Jockeys exit California for lucrative benefits

A lot has been made of horses from Southern California leaving for greener pastures, namely richer purses, back East. At least 10 name jockeys also recently have left the circuit and are doing great elsewhere.

I thought it would be interesting to see where they are now and how they are doing.

Michael Baze is riding first call for trainer Wayne Catalano and is the second-leading rider at Arlington Park. David Cohen is in seventh place at the tough Belmont Park meet after being the second-leading rider at Aqueduct last winter.

Cohen is ahead of Kent Desormeaux, who is 10th at Belmont Park. Garrett Gomez is sharing his time among various Eastern tracks but is in fifth at the ultrarich Monmouth Park meet.

Aaron Gryder is sixth in the standings at Lone Star Park while riding first call for trainer Steve Asmussen. Corey Nakatani is 10th at Churchill Downs but has stated he'll ride at Del Mar this summer.

Clinton Potts returned to his riding roots at Penn National, where he is fourth in its standings. Chantal Sutherland is third at Woodbine, her normal summer stop.

Jose Valdivia Jr. is doing great at Delaware Park, where he is in the third spot. And, finally, Patrick Valenzuela is fourth in the standings at Louisiana Downs. It has been reported that Valenzuela is seeking reinstatement in time for the Del Mar meet.

Jockeys follow the money, just like many of you who are independent contractors. You seek jobs paying the most money and go for it. Horse racing is no different.

What once was one of the best jockey colonies in racing is dominated by three riders: Rafael Bejarano, Joel Rosario and Tyler Baze.

If Southern California racing rebounds to its former glory, the jockeys will tell you by migrating back. In the meantime, expect Bejarano, Rosario and Baze to keep winning races at short odds.

■ RED ROCK SHOOTOUT -- Three seats to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship will be up for grabs Saturday in the Red Rock Firecracker Shootout. Entry fee is $300, with all monies paid back to the players.

■ CAPTIVE AUDIENCE -- The year's best phone call to a horse racing show came June 25 on the "TVG Daily Double" show. A guard from San Quentin State Prison in California called in to say three inmates had TVG betting accounts. It shows you can win betting on horse racing from anywhere.

Richard Eng's horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at