‘Heartwarming To See Him Happy’: Millionaire Valid Retired By Jockey Nik Juarez

by | 08.22.2017 | 2:43pm
Valid grazing alongside Nik Juarez at his new retirement facility in Maryland

On Tuesday, jockey Nik Juarez officially announced the retirement of multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Valid. The 24-year-old Maryland native spent his own money to track down the 7-year-old gelded son of Medaglia d'Oro, and had him shipped back to a farm in Maryland to live out the rest of his days eating grass and occasionally as Juarez' personal riding horse.

Valid was the first horse Juarez rode to victory in stakes competition, winning the 2015 Grade 3 Phillip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park; the milestone occurred just three days after the jockey lost his bug boy status.

“He was a big part of my career,” Juarez said. “It's hard to explain but for those that knew him, he was such a joy to be around and had his own very unique personality. I rode him and could just feel how much will he had to fight and to win. It's very heartwarming to see him happy, eating grass and just being a horse. He deserves it.”

Bred in Virginia by Edward P. Evans, Valid was originally a $500,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September sale. Selected by John Ferguson, Valid began his career under the Darley colors, but went to auction again at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Fall mixed sale with just one win from seven career starts. Purchased by Carolyn Vogel for $115,000, Valid went on to compete for trainer Marcus Vitali and ownership Crossed Sabres Farm.

His first stakes win came in the 2014 G2 Monmouth Cup, and he would go on to add wins in the 2015 G3 Fred W. Hooper, the 2015 G3 Phillip H. Iselin, and the 2016 G3 Skip Away. Throughout his career, Valid was incredibly consistent, rarely finishing off the board in both allowance and stakes company. His final start for Crossed Sabres was the Skip