Jockey Charles Roberts Making Stakes Debut In G1 Champagne

Charles Roberts, a 29-year-old New Jersey native, rode his first two races at Belmont Park last week, finishing sixth with London Gold last Friday and second aboard Madame Rose at odds of 36-1 in the Saturday nightcap.

Roberts, a newcomer to the NYRA jockey colony who is represented by agent David Grace, will ride his first career stakes race Saturday at Belmont, where he is named aboard Kavod in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne, a one-turn mile for juveniles.

Roberts got into racing through his uncle, a Monmouth Park patron who said he was the right size to become a jockey.

“My Uncle Bob would take me to Monmouth and Meadowlands as a kid. When I realized I was done growing, I decided to give it a shot,” Roberts said.

The rider said he studied for a time at Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy in Kentucky before testing his talent at the track.

“I got my foot in the door with racing at the Academy and then I stayed in Lexington for a couple of years and galloped horses for Eric Reed and Kellyn Gorder. I would also freelance a bit at The Training Center in Lexington,” Roberts said.

Roberts started riding in June 2019 in Louisiana at Evangeline Downs and picked up his first win on July 6, 2019 aboard So Serious at Louisiana Downs. The up-and-coming rider said he knew right away that he wanted to be a jockey.

“I knew I liked it the first time I got on a horse,” Roberts said. “It was scary at first but also exciting.”

Roberts said he is looking forward to his first stakes experience Saturday aboard Kavod, who he breezed on September 25 through four furlongs in 48.19 on Big Sandy in company with 2-year-old colt Ready to March.

“I know there’s some nice horses in the race but the way he worked, I have a lot of confidence in him,” Roberts said. “It doesn’t even feel like real life. I haven’t ridden a stakes race yet and now my first one is in a Grade 1 at Belmont.”

Roberts knows Saturday’s assignment is a tall order with Kavod listed at 50-1 on the morning line, but he said he will ride to win.

“I know he likes the rail and hopefully he’ll make a run,” Roberts said. “After working him, I really liked what I felt so I have a lot of confidence. I know he likes the surface here, so that will help.”

Heading into Friday’s card, Roberts [115 pounds] sports a record of 618-56-65-75, including wins at Evangeline, Louisiana Downs, Delta Downs, Oaklawn Park, Arlington Park, and most recently at Hawthorne.

“I constantly try to better myself,” Roberts said. “Every race I ride, I look back at the replay and consider what I could have done better. I also watch the guys here who are already great and try to emulate them.”

Roberts has worked horses for a number of barns since arriving in New York, including for veteran New York trainer Carlos Martin.

“He’s a young rider and comes with a good reputation. His agent is a good friend of ours that used to work for us many years ago,” Martin said. “He’s been working horses for us the last week to 10 days since he arrived and he’s just got a real good way about him. He’s quiet on the horses and they seem to respond to him.

“He’s stepping up to the big leagues but I think he deserves the opportunity,” Martin added. “We have him on a filly this Sunday [Positive Skew, Race 7] and he’s working another one that he’ll ride. He’s an exciting young rider. It’s a tough meet and one of the toughest jockey colonies in the world, but all he needs is an opportunity. I think he can ride, there’s no question in my mind.”

Grace, who has previously represented Channing Hill and Mike Luzzi, said Roberts is willing to work hard to make the most of his opportunities.

“He’s well-spoken and rides a good race,” Grace said. “This is a tough race tomorrow but anything can happen in a horse race.”

The post Jockey Charles Roberts Making Stakes Debut In G1 Champagne appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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