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Fresu a Fresh Face at Del Mar This Summer

Antonio Fresu is one of the new kids in the Del Mar jockey’s room. He’s also one of the most accomplished. He’s only been in the United States for a short time and has already established himself as a reliable rider with good instincts.

He made his North American debut last September at Saratoga Race Course. Since then he’s made quite an impression everywhere he rides, at Santa Anita Park, at Los Alamitos Race Course and now at Del Mar, where he won his first mount of the summer meet aboard the Cal-bred, Economical , in a claiming race July 22. He entered racing Aug. 5 fourth in the Del Mar jockey standings with six wins, nine seconds and six thirds from 47 mounts and $522,330 in earnings.

Fresu is good with horses because he’s been around them all of his life. The 31-year-old native Italian was brought up in a family of horsemen.

“I’m the fourth generation of riders,” Fresu said. “My father was a jockey in Italy; so were my uncle, my granddad and my great grandfather. They actually didn’t want me to be a jockey. They say it’s a hard life and now after a few years I have to say they were right.”

Fresu went to the racing school in Italy in Pisa and admittedly says he started a little bit late.

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“My first ride I was almost 20 years old,” he noted. “After a few years in Italy, I was doing really well and they suggested I go to England. So I went to the U.K. for a couple of years and that’s when I started to go to Dubai.”

Fresu became one of the top riders at Meydan Racecourse in the United Emirates, home of the Dubai World Cup, winning the 2021 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) with Zenden .

“That’s where I met Doug O’Neill,” Fresu said. “He was asking me to come to the U.S. last year but I didn’t take the chance. But this year I did because he said he had a good friend, Tom Knust, who could be my agent. It was a good move.”

“He’s just a tremendous horseman,” O’Neill said about Fresu. “Horses just run for him. He’s got that ‘it’ factor. He’s able to reserve a horse without fighting him and then down the lane he’s very strong and horses are encouraged by him.

“Sometimes you get riders who are strong finishers but horses aren’t in sync with them and they take their run away,” O’Neill continued. “But he’s a strong finisher and horses really run for him.”

Fresu says he’s still making the adjustment to life in America, specifically to a different lifestyle. Across the world, however, there has been one constant for him.

“I have a passion for the horses,” Fresu said with a smile. “They are amazing animals.”

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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