A few days ago Joe Santos talked with Jorge Navarro
I was glad to get the chance to speak with trainer Jorge Navarro, who is coming off a banner year with big wins in the Vanderbilt with El Deal, as well as a big win to cap the year in the Cigar Mile with Sharp Azteca. He has had his share of controversy as well this year, and took the time to discuss the 2017 rollercoaster of a year he has had.
JS: How did you get into the business?
JN: “It’s been a family business for me since I was young. I got my first real exposure when I was 12 at the old track in Detroit.”
JS: Who is the best horse you have ever trained?
JN: “Definitely Private Zone. He was a freak. He always came with his race.”
JS: How is Sharp Azteca doing coming off his big race in the Cigar Mile?
JN: “He’s doing great! He came back from New York three days after the race. My plan was to walk him for a week, but he’s doing so great that I am going to have to take him to the track earlier than that. That guy who rode with him on the plane said he’s never seen a horse so alert coming off such a big race.”
JS: Which horsemen have influenced you most?
JN: “No doubt it was my brother, Marcial Navarro. He’s a great horseman. Just hasn’t gotten the same opportunities I have been able to get. Where we come from, starting off in Calder, it is hard to get the chances I have been able to get. If he could get these kinds of horses and money behind him he would do great.”
JS: You are very well known for improving horses off the claim. What is it you look for most when looking for a claim?
JN: “I like to claim off of people who cannot afford to take care of the horses as well as we are. Some people have to take short cuts people of money and fortunately we do not have to do that, so I go after those people’s horses. People all ways want to say we are using this or that. I know in the video I got in trouble for it was unprofessional what I did in response to the heckling, but I was fed up and gave them what they wanted from me. I have learned a lot from that. It was a mistake that I was worried that I would lose my whole barn for, but fortunately we have been able to rebound. Winning the Cigar Mile for Sharp Azteca was very humbling after all I’ve been through the last few months.”
JS: Who are your go to riders?
JN: If I could I would ride Johnny V or Javier Castellano every time. The Ortiz brothers are great, but since I don’t give out calls, it is hard to get the best riders. I believe if you have the best horse you win. So I just lead over the best horse I can when they are doing there best. A lot of people point for race. I don’t get that. That doesn’t work for me. When they are doing there best and are ready to go, I enter.”
JS: What is the best part of your job?
JN: “The best part is when everything is done and everyone is out of the barn and it’s just me and my horses. I love my horses and when I see them happy, it makes me happy.”