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Acosta wins first Charles Town riding title

January 07, 2007

J.D. Acosta was the leading rider at Charles Town Races & Slots in 2006.

"Very happy," the 25-year-old Acosta said. "I've been among the five leading riders (in the year-end standings) ever since I came here four years ago, but this is my first title."

Acosta rode 1,050 horses in 2006 and won 166 times, placed in 151 races and showed 134 times. He finished in the money in 43 percent of his rides.

What was the key to his success?

"Riding good horses for good trainers," Acosta said. "I rode for a number of different trainers. The list included Scott Lake, the nation's top conditioner in 2006 in races won.

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"Scott and many other trainers gave me an opportunity to ride their horses and I'm very appreciative," Acosta said.

Although he was born in the Dominican Republic, Acosta was raised in Puerto Rico and eventually began riding horses at its premier race track.

"I was doing all right, but I got a call from a trainer at Delaware Park in the spring of 2002 and he wanted me to come to the U.S.," Acosta said. "I rode a little in Delaware, then I went to Maryland and then to Charles Town. I like it here very much. The people are friendly, the purses are good. I'm very comfortable and I'm getting opportunities to ride good horses."

Acosta says the purses are significantly higher in the United States than in Puerto Rico.

"The money's good here, but I just enjoy riding horses," Acosta said. "I prefer the longer races. I feel more comfortable and you give the horse a chance to relax. In the short races (like the 4 1/2 furlongs at Charles Town), it's just break and go, try to get position. In longer races, you can break poorly and still win."

Acosta, whose agent is Mike Rose, says he will maintain a similar schedule this year.

"I'll ride mostly in Charles Town with occasional mounts in Maryland and Delaware," Acosta said.

On the upswing



The Maryland Jockey Club announced its 2006 figures, and a strong Preakness Stakes coupled with productive winter, spring and fall meetings helped total wagering at Pimlico and Laurel Park improve.

The handle from all sources totaled $960.2 million to $896.1 million in 2005. With 11 fewer days of live racing, the daily average handle from all sources increased more than 15 percent from $3.5 million to $4.1 million.

"It is encouraging," said Lou Raffetto, president and chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club. "The handle on Maryland racing, while running 11 fewer days than 2005, was up $92 million outside the state. Obviously, our product has been well received. At the same time we are up 2 percent on live racing in the state of Maryland."

The marquee event of the year, the Preakness Stakes, was a major success as a record crowd of 118,402 packed the historic Baltimore track on May 20 - the largest crowd to witness a sporting event in the state.

Preakness Day wagering finished at more than $87.5 million, the third largest in the 131-year history of the event. A pool of $56.4 million was bet on the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

The two headline events of the fall calendar also were successful. More than $5.5 million passed through the pari-mutuel windows on the Nov. 25 Fall Festival Of Racing program, a day featuring eight added money races, headlined by the Grade I De Francis Dash.

The $4.9 million handle on the Oct. 14 Maryland Million card was the second highest figure in the 21-year history of the event.

Numbers for the Laurel Park fall meeting, which concluded Dec. 30, were up nearly 8 percent on the average daily handle.

Racing notes



Funeral services for former jockey Larry Reynolds Sr. were held Thursday in Hagerstown.

During his race-riding career, Reynolds rode thoroughbreds throughout the country, including Charles Town. He later turned to training horses.

His son, Larry Jr., rides at Charles Town and in Maryland.

Hall of Fame trainer Grover G. "Bud" Delp also has died.

The lifelong Marylander, who was inducted into the racing Hall of Fame in 2002, saddled 3,674 winners (ninth on the all-time list) for nearly $41 million and won stakes races with 70 different horses.

Delp is best known for conditioning Spectacular Bid, a three-time champion who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1979.

A year later, Delp guided him through an undefeated campaign, winning all nine races en route to Horse of the Year honors, while Delp earned an Eclipse Award as top trainer.

Spectacular Bid won 26 times (23 in stakes races) in 30 starts with earnings of $2,781,608. He finished in the money in 29 of his 30 races.

Seminole Gale and Sa Ad each won six races at Charles Town in 2006.

Stacked Deck, Ian's Rocket, Julie B and Fullaner had five triumphs apiece.




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




From /the top



The top 10 jockeys at Charles Town Races & Slots in 2006.

Jockey/Wins

J.D. Acosta/166

Gerald Almodovar/160

Travis Dunkelberger/ 156

Dale Whitaker /142

Luis Perez /125

Erick Ramirez /102

Carlos Castro// 86

Sylvester Carmouche /70

Oscar Flores/67

Rodney Soodeen /67

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