Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Canonero II honored

The featured race at Pimlico Race Track on 2012 Kentucky Derby Day will be called be the $75,000 Canonero II Stakes for 3-year-olds. Canonero II is the Venezuelan-based colt won the 1971 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.   The day’s festivities will also feature a Jockey Challenge featuring four riders visiting from Venezuela competing against four from the Maryland colony.

“It is going to be a special day for the connections of Canonero II and the Maryland Jockey Club,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “The Canonero II story was an incredible one and we thought it was a terrific idea to have a first-class celebration involving Venezuela in the first running of this race. We invited co-owner Pedro Baptista, trainer Juan Arias and jockey Gustavo Avila to be our guests and are looking forward to a terrific day.”

Avila , a Venezuelan rider, was aboard for the victories in the first two legs of the Triple Crown as well as fourth place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

The Venezuelan riders in Baltimore next Saturday will be Emisael Jaramillo, Santiago Gonzalez, Jean Carlo Rodriguez and Edgar Perez.

Jaramillo is the all-time leading jockey in Venezuela with more than 2,500 wins. He has been the leading rider at La Rinconada, the most important track in the country, for nine consecutive meets.  Gonzalez is poised to become the country’s fourth rider to reach the 2,000 win plateau. Despite being only 23-years-old, Rodriguez has more than 1,050 career winners, including victories in the Clasico Juan Antonio Paez (G1) and the Clasico Comparacion (G1) aboard Il Macchiato.  Perez, the regular rider of Venezuelan champion filly Bambera (a winner of 15 races in 17 starts and Horse of the Year honors in 2009), had 104 victories in the United States in 2010 and 2011 while riding in Florida.

Representing the Maryland colony will be Abel Castellano, Malcolm Franklin, Horacio Karamanos and Julian Pimentel.

Castellano, a native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has more than 1,500 career winners. He arrived in Maryland in 2003 and has been a top ten rider for nearly a decade. The 22-year-old Franklin has been a member of the Maryland colony since the fall of 2006 and has been a top ten rider the last three years. Karamanos, a native of Argentina, has more than 3,000 career winners, including nearly 1,500 in the Unites States. After five years as one of the top riders on the New Jersey circuit, Pimentel moved his tack to Maryland during the summer 2006 and has been a fixture near the top of the standings.

The jockey with the most points at the end of a three-race competition will be crowned champion. The jockeys receive points for finishing first (12 points), second (6), third (4) and fourth (3) in each race. The champion jockey will earn $10,000. Other prize money: $7,000 (second), $6,000 (third), $4,000 (fourth), $2,000 (fifth) and $1,000 (sixth through eighth).  Riding assignments will be determined when the racing office draws the Derby Day program on Wednesday, May 2.

Kentucky Derby Tours helped bring Gustavo Avila Jr. to the 2009 Kentucky Derby where he placed his handprints in the ‘Gallop to Glory’ exhibit at the Galt House Hotel.  The “Gallop to Glory” exhibit has the handprints and signatures of Kentucky Derby winning jockeys.  See YouTube below for Gallop to Glory ceremony