Bobby Zen

Is there room for still another European rider in the Santa Anita jockey colony, which includes Italians Frankie Dettori, Antonio Fresu and Umberto Rispoli? Adrie de Vries thinks there just might be.

The 54-year-old Dutch jockey spent last weekend visiting friend Carlos Arias in California and decided to ride a couple of horses at Santa Anita. Though he had just two mounts and finished off the board with both he said riding in California was among the most exciting moments of his career.

“It was absolutely a thrill,” he said. “I follow American racing and it was always a wish of mine to ride here. I’m just happy Carlos gave me the chance to get on a couple of horses.”

De Vries started riding in his native Holland when he was 15 and he won the Dutch Derby five times and was champion rider there 13 times. But racing was on the decline in Holland and de Vries left his home country in the 1980s to start what has been a whirlwind tour of racetracks all over the world. He has won stakes races in nine countries and had ridden in 18 total.

But he was mostly based in Germany and won the riding title there in 2014. He won the GI German Derby in 2018 on Weltstar (Ger) (Soldier Hollow {GB} and guided German import Energizer (Ger) (Monsun {Ger}) to a win at Royal Ascot in the GIII Tercentenary S. in 2012.

In the early 90’s he began to ride in Dubai, which became part of his circuit. He would winter in the U.A.E. and then head to Germany for the rest of the year. In 2012, he won the GI Dubai Golden Shaheen aboard Krypton Factor (GB) (Kyllachy {GB}).

“I’m not slowing down,” said de Vries, who estimates he’s won 2,500 races in his career. “At this age, you don’t want to take long breaks. You want to keep riding and stay fit. I wanted to do it as long as I still enjoy it and are still getting good horses to ride.”

He is not under contract to any stable this year in Germany so didn’t need to be in a hurry to return to Europe, which is why he spent three weeks at Santa Anita. He admits he has been influenced by the success the other foreign riders in California, in particular Fresu, have had there.

“Antonio Fresu made a name for himself here,” de Vries said. “He’s very talented. It’s just a matter of getting on the right horses. I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be successful in the U.S. I was motivated by him. I followed Antonio. He sat next to me in the jockey room in Dubai for a couple of seasons and he’s a very good rider. I know him well. I expected him to do good. I am very happy for him. I like his style. He is a good guy.”

De Vries is committed to riding in Germany this year and then it is on to Dubai. But after that? He might call Santa Anita home.

“It’s an option,” he said about possibly staying in the U.S. “I’m thinking about it. I am about the same age as Frankie Dettori. I’d like to have another experience before my career is over. I just had a little taste of it and it felt good. I felt welcome and met some nice people who were interested in putting me on horses. Carlos did a great job introducing me to a lot of great people. Coming back here after Dubai next year is definitely an option. Dubai finishes toward the end of March. There’s a good possibility I could come back here after that.

“Can I be successful here? It’s hard to say. You have to work hard and be lucky. If you can get a few winners early on that would really help. I really enjoyed it here. I’m really going to try to come back.”

The post Champion German Rider Adrie De Vries Mulls Moving To Southern California Circuit appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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