Journeyman Horacio Karamanos, a perennial leading rider in Maryland since his arrival in 2002, celebrated Father's Day in style by winning the third race Sunday at Laurel Park for his 2,000th career victory.
JMJ Racing Stables' homebred Liquid Aloha ($12.60) was given clear run rating by Karamanos, launching their bid after straightening for home and holding off late-running Iggy Loco to take the $28,000 starter optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up by a head.
Liquid Aloha, a 4-year-old Smart Strike colt making just his fourth career start, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1 minute, 48.19 seconds over the firm Exceller Turf Course layout. It was the second mount of the day for Karamanos and 11th since earning win No. 1,999 June 16 at Laurel aboard Adam Staple's Top Prospect.
"I was not nervous but I am excited to make it," said Karamanos, who posed for a winner's circle presentation with his wife, Veronica, and 18-year-old daughter, Milagros. "I feel inspired because everyone was saying, 'C'mon, 1,999,' so I had to do it. I made it and I'm happy because 2,000 races — it's hard to get that.
"Someday my daughter is going to be a mother and she can say, 'Look at what your granddaddy did,' " he added. "You show them the picture because the picture is going to be forever. I wanted my family to stay with me in this moment. I feel happy for them, very emotional. Laurel is my home."
A native of Argentina who will turn 44 on June 28, Karamanos is the second Maryland-based rider to reach a career milestone in the past month. Injured Trevor McCarthy picked up his 1,000th career win May 13 at Monmouth Park.
Karamanos was one of the top riders in his native country with more than 1,500 wins before moving to South Florida in 2000, where he earned his first domestic victory at the former Calder Race Course. He captured his first riding title at Colonial Downs in 2002 and was its leading rider six times including three straight years (2007-2009).
In Maryland Karamanos owns five individual riding titles, most recently sharing the Preakness Meet at Pimlico crown with Feargal Lynch and Kevin Gomez. Represented by agent and ex-rider Frank Douglas, he also led the standings at Pimlico's 2003 summer-fall and 2010 spring meets as well as Laurel's 2002 summer and 2007 fall stands.
Karamanos had single-season highs of 237 wins and nearly $5.1 million in purse earnings in 2002, and his career bankroll has topped $50 million. He is the regular rider for claimer-turned-millionaire multiple stakes winner Page McKenney and has won two of the past three runnings of the Barbara Fritchie (G2) — Laurel's premiere winter stakes — with High Ridge Road (2017) and Lady Sabelia (2015).
Other top horses for Karamanos include graded winners London Lane, Red Giant, Bending Strings and Secret River, and 2012 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash winner Action Andy, trained by Carlos Garcia for Robert Gerczak.
On Oct. 26, 2002 he tied a Laurel record by riding seven winners on a single card.
"I win a lot of stakes and a lot of titles, but one of my favorite races was when [Action Andy] won the De Francis. Carlos is like my daddy and I love him so much and Bob the owner is a good friend to me and Carolos, so we had a nice connection. Page McKenney is in my heart. That horse has won many, many races and he's one of my favorites."