Jockey Joel Rosario, shown winning the San Juan Capistrano Handicap with… (Benoit Photo / Associated…)
Less than 24 hours after the announcement that top jockey Joel Rosario was leaving the Southern California circuit to head to the East Coast, the scramble has begun to take over his business.
"All the agents and jockeys said they'd pitch in and help him get to the airport," jockey agent Scott McClellan said.
And he wasn't joking. Rosario has won 11 riding titles in Southern California, including the recent Santa Anita meeting. His agent, Ron Ebanks, announced on Sunday that Rosario would be leaving to ride in New York on June 27.
His departure creates opportunities for a strong jockey colony in Southern California. The most likely beneficiaries to challenge Rosario's main competitor, Rafael Bejarano, are Garrett Gomez, Martin Garcia and Joe Talamo.
Gomez suffered a setback in business after a foot injury. Garcia had a parting with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and has been looking to build new allegiances. And Talamo has ties with trainer John Sadler, who employed Rosario as his top barn rider.
"There's a lot of good riders here, and we'll take it on a case by case basis," Sadler said.
Sadler said if things don't work out for the 27-year-old Rosario on the East Coast, he can always return to Southern California.
But for now, there's a buzz at Hollywood Park over who's going to benefit most from the sudden availability of top mounts this summer at the Inglewood track and Del Mar.
"It's all twists and turns," Sadler said.
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