[cleeng_content id="785708407" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]There were only two three-year-olds entered in last year’s West Virginia Breeders’ Classic. The other eight thoroughbreds in the local race track’s signature race were all older.
One of those younger thoroughbreds was Lucy’s Bob Boy. He was seen as a definite threat by the wagering public. And when he was loaded into the far outside slot in the starting gate, his saddle cloth No. 10 had odds of 3-1 pinned to it.
Aboard the visually striking chestnut was 46-year-old Gustavo Larrosa, a native of Uruguay who had learned much of his craft in Argentina at that country’s Jockey School. Larrosa had left his homeland to begin his on-track education at the tender age of 18.
That late October night in 2012 saw Larrosa and Lucy’s Bob Boy get a useful break from the starting gate and quickly move to the forward group of three horses. Larrosa and his charge were moving along in a comfortable gear and appeared to be doing what was needed to be a factor in how the race would be run.
As the pacesetters cruised through the Charles Town backstretch, a startling sight took place. In a distance of only about 60 yards, Larrosa and Lucy’s Bob Boy had gone from being even with two others to taking a powerful three-length lead.
It seemed as if the No. 10 horse was being moved by some supernatural force, so quickly had he left the others to scramble for second- and third-place honors.
The green-clad Larrosa roared through the short stretch to win by an ever-expanding eight lengths.
In dominating a full field in a $500,000 race, Larrosa aboard the commanding Lucy’s Bob Boy had made it look comparitively easy.
However, getting to that point in his riding career for Larrosa had been anything but easy.
In December of 2011, the rider was in what should have been a routine race for two-year-old thoroughbreds. The fact is that few races for novice two-year-olds are routine.
While in the starting gate, Larrosa’s mount was fractious and defying the assistant starters with his unrehearsed thrashing and undirected movements. Larrosa’s had an arm trapped between the unforgiving metal of the starting gate and his thousand-pound mount. His arm paid the price. And Larrosa was going to be away from racing for an extended period of time.
It was back in 2003 that the Uruguayan came to America to pursue his craft.
Like most of those jockeys coming from another country, he bounced around from small track to small track trying to get the attention of trainers and owners.
His skills were noticed enough so that by the early fall of this year, Larrosa’s career had seen 8,087 races, had his mounts win $13.3 million in purse earnings and finish first 712 times.
He and his wife, Analia, and his two children, Nicolas and Sharon, live in Ranson and in keeping with the modern social media, Larrosa joined Facebook with his “Gustavo Larrosa, Jockey Fan Page.”
Through the first eight months of this year, Larrosa has had 435 starts in 2013 and had won 28 times and been on the board a total of 105 times.
Since he turned 40 in 2006, his best year was in 2008 when he had 999 mounts, won 94 times, was second 118 times and third another 120 times. His mounts earned $1.97 million five years ago.
In just the past two years, Larrosa has piloted Lucy’s Bob Boy to victories in Charles Town’s Coin Collector, Robert Leavitt and Henry P. Mercer Memorial major stakes races.
Looking to the future when he reaches an age when many riders find retirement the better part of valor, Larrosa has entertained serious thoughts of getting into harness racing with standardbreds.
Harness racing would provide a viable avenue to continue to be around horses and be involved in racing as a driver of the sulkies the standardbreds move along with as trotters or pacers.
But that is still some time in the future.
This Saturday at Charles Town, it will be Gustavo Larrosa aboard the Sandra Dano-trained and defending champion Lucy’s Bob Boy in the 27th running of the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic.
You won’t be getting any 3-1 odds on the smooth four-year-old this year.
But you will be getting a 47-year-old jockey whose influence has helped guide Lucy’s Bob Boy to the top of the state-bred stakes ranks at Charles Town.[/cleeng_content]