Plenty of Pain and Gain for Jockey Luis Contreras
The way this week has gone for Woodbine jockey Luis Contreras, they might have to trade in his safety vest for straight jacket.
Talk about a crazy few days.
A week ago Sunday, the Mexico City-born jockey flew off his horse, D C Love Bug, in the ninth race at Woodbine and ended up in a nearby emergency room with a sore head and back pain, though tests revealed that nothing was broken.
Two days later at Fort Erie, riding Amis Gizmo for trainer Josie Carroll and owner Ivan Dalos, Contreras captured the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown. And then, still savouring the Prince of Wales triumph, the personable rider was slapped with a 20-day suspension (Aug. 10-29) for his ride on D C Love Bug. The stewards ruled that Contreras rode the six-year-old mare in a “reckless and dangerous manner”, causing an accident near the quarter poll during the July 24 race. According to the stewards, Contreras rode his horse aggressively into a wall of horses, clipping heels and veering sharply outward and into the path of Buckden House and Great Start. Contreras and Buckden House jockey Omar Moreno were both dislodged. Contreras ended up in the hospital. Though he’s OK to ride, he still is dealing with the pain and tightness.
But the roller coaster of the week didn’t end there. On Monday afternoon, back at Woodbine, Contreras guided the Reade Baker-trained, Gunpowder Farms-owned chestnut Breaking Lucky to a one-length victory in the $168,600 Grade III Seagram Cup over a 1 1/16th mile on the Tapeta track.
Breaking Lucky settled into third down the back stretch while the Eurico Da Silva-ridden Melmich settled next to last in the field of seven. Royal Son, with Patrick Husbands aboard, led heading into the final turn but then Are You Kidding, with Alan Garcia up, took the lead followed by Breaking Lucky hot on his heels. As the field charged to the finish line, Breaking Lucky moved to the front, crossing the line in 1:42.70. Are You Kidding Me placed second and Melmich was third. Baker said in a field as deep as this year’s Seagram Cup, his hor se needed everything to set up perfect for him to win, and he got that on Sunday.
“If you move too early, Melmich will run you down. If you don’t get close, Are You Kidding Me will out-sprint you,” said Baker. “It’s tough. It took a perfect trip, but he got it today.”
It was the first victory for Breaking Lucky since the four-year-old colt captured the 2015 Prince of Wales Stakes and the second Stakes score for Baker in 12 tries at Woodbine this season.
“It feels great, I used to be a permanent resident out there in the Stakes (Winner’s) Circle, I don’t get there that often anymore,” said Baker, with a laugh.
Breaking Lucky got a perfect trip from Contreras, who had never ridden the Christine Hayden horse before.
“I was happy the whole way,” said Contreras. “I just stayed behind the speed and Reade told me to let him kick before everyone else started to make their move. We did and we got the win. He (Are You Kidding Me) was very game the whole stretch, but I knew I had a lot of power underneath me.”
Breaking Lucky’s regular jockey, Jim McAleney, is out with a sore shoulder, otherwise he would have been given the ride.
“I really wish Jimmy could have rode him, but his shoulder has been bothering him all week and on Wednesday I had to make a decision. And then I got a chance to get this guy (Contreras) that day so I did that. But Jimmy will ride him back,” said Baker.
For Contreras, the win marked his 80th of the season at Woodbine, and third on the day. It also took away a bit of the sting from the 20-day suspension, though he plans to appeal, claiming the penalty is too severe.
“I think we have to,” said Contreras. “I understand if I did something wrong, I am 100% with the stewards decision. But I don’t think I did anything wrong.”
Breaking Lucky banked $108,000 in victory while improving his record to 3-3-3 from 13 starts. He paid $11.90, $3.70 and $2.60.