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Top jocks, including defending champion Leslie Mawing, commit to EmD

March 20, 2012     E-mail this page to a friend!

Leslie Mawing, who captured his first Emerald Downs riding title with 129 wins in 2011, will return from Golden Gate Fields and attempt to win a second straight crown in Auburn.

Currently fifth in the Golden Gate Fields jockey standings, the 38-year-old Mawing will return to the Northwest poised to become only the fourth jockey to win back-to-back Emerald Downs titles. The South African native is ninth all-time with 398 wins at Emerald Downs, including his spectacular 2011 meet in which he drew off to a 29-length victory over runner-up Juan Gutierrez, 129-100, in the riders standings.

The 2012 Emerald Downs season begins on Friday, April 13, and runs through Sunday, September 23, an 81-day stand highlighted by the 77th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) on Sunday, August 19.

In addition to Mawing, several other top riders from last year appear to be headed back for another go-round. In fact, the track’s top nine riders in 2011—Mawing, Juan Gutierrez, Joe Crispin, Gallyn Mitchell, Pedro Terrero, Deborah Hoonan, Javier Matias, Leonel Camacho-Flores, and Jose Zunino—are all expected to ride this season.

Agent Vito Lucarelli said that in addition to Mawing and Terrero, he would bring up a third rider from Northern California that he expects would “contend with Mawing for this year’s title chase.”

The track’s all-time leading female rider—Jennifer Whitaker—also has been galloping several horses daily for trainer Howard Belvoir. Deborah Hoonan, second all-time amongst female riders at Emerald Downs, and Portland Meadows riding sensation Eliska Kubinova will make for a strong female contingent of riders at Emerald Downs in 2012.