“Jersey” Joe Bravo is a multiple Grade I winning jockey. His best wins include victories aboard Lion Heart in the Haskell Invitational and a triumph in the Donn Handicap under Formal Gold. He is currently riding at Monmouth Park. I recently had the pleasure to ask him a few questions. Let’s take a look at what he had to say.
Gradedstakes.com: I’ve read that your first winner was aboard Daffy Doc at Calder Race Course. Do you remember anything about that horse or the race?
Joe Bravo: Yea, thank God I was on the best horse. I was in the middle of the track and had no clue until it was over! The horse was the real winner.
Gradedstakes.com: I saw a poll earlier this year that asked “Which jockey would you most like to see win a Kentucky Derby?”I picked you of course! Are there any prospects you can tell us about?
Joe Bravo: This is the best time of the whole year and we are all shopping for our best shot at winning the Kentucky Derby. So many horses are growing into themselves, it’s hard to tell.
Gradedstakes.com: Your father and grandfather were both jockeys. How has that benefited you?
Joe Bravo: The experience they have in the game and were able to pass on is priceless. In this game you learn something new each and every day.
Gradedstakes.com: You’ve won quite a few big races. The 2004 Haskell Invitational sticks out for me. How did it feel to win that race and beat the heavy favorite Rock Hard Ten?
Joe Bravo: Winning the biggest race of the year at your home track? It doesn’t get any better!
Gradedstakes.com: Your Pennsylvania Derby win was excellent. Anak Nakal hadn’t been doing his best running, but he really responded to you. Was there anything specific that you did, or was he just ready to go?
Joe Bravo: It was wild in the post parade. He was giving me a sense that he had it all along and he just pulled me to the winners circle.
Gradedstakes.com: What race are you most proud of winning?
Joe Bravo: Well I’m going to have to say the Donn Handicap aboard Formal Gold, because it was my first Grade 1 win. Beating Skip Away was cool, because I worked him at least 20 times, but never rode him in a race. I was on top of the world after beating him!
Gradedstakes.com: Who are your favorite horses that you have ridden?
Joe Bravo: Wow that is tough, I’ve been riding for 21 years so there is a long list. Let’s find that Kentucky Derby winner and we can talk about him!
Gradedstakes.com: Which jockeys did you admire when you were younger?
Joe Bravo: When I was coming up, Pat Day and Angel Cordero were great. There are so many talented riders; you have to watch all of them. Like I said earlier, you learn something new every day.
Gradedstakes.com: Your success at Monmouth has been phenomenal. How do you perform at such a high level year in and year out?
Joe Bravo: This game is similar to a snow ball effect. The owners want the hot jock, so the hard part is keeping people happy when you can’t ride their horse. On the other hand, the easy part is riding, because I love what I do and it doesn’t feel like a job to me.
Gradedstakes.com: Do you have any interesting or funny stories from the Jockeys Room, or otherwise?
Joe Bravo: What happens in there stays in there (laughs).
Gradedstakes.com: Do you have any stories from the poker tables?
Joe Bravo: I live for riding and playing poker. What poker player DOESN’T have some bad beat stories?! I love the game though.
Gradedstakes.com: What do you think of the show Jockeys?
Joe Bravo: It’s OK I guess. I think I would have done some things different, but that’s why I’m a jockey and not a producer (laughs).
Gradedstakes.com: What kind of advice would you give to an aspiring jockey?
Joe Bravo: My best advice would be to get an education. Your next race could always be your last. You had better love this game, because it’s not easy.
Gradedstakes.com: Are there any other thoughts that you would like to share with us?
Joe Bravo: I was born for this (laughs).