SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – There’s a new face at the jockey house in Saratoga for the 2014 season, but he’s not a stranger to racing already making a name for himself as a European superstar.
There were all kinds of racing at Saratoga on Opening Day, including turf, dirt sprints and distance. But while the horses at the track were racing against each other, international jockey Frankie Dettori was racing against the clock.
It was business as usual in trainer Wesley Ward’s barn in Saratoga Friday. Horses were being bathed and fitted for horseshoes, and jockeys were meeting except for one.
“He’s over in Iceland right now,” Ward said. “No, he just landed in Kennedy right now, so he’ll be on the second plane, and we’ve got a private plane for him to come up here.”
He’s Italian jockey Frankie Dettori. He’s relatively unknown at the Spa, but he’s a superstar in Europe.
“He’d be like a Lebron James, or one of them, Michael Jordan so to speak,” Ward said. “A sports icon.”
Dettori made his way to Saratoga for the first time Friday to compete.
“My first time in Saratoga. Very excited,” Dettori said. “There are so many people. There are more people here than Disneyland. It’s packed! I can’t believe it. It’s fantastic. I’m looking forward to it. Very excited.”
“You know, hopefully everything works out,” Ward said. “You know, this is all well and good, but you have to hopefully win.”
Ward and Dettori were originally supposed to team up for six races Friday, but the superstar jock only raced three.