AUBURN, Washington – It was only fitting that Barbadian jockey Rocco Bowen won the final race of the 2018 Emerald Downs season, as part of a double on yesterday’s 11-race card.
After all, the 29-year-old dominated the five-month campaign, finishing with 109 wins to be formally crowned champion for an unprecedented third season in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.
While his win tally was the least of his three title triumphs, he still finished a whopping 38 clear of second-placed Kevin Orozco, to seal a championship that was never really in doubt once he opened up a clear lead at the half-way stage.
Overall, he rode 467 times, collecting 88 second-place finishes and 75 third places, and also topped the added-money column with six stakes winners.
Bowen also finished on top the money list with US$ $1 065 618, again well clear of second placed Julien Couton who ended with $836 406.
On Sunday, however, he had to wait until race nine to lodge his first winner of the day when he steered favourite Levitation to a narrow win in a 6-1/2 furlong sprint for the three-year-olds and upward.
Bowen brought the four-year-old bay gelding off the pace set by the duelling Kota Copy and Double A. Prospect, to get up in the closing yards and win by a neck.
In the finale, Bowen partnered with near favourite Iknowyourface to make all the running over a mile and sixteenth and crush the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares by 6-3/4 lengths.
There was, however, an element of disappointment on the day’s card for Bowen. He was aboard hot favourite Sippin Fire in the day’s main feature, the $100 000 Getaway Day Stakes, as the three-year-old gelding chased a record-tying fifth added-money win of the season.
However, 6-1 choice Yulong Warrior came from off the pace to stun the field by 1-1/4 lengths and deny Sippin Fire and Bowen their place in history.
Sippin Fire was soundly beaten into fourth but Bowen said there was no disgrace in the defeat.
“I had a perfect trip and I was right where I wanted to be. It just wasn’t our day,” he said. “That’s horse racing. It sucks that we got beat, but the horse gave me his all.”
Jamaican Patrick Henry Jr was also in the winner’s circle, pairing with favourite Verynsky to beat the two-year-old maidens in a front-running effort over 5-1/2 furlongs.
He finished the season with 12 wins from 173 rides.