Acosta riding away from the competition


February 17, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

The way Charles Town-based jockey J.D. Acosta is riding these days, he may clinch the 2008 title by July 4.

The 26-year-old rider started the year by winning 38 races in the month of January -- and he hasn't let up.

On Friday at Charles Town Races & Slots, Acosta won six races and tacked on two second-place finishes for good measure.

Through Friday, he rode 184 horses at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval and showed 52 wins, 32 second-place finishes and 20 third-place finishes.


And it's only Feb. 17.

Tied for second in the standings was Xavier Perez and Gerald Almodovar, each with 20 triumphs.

On the national level, Acosta is second in races won for 2008, trailing only California-based jockey Russell Baze.

The margin was 65-57 through Friday.

"Things are going good right now," a confident Acosta said Saturday night in the jocks' room at Charles Town. "I'm riding for a number of different trainers and they seem to have the horses placed in the right conditions. I'm just trying my best, as always."

Six wins in a night is a career high for the talented race-rider.

"I've won six races in one day before, but they were split between Maryland tracks and Charles Town," Acosta said. "I have won five races on one card a couple of times the last two years."

The terrific start in 2008 comes on the heels of a memorable December, when he registered his 1,000th career victory.

Acosta, who won Charles Town's 2006 overall jockey title, is in his sixth full year of riding at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval. He has been among the top five riders in each of his first five seasons.

Acosta was born in the Dominican Republic before moving at age 9 to Puerto Rico, where he attended a jockeys school and began riding horses at its premier racetrack.

"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."


The president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association will testify before Congress this month as part of its investigation into steroids in sports.

Alexander Waldrop has been asked to appear Feb. 27 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's panel on commerce, trade and consumer protection.

Also appearing will be representatives from Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, as well as collegiate and high school sports.

Steroid use, or lack of such, has already been thoroughly discussed by racetrack representatives. Six states in the Mid-Atlantic region have considered banning anabolic steroids in thoroughbred race horses.

The Mid-Atlantic Racing Commissions include representatives from Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia.

Steroids are given to race horses mostly through injections, but there is also some powder form. The primary purpose is to improve appetite and put on weight.

It has been going on for years.

Pony tales

The Presidents' Day weekend Winter SprintFest continues Monday at Laurel Park. The Grade II General George Breeders' Cup Handicap will be contested at 7 furlongs.

· Owner Robert Cole and trainer Scott Lake took the first three legs of the Laurel Park Pick 4 as All Bets Down ($10.80-sixth), Chicago Nate ($6.40-seventh) and Coyoteshighestcall ($3.80-eighth) scored Friday afternoon.

It was the third three-win afternoon of the winter meeting for Lake, who tops the current conditioner standings.

Apprentice Sheldon Russell was aboard the first two winners on Friday. The 20-year-old has won three races from five mounts in his first two days of riding after missing 17 weeks with a fractured vertebrae.

· Pool 2 for the Kentucky Future Wager is scheduled for March 6-9 and Pool 3 is set for April 3-6. Wagering will be available at Charles Town and Laurel Park, Pimlico and the Maryland Off-Track Betting Parlors -- including Cracked Claw in Urbana, Md.

The 134th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby, a 1 1/4-mile test for 3-year-old thoroughbreds, is scheduled for May 3.

Larry Yanos writes a weekly horse racing column for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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