News & Barn notes

Joe Bravo And Paco Lopez Give Agent Cory Moran A Powerful Hand With 23 Combined Riding Titles Heading Into Monmouth Meet

May 07, 2024

For a jockey agent at Monmouth Park this is what an embarrassment of riches looks like: Cory Moran will have the book for both Paco Lopez and Joe Bravo when the Jersey Shore track kicks off its 79th season on Saturday, May 11, with one statistic underscoring the significance of that pairing.

Combined, Bravo and Lopez have accounted for 23 riding titles at Monmouth Park.

“It’s pretty amazing when you think about it,” said Moran. “Both Joe Bravo and Paco Lopez have been among the most dominant riders in Monmouth Park history.”

Bravo, who holds the track record with 13 titles, will be based at Monmouth Park again this summer after a brief hiatus while being re-united with Moran. The last time Moran and Bravo teamed up they won 31 graded stakes races (11 Grade 1s) in 2015-16,

“Jersey” Joe, who was born in nearby Long Branch, last won a Monmouth Park riding title in 2007.

“I don’t think I’ll be going for the title. It’s a lot of work,” said the 52-year-old Bravo. “I’m not going out there trying to ride 10 or 11 races a day anymore and I haven’t the past few years.

“The riding titles are great, don’t get me wrong. But what makes it fun for me is riding good horses for good trainers.”

Lopez enters the 51-day meet having won five straight Monmouth Park riding titles and nine of the past 11 to bring his total to 10 overall. The 38-year-old Lopez is closing in on his 4,000th career winner after finishing third in the jockey standings behind Irad Ortiz and Jose Ortiz, respectively, during Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet.

“I still have a few years before I can catch Joe (for the most titles in track history),” said Lopez. “We’ve always gotten along so it’s going to be fun this summer. I feel like I have some good momentum coming into Monmouth Park.”

Bravo has ridden 2,119 winners from 8,690 mounts exclusively at Monmouth Park over the course of his career.

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish going around in circles,” said Bravo, who has ridden more than 5,600 winners overall.

Lopez, meanwhile, has won 1,213 races from 4,802 mounts at the Jersey Shore track since he became a fixture there in 2009.

“I’ve been with Paco since he started riding in the United States in 2007, so to think he is closing in on 4,000 wins overall, all while we have been together, is pretty incredible,” said Moran. “He just wins. He’s a win machine.”

Lopez and Bravo headline another deep jockey colony that includes the top five riders from the 2023 standings: Samy Camacho, last year’s runner-up to Lopez, Jairo Rendon, Nik Juarez and Samuel Marin. Camacho is coming off a fourth straight riding title (fifth overall) at Tampa Bay Downs.

Isaac Castillo, always a strong presence at Monmouth Park, Jorge A. Vargas, Jr. and Jose Batista will return as well.

Among the new faces in the jockeys’ room are Angel Arroyo, Daniel Centeno, Vincent Cheminaud and Charlie Marquez. All arrive off top 10 finishes in the jockey standings at the recently-concluded Tampa Bay Downs meet.

There will also be strong representation among the apprentice jockeys with Melissa Iorio, Gabriel Maldonado and Cesar Gonzalez.

The $1 million, Grade 1 NYRA Bets Haskell Stakes will again serve as the centerpiece of the meet on Saturday, July 20. Live racing runs through Sunday, Sept. 15.

First race post time on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays is 12:50 p.m. When Friday racing starts on June 21 first race post time for those days will be 2 p.m.

Parking is free the entire meet.