By JIM WELLS
When Franciso Arrieta hit the ground, fast and hard, a furlong into Saturday’s second race, the same thought occurred to many of those who saw the nasty fall.
Does that give the riding title to Orlando Mojica ?
Skat Happens fell, sending Arrieta crashing to the dirt. He had just enough time to curl into a half fetal position and propel himself into a roll that helped dispel some of the fall’s energy as he hit the earth.
“I hurt,” he said later. “But I have to keep going.”
For good reason.
Leading Mojica by three wins, he is all lined up to claim another riding title after dominating Turf Paradise last autumn and winter, winning the riding title with nearly 200 wins.
Some speculated that he might be done for a few days after the fall Saturday and, barring that, would take the remainder of the day off or, at the very least, the next race.
None of that happened. Instead, Arrieta jumped on Western Berlin in race three, for $16,000 claimers other than Minnesota-breds, and rode to his second win on the card.
That put him three up on Mojica, who nonetheless has produced the biggest bankroll of the season ($1,652,125) after winning a number of stakes this meet, including the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby. Arrieta’s horses, on the other hand, have won $1,542,292.
Trainer Robertino Diodoro has used Arrieta and Mojica this meet.
“They are both good riders,” he said. “That’s why they are one-two in the standings.”
No matter how the meet ends, Mojica is pleased with how it unfolded.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “It has been very good. It is probably my best (meet) ever,” he said. And he is not out of the race for leading jockey, quite yet. There are two cards left in the meet, next Friday at 5pm and Saturday at 12:45.
The training title will be decided then as well, between Mac Robertson and Diodoro, the defending co champs. Robertson has a three-win lead.
The champion owner will be decided, also. Joe Novogratz leads with 28 wins, Empire Racing has 27 and Bob Lothenbach, 26.
OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES
Twelve-year-old Carter Hamilton was at it again on Saturday, making his voice heard on behalf of the racing industry.
Moments after Arrieta was dislodged from his injured horse in race two, various opinions on his condition swiftly made their way through the jockeys’ lounge.
Then, minutes later, Arrieta appeared, proclaiming to all within earshot that he was OK, just a bit shaken up.
“He’ll be pretty sore tomorrow,” one colleague proclaimed. “I’ll bet he takes tomorrow (working horses) off,” another responded.
Then Hamilton got in his two cents worth:
“The public doesn’t see all that we go through to give them good entertainment,” he said. He had more to add on the subject:
“Hey,” he said to a nearby blogger, “there’s your story for today.”
Even then, the loquacious Mr. Hamilton wasn’t quite finished.
“Hey, you should write something sometime about the valets and how much they do for this sport,” he said. “They don’t get any recognition at all and they do a lot for racing. Where would we be without them? ”