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Rack Up Another for Rafael

Posted by on 8/31/2015 10:36:02 PM

Barring something unforeseen, jockey Rafael Bejarano will wrap up a fourth straight Del Mar riding title and it is far from a fluke.

Bejarano took Southern California by storm in his first full year on the circuit 7 sweet years ago as he swept the riding titles at all 5 major meets in the area.

And he also has won the winter Santa Anita 7 consecutive times.

Bejarano is no one trick pony either. The 33-year-old native of Peru started riding professionally in 1989 after attending a national riding school.

He was the top apprentice rider at Hipodromo de Monterrico in Lima and came to America in the spring of 2002. He won his first race in this country in July of that year and 2 years later he was the America’s leading winning rider.

He finished 8th in money earned by his mounts in 2004 and the rest as they say is history. He has not been out of the top ten in money earned in the last 11 years and there is no reason to believe he is slowing down.

And he has done it with changes.

For several years his agent was the force behind the dynamo. Joe Ferrer booked his mounts for a long, long time but decided to retire and Bejarano needed a new quarterback who could mix with the owners and trainers and set up his book and put him on winning horses.

Enter Tora Yamaguchi, who had been the assistant racing secretary at Del Mar and who had worked in the racing office for well over a decade.

It has been a solid transition. Yamaguchi developed a relationship with Ferrer because they worked closely together putting the races together in the racing office, just like he did with the other jockey agents and trainers.

He took over Bejarano’s book at the end of the winter meeting at Santa Anita and his workmanship and talent as an agent was tested for the first time in reality at this Del Mar meeting.

And Yamaguchi has worked hard to make it happen. Combining Bejarano’s discipline, hard work, his positive attitude and the seriousness he takes his job to the motivation of Yamaguchi, and there becomes a winning team that should continue to thrive.

One of the best things about the rider Bejarano is that he can adapt to any kind of situation.

He is into some of the best barns in California but not all of them. Trainer Bob Baffert puts him on a few horses but not all that many. When Bejarano does ride for Baffert gamblers have to take note. He has won 11 of the first 37 times Baffert put him on a horse this year.

Other trainers to watch when Bejarano is riding is Mark Glatt, who doesn’t saddle a ton of horses but is a clever guy and is 26% when Rafael is aloft.

One of Bejarano’s main guys is Jerry Hollendorfer, who has put him on winners at a 27% clip at this Del Mar meet and at 23% for the year.

One thing is sure, when a player is betting on Bejarano, he’ll get his money’s worth.

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