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Jun 04, 2010

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            When it was announced last week that jockey Richard Migliore was going to hold a press conference to give an update on how his surgery went you just had a feeling that he was going to be announcing that he would be retiring. On Wednesday June 2nd, in a press conference held at Belmont Racetrack Migliore told the public “My career as a jockey is over but not by choice,”, as he sat in a neck brace. “I still held out hope until last Wednesday. Racing and horses have been so good to me, it was hard to let go.” Migliore grew up on Long Island and wanted to be a jockey since he was 12 years old. His riding career began 1980 and he won the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top apprentice in 1981 with 298 victories. He was the leading rider in New York on two different occasions, once in 1981 and then again in 1985; he won or tied 10 different times as leading rider at NYRA meets. He rode 4,450 winners and his mounts earned more than 160 million dollars. He never won a triple crown race but he did get his Breeders’ Cup win in 2008 aboard DESERT CODE. He won a total of 362 stakes races with 25 Grade I victories. He rode mostly in New York except for a brief stretch in which he tried his hand in Southern California.

          Migliore, or “the Mig” as he was known was loved by the tough fans of New York. He always gave his best and was a strong finisher, he rode a lot of tough winters and could ride any type of horse, speed, closer, turf or dirt. He also cut his teeth against the best of the best. Starting in New York in 1980 there wasn’t and will never be a better riding colony, and despite how he had to end his career with an injury Migliore should be proud and we wish him the best of luck.

          On Monday May 31st, 2010, the prestigious Metropolitan Handicap, a Grade I race run at a mile with a purse of $500,000 was run at Belmont. A race that was once thought of very highly in this country has lost some of its luster over the past few years. However, this year we saw the best horse in the country show his face. QUALITY ROAD, who always had the talent has really put it altogether this year and is on a mission to win the Horse of the Year. With eight horses going postward QUALITY ROAD was sent off at 1-4 and he carried the highweight of 124 pounds. He was giving away six pounds to nine pounds to the rest of the field. Breaking from post seven when making his first start since early February, QUALITY ROAD made the lead while under pressure from longshot LE GRAND CRU through a quarter mile in 22:2. Still under pressure and now from WARRIORS REWARD heading into the turn the pace began to pick up with a half in 45 and ¾’s in 1:08:2. As they entered the lane he had put away his rivals but there was another challenge in midstretch when second choice MUSKET MAN took his shot at QUALITY ROAD but he was up to the challenge and got away late while not all out scoring by 1 and ½ lengths in a very solid final time of 1:33. He will probably only run three or four more times this year and you should make it a point to go out and see him because he is a top quality horse, no pun intended, the kind we have not seen in many years.

          On a sad note, SUMMER BIRD, last year’s three year old champion and Belmont stakes winner and one who got the best of QUALITY ROAD twice last year has been retired because of a hairline fracture. He had injured himself last year while training for the Japan Cup Dirt in Japan. In December he underwent surgery to insert a screw in his right foreleg to stabilize the non-displaced fracture to the cannon bone. In February SUMMER BIRD’s owner, Kalarikkal Jayaraman made a decision to change trainers from Tim Ice to Tim Ritchey but a return to the races was not to come. The hairline fracture just never healed so he was retired. You hate to lose such a great horse like that to retirement but we have QUALITY ROAD who will pick up the slack.

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