Rispoli will resume riding in California

After struggling to gain ground in Kentucky, jockey Umberto Rispoli returns to California to ride.

The Italian-born rider, among the leaders in California ahead of his move to Kentucky this spring, is booked to ride two horses May 22 at Santa Anita Park. He rides on May 20 and 21 at Churchill Falls.

Rispoli said Daily race form, who initially reported returning to California, that he didn’t receive as many opportunities as he had hoped. He added that the move would bring him back to his family, who stayed in California this spring.

Rispoli went 0-2-3 with 19 runs at Keeneland, and he entered the Friday program at Churchill Downs 0-1-2 from 17 mounts at the Louisville track. He rode Smooth as the strait and desert dawn to show the Finishers in Grade 1 action in Kentucky this spring.

Spring months in Kentucky are among the most competitive for jockeys when out-of-town riders deepen the regular jockey colony around the time of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) in early May.

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Although Rispoli hasn’t ridden in California since April 10, he remains seventh in the standings at Santa Anita with 27 wins in its current winter/spring competition which began December 26.

His return to Santa Anita comes at a time when Juan Hernandez has emerged as the track’s dominant driver following Flavien Prat’s decision to head east this spring. Hall of Famer John Velazquez also left California after riding there during the winter.

Clyde P. Johnson