Lopez, Rocco Jr., Cohen Join Churchill Colony
The jockey colony at Churchill Downs will get more competitive this fall with the addition of Paco Lopez, Joe Rocco Jr., and David Cohen, who are scheduled to ride their first full meet at the Louisville track.
Lopez, who turned 27 Oct. 18, moved to the United States in 2006 and began riding professionally in 2007. He was honored with an Eclipse Award as the top apprentice rider in 2008 and scored his 1,000th career victory at Monmouth Park in August. A leading rider at Gulfstream Park, Calder Casino & Race Course, Meadowlands, and Monmouth, Lopez has just eight career mounts at Churchill Downs with one victory, which came in the 2010 Alysheba aboard Arson Squad.
“We fell in love with Keeneland and we decided to stay in Kentucky until Gulfstream,” agent Cory Moran said in a release. “We want to break into Kentucky and come back every year. You want to be in Kentucky if you’re in this business.”
Rocco Jr., son of veteran rider Joe Rocco, is just 42 victories away from the 1,000-win milestone. One of the leading riders in the Mid-Atlantic region, the younger Rocco’s top mounts this year included grade III winners Colonial Flag and Tiz Miz Sue. In his lone mount at Churchill Downs, Rocco Jr. finished ninth aboard Atrial Flutter in the 2001 Mrs. Revere (gr. II).
Rocco was involved in an Oct. 19 spill at Keeneland but sustained no serious injuries and will be ready to ride opening day at Churchill Downs.
“He was a little sore, but he’s doing fine now and he’s riding today (Oct. 24) at Keeneland,” agent Lenny Pike said in a statement. “I think he’s going to have a good meet.”
Cohen, who has more than 1,100 career victories, is a two-time grade I-winning jockey with victories in the 2005 Malibu aboard Proud Tower Too and the 2012 Travers on Golden Ticket. In his only mounts at Churchill Downs, Cohen finished 10th aboard Tamarind Hall in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) and ninth on Vexor in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint. Cohen started his career in Southern California and then moved his tack to the East Coast in 2007.
“I’m very excited and I’m looking forward to making Kentucky my home,” Cohen said.