Racing Spotlight: Jesus’ Team, Francisco Arrieta, Kieron Magee

Profile Picture: Sara Dacus

March 25th, 2021

Racing Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights a horse, jockey, and trainer with insightful information to help our players informed.

This week, we'll look at Jesus’ Team, a former claimer who is in Dubai for the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1); jockey Francisco Arrieta, who has successfully forged a new path at Oaklawn Park; and trainer Kieron Magee, who has finished in the top three at a 61% rate at Laurel Park.

Horse spotlight: Jesus’ Team

A five-time claiming-race participant, Jesus’ Team has gone on to earn more than $1 million and is in Dubai to take on world-class competition in the Dubai World Cup on March 27.

Last year, he finished third in the Preakness (G1) and second in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1). He started 2021 with a second-place finish in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 23.

Trainer Jose D’Angelo, 30, began his career in his native Venezuela when he was 22. There, he became the youngest trainer to win the prestigious Clásico Simón Bolívar. After he finished second in the Caribbean Cup Speed S. at Gulfstream in 2017, he decided to move to Florida. He saddled his first American winner in his third start, in June of 2019, at Gulfstream.  

In his final work before flying to Dubai, Jesus’ Team breezed seven furlongs in 1:31.60 Sunday morning in south Florida.

“I'm very happy with the work,” D'Angelo said. “He finished very strong, and his gallop out was amazing. I'm very confident now that Jesus will run a great race, with a chance to win the Dubai World Cup.”

D’Angelo struck up a friendship with trainer Bob Baffert, a three-time winner of the Dubai World Cup, during Preakness week.

“I talked to Bob Baffert three times last week, and he told me a lot of things about going to Dubai,” D’Angelo said. “He’s helped me a lot.”

Joel Rosario has the mount. Jesus’ Team is a 4-year-old son of Tapiture, who won multiple graded stakes and also competed in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Jockey spotlight: Francisco Arrieta

Francisco Arrieta is a fresh face making headlines at Oaklawn Park. The Venezuelan native is second in the jockey standings (25 wins), two victories ahead of Florent Geroux, one of the nation’s top riders. They trail Ricardo Santana Jr., who has 35 wins.

Arrieta has won at an 18% rate at Oaklawn and has finished in the top three with 48% of his mounts. He has earned more than $1.3 million in purses since the meet opened Jan. 22.

“Everybody told me it’s really tough here,” Arrieta, 32, said. “But I’ve got belief. When you believe and get the opportunity … now I’m doing really good.”

Arrieta credited his strong start to agent Jay Fedor, who represented Martin Garcia when he finished second in the jockey standings at the 2020 Oaklawn meet. Fedor also booked mounts for Gary Stevens, Stewart Elliott, Corey Nakatani, and Michael Baze in the past.

“He’s a young, rising star,” Fedor said. “This was a challenge that excited me, taking somebody that I was pretty certain that not many would know. A few people knew him, but I got lucky.”

Arrieta enrolled in a jockey academy when he was 16 and began competing at 18. He recorded his first United States win in 2015.

Arrieta won 593 races in the three-year span (2018-2020) and ranked eighth nationally in victories (250) in 2019. He has earned riding titles at Zia Park, Turf Paradise, and Canterbury Park. He held a comfortable lead at Hawthorne in 2020, until a training accident cut his season short. He has earned more than $10.3 million in purses.

Trainer spotlight: Kieron Magee

Maryland mainstay Kieron Magee has once again posted big numbers at Laurel Park, where he has won at a 23% rate and hit the board 61% of the time this season.

Belle Tapisserie, also owned by Magee, is one of his stars of the meet. The 6-year-old has won each of his three starts since Magee claimed the gelding in November.

The claiming game has been the lifeblood of Magee's operation. The Irishman was Maryland’s leading trainer for three consecutive years (2014-2016) and has won multiple training titles at Pimlico and Laurel.

Magee is a former exercise rider for Dale Capuano, a Marylander with more than 3,500 wins. When Magee was in his mid-40s, he decided he needed a change.

He has sent out 823 winners as a trainer and has won at a 22% rate. A career highlight came when Line of Best Fit finished third, just three lengths behind champion filly Songbird, in the Delaware Handicap (G1).

Magee, now 60, is based at his Baltimore County farm. He considers Pimlico his home track and is an advocate for its continued operation.

"I galloped horses here for 25 years and live 20 minutes from here," he said. "It's home."