I Want to Go to Another Level

Baffert, his wife Jill and Garcia

By: Ed Bain

Being a jockey is a very dangerous, physically demanding and a mentally challenging job. Keeping weight down, early hours at the track and dealing with demanding trainers is also part of the job.

A jockey makes a commission of 10% of the purse when he wins, 5% for second third or fourth and they make about a $100 a mount for all other placings. Big jockeys will take volume in order to make even more money. As many as 1,000 to 1,200 rides a year.

The goal of all jockeys is to catch on with a leading trainer. If they do, the sky is the limit. John Velazquez caught on with Todd Pletcher and their success led to other trainers giving him wins. John Velazquez has earned $300 million on the track. His 10% is worth $30 million. He is still racing today.

The big trainer to catch on to in the present is Bob Baffert. In Stakes races he uses many top jockeys from Southern California; Victor Espinoza, Gary Stevens, Rafael Bejarano, and Mike Smith who just won the Kentucky Derby with Justify earning about $130,000 bucks for the fastest two minutes in sports.

The way Baffert trains is he employs one jockey that rides the every day races in Southern California. David Flores held this position with Baffert for years. Jockey Martin Garcia replaced David Flores. This jockey works out the horses and then rides them in MSW races to get their maiden win. If the horse has talent, Baffert then employs one of the top experienced big race jockeys to go for graded stakes wins. Baffert does not change riders often. He states most trainers go with whoever the current hot jockey is.

Martin Garcia has had two chances with Bob Baffert. Garcia’s job with Bob Baffert was to prepare the horses to race. He was to get to the track early in the morning to work out the horses and then run them in the Maiden Special Weight class in the afternoon until the horse has the MSW win. California Maiden Special Weights have a purse of $42,000. The winning owner collects 60% of this MSW purse which is $25,000 and Martin Garcia collects 10% of this and would earn $2,500 when they won.

Martin Garcia grew up on a farm in Mexico. He immigrated to Pleasanton California in 2003 and went to work in a delicatessen as a sandwich maker. A former jockey helped him get started as an exercise rider. He caught on as a rider and won a title at Bay Meadows. In 2006 he moved to Santa Anita and started riding and exercising horses for Bob Baffert, the top trainer in California. Success followed for Garcia. He earned really big money. He went from sandwich maker to millionaire.

Baffert had an issue with Martin Garcia that would have been so easy to fix that it is a head shaker that Garcia did not understand his job with Baffert. That was for him to get to the track in the morning and work out the horses. Baffert let Martin Garcia go once and then hired him back. Then the same issues happened again; get there in the morning and work his scheduled horses. The second time Martin Garcia left Baffert he stated “He wanted to go to another level. I think its best to make a little change.” Garcia moved his tack to Aqueduct.

The only way a jockey moving to New York can catch on if they move there during the Aqueduct winter meet.  They can establish themselves with trainers who will give him rides and if the jockey has a good win rate then the trainers moving back to New York from Gulfstream will give them mounts. I think Martin forgot that he won four Breeders cup races and a Preakness Stakes aboard Lookin at Lucky and was already racing at another level.

Martin has just moved back to Santa Anita. He raced at Aqueduct for about 3 months and during this time he had 189 starts with 17 wins for a 9% win rate.

Garcia with Bob Baffert over the past 4 years had 572 races in California with 127 wins for a 22% win rate.

At Aqueduct Martin was on 15 favorites, 4 won for a 27% win rate.

With Baffert Martin was on 183 favorites and won with 78 for a 43% win rate.

Martin Garcia had 33 Maiden Special Weight races at Aqueduct and hit on 4 for a 12% win rate.

With Baffert in Maiden Special Weights he had 251 races, 30 wins for a 12% win rate.

In stakes races at the Big A Garcia was aboard 17 and hit with 2 for a 12% win rate.

With Baffert he went to post 119 times in stakes races and won with 20 for a 17% win rate that is for California only.

Martin Garcia and his 17 wins at Aqueduct cashed for almost $900,000 in purses the owner received 60% around $670,000 and Garcia earned his 10% commission around $67,000.

