Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado joins elite company with 7,000th career win

The Baltimore Sun

Jockey Edgar Prado won the 7,000th race of his Hall of Fame career Tuesday, becoming just the seventh rider to reach that mark.

Prado, 50, a longtime rider on the Maryland circuit, won aboard Anthony Merlino’s Thefundsarelow in the sixth race at Parx in Bensalem, Pa. He’s set to race Thursday on the opening day of the spring meet at Pimlico Race Course.

"It's a big accomplishment in my career," Prado said in a video posted on America's Best Racing’s Twitter feed. "I'm very thankful, very humbled."

Prado began riding in 1983 in Peru, where he was the leading apprentice before arriving in South Florida. He received his first mount on Always Misty on April 16, 1986, at Hialeah Park and won his first race in the United States on June 1, 1986, on Single Love at the former Calder Race Course, his 17th mount.

After getting his first win in Maryland on May 14, 1989, at Laurel Park on a long shot named Long Allure, Prado flourished in the state, winning 24 riding titles at Laurel and Pimlico between 1991 and 1999 and leading the nation in wins from 1997 to 1999. He won 536 races in 1997, making him one of only four riders to win over 500 races in a year.

“The state has been so great to me; it’s been the stomping grounds of my career,” he told The Baltimore Sun last week.

Prado, who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in August 2008 and won an Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey in 2006, moved to Saratoga in 1999. He won 11 riding titles in New York, captured the Belmont Stakes in 2002 and 2004 — both times spoiling Triple Crown bids — and won the Kentucky Derby on Barbaro in 2006.

Barbaro’s demise after an injury in the Preakness hurt Prado, who told The Sun last week that he wanted to win No. 7,000 at the Pimlico Spring Meet “to give something to the people of Maryland, to bring them joy.”

Bob Klesaris, a former leading trainer in New York and New England who now works as Prado’s agent, has been instrumental to Prado’s success over the years, and was the rider’s choice to present his plaque at the 2008 Hall of Fame induction ceremony. After a brief stint at Suffolk Downs in Boston, Prado was sent by Klesaris with a string of horses to be a stable rider in Maryland, giving the jockey his start in the state he would dominate.

“I told him, ‘I have good news and bad news,’ ” Klesaris recently told the Maryland Jockey Club about his decision to send Prado to Maryland. “The good news is, the stewards here [at Suffolk] will never bother you again. He goes, ‘OK, what’s the bad news?’ I told him, ‘You’re going to Maryland.’ He said, ‘What country is that?’ The rest is history.”

Speaking last week about the potential of Prado’s 7,000th win, Klesaris praised his longtime rider.

“You think of all the riders there have been in the last 100 years. I think [7,000 wins] is a huge deal,” Klesaris told the Maryland Jockey Club last month. “You look at some of the very, very top riders and they’re at 2,000 or 3,000, sometimes 4,000. It’s a huge accomplishment. Edgar is a credit to the profession.”

Winningest jockeys

Jockey; Wins

Russell Baze; 12,842

Laffit Pincay Jr.; 9,530

Bill Shoemaker; 8,833

Pat Day; 8,803

David Gall; 7,396

Chris McCarron; 7,141

Angel Cordero Jr.; 7,057

Edgar Prado; 7,000

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