Home of the Louisiana Derby

Rockin' Robby Albarado

Ladies and gentlemen, in this corner wearing the blue silks with the white trim, weighing in at 117 pounds, from Lafayette, Louisiana, the seven-time Fair Grounds riding champion, this is "Rockin" Robby Alabardo. His opponents, from around the racing world, make-up the toughest, most aggressive riding colony ever assembled in the history of the New Orleans Fair Grounds - please welcome the entire jocks room. If this sounds like the introduction to a professional boxing match, it was meant to. Like a championship bout, every race that Robby Albarado rides has a strategy and the end result depends on how well that strategy is executed.

According to Robby, a lot of the tactics he uses in a race depends on who he's riding against. "The things I do in a race depend on what other riders do in a race.  Instructions from a trainer are very important, but I may decide to do something in a race based off of what I determine to be another riders mistake. Just like a boxer, I know what the tendencies of my opponents are at certain points in a race. I know their riding styles. I know who likes to come up the rail and I know who will be circling horses when we're turning for home, so I ride my race knowing where those particular riders are when decision making becomes critical. The main thing for me, is to ride a smart race, which a lot of times can turn into a winning race."

The success in Robby's career has now afforded him the opportunity to ride good horses. "To be successful, you need to ride live horses. I'd like to think at this point Lenny (Pike) and I have earned the chance to ride quality horses, so I'd rather ride five or six with solid chances than ride the card every day. I feel like I can compete with anybody, anywhere, but I'm now one of the elder statesmen at 36 years-old. I've gained a lot of riding knowledge over the years by riding with jocks like Pat Day, Jerry Bailey and Edgar Prado. Those guys were so good in their day that they could school you out there and you wouldn't even know you got schooled. At this point in my career, I wouldn't trade age for wisdom. I really like where I'm at in my life."

Robby is in a good place in his life right now. All aspects of his life, personally and professionally, are going great. "My success really does have a lot to do with where I'm at in my life. I'm in a stable environment and have a great family life. This gives me a better perspective about everything in life, so all of this equates to me being completely focused when I'm out on the track."

Robby has won a lot of important stakes races during his career, but he's in search of what he considers to be the most important one. He's won the Dubai World Cup, the Breeders Cup Classic, the Breeders Cup Turf for Two-Year-Old Fillies, too many stakes to mention at the Fair Grounds and he's even won one of the Triple Crown races. However, the one that is most important to him has eluded him so far. "I have been very fortunate to ride horses like Mineshaft and Curlin and win the stakes I have, but I want to win one certain stake before my riding days are over. I want to win the Kentucky Derby. When people find out I'm a jockey, the first question they always ask is, have you won the Derby? I want to be able to say yes, I have won the Kentucky Derby."

One accomplishment that Robby is very proud of is the formation of the Robby Alabarado Foundation. "I'm not ashamed to say that we were very poor growing-up. I mean poor as poor can be. This foundation is just our way, my family's way, of giving back. When you win races on the circuit we follow, financial rewards can be pretty good, so I'm able to give something back in the form of financial assistance. The foundation is a 501 3C Corporation based in Louisville and is governed by a Board of Directors. We raise money through a yearly golf tournament, cocktail parties and various fundraisers. In 2008, we assisted the homeless in the Louisville area and this year we contributed to the backside charities at Churchill Downs. We're really still in the early stages of development, so we've got a lot of ideas and causes that we're considering to help with our financial support. It really feels good to be able to help out and have my name attached to the cause."

Robby figures he's got about eight or nine years left to ride at his current level. "Retirement is not something I even want to talk about right now, but when I approach 44 or 45 years-old, I might have to start thinking about it. When the time does come to hang-up my boots, I'd like to become a bloodstock agent and try to take that to a new level. By that I mean, I'd like to assemble a team of jocks, including myself, to get on horses to recommend for sale or purchase to prospective buyers or sellers. I'm proud of the instincts I have when it comes to determining if a horse's presence or movement is something special. I really think I could help buyers and sellers determine the value of their potential racing stock before they make a decision."

Until the time comes for retirement, you can rest assured Robby Albarado is going to continue winning races and working hard for his foundation. No jockey has ever won more than six riding titles at ther Fair Grounds, so Robby is all alone in the record books with his seven trophys.  He'd be happy to win his eighth title here, but he'd be even happier to win the "Big One" they run on the first Saturday of every May at Churchill Downs.

As I mentioned, Robby's in a good place right now and there's no reason to believe that good place he's in won't get even better. "When it's all said and done, all I want is for people to say, Robby Albarado gave something back."

(For more information about the Robby Albarado Foundation, log-on to robbyalbaradofoundation.org)