Joe Rocco Jr. finished 2016 with 18 wins, including four stakes. He won Bayakoa and Azeri (G2) Stakes with Call Pat and won both the Nodouble Breeders’ and Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes with Weast Hill. Other top wins came with Kiss to Remember in the $200,000 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs and the $50,000 Ellis Park Turf Stakes with Sweet Acclaim.
He is the son of retired jockey Joe Rocco, Sr., who rode for 34 years and won over 3,700 races, and would often compete against his father when both were riding at Delaware Park. His grandfather, Baden Hughes, and his mother, Debora, both trained horses and owned broodmares. Rocco, who began galloping horses as a teenager, launched his own riding career 18 years ago, notching his first career win in 1999 at Tampa Bay Downs.
The rider won his first career stakes race in 2003 aboard House Party in the $75,000 Legal Light Stakes at Delaware Park. His first graded stakes victory came at Oaklawn in 2012 when he rode Tiz Miz Sue to victory in the Azeri Stakes. The following year, the popular mare gave him his first Grade 1 win in the Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park.