By Jon Lees
USA: British jockey Adam Beschizza is set to ride in the Kentucky Derby for the first time after securing the mount on Enforceable for trainer Mark Casse.
In an example of being in the right place at the right time, 28-year-old Beschizza has been picked for the G3 LeComte Stakes winner who races in the colours of leading owner-breeder John Oxley, a Kentucky Derby winner in 2001 with Monarchos.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made travelling between states in the USA difficult, resulting in a number of jockeys choosing not to go to Churchill Downs, which will host the US Triple Crown race on September 5 with no fans, four months on from its original date.
Revised US Triple Crown for 2020
“It’s good news,” said Beschizza. “We found out last week when everybody was making their jockey bookings. It was about who was coming and who couldn’t come to the meet.
“I’ve been working the horse for a long time, even before he won at the Fair Grounds, when I had another commitment, so who knows what the deciding factor was, but a lot of us have developed opportunities off the back of the virus.
“You have to jump through a lot of hoops to race at another track, but I’m already here. It’s one of the good things to come out of 2020.”
When he left Britain at the end of 2017 Beschizza had ridden 220 winners over nine seasons, his career highlight coming in 2015 when he completed the autumn double by riding the winners of the Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch, on Third Time Lucky and Grumeti.
After less than three years in the US, where he linked up with trainer Joe Sharp, he is four wins short of 300 winners. He rode 124 winners in 2018, when he claimed his first riding title at the 2018-19 Fair Grounds meet, and 107 last year.
During an up-and-down 2020 he was unable to defend his Fair Grounds crown. He was hit by suspensions and had 11 wins chalked off when a number of horses from the Sharp barn, which had been administered a deworming product, tested positive for a prohibited substance. Sharp has also undergone surgery to remove a benign brain tumour.
“It was a very character-building meet,” he said. “It started off good but when you are knocked down 10-plus winners, it is very hard to make up ground. Then in the spring rides were very thin in terms of quality because everyone was at Churchill Downs. I’ve been a lot busier at Ellis Park, in western Kentucky.”
In between the four-hour round trip to Ellis Park, Beschizza has been working Enforceable, a son of Tapit, at Churchill Downs. The colt has won two of his nine starts and finished fourth behind Art Collector in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last month, his first run since March.
“I have to be thankful to John Oxley and Mark Casse for this opportunity,” he said. “The Derby is an ultra-competitive race, as it is every year. We will have to be on our A-game.
“Enforceable is definitely a horse that will be involved in the second part of the race, what we call a closer. It will be a cavalry charge for the first two furlongs but he has the pace to take a position not too far back.”
Beschizza left Britain to explore a short-term alternative to the winter all-weather season but the visit went so well he made it permanent.
“When I first came out it was make or break, expecting the worst and hoping for the best,” he said. “There is a big adjustment to make but I am pretty stable here now. I got myself a house in Louisville which I now call home.
“I guess I have to be surprised by what I have achieved. It’s the best move I’ve ever made, but I have worked bloody hard for it.”