Hawthorne Racecourse (4/11/10)
Contact: Ron Uchman
SWITCHING CAREERS IN MIDSTRIDE
Over the next few days, you will be introduced to a few jockey agents. This group is a bit unusual for the profession. They are all female.
When I first heard that Liz Morris was going to bring a couple of jockeys to Hawthorne, I thought that she was only giving them a ride to the track. To my surprise, Liz had stopped riding herself and became a jockey’s agent.
When Liz was an apprentice rider on this circuit, her agent was Jim Miller, the current Assistant General Manager of Hawthorne Race Course. At the time, many of us wondered why he would choose to represent an unproven rider. But, Liz soon changed our minds.
She was slight of build but tough as nails and she didn’t let any of the riders push her around. She was a successful apprentice and went on to have a successful journeyman career.
“I felt it was time,” she replied when asked why she stopped riding. “I got tired of fighting my weight. I guess I was ready to retire. I don’t really miss being a rider but I do miss getting on horses. Plus, I only really miss it when it’s hot. I don’t miss it all when it’s cold outside.
“I always knew that I wanted to be an agent when I stopped riding. I was my own agent, for the most part, after losing my `bug.' I felt it was a challenging career, at times even more challenging than being a jockey, and challenges keep me on my toes. I like that a lot.
“I found great riders to bring here. Julio Felix is from Cleveland and he also rode at Gulfstream. He was the leading rider at Cleveland for seven or eight years in a row. He won over 90 stakes and around 2,500 races in his career so he was a proven commodity. I rode against him. I always liked the way he rode. He was a smart rider and a strong finisher and he got along well with horses. I appreciated that. I thought that he was the kind of rider that a trainer would like to put on a horse.
“I took Inosencio Diego as well. He had done well in Kentucky but came to Indiana when the top agent there took his book. When his agent went another way, I was glad to take Inosencio. When he was the leading apprentice in New York, the legendary Angel Cordero had his book, so I knew what kind of rider he was.
“They can both really ride. They came with me because they know I really work hard, they know I’m competitive, and they know I don’t like to lose. They also knew that I was a good handicapper, which is always important for an agent. They believed in me.
“Both of them have been in the top 10 riders at our tracks since I’ve been hustling book. I’m very proud of that.
“We’re all going to Arlington at the end of this meet. We’re all tired of changing circuits four times a year. Both my riders want to have a major impact on the Chicagoland circuit. Both would like to ride around here all year long.”
With the success that they’ve been having, this team could be in high demand for a long time.