EDMONTON, Canada – Veteran conditioners Robertino Diodoro and Rod Cone have backed outstanding Barbadian jockey Rico Walcott to excel at Woodbine Racetrack in the campaign starting there next month.
The 34-year-old Walcott has spent the last 16 years on the Alberta racing scene in western Canada, dominating the likes of the now defunct Northlands Park and the recently opened Century Mile.
When Woodbine gets underway on April 22, Barbadian Walcott will be the newest member of the jockey colony.
“He rides the cheap horses as hard as he rides the ones in stakes races,” said Cone, who has won Alberta’s richest stakes race – the Canadian Derby – four times.
“I know he’s won races for me I never expected to win. He never looks at the odds board and thinks ‘this horse is 20-1 and has no shot.’ He has a positive attitude every time he climbs on. I’d ride him on every horse I run if I could get him.”
He continued: “Who wouldn’t [want to]? I’ve always said I’m sure he could go anywhere he wants to go to ride and win races. I don’t think Toronto will be any different.
“He’ll be just fine. He’ll do well. He’ll fit right in. He’s as good a rider as there is in Canada in my opinion.”
Walcott has racked up astonishing numbers over the years in Alberta. He won five Canadian Derbies – in 2010, 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2022 – his last success being his first capture of the race at Century Mile which was opened in 2019.
He won eight titles at Northlands, has since added two more at Century and have ridden 1524 winners for purse earnings of around CAN$20 million.
Diodoro, who also has a barn at Hot Springs, Arkansas in the United States, said success was sure to follow Walcott to Toronto.
“I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t successful,” Diodoro said.
“I just wish he would have done it earlier. We asked him 100 times to come to Oaklawn.
“I think he will do very well. He has all the tools. He has so much talent. And, he is very personable.”
Walcott’s long-standing agent, Bob Fowlis, said he and the champion rider had forged a close partnership since coming together 11 years ago.
“Rico was like my own son for a long time. He’s a great rider,” he said.
“I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of great riders. Rico, Rickey (Walcott) and Quincy Welch, who was also a leading rider in Alberta and won just under 2,000 races, were all from Barbados.
“They were three of the top five jockeys to ever ride in Alberta in my opinion.
“Rico is just so talented. It’s amazing how much he gets out of horses. He’s really strong and like any good jockey sits a horse well. I wish him nothing but the best.
“I hope everything works out good in Toronto and with his health.”
In 2019, Walcott underwent surgery for a brain tumor and missed the season.