A horse-racing veteran of over 40 years, Jose Corrales knows enough ahead of his first Triple Crown race to know he'll be best served during Preakness week living up to his prized colt's name — Bodhisattva.
The 3-year-old colt is named for the Buddhist term meaning "enlightened being." Corrales, the owner and trainer, knows he has a talented young jockey — Laurel Park standout Trevor McCarthy — but a horse whose talent he said he can't yet gauge.
So despite all the trappings that come with winning the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico earlier this year and entering a local horse in the 140th Preakness Stakes on Saturday, Corrales plans to lay low this week and take in a week he said will be like a "dream."
"I am not a person who likes to talk about my horse is this and that, he should win," Corrales said. "I'm not a big talker because if I don't think he had a chance, I would not run him.
"I'm not running for the show or people to see my face or my name. Let the horse talk."
His is a calm, measured approach to a weekend with horse racing's elite, including Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah and contenders Dortmund and Firing Line.
Should the relative long shot come in, Bodhisattva (pronounced boh-dee-SAHT-vah) would be the first Tesio winner to also take the Preakness since 1983.
Though bred at Magali Farms in Santa Ynez, Calif., the chestnut colt has Maryland success in his blood.
His sire, Student Council won the 2008 Pimlico Special, and his Bodhisattva's dam sire, Talk is Money, was a Maryland horse trained by John Scanlan, who placed second in the Tesio in 2001.
Corrales trains out of Laurel Park for Stronach Stables, the racing arm of the Stronach Group, which owns that track, Pimlico and several others. Through Corrales' work with them, he began training Bodhisattva when the horse came to Laurel Park in late 2013, and in July 2014, took ownership from breeder Andy Stronach.
"He didn't know what this horse was going to be," Corrales said. "I didn't know what this horse was going to be. Nobody knew."
A lifetime of training and riding experience has helped the 55-year-old Corrales to his first Triple Crown race.
Corrales decided he wanted to be a jockey at age 6 while on a trip into the city from the Panamanian countryside of his birth. He entered jockey school at age 14, and two years later, rode — and won — his first race in 1976. He came to America in 1980, and rode and trained in China as well as across the United States over the last 35 years.
Bodhisattva's development came in Maryland, where he has been since 2011. The colt broke his maiden in September 2014 at Laurel Park, his fourth non-claiming maiden race. Last November, Corrales ran him in his first and only graded stakes race, the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, where he finished fifth.
Bodhisattva raced three more times at Laurel Park before McCarthy, one of the area's top young jockeys, first rode him.
Corrales had admired McCarthy since he came to Laurel Park in late 2012, and the two connected this spring when McCarthy recovered from a broken wrist. Corrales said he believes McCarthy will end up as a Hall of Fame jockey, and insists he thought that even before their run of good finishes.
"The first couple I rode for him, win, win, run second, run third," McCarthy said. "Everything he put me on was really winning or hitting the board"
McCarthy first rode Bodhisattva at the Private Terms Stakes in March at Laurel Park, where he finished second. McCarthy said Bodhisattva could have won, but "really didn't know what he was doing." That changed at the Tesio, McCarthy said, when "the light bulb came on" down the stretch.
Corrales didn't know the implications of the Tesio, which has sent 18 of its last 33 winners to the Preakness. He only knew it was a distance his 3-year-old could run well, with a $100,000 purse.
"I wasn't even thinking to run in the Preakness," Corrales said. "It just happens, I find myself in the Preakness, and to be able to be there is a great thing. … That's when you hit the top. To be there is a great thing for me."
The same goes for McCarthy, son of successful Mid-Atlantic jockey Mike McCarthy. Trevor McCarthy grew up around the track and recalls needing to be dragged — kicking and screaming — from the track to go to preschool.
He worked for Maryland-based trainer Graham Motion as a teen, apprenticed at Philadelphia Park and turned professional in 2013 at Laurel Park. He was Maryland's winningest jockey in 2014 with 167 victories.
McCarthy credits his father for setting him up for success at every step in his career, and said riding in his first Triple Crown race at age 21 — his birthday is Saturday — means a lot to both father and son.
A successful ride could elevate what he's doing at Laurel Park, too.
"I think it'll be a huge deal," McCarthy said. "Maryland, they need a horse like this to really get people interested and for people to come out to the races and watch."
Neither Corrales nor McCarthy has been in Maryland for longer than a few years, but their success at Pimlico on Saturday would resonate across the state, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association executive director David Richardson said.
"I think we're long overdue," Richardson said. "I think it's a great opportunity for the guys. Trevor is an excellent jockey. Trevor's been great here in Maryland, and it would do us all proud to see Jose and Trevor bring home the Preakness. I know all of Maryland is pulling for them."