Juan Rivera was smiling as he consulted with trainer Bryan Porter after dismounting Ondefencenightly following the third race on Saturday.
Rivera’s horse had mounted a challenge at the top of the stretch and appeared capable of making the wire first when out of nowhere Little Kaylee, with Jesse Garcia up, began charging on the outside like a runaway freight and overtook Ondefencenightly in the final strides.
Typically, a smile is the last thing on a rider’s face after running second in a race that appeared won, but Rivera is never without a smile, hence the nickname Senor Smiley applied to him by track announcer Paul Allen.
Little Kaylee, trained by Charles Smith, was a $64.00 winner and brought to mind another recent race in which Senor Smiley finished second.
Senor Smiley the horse, and Senor Smiley the rider.
Rivera was on Senor Smiley (so named as a surprise to the rider by trainer Bryan Porter) in the horse’s maiden start on Sunday.
Rivera’s mount finished second in that race, too, six lengths behind Smuggler’s Alley, who covered the five furlongs in a scorching 57 and 4 ticks off the track record.
“That other horse ran a monster race,” said Porter. “Can’t feel bad about that.”
No, indeed. Although Rivera struggled at the time with his decision to ride Senor Smiley because he gave up the mount on Smuggler’s Alley.
On Saturday, he no longer had any such compunctions. That was clear on his way to the jockey’s room.
“I had to ride the horse, it has my name,” he said.
Porter is considering running the horse back on Aug. 31 or, because Senor Smiley is an Arkansas-bred, perhaps waiting until the Oaklawn Park meet.
“He ran a good race,” Rivera added. “He’ll be real tough the next time.”
A QUICK SALE
Trainer Joe Johnson didn’t waste any time worrying about which race to run Smuggler’s Alley in next after the two-year-old colt’s big win last Sunday. He was on the phone shortly after the race and sold the horse to Randy Morris.
Johnson said he didn’t want to reveal the price he received for this precocious Cal-bred son of Cape Town from the Deputy Minister mare Dance Little Lady.
The rumor on the backside?
HEFTY PICK SIX CARRYOVER
Upsets were the order of that day and that meant the largest carryover of the season, $23,262.
It started right off the bat in the third race with 30-1 outsider Little Kaylee upsetting the field under Jesse Garcia. The 3-year-old filly paid $64.40.
Paul Nolan kept after Tugfire all the way to wire and that meant a win good for $21.80 in the fourth race
In the fifth race Carson’s Crossing with Alberto Pusac up came in at 24-1, sealing this carryover, which was underscored in the seventh with 7-1 Crimson View’s win.
STEVENS GETS THE VERDICT
Jockey Scott Stevens, injured while restraining a horse after galloping out in a recent race, got the prognosis on his left knee.
“I tore the knee up completely, the ACL, the MCL and the meniscus,” he said. “The doctor told me that my quad muscles are so strong that they are holding the knee together.”
Stevens said he wants to delay surgery until after the meet when he returns home to Phoenix.
“I got on a horse this morning,” he said. “It hurts when I get a leg up.”
Nonetheless, Stevens said he hopes to ride on Minnesota Festival of Champions day.
“I’m not sure what the surgeon will think of that,” he said.