Jamaican veteran jockey heads South

In this photo provided by the New York Racing Association, Wicked Strong, with Rajiv Maragh aboard, captures The Wood Memorial Stakes horse race at Aqueduct Race Track in New York, Saturday, April 5, 2014.
AP Photo/New York Racing Association, David Alcosser

Rajiv Maragh will be heading once again down to Louisville, in less than a month for another attempt at winning the Kentucky Derby, which he couldn’t do previously.

The veteran jockey, who originally hails from Jamaica, West Indies, was brought up around horses, for his father Collin introduced him to the sport as the former was a jockey in his native land of Jamaica. However, Collin is now in Florida training horses.

Maragh expects to get the mount aboard Wicked Strong, who upset the field over the nine furlong track at Aqueduct Race Track in New York last Saturday afternoon.

Hopefully, all goes in his favor from the present time to Derby time. He is going south with a tremendous shot at winning the first leg of the triple crown for three-year-old horses.

Maragh was aboard Wicked Strong during the Wood Memorial as he turned in a confident trip. Owner Don Little and trainer Jimmy Jerkins made a change of jockeys from Javier Castellano and Jose Lezcano to Maragh after the Remsen. Little was very much impressed with his horse and felt confident that Maragh would continue to do such an accomplishment in the recent race.

The thoroughbred thus posted his second win in six outings during the Wood. Following the Remsen, the connections knew that their horse had a lot of ability. Now he is developing into a nice strong horse coming together at the right time of the year.

He is the Derby favorite right now,” according to the connections. He is really maturing at the right time now, and there’s a lot left in him.

“He (Maragh) fits (the horse), Little said. “He came running. Rajiv rode him perfectly.”

The connections that Wicked Srong hope that he comes out in good shape for the Derby, to be run on the first Saturday of May. The Preakness in Maryland and Belmont Stakes in New York round out the triple crown for three-year-old horses.

“This horse has been a great presence,” said Little. “I put a lot of emphasis on the ride. He is always focused.”

Last year, Maragh finished in sixth place in the New York Racing Association jockey standings with 120 winners.

“I was satisfied with the whole year,” the jockey said.

He also turned in a good winter and besides competing at Belmont and Aqueduct, he journeyed down south to Florida.

Overall, he ran three times in the Kentucky Derby. His best finish came aboard Mucho Macho Man when they came in third place.

“Riding in the Kentucky Derby is a pinnacle of the sport as a jockey to be riding in the Derby” Maragh said, after riding in the Wood Memorial. “It’s what you dream for and look forward to especially going into a race with a live shot (at coming in first place).”

The connections-meaning the owner and trainer-had great success with Rajiv especially during the last couple of years.

“My goal is to win every race that I can,” Maragh went on. “And I want to win some big races (like I did last Saturday in the Wood).”

However, his immediate goal is to win the Kentucky Derby aboard Wicked Strong.

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