Returning champs to bolster Colonial Downs jockey colony

Thirty Thou Kelvin
Trevor McCarthy gives Thirty Thou Kelvin a thumbs up after winning the Virginia Oaks. Photo by The Racing Biz.

The leading riders of each of the past five years will return to Colonial Downs for what appears to be an ultra-competitive 2024 season of racing.

Antonio Gallardo raised the 2023 trophy with 34 wins in his debut local meet, winning at a 23% clip and with $1,527,937 in purse earnings,. Gallardo will be lining up in the gates against Colonial’s seven-time title holder and all-time winningest jockey, Horacio Karamanos. Jevian Toledo, leading rider in 2022, is confirmed for this year’s colony. Leading rider in both 2019 and 2020, Trevor McCarthy will bring his tack back to New Kent from the New York circuit.

Winning two closing day stakes in 2023, piloting Thirty Thou Kelvin in the $250,000 Virginia Oaks and Starting Over in the $150,000 Colonial Cup, McCarthy was reminded of his local successes, prompting a return.

“It has always been a really lucky track for me,” McCarthy said. “I have had so much great success there since they reopened. I like the environment. It is very friendly and everyone is always happy to be there each summer. The racing is great and only getting better each and every year. I’m so lucky to be a part of it.”

Approaching 1,900 career wins, McCarthy’s success at Colonial Downs has come from riding for a variety of different barns.

“There are some new people who are going to be stabled there and it is a big ship-in meet,” McCarthy said. “I hope I can ride a little bit for everybody and regain a Colonial title. Is not an easy task, but becoming the leading rider is the ultimate goal. I am going to do whatever I can and my agent Kevin Meyocks will be doing everything he can to try and achieve that. Also to have a safe meet is a big goal as well for everybody, horses and jockeys.”

Adding to the list of riders expected to compete at Colonial Downs are newcomers Ben Curtis and Chris Landeros.

Exiting a successful debut North American meet at Fair Grounds, Irish-born journeyman Curtis rode Honor Marie in Kentucky Derby 150. Agent Ron Faucheux confirmed that Curtis is ready to ride at Colonial, returning from a broken collarbone suffered in late May.

“Ben’s doctor gave him the green light to start riding and he is back working horses in the mornings,” Faucheux said. “He is ready to go for Colonial.”

Before moving to the U.S., Curtis had been one of the top riders in England and was crowned the All-Weather Champion jockey in 2021. He finished fourth in the standings at Fair Grounds with 43 wins.

Nineteen years into his career, Landeros has had successful trips to Colonial Downs for big racing days, but agent Jose Sanchez confirmed this will be his first full meet. Landeros has won over 1,600 races and racked up over $50 million in earnings.

Two apprentice jockeys have been confirmed: Gabriel Maldonado and Melissa Iorio. Through June 26, Iorio and Maldonado both rank ninth in the standings at Monmouth Park, tied with six wins. Maldonado is currently the leading rider at Delaware Park.

Other confirmed jockeys include Sheldon Russell, Vincent Cheminaud, Gavin Ashton, Jean Alvelo, Jeiron Barbosa, and Jose Batista.