion of the Eclipse Awards ceremony and TVG will televise the Eclipse Awards live, with coverage beginning at 8 p.m.




Larry Yanos is sports editor of The Daily Mail. He covers horse racing for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at larryy@herald-mail.com

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