Rudy Rodriguez seems to have his mojo back in New York, as the jockey turned trainer is winning at a 40% clip at the current Aqueduct meeting.
Horseplayers use the expression “that trainer must be getting up really early” whenever that win percentage hits around the 30% mark, and I can only gather that RRod got himself a new alarm clock.
How else can we explain his scorching hot barn?
Through Sunday, RRod has started 30 runners, and has won a dozen races with another eight landing second and three checking in third.
Rodriguez took out his trainer’s license in 2010 after previously working for trainer Rick Dutrow, who is currently serving a 10-year suspension which he was given by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board for “conduct at racetracks in New York State and elsewhere has been improper, obnoxious, unbecoming, and detrimental to the best interests of racing.”
Among Dutrow’s violations was a horse testing positive for Butorphanol, just weeks after three syringes were found in his barn filled with Xylazine, a painkiller and a muscle relaxer.
Rodriguez has had his own problems, suspended for having the drug Flunixin in the post-race samples of Heiden who finished first in the 11th race at Aqueduct on April 7, 2012 and Alston Gunther who finished third in the first race at Aqueduct on November 21, 2012. He has had four positives for the drug.
He was suspended for 40 days with 20 days stayed, and was under 24-hour video surveillance at this spring’s Kentucky Derby where he started Vyjack, who won four of his first five starts but fished a well-beaten 18th in the Run for the Roses.
Perhaps his colt was just camera shy.
Rodriguez, who also spent some time working with the late Hall of fame trainer Bobby Frankel, got off to a quick start as a trainer. In 2010, he won with 76 of 292 starters, a 26% win clip. In his career, he is hitting at a 24% rate.
However, since this year’s Derby, RRod’s win percentage had taken a nosedive in New York. At the Belmont Park spring/summer meeting from April 26 to July 14 he won at an 11% clip. Things did not get much better at Saratoga where he won 10 from 82 starters, a 12% win rate.
Then it was back to Belmont Park on Sept. 7 to Oct. 27 for the fall meeting and RRod went seven for 61, an 11% rate.
Betting against Rodriguez became in fashion. At Belmont Park over the past six months, the trainer won with just three of 21 starters that went off as the favorite.
However, it does beg the question, how did a 24% career trainer suddenly go to an 11% rate?
Did his snooze button break?
A better question is how does a trainer go from hitting at an 11% clip to 40%? RRod has landed 77% of his starters in the money at the Big A meeting through Sunday.
Granted his stock does seem better suited to doing well at Aqueduct, as six of his winners have been for horses running for a $20,000 tag or less.
Luckily, we had jumped off the RRod bandwagon early this spring and were avoiding his runners as if they had equine herpes, and for the most part it paid off. I don’t recall picking a single RRod horse on top at Saratoga.
When RRod won a race on the opening day card at the Big A, my radar went up that perhaps his slump was over. However, I was wrong originally, as he only won with one of his next 11 starters.
But since then he has won with 10 of his last 18 starters and is now tied with David Jacobson for tops in the trainer standings. Jacobson has started 20 more runners.
I would like to share the reason the barn has suddenly caught fire, but there really is no definitive reason I can come up with other than the obvious.
RRod is getting up very early again.