With Baffert he produced 127 wins in 4 years with purses that came to $19,300,000. The owners picked up $13,320,000. Martin Garcia earned 10%, $1,330,000. Martin Garcia earned an average of $330,000 a year from Bob Baffert from only his California winners. These earnings do not show all the trainers Garcia rode for that gave him mounts. These figures are only for win money when riding for Baffert. These do not include the 5% commission or mount fee money of his earnings, just his win money.

Because Martin Garcia won so much for the high profile Bob Baffert other trainers gave him 1,216 mounts in Southern California. He won on 141 for an 11% win rate and earned him about another million dollars.

So what went wrong with Martin Garcia?  I think it was a combination of things and more than the one thing of not working out Baffert’s horses. I also believe that because Garcia did not come from a racing back ground where the time spent on a job is accepted as part of the life of jockeys and workers who grew up around horses on the backstretch. Garcia may have thought that he was the reason his horses won for Bob Baffert. That he was the star. Martin Garcia now knows that he made a big mistake and that he with Bob Baffert were already racing at another level.
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Bet Them All

Trainer Mark Casse and Jockey Patrick Husbands

By Ed Bain

At Woodbine Race Track trainer Mark Casse and jockey Patrick Husbands in sprint races over the past 4 years have went to post 520 times and were in the exacta 238 times for a 46% exacta strike rate. That is about 60 exacta’s hits a year in sprint races from around 130 sprint races a year.

Casse and Husbands are a daily play for me at Woodbine. I know Casse and Husbands will have around two sprinters a day to handicap. I could just bet them all. This is my style of play at the beginning of meets. I bet them all or almost all.

Casse and Husbands are a key bet meaning I will key their horse for first and second and use two or three fillers for the exacta top and bottom depending on field size. The fillers with Casse and Husbands are with the favorite, the second favorite and the third favorite for many races. These odds levels insure cashing a bunch of exactas.

Boxing manager and trainer Emmanuel Stewart trained 41 world champions.  He said “We are not hitting baseballs here we are hitting people in the head”. I thought he was talking to me about Woodbine with Casse and Husbands exacta sprint stats.

Husbands-Casse sprint stats Woodbine (CLICK PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW)

Woodbine opened April 21. There have been 7 race cards when Casse and Husbands went to post in sprint races 15 times. This Graph shows how Mark Casse and Patrick Husband cashed since opening day. 15 Sprint races with 7 in the exacta for a 47% hit rate which is right around their four year average.

Saturday Casse and Husbands have one sprint race, R8 # 3 Closer Still.
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The Triple Crown Within the Triple Crown

John Servis, Pat and Roy “Chappy” Chapman, and Stewart Elliott

In 2004 Oaklawn Park had their 100 year anniversary of racing and the owner of the track Charles Cella offered a $5 million dollar bonus to any horse that could win the Rebel Stakes the Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby.

Pat and Roy “Chappy” Chapman had a small breeding farm in Pennsylvania and had a good friend and advisor in their trainer Bob Camac.  Camac recommend they mate their stakes winner and best mare I’ll Get Along to Elusive Quality whose father is Gone West. Elusive Quality’s stud fee was $10,000. In 2001 a foal was born and Pat and Chappy decided to name him after Milly McNair, Pat Chapman’s mother whose nickname was Smarty, “Smarty Jones”. Mother and daughter were foaled on the same day.

Bob Camac was based out of Philly Park and raced in the mid-Atlantic area. He would drop into Laurel or Pimlico and hit and then ship back to Philly Park. I had stats on him starting in 1993. He was a really good claiming trainer and I always included him in my exacta bets. In 2001 a disastrous event occurred that caused Pat and her husband Chappy great sorrow and put them on shaky financial ground. Bob Camac’s step son murdered Bob Camac and his wife Maryann.

Chappy stated he did not know what to do. It was a shock and numbing to them, to racing as well as to me and Susan. This tragedy and Chappy’s failing health as he had C.O.P.D made their decision to disband their small breeding operation. They down sized and then sold the farm and purchased a home, however they kept two horses and one of these was Smarty Jones.

