Korron Wardlaw had the second mount of his career three days ago, and the result was worse than the first.
Eighth on 35-1 shot Palmer's Belle in his debut in the ninth race on May 28, Wardlaw was last on 167-1 shot Charming E.B. in the sixth on Wednesday.
That he has had only two mounts, both longshots, hasn't deterred Wardlaw, who is a modern racing rarity--a black jockey.
A native of Milwaukee who moved to California with his family in 1981, Wardlaw, 30, has been in love with horses since his first visit to a farm 26 years ago. And although it has taken a lot of time, he is finally doing what he always dreamed about.
"I couldn't be happier," he said between races the other day. "The opportunity is there for me. Some really positive things have been said to me by certain trainers. I'll try to do my best, and it does look promising.
"All can I do is continue to work hard and produce if given the chance. I think I can do as well as any other apprentice."
Before he finally got his jockey's license on May 27, Wardlaw had worked around various tracks for several years in different jobs, but spent most of his time as an exercise rider. He started at a training center--Pryor Downs in Missouri--then worked at various tracks around the Midwest before returning to California.
Locally, he has worked for trainers Dick Mandella, David Hofmans, Jay Robbins, Dan Hendricks and others, but he was reluctant to take the final step toward becoming a jockey.
"I've always had a fear of failure and a fear of success," he said. "I wanted to make sure I felt like I was ready. I found a strong belief in a power greater than myself, and it allowed me to get over those fears."
Wardlaw was prepared to begin riding a year ago, but he was injured in a morning spill and suffered a severe shoulder separation.
"I was so depressed," he said of the time immediately after the injury. "But my family didn't allow me to stay in the doldrums for long, and I was able to overcome it.
"I was out for 10 months, but I had the greatest doctor, Robert Chandler, in the world and the two therapists were great. Through hard work and determination, I was able to make it back in (late) March, and I wasn't supposed to be back until May or June."
Hopeful for more riding opportunities, Wardlaw continues to exercise horses in the morning and is thankful to be around what he considers the finest jockey colony in the world.
"For me, it's both an honor and a privilege to be in the same room with these guys," he said. "They're the best in the world, and they all want to help you and give advice if you ask for it."
Perhaps someday he will be giving advice. He wouldn't mind being a role model for black youngsters who might be thinking about becoming jockeys.
"There aren't very many small black people, and in my opinion, the exposure isn't there," he said. "Most of the role models are basketball, football and baseball players, and most of the kids grow up wanting to be involved with those sports. Maybe I can be that one role model (in horse racing) they can look up to."
Eliza is the 4-5 morning-line favorite in the $106,000 Princess Stakes today at Hollywood Park.
A winner of five of her first six starts, the 3-year-old Mt. Livermore filly was beaten by males in the Santa Anita Derby, then was second at 3-5 behind Dispute in the Kentucky Oaks in her last appearance on April 30.
Trainer Alex Hassinger said Eliza didn't like the Churchill Downs surface but has been training exceptionally well since returning. Before working five furlongs in 58 3/5 at Hollywood Park on June 12, she went six furlongs in 1:11 3/5 and five furlongs in 57 3/5 at San Luis Rey Downs.
Pat Valenzuela will again ride the Eclipse Award winner for owner Allen Paulson, and Eliza will have only four opponents in the 1 1/16 mile Princess. Fit To Lead, who lost by a head to Afto in the seven-furlong Railbird Stakes, is the 3-1 second choice. Eddie Delahoussaye has the mount.
Rounding out the field are Swazi's Moment, who has won in this meeting at the Princess distance; Zoonaqua, who defeated Eliza in the Sorrento Stakes last August at Del Mar, and Passing Vice.
In the race before the Princess, trainer Ron McAnally will send out Potridee, who might be his latest superstar female from Argentina.
Highly regarded when she arrived, Potridee was beaten by a head in her American debut April 8 at Santa Anita but coasted home by eight lengths in her next start after having been treated with Lasix. She covered 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:39 3/5.
Chris McCarron will ride Potridee, who is the 4-5 morning-line choice against five opponents in the $55,000 allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
Horse Racing Notes
Hollywood Park will simulcast the $300,000 Ohio Derby from Thistledown between the third and fourth races today. Boundlessly, who will be ridden by Pat Day, is the slight favorite over Arkansas Derby winner Rockamundo. . . . Jockey Julio Garcia was fined $500 for failing to ride out a mount past the finish line, and Corey Nakatani was fined $300 for excessive use of the whip. . . . Sultry Song, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup last year, has been retired.
Flawlessly, who will make her 1993 debut in the Beverly Hills Handicap on June 27, worked a mile in 1:39 1/5 Thursday morning. The Beverly Hills, which Flawlessly won last year to begin her Eclipse Award-winning campaign, will also bring out Jolypha. . . . Gary Stevens, back much sooner than expected after suffering a broken left thumb on Memorial Day, will have six mounts this afternoon.