Saratoga Jockey Quandary

If any one of the leading riders at Saratoga wants to compete in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in September, there is a decision to made within a couple of weeks.

Last week, Churchill Downs announced that any jockey wanting to ride in the Run For The Roses on September 5th would have to be in Louisville by August 24th so they can be tested more than once for the coronavirus.

Riders in the Saratoga jockey colony (undeniably the best in the land) would miss the final 10 days of the meet if they expect to ride in the Derby.

Under current protocols, riders in The Spa colony are not allowed back in if they leave to ride somewhere else.

Former trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, is now the agent for Saratoga jockey Luis Saez, who was up on UNCLE CHUCK in Saturdays Travers StakesUNCLE CHUCK ran a disappointing 5th in a field of seven, perhaps making Saez’ Derby decision an easy one.

Said McLaughlin prior to the Travers; “It is going to be very difficult if things stay this way.  Hopefully (Churchill Downs) will adjust it.  To me, it makes the most sense for them to keep doing what they’re doing where they are doing it.”

McLaughlin said the riders should be able to fly into Kentucky a few days prior to the Derby, stay in trailers on the Churchill Downs property (like the jockeys did during the Santa Anita meet in California).

He proposed having the jockeys get tested before leaving for Kentucky and then get tested again once they arrive.

“It’s going to be very tricky because the owners and trainers are going to want their jockeys to be there,” McLaughlin said.  “It’s going to depend on how live you are.

And while no one has addressed it, there is certainly a monetary aspect to be considered in the decision making process as well.

The top jockeys at Saratoga will be leaving a lot of money on the table should they opt for Churchill Downs.

Not only will they miss the final two weeks of the Saratoga meet, but given the ten day quarantine once back in New York, they will also miss the first week of the Belmont fall meet.

Manny Franco, who rides Belmont Stakes and Travers Winner TIZ THE LAW seems to be the only jockey with an easy choice, as he will certainly take his shot at Triple Crown glory.

The remainder of the Saratoga riding colony has to decide, as The Clash once sang; Should I Stay Or Should I Go.

On Friday the Daily Racing Blog will take a look at the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes, contested Saturday at Saratoga.

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