Jockey Robby Albarado had to wait a few days but the 41-year-old rider was finally able to celebrate his 1,000th career victory at Churchill Downs after guiding the Pat Dupuy-trained Red Maserati to a one-length triumph in Thursday’s third race.
Albarado is the third jockey in the 140-year history of Churchill Downs to reach the prestigious milestone. He ranks only third on the historic racetrack’s career win-list behind Hall of Fame jockeys Pat Day (2,482) and Calvin Borel (1,170).
“Considering all of the history at Churchill Downs and the two guys that are in front of me – Pat Day and Calvin Borel – it’s an honor just to be in their presence and talking about those guys,” Albarado said.
Thursday’s victory was actually Albarado’s 1,001st beneath the famed Twin Spires. Albarado won his 999th local race on Thursday, Nov. 6 aboard Bridaria and then was awarded No. 1,000 in unusual fashion on Saturday – through a ruling issued by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
The KHRC uploaded ruling No. 14-0081 to its website (http://khrc.ky.gov/Rulings/14-0081.pdf) stating that Proud Azteca was disqualified from first in the sixth race on Oct. 30 after it was discovered that the Indiana-bred colt did not meet the conditions of the race, and, therefore, determined to be ineligible. In turn, runner-up Hesinfront was promoted to first, and he was ridden by Albarado.
Albarado declined to recognize the significant milestone until he crossed the wire first so he could properly celebrate in the Churchill Downs winner’s circle with his colleagues.
“I wanted to cross the wire with the 1,000th winner and didn’t want to get put up and win it like that,” Albarado said. “I did appreciate (the ruling) but it was more like I didn’t do it; I didn’t win it. Today confirmed it. It was nice.”
Albarado is in his 25th year as a jockey and has been a staple at Churchill Downs since 1996. The Lafayette, La. has won only one local riding title – the 2008 Spring Meet when he won 73 races – but has finished in the Top 5 of the local jockey standings on 23 occasions, including seven seconds.
Albarado is best known as the regular rider of two Horse of the Year winners: Mineshaft in 2003 and Curlin in 2007-08. He won the 2007 Preakness and Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard the latter.
Overall, Albarado has won 4,662 races and his mounts have earned more than $190 million from 29,136 starts during a riding career that began in 1990. His earnings rank 17th all time in North America.
Thursday’s victory was Albarado’s sixth of the current 26-day Fall Meet. It took him 22 tries to land the milestone after finishing second five times and third once.
Ironically, Albarado scored his 900th Churchill Downs win aboard a Dupuy-trained horse, Strike Impact, on Nov. 12, 2010.