“We’re just waiting for good opportunities,” said Curatolo, when asked how he keeps a fresh attitude with a paucity of live mounts available.
With little to no fanfare, French native Ryan Curatolo is quietly but steadily making his mark at Santa Anita this winter, as he’s now won nine races, good enough to make the coveted Top 10 in the jockey standings through 31 racing days.
Born in Marseille, France on April 29, 1992, Curatolo, at age 14, attended a jockey school in Chantilly for a period of four years. Another notable attendee during that time frame was a fledgling rider named Flavien Prat.
“My dad was not in racing, but he used to take my sister and me to the races, that was my introduction,” said Curatolo on Thursday morning at Clockers’ Corner. “I started riding in New York in 2010 and that’s when I learned to speak English by myself basically…I would go to the track and picked it up just watching TV, listening to the radio and it was actually pretty easy. I picked it up pretty fast. Within three months, I was speaking pretty good English.”
Represented by agent Mike Ciani, Curatolo, who in addition to riding in his native France and in New York, has a rather extensive international resume, having ridden in Singapore (where he met his wife, Dayle), Japan, Macau, South Korea, Dubai, U.A.E. and Qatar.
“We had not met, but I was referred to Ryan by a guy that worked for Pete Eurton,” said Ciani, who has been a jock’s agent for 15 years. “He was riding in Qatar and we were communicating through Facebook Messenger a couple years ago. We had made arrangements for him to come here and ride, but everything got delayed by COVID.
“As a result of all of that, when he finally did get here, he hadn’t ridden races for about seven months, so it took a little while for him to get race-fit. He’s done an amazing job and we’re riding for more and more people. The fact that he’s won nine races is really something, especially when you consider he has not ridden a single favorite.”
The fact that Curatolo has been able to consistently produce when the tote board would suggest otherwise is yet another strong indication of his considerable talent.
This past Saturday for instance, Curatolo rode a pair of winners, Salto De Tigre ($13.00) for trainer Keith Desormeaux and first time starter Tofino Bay ($73.40) for Neil Drysdale.
“We’re just waiting for good opportunities,” said Curatolo, when asked how he keeps a fresh attitude with a paucity of live mounts available. “You go out there and Santa Anita is one of the best racetracks in the world, I think. We’re just making ourselves available and when we get the chance, even if you’re on a longshot, you try hard.
“Even if you get a fourth or fifth place, that helps to pay the bills and that’s what I want to try to do for the people I ride for. I think that’s helped to build our business, by riding well, by trying to get a piece for them. We go out there and try hard.
“I study the guys I ride with and I’ve learned a lot about the track, the main track and the turf. The more you ride the turf, the more you know what to do and where to be, the same thing with the dirt…When to move, when to accelerate and the way the track is banked. All of these things are important.”
Married six months and soon to be 30 years of age in April, Curatolo’s emergence this winter has certainly been a pleasant surprise to those horsemen that have used him and to those punters that have backed him.
In addition to his double digit victories this past Saturday, here is a complete listing of Curatolo’s Winter Meet pari-mutuel success: Feb. 19, Ever Smart ($31.40), Feb. 13, Ko Samui ($39.40) & Classical Romance ($10.20), Jan. 30, Epoch ($25.80), Jan. 22, Classical Romance ($7.20), Jan. 9, Renegade Princess ($7.40) and Jan. 8, Barristan the Bold ($36.20).
Looking ahead, Curatolo is named on five horses this Saturday, including Madone for trainer Simon Callaghan in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at one mile on turf and Founder’s Day for Bob Hess, Jr. in the Grade I Beholder Mile on the main track.
Vive la France!