KINGSTON, Jamaica - It took all of 18 years for veteran jockey Charlton Riley to make a return visit to the winners’ enclosure when he won on Blood Song, last Monday (May 17) at Caymanas Park.
The win was the first for Blood Song for more than a year while Riley recorded his first on local soil since 2003 when he rode Iditarod to victory for former 18-time champion trainer Wayne DaCosta.
Needless to say, Riley, who remained in touch with racing on occasions mainly as an exercise rider, was overjoyed in breaking this long winless streak.
“I am feeling positively satisfied with the win. It is a great encouragement for me to remain active and to continue riding.
“Staying away from the sport of race riding to remain inactive had introduced a feeling of listlessness followed by aches and pains and stiffness of joints, my body was galling, a feeling which I do not experience while actively engaged in riding horses, something which I have been doing for so long.
“I said to myself, at the age of 62 years, I must find something worthwhile to occupy my time productively. I know that I can still ride and riding horses for me is the only known productive skill that I have developed and, I have over the years, developed a certain level of perfection to prepare me to ride anywhere race riding is conducted.
“This riding skill I perfected while riding for the late great trainer Wayne DaCosta for 21 years, between 1982 and 2003. I was saddened by the recent passing of DaCosta and I offer my condolences to family and wish Jason, his son, all the best in his training career.
“I have not ridden here, in Jamaica, since the year 2018. It is three years since I rode here, so I got a jockeys’ licence to start riding again.
“But, even so, I did not get any support from my wife. She wanted me to quit. But I am no quitter and, in the process, I was also encouraged by trainer Patrick Fong to continue riding so long as health and strength allowed me to persevere and I am productively encouraged by today’s (Monday, May 17) winner.
“Thanks so much to trainer Fong for believing in me and giving me the chance to ride Blood Song to victory,” Riley said.
With a dictating run racing among three-year-old and upwards $750 - $600,000 claimers, Riley kept Blood Song off the pace in the nine furlongs and 25 yards call.
Using his vast experience, Riley waited and watched closely while the horses travelled down the backstretch in this two-turn contest.
Passing the three-furlong point in the race, Riley made his move with Blood Song responding well with the two entering the last two furlongs full of running and ready to pounce.
Asked for his final effort by Riley, Blood Song accelerated to move by rivals winning by 7 ½ lengths going away, in a time of 2:02.0 with splits of 27.0, 52.4, 1:18.4, 1:46.3.
Dezzy The Genius ridden by Dick Cardenas finished second, Hot Ice was third with Jerome Innis in the saddle and Azaria fourth under Roger Hewitt.
Blood Song was recording his fifth win from 73 lifetime starts, while trainer Fong was saddling his second for the year.