The Chapman’s shipped Smarty Jones to Ocala Florida to Arthur Appleton who had a large horse farm where Bob Camac had trained for Mr. Appleton.  Then another almost impossible thing happened. Smarty Jones was getting gate schooled when he reared up and hit his head on the gate and was out cold. Blood was every where. The problems were just beginning. The swelling over his eye said he had a fractured skull. They sent him to a hospital where he spent three weeks. Smarty Jones almost lost his eye because of the multiple fractures and they thought about removing his eye. He recovered at Mr. Appleton’s farm and kept both eyes.

John Servis took over the training of Smarty Jones when Chappy and Pat shipped him back to Philly Park. John Servis was a good friend of Bob Camac. Servis started his workout regime to answer the questions; Does he have a sprinter or a router? Does he have a stakes runner?

After training Smarty Jones John Servis told Pat and Chappy that they had a serious Kentucky Derby contender on their hands. He has a high cruising rate and he is not a sprinter.  He was a 2 year old. Chappy, Pat and John Servis came up with a plan. They knew Oaklawn was going to offer a big bonus, $5 million if one horse can win the two races there and also the Kentucky Derby and this became their goal Their Triple Crown.

The connections went with Philly Park leading rider Stewart Elliot. Smarty Jones won his 6 furlong debut by seven lengths.  He was a front runner. He won his next race by fifteen lengths. Then a win at Aqueduct made Smarty Jones a contender and they made the move to Oaklawn to get Smarty Jones accustomed to the track and the new surroundings.

The owners, the trainer and the jockey were lining up for a score of a lifetime. They were taking a shot with a great horse. He would be easy to find. He was a front runner.

The entire Philly Park backstretch and the sports fans of Philadelphia also seemed to move with them even though they stayed in Philly. The fans from Philly are a pretty tough bunch when it comes to sports. They were the first city to put a court in a football stadium. They were also the only fans I ever heard of to boo Santa Clause. But they loved Smarty Jones. They started throwing Smarty parties after each win and when Smarty Jones had a workout at the track 17,000 people showed up.

Smarty Jones won the Rebel Stakes by three lengths. He won the Arkansas Derby a month later. He had two wins and one to go.

Charley Cella the owner of Oaklawn Park called Chappy Chapman on Derby week. He told him he secured insurance on the $5 million so if Smarty Jones wins, the $5 million is yours. Win The Kentucky Derby and that would trigger a massive bonus.

Derby day came up Muddy. Smarty Jones went to the front and made the field try and keep pace. He never slowed down and he won by three lengths and scored the $5 million.

There were still two races to run for the Triple Crown, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes but Pat and Chappy, Stewart Elliot and John Servis had already hit their Triple Crown.  During the Preakness the bettors poured $59 million into the pools. Smarty Jones won again. At the Belmont Stakes Smarty Jones lost.

Smarty Jones went to post nine times won eight and came in second at the Belmont Stakes. His career lasted seven months. He earned $7,613,155. Pat and Chappy retired Smarty Jones. He went to Three Chimneys to stand at Stud for $100,000. He was syndicated for $39 million dollars. Investors paid $650,000 for a share.

The Chapman’s sold Smarty Jones’ mother for $ 5 million. In 7 months Pat and Chappy Chapman scored for over $51 million Bucks. Bob Camac set these events in motion when he recommended they purchase I’ll Get Along for $40,000 and she won $277,000 on the track. Then he recommended Elusive Quality be bred to I’ll Get Along and that mating produced Smarty Jones.

Robert Camac

 

Every track in the country has great owners, trainers and jockeys and people. The connections from Philly Park were Pat and Chappy Chapman, Bob and Mary Ann Camac, John Servis, Stewart Elliot, Arthur Appleton, Charles Cella and Smarty Jones. These are the kind of people in racing at every track.
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Ed Bain’s new horse racing novel 
Libraries, Yellow Cheese Sandwiches and 38,880 Running Lines is filled with stories like this.  For more information about this novel visit the following link:
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My Kentucky Derby bet is #6 Good Magic trained by Chad Brown