When apprentice rider Jilver Chamafi makes his United States debut aboard Juniper Light in Sunday’s fourth race at Calder Casino & Race Course, the 21-year-old native of Panama will be taking the first steps along a decades-old path followed by many of his countrymen; a route that is lined with the success stories of such pioneers as Manuel Ycaza, Braulio Baeza, Jacinto Vasquez, Jorge Velasquez, and Laffit Pincay, Jr., along with younger generation stars like Eddie Castro, Fernando Jara, Elvis Trujillo, Jose Lezcano, and Luis Saez.
From the province of Darién, Chamafi is a December 2011 graduate of the acclaimed Laffit Pincay, Jr. Jockey School at Presidente Remon Racetrack. Upon completion of his training, Chamafi made an immediate impact on the track, winning aboard his first mount, a horse named Brasilera, on December 8.
From there, the wins continued to pile up, and during a four-month span from February through May, Chamafi dueled neck-and-neck with veteran rider Luis Arango for top honors at Presidente Remon.
“I spent 10 days in Panama to watch him on a scouting trip,” longtime jockey’s agent Steve Adika, who represents Chamafi, said from the Calder stall office Friday morning. “And believe me, I liked what I saw. The kid is going to be a good rider.”
Chamafi will retain a five-pound apprentice allowance through February, and Adika plans to utilize at least some of that period to chase riches up north, specifically during the winter Aqueduct meet when much of the regular New York riding colony is based at Gulfstream Park.
“If everything goes according to plan, we’ll ride down here until September, and then go up there,” Adika said. “A good apprentice rider up in New York, during the winter months, has plenty of opportunities for success. And this kid will take advantage of those. ”
GARRISON IN WINNER’S CIRCLE AGAIN
Trainer Curtis Garrison continued a fantastic streak of success at Calder on Thursday winning the afternoon’s third race with the Edward Seltzer-owned homebred Jeekers to run his current unbeaten streak to three.
Based out of Seltzer’s Solera Farm near Ocala, Garrison began his recent run of success with an upset victory by the 7-year-old millionaire Field Commission in Saturday’s $75,000 Ponche Handicap. Garrison also won the 12th race at Calder on Saturday with Kurhah.
Garrison will look to continue his string of fine luck when starting True Strike in Saturday’s fourth race. For the meet, Garrison has won with four of his eight Solera Farm invaders.
JUVENILE STAKES TO CLOSE SATURDAY
The first 2-year-old stakes of the Calder Meet will be held Saturday, June 30, and nominations for those races, the $100,000 Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes and its filly counterpart the $100,000 J J’s Dream, will close Saturday, June 16.
Over the years, both the Frank Gomez and the J J’s Dream have proved vital steppingstones towards Florida Stallion Stakes success, with 2009 Gomez winner Jackson Bend later sweeping the three-race Stallion Stakes series.
Awesome Feather used the 2010 J J’s Dream as her launching point for a Stallion Stakes sweep, a Breeders’ Cup victory, and an eventual Eclipse Award as champion juvenile filly, while 2011 heroine Redbud Road would also go on to enjoy Stallion Stakes glory, winning last year’s Desert Vixen Division.