‘Wants To Make Every Horse Better’: Jose Batista Jockey Of The Month At Tampa

Jose Batista tries to pattern his riding style and mental approach after Hall of Fame member John Velazquez. After winning three consecutive races on Jan. 25 at Tampa Bay Downs, Batista was eager to compete against his idol on the Feb. 8 Festival Preview Day card.

That opportunity was snatched away on Feb. 2 when Batista was thrown in the sixth race after his horse clipped heels soon after the start. Batista, who incurred multiple injuries, was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, where he spent the next three days.

Although there is no date set for his return, Batista and the Oldsmar racing community were relieved to learn his injuries are not career-threatening. The Chepo, Panama product, who turned 23 on Feb. 6, believes he can come back stronger than before.

“Of course I feel bad, because everything was going well and I was picking up more business,” Batista said through interpreter Gabriel Castro, his valet in the Tampa Bay Downs jockeys room. “But every jockey understands the risks when they get on a horse. I’m young, I feel like I have a lot of potential and my career is really just beginning.”

Batista is a soft-spoken soul, a quality which probably has prevented him from getting more notice at the Oldsmar oval, where he is seventh in the meeting standings with 19 victories. But his hot streak before his accident was impossible to overlook: nine victories from 40 mounts, resulting in his selection as the SenÞor Tequila Mexican Grill Jockey of the Month.

A graduate of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Technical Jockey Training Academy in Panama, where he began his career, Batista earned his first U.S. victory in 2017 at Gulfstream Park. He competed mostly in south Florida, capturing the Grade II Hardacre Mile Stakes at Gulfstream in 2018 on Conquest Big E, before coming to Tampa Bay Downs this season.

Tampa Bay Downs trainer Juan Arriagada considers Batista mature beyond his years.

“He is very professional in his dealings, and he’s a good kid who always tries hard,” Arriagada said. “The way he rides, he lets horses feel comfortable with him, and he helps a lot of horses. He’s very quiet, but I think he is a strong person, so it won’t be hard for him to come back. And he’s a young, healthy guy, so that will help.”

Castro, his valet, is impressed by Batista’s single-minded focus on improvement.

“He’s the kind of rider who wants to make every horse better,” Castro said. “It doesn’t matter if his horse is 5-1 or 50-1, he keeps pushing and never gives up. I think he has a great future in racing.”

For now and the foreseeable future, Batista will be on the road to recovery. But his love for racing ensures that when he returns, he will devote himself 100 percent to reaching his goals. “I want to have a good connection with the horses I ride,” he said. “I hope to keep getting better and better so I can keep winning races, and eventually make it at tracks like Keeneland and Saratoga.”

The post ‘Wants To Make Every Horse Better’: Jose Batista Jockey Of The Month At Tampa appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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