Riding the Belmont with Atigun

June, 8, 2012
ELMONT, N.Y. -- I moved to New York right after the Kentucky Derby, so I've been here about five weeks. I went to the Preakness three weeks ago and last week I went to Canada, but other than that, I've been working on getting things settled and building up my business.

I actually love the area and the life in New York. I'm used to a more relaxed pace, but we have a nice apartment, and if we want to go out to dinner, we just walk to restaurants; we don't bother taking the car. There's a lot of stuff to do here and great places to go, and I feel very much at home.

I've ridden at New York tracks before, and I've always had success during the Saratoga season, which is actually where I rode my first winner, in 2005. Things are a little slow for us here at Belmont right now, but we didn't come here expecting to do as well as we did at Churchill Downs right at the beginning. It's going to take time for us to get going, so we're working for it and happy to have the chance.

I go out in the mornings, and right now Ken McPeek and Christophe Clement have been the most business for me, but I'm riding for other guys as well. McPeek is a Kentucky-based trainer, and the horse I'm riding for him in the Belmont Stakes, Atigun, is one I rode at Churchill on Kentucky Derby Day.

This is a nice, good-looking horse. He's probably going to just be in the back of the pack. He doesn't have to be last, but he's probably going to be sitting off the pace. When I rode him at Churchill that day, he won pretty easily, with a big sweeping move. I hear he's been working very well over the track, so we'll see what happens -- first time going a mile and a half, and you never know in this kind of race.

People ask me how I feel about being taken off Union Rags, and I pretty much just tell them that it's part of the game. What happened in the Derby was unfortunate, but every jockey goes through this kind of thing at one point or another; it's not just me. I have to kind of turn the page and try to win the race with this new horse, and just be excited I have the opportunity. This will be my third Belmont; I finished third in 2008 with Anak Nakal and ninth in 2009 with Flying Private. I have a shot to win it, and you can't win it if you're not in it!



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