Resilient Rosario Makes Triumphant Comeback to Oaklawn Park Jockey Colony After Recovering from Injury

Joel Rosario Returns to the Saddle at Oaklawn Park

Joel Rosario, the leading contender for the prestigious Eclipse Award as the best jockey in North America, is set to make his comeback at Oaklawn Park on Friday. After fracturing a rib in a race at Aqueduct on December 2, Rosario is now ready to ride again. Returning to the Oaklawn jockey colony, he will partner with renowned trainer Steve Asmussen and is scheduled to ride seven horses on his first day back.

Building a Case for the Eclipse Award

Joel Rosario is poised to potentially win his first Eclipse Award as the top jockey in North America for his remarkable achievements in 2021. Now, he embarks on his 2022 campaign, aiming to continue his impressive form. By returning to Oaklawn Park, a track where he has enjoyed significant success, Rosario aims to solidify his claim for the prestigious accolade.

Ron Anderson, Rosario’s agent, has shared that his client will be riding regularly at Oaklawn Park until early April at least. This return brings Rosario back to a track where he has amassed an impressive career record with 28 victories, including 15 stakes races, and nearly $5 million in earnings. Notably, his standout performance came in 2020 when he secured an outstanding win percentage of 38% with a record of 17-10-7 in just 45 races.

Impressive Track Record at Oaklawn Park

Despite competing in a limited number of races at Oaklawn Park, Joel Rosario managed to make a lasting impact. In the previous season, Rosario finished second in stakes victories, securing five wins at the meet. He also claimed the Oaklawn Mile aboard Tom’s d’Etat, the Rebel Stakes with Nadal, and the second division of the Arkansas Derby, also with Nadal. His successes helped him clinch fourth place in purse earnings and eleventh place in victories, showcasing his prowess as a jockey.

A Change of Winter Plans

Joel Rosario had previously chosen to spend his winters at Santa Anita Park in California. However, this year, his agent, Ron Anderson, made a strategic decision to send his other jockey, Hall of Famer John Velazquez, westward instead. Trainer Bob Baffert, who had previously worked with Rosario and saw him win the last two Kentucky Derbies, requested Velazquez’s services. Meanwhile, Rosario opted to capitalize on the excellent opportunities at Oaklawn Park, where he can work closely with two of the meet’s prominent trainers, Steve Asmussen and Brad Cox.

Notably, Brad Cox, who currently leads the trainer standings at Oaklawn Park with 12 wins, expressed his excitement about Rosario’s arrival. Recognizing Rosario as a world-class rider, Cox looks forward to collaborating with him during the meet, confident in their potential for success.

Rosario’s Upcoming Rides

Joel Rosario’s return to the saddle will feature significant races and promising mounts. He is set to ride Concert Tour for Brad Cox in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes on Saturday. Two weeks later, Rosario will partner with Knicks Go in his final race, the prestigious $3 million Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

Anderson emphasized the immense success that Rosario has experienced with both Cox and Asmussen. Having won Breeders’ Cup races for both trainers, Rosario’s prowess in the saddle has been demonstrated in high-profile events. With the change in plans, Oaklawn Park provides an ideal setting for Rosario’s comeback, offering competitive purses and an exciting stakes schedule.

Recovering from Injury and Ready to Thrive

Joel Rosario’s return to Arkansas follows a career-best year in which he amassed nearly $33 million in purse earnings. Throughout the season, he dominated the jockey standings, with an impressive win percentage of 21% (228-for-1,083) and an outstanding record of hitting the board in 50% of his races. Additionally, he topped the charts with the highest earnings, stakes victories (69), and graded stakes victories (49) among all North American jockeys.

Rosario’s ability to maintain peak physical condition has been a contributing factor to his success. His commitment to fitness and nutrition, in partnership with his nutritionist girlfriend, has allowed him to optimize his performance. Following a six-week recovery period from the hairline rib fracture, Rosario is eager to make his mark in the saddle once again.


Joel Rosario’s anticipated return to racing at Oaklawn Park marks the beginning of his 2022 campaign, following a stellar year. With his sights set on winning the Eclipse Award as the best jockey in North America, Rosario is in a prime position to continue his winning streak. The strategic decision to shift his winter plans and ride at Oaklawn Park offers a fresh environment for Rosario to work with top trainers and compete for substantial purses.


1. Has Joel Rosario won the Eclipse Award before?

No, Joel Rosario has not yet won the Eclipse Award. However, he is considered a frontrunner for the award in 2021 based on his exceptional performances throughout the year.

2. How many races did Joel Rosario compete in during his outstanding 2020 campaign?

In his remarkable 2020 campaign, Joel Rosario competed in a total of 45 races, achieving a remarkable win percentage of 38%.

3. Which trainers will Joel Rosario be working with at Oaklawn Park?

Joel Rosario will primarily collaborate with renowned trainers Steve Asmussen and Brad Cox during his time at Oaklawn Park.

4. What was the reason behind Joel Rosario’s decision to ride at Oaklawn Park this winter?

Joel Rosario’s agent, Ron Anderson, explained that the decision to ride at Oaklawn Park was primarily driven by seeking a change and the opportunity to work with successful trainers like Asmussen and Cox alongside the allure of substantial purses.

5. When is Joel Rosario expected to ride in the $3 million Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational?

Joel Rosario is scheduled to ride Knicks Go in the $3 million Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational, which takes place after his appearance in the Fifth Season Stakes, two weeks prior.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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