‘Almost Like Starting Over’: Jockey Emanuel Nieves Working His Way Back From Injury

Several former leading riders will be gunning for a repeat title this year at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., including Emanuel Nieves.

The 27-year-old Nieves was born in Puerto Rico and learned his craft at Puerto Rico’s Escuela Vocational Hipica, the famed jockey school near San Juan. It is a two-year program that has produced some of the top riders in North America, including Eclipse Award winning jockey Irad Ortiz and his brother, Jose.

Nieves made his riding debut in 2012 at Finger Lakes in New York, but Louisiana has been his circuit for the past three years. He credits his agent, Ronald Ardoin for his success as the former jockey works very hard and has solid relationships with pretty much every trainer in the region.

He was the leading rider at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs in 2018, winning 85 races, but last year was much tougher. He was injured in a spill during the second week of the meet and underwent surgery. His recovery took over four months before he was cleared to ride. The remainder of the year was very challenging as he had to rebuild his business.

“It was very hard to get back,” admitted Nieves. “Many of my trainers had secured other riders at Evangeline Downs. It was almost like starting over.”

However, the support from many horsemen returned and Nieves is healthy and was ready when the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred season began on Saturday, June 6. He showed his prowess in the saddle winning the final race of the card with Leadem Farm Inc’s Friendlyproduction. The 3-year-old colt by Run Production was making his debut for trainer Joseph Smith. Smith had no expectations as the $10,000 purchase had not been showing much in his morning works.

“I just told Emanuel that I wasn’t sure what we had, but to just figure it out,” said Smith.

In the early stages the Louisiana-bred was well behind the early pacesetters, but Nieves patiently guided his colt to the outside and drew off to a resounding eight-length victory. His morning line was 12-1, but he was completely overlooked in the wagering and returned $86 to those savvy handicappers that saw his potential!

Smith, who was an assistant in Texas to trainer Danny Pish until he went on his own in 2013, credits Nieves for a very patient ride on Friendlyproduction.

“Truthfully, I don’t know how many other riders would have done as well,” added Smith. “They might just have given up, but not Emanuel! I have a small stable, so a win like that means a great deal to me and my owners.”

Friendlyproduction is entered back on Monday, June 22 and Nieves will have the return call at odds of 9-2.

Nieves is grateful to all the horsemen who continue to give him opportunities and does not dwell on the misfortune of 2019. Healthy and a proud new daddy to his 8-month-old son, Ian, he is more focused this year than ever. He strives to work hard in the mornings, win races in the afternoon and spend quality time with his wife and son.

“It’s not how you start, but how you finish,” said Nieves.

The post ‘Almost Like Starting Over’: Jockey Emanuel Nieves Working His Way Back From Injury appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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