LAUREL, MD. 01-08-14---Victor Carrasco was named a finalist for outstanding apprentice jockey when the 2013 Eclipse Awards nominees were announced this morning on HRTV. Winners will be announced at the 43rd annual ceremony, to be held Saturday evening, January 18 at the Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino near Miami.
Carrasco led all apprentice riders in victories (215) and earnings ($4,357,715) last year. Edgard Zayas (183 wins & $3,512,381 as an apprentice) and Manny Franco (130 wins & $4,298,526) are the other finalists in the category. Maryland-based Trevor McCarthy (140 wins & $3,653,365) and Emmanuel Esquivel (142 wins & $3,424,416) were other worthy candidates.
“I felt really happy when I saw my name on TV,” said Carrasco before Laurel’s first race Wednesday afternoon. “The other two nominees are Puerto Rican, too. We went to the same jockey school (Escuela Vocacional Hipica), so I feel very happy about that. One of us is going to be an Eclipse Award winner.”
Maryland-based apprentice riders have captured nine of the 42 Eclipse Awards for outstanding apprentice with Chris McCarron (1974), Ronnie Franklin (1978), Alberto Delgado (1982), Allen Stacy (1986), Kent Desormeaux (1987), Mike Luzzi (1989), Mark Johnston (1990), Jeremy Rose (2001) and Ryan Fogelsonger (2002) all being honored.
Carrasco, who finished second in the Pimlico spring and Delaware Park standings, finished the year ranked 14th overall in wins and 47th in earnings.
If he does emerge victorious, it will be his performance in winning the Laurel Park fall meet that will have catapulted Carrasco to the honor. From November 13 through December 31, he rode at least one winner in 24 of the 28 live racing days, including 16 multiple win afternoons. He finished the stand with 69 victories.
“Winning the Eclipse was my goal. I hope I did enough to win it but you never know. Zayas and Franco both won stakes races,” added Carrasco. “We didn’t really get started until April. My agent Tom Stift did a really good job of picking the right horses and we got so much help from all the trainers, especially Juan Vazquez, Hugh McMahon and Scott Lake. There were also many riders in the jocks room who were always willing to help me improve.”
Rosie Napravnik (2006) and Forest Boyce (2010) were the last local riders on the ballot, finishing in second place in 2006 and 2010 respectively.
Owned by Taneytown resident Susan Wantz and trained by Ollie Figgins III at the Bowie Training Center, Dance to Bristol enjoyed a stellar 4-year-old campaign in 2013 with victories in seven of her 10 starts, including three graded stakes, to earn one of the three spots in the female sprinter category.
The daughter of Speightstown and jockey Xavier Perez reeled off seven straight victories from February through August, including a win in the Skipat Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Preakness weekend and three graded races in New York: Bed Of Roses (G3), Honorable Miss (G2) and Ballerina (G1). She ended her career with a sixth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) in November and was retired Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington, KY to start a new career as a broodmare.
“It is an honor to train a horse that was nominated for something so important,” said Figgins. “She had a superb season and is very deserving. If you threw out that last race she would have had a great chance to win. It was an exciting year. Every race she seemed to get a little better and kept progressing just like you hoped. I couldn’t have mapped it out any better. She handled everything we threw at her and peaked at the right time.”