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The Saratoga Shuffle

Developing good working relationships with trainers is always in a jockey's best interests, but it doesn't guarantee job security " not when tens of thousands of dollars are at stake in even the smallest of claiming races.

"If I have a bad experience with one of them, I stay away from them," said trainer Linda Rice, who primarily uses Cornelio Velasquez along with Migliore, Desormeaux and Fernando Jara. "If they just gallop them around there and give them what I don't feel is a strong, aggressive ride, then I don't want to use them again because I work way too hard in the morning on these horses for them not to make a good effort in the afternoon.

"I'm friendly with all of them " the ones I use regularly " but I'm not married to any of them," she added.

Barclay Tagg " who counts Migliore and Javier Castellano among his preferred jockeys " said he wants "guts and brains" in any rider he selects, whether they're veterans or a young hot shot.

"A guy that's not really talented " works hard, nice fellow maybe, but he's just not talented " it's gonna be very hard for him at Saratoga," said Tagg. "A good, hard-working guy who had won at the other tracks " he's got courage and tries hard, he doesn't have to be a great natural rider " he can do very well at a lesser track. But here, you've got about 10 Hall of Fame riders sitting in that (jockey) room. They didn't get there because they were chicken."

Jara is one of the young jockeys that are currently challenging the veterans for mounts. In only his third season in Saratoga, Jara is in the top 10 with six winners " equal to his career total from his first two seasons.

"Older jockeys are proud," said Jara. "They got the name, they have the experience, they are very good riders. You have to wait for your time."

But once that time comes, jockeys have to remember one thing " it can end just as quickly as it begins. ""

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