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Frequent Flier Rocco Bowen an Indefatigable Jockey

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It isn’t unusual for jockeys to hit the street from their customary circuit for the chance to journey a high prospect. Different instances riders will hop on a flight for a coveted mount, most frequently for a rewarding alternative in a stakes race.

Jockey Rocco Bowen additionally travels by aircraft for work — this summer time on a bi-weekly foundation — although in his case it could be to journey a low- or mid-level horse at Emerald Downs or at JACK Thistledown, tracks greater than 2,000 miles aside.

Whereas the customary workload for a rider could be to journey 4 or 5 days every week, relying on how typically a monitor is scheduled for dwell racing, the indefatigable Bowen has stored up a busy schedule with cross-country journey that has stored him within the saddle for racing day-after-day since July 3.

No surprise his buddy and previous agent Penny Fitch-Hayes will word on social media, “WITW is Rocco Bowen?”— the acronym standing for ‘the place on this planet.’

The protected wager for a solution is at a racetrack or an airport or maybe each in a given day, as was the case July 13 when he spoke with BloodHorse, as he waited to board a flight from Cleveland to Seattle. He rode at Thistledown in North Randall, Ohio, earlier within the day.

He had 4 scheduled rides at Emerald Downs in Auburn, Wash., simply exterior of Seattle, the next day.

In response to Bowen, he’ll sometimes fly to Seattle on Thursday night earlier than returning to Cleveland on a Sunday red-eye flight that will get him into Ohio within the early Monday morning hours.

He additionally embarks on some automobile journey to different tracks when the chance arises. A visit to Presque Isle Downs is an hour and a half from Thistledown by vehicle, with Hawthorne Race Course within the Chicago metropolitan space about six hours away or a brief flight. Bowen has a house in Chicago.

The rider makes use of a number of jockey brokers at his two principal bases, with Dudley Osborne reserving mounts at Emerald Downs and Cory Hayes performing these duties at Thistledown.

Competing at so many tracks is tough work, however “It’s really fairly enjoyable, too,” Bowen stated when reached through phone within the Cleveland airport July 13 after he had ridden one race at Thistledown earlier within the afternoon. He gained at a maiden race there the day earlier than on Michael Friedman’s Flash of Cherokee for coach Kim Puhl.

“I inform you, the child’s obtained an infinite quantity of power,” Emerald Downs coach Dan Markle stated of the 34-year-old Bowen. “He simply smiles. He has an incredible perspective.”

Bowen is making up for misplaced time a bit after being sidelined within the spring when he broke his pelvis in 5 locations throughout a late March accident within the beginning gate at one more monitor the place he rides within the winter and spring — Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. His mount, the evenly raced maiden Paid Double, was scratched on the gate after rearing and flipping over, pinning him in opposition to the gate and sending him to the hospital.

“It was only a freak deal,” Bowen stated.

Bowen stated his physician advised him he would in all probability be away from driving till August, however he was in a position to return before anticipated after rehabilitation. He credited the help he acquired from his fellow riders and contributors at Oaklawn, and from medical doctors and nurses concerned in his care.

“They actually minimize my time right down to half. They helped me have a speedy restoration,” Bowen stated.

West Coast-based coach Jeff Metz recalled posing for an image in Might at Emerald with Bowen, because the rider moved about on crutches. Each have gained a number of meet titles on the Washington monitor, with Bowen topping the standings over three consecutive years from 2016 to ’18. Metz is a four-time coaching champion there.

“He wasn’t actually getting round that effectively after which his agent stated, ‘Hey, he’s gonna come again to driving and this and that.’ And I do know my proprietor was a little bit cautious as a result of he hadn’t ridden,” Metz stated. “However the one factor I find out about horses and athletes is once they put their thoughts to it, they know their physique, they usually’re going to be prepared when it comes time.”

It was Metz who put Bowen on his first winner following the pelvic harm when Letha and Steve Haahr’s Royal Sweet gained a maiden claiming race June 24 at Emerald Downs, simply 4 days after he resumed driving.

“It was fairly cool, man,” Bowen stated. “Between each of us, I’d say we have now not less than 300 wins collectively at Emerald.”

Via racing on Thursday, Bowen had ridden 14 winners from 145 mounts this yr. He has 1,152 victories in the USA and Canada after starting driving in his native Barbados. These figures come regardless of a debilitating arm harm in September 2018 that stored him out of the saddle for roughly a yr and a half.

He entered racing on Friday with 4 wins at Emerald, one other two at Presque Isle Downs, one at Thistledown, and 7 at Oaklawn.

Bowen stated driving at Emerald grants him a possibility to spend time along with his three youngsters who dwell within the Pacific Northwest, and the monitor is considered one of his favorites because of his success there.

“‘Course we have now fifty-granders each weekend right here and naturally, the (Longacres) Mile coming. That’s the large race right here,” Markle stated of racing at Emerald Downs. “He’s making an attempt to get his foot within the door and have a banner day on Mile Day.”

A Markle-trained horse, Arma d’Oro, might be his ticket again to the $150,000 Longacres Mile, a race Bowen gained in 2021 with Background for coach Michael Puhich — not less than Markle hopes so. The Violence gelding, who races for the property of Glyn Kelly, Anne MacLennan, and Len Strandley Jr., rallied to win a July 9 allowance-optional claiming race, rushing 6 1/2 furlongs underneath Bowen in 1:14.37.

Metz, who has raced horses this yr in Washington, Arizona, and California, mirrored on the itinerary stored by Bowen that may hold the rider touring a lot.

“I used to see it in California with the jockeys going out of city for the stakes, however not for $2,500 and $3,500 claimers,” he stated. “When he got here (to Emerald) the primary weekend, and he rode within the stakes race for me, he stated, ‘I’m going to try to do one thing that no person’s ever completed.’ So he desires to try to do that. Now how lengthy he can preserve that schedule? As a result of once more, it’s not a brief flight, and it’s one factor to do it as soon as a month for stakes races, nevertheless it’s one other to do it each week.

“As a coach, I’ve completed it forwards and backwards each week for fairly a very long time. However once more, I don’t should journey the races. I don’t should put out that exertion. I’ve assistants which might be in place in case one thing occurs and my flight will get delayed and I can’t make it.”

“He’s all the time been actual energetic,” Markle stated of Bowen. “He’s a breath of contemporary air — not considered one of these bitter riders. Right here comes Rocco, bouncing round — obtained a great perspective and that transfers to a horse, too. They know when anyone’s comfortable. And he tries so laborious. He will get that second effort out of them. They could get drained, however he can nonetheless strive more durable.”

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