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Jockey Eramia Near the Top of FG Standings

Tied for leading rider honors through last weekend and among the leaders since the Thoroughbred Racing Season began on Thanksgiving Day is jockey Richard Eramia, off to an unusually fast start for someone in only his second season at Fair Grounds.

“Yes, I’m off to a very good start,” said Eramia, a 31-year-old native of Uruguay, when talking in the jockeys’ room Monday morning. “I’m a little surprised to be tied for leading rider, and I’m very grateful to my agent Rick Mocklin. He’s a very good agent, he knows a lot of people and he keeps putting me on very good horses.

“I came to New Orleans for the first time last year to ride,” said Eramia, “but I really didn’t know what to expect coming into a new place after riding mostly on the Texas circuit for about four years, but I did all right for someone just breaking in here. I finished 11th in the standings at the end of the season, but then I went to Louisiana Downs last summer and did very well, leading the standings most of the way before finishing three wins behind Don Simington at the end of the meeting.

“I ride a lot of horses for trainers like Michelle Lovell, Morris Nicks and Sweet Hodges, both at Louisiana Downs and down here, and they’ve put me on some very good horses,” said Eramia, who rode for about 10 years in his native Uruguay before coming to this country. “I don’t know if I can stay on as leading rider, but if I can stay near the top and finish in the top seven or eight riders I’ll be very pleased. This is a very good jockey colony down here and I like all these guys very much. I figure all I can do is keep working hard, and if I do maybe the Good Lord will pay me back.”

As a devoted family man, Eramia speaks constantly of his wife Jessica, his 6-year-old daughter Cynthia and his 2-year-old son Laffit, who remain at their home in Dallas while the jockey plies his trade at Fair Grounds. Not surprisingly, his son is named in honor of Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr.

“I’ve never met him, but I met (Hall of Fame) Braulio Baeza once and he called him up and put me on the phone with him,” Eramia said. “I told him I named my son after him and he said: ‘That was very nice of you. Thank you very much. I am honored.’”

One who has watched Eramia’s constant improvement over the last few years is Roy Wood, state steward at Fair Grounds and also at Louisiana Downs.

“I’ve been watching Richard for several years and watched his riding ability improve constantly over that time,” said Wood. “I’ve been very impressed.”

Equally impressed has been Lovell, currently on or near the lead in the trainer standings at Fair Grounds in the season’s initial days, and a horsewoman who names Eramia on most of her stock, both at Louisiana Downs and at Fair Grounds.

“He’s always been a real good rider,” said Lovell, “and now he’s coming into his own to be an even better rider. He’s honest and he always gives you 110-percent. We always try to support him because he’s been very good to us.”

FAMILY REUNION LEADS TO LONGEST SHOT OF FAIR GROUNDS SEASON – John Weber’s Doo Wap Daddy posted the biggest win payoff of the season at Fair Grounds in Sunday’s finale when he lit up the board with mutuels of $128.20, $64.20 and $21.20.

Also, an exacta worth $2,000.40 and a trifecta worth $10,900.

Trained by Earl Bankston, Doo Wap Daddy had a late rider change to Bankston’s son Earl Bankston III. It turned out to be a family affair because the jockey, a college graduate, became available after he took time off from his regular job at Exxon.  

“He (Earl III) used to ride full time, but now he just rides occasionally,” said the senior Bankston. “When I found out he could take the time off from his job I went ahead and named him on the horse.”

ANOTHER HORSE OWNERSHIP SEMINAR SET FOR SATURDAY – Fair Grounds’ second Horse Ownership Seminar for prospective new Thoroughbred owners this season will be held on the second floor of the Derby Building this Saturday from 9:30-11 a.m.

Trainer Bret Calhoun, who saddled two Breeders’ Cup winners at Churchill Downs Nov. 5-6 and was honored by New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu with a special proclamation for that achievement, will be one of two featured speakers along with Robert Byrne, an expert in racing partnerships.