Will someone, SOMEONE, please teach these jockeys who ride in Graded stakes how to get their irons back if they blow one OR two! Do not, let me repeat, DO NOT try to stab your dangling, bouncing, flopping around stirrup with your foot. It doesn’t work. And going all full on “Ned The Coachman” or “General Custer” is not a strategy either.
Follow along carefully now:
Take your right hand while holding your cross (the reins for you spectators) in your left hand and grab the top of your right stirrup webbing (stirrup leather for spectators) slide your hand down (it’s not that far) the webbing and grasp the top of your iron. Physically place the iron on your right foot. Now, either ride on if that solves the problem OR in the case of two blown irons, now balance in the right iron, switch your cross (reins) to your right hand AND REPEAT the same damn thing with your left hand and foot! It should not take you more than six or eight jumps and I’m being wildly generous, to get your size 5 or 6 foot/feet back in the irons. It really should only take you a few seconds.
What in the hell is wrong with these riders? If you are so incompetent and inefficient in your profession as a jockey that you can not get your feet back in the irons if you lose one or both of them out of the gate or at any point in a race, you should decline to accept mounts in races of this caliber. You are clearly not proficient enough or not handling the pressure well enough to be riding races at this level. You are embarrassing yourself, the profession and the sport. Stop it.
A jockey losing an iron in a race is a daily occurrence at some or multiple tracks around the country. It happens. It’s no big deal. That is unless you don’t know what you’re doing. If you did not learn how to correct this situation somewhere within your “bug year” you need to stop accepting mounts until you learn the fundamentals of being a jockey. If you don’t, you are a danger to yourself and by extension a danger to others. Where are the stewards on this for crying out loud?
Now don’t get me wrong, shit happens when the gate opens but you have to figure out how to not only save yourself but you have to save your horse, your horses connections and the public who wagered on you. In that order. If riding in Graded stakes or just plain riding races in general is too much stress for your skill set to handle, please go back to galloping horses, every trainer needs good exercise riders.
And yes, I do speak from experience. In the 14th race I ever rode, way back when, I lost my left iron out of the gate going 6 furlongs on a bullring at Playfair in Spokane, Washington. And yes I tried to stab my iron with my foot. It didn’t work. I hung on and rode the race weakly with one foot in my right iron. I was flummoxed, confused and also embarrassed. It was my 14th race. Walking back to the jocks room an older rider (than me) named Billy Vens, walked up behind me and put his arm around my shoulder and in a calm and matter of fact kinda way explained to me exactly what I just explained above. THIS WAS MY 14TH RACE. I was not riding in a Graded stake. The problem of losing an iron was never a serious challenge to me again. By the time you get to the Graded stakes level you really need to have this “race riding 101 kinda thing” like blowing an iron figured out.
You saw the same thing in the Belmont Stakes last June that you saw in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on Saturday. Inexperienced or otherwise unlearned jockeys who should know better, riding in major races, losing their irons and seemingly having zero idea about how to recover. This blows my mind.
Oh yeah, it happened recently in another major televised race too. It happened in the Preakness last May to Johnny Velasquez riding the Kentucky Derby winner and favorite, Always Dreaming. Johnny lost an iron out of the gate. He calmly, and instinctively reached down and placed his iron back on his foot within a couple jumps and continued on – seamlessly. He even reached down a second time to adjust it. I’ll bet almost no one even noticed. That’s because John Velasquez knows what the hell he’s doing.