He Is Here To Stay…..

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 24, 2008 in General Discussion, News | No Comments >>

Jockey Rafael Bejarano, who did not ride Sunday’s closing-day program at Hollywood Park, completed a sweep of the five major Southern California meetings, by riding 52 winners at the Inglewood track’s 40-day fall meet.

Bejarano, a 26-year-old native of Arequipa, Peru., moved his tack west during the 2007 fall meet and became just the third jockey to sweep the Santa Anita winter/spring meet, the Hollywood Park spring/summer meet, Del Mar, Oak Tree and the Hollywood Park fall meet. Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron was the first to do so in 1983 and Patrick Valenzuela matched the feat in 2003.

Bejarano broke his maiden on La Guzzi — his first mount — on December 8, 2001, at Hipodromo de Monterrico in Peru. His first U.S. win came aboard John Bobby at River Downs on July 10, 2002 — his first U.S. mount.

“I just think I am going to have a big meet every meet and always try to do my best,” Bejarano said earlier this week. “My agent (Joe Ferrer) and I work hard every day and the trainers give me the opportunities. I thank God that I have been blessed.”

Bejarano, who traveled to Peru to vacation with family following Saturday’s program, ranks second nationally as his mounts have earned more than $16 million in 2008 — a career-high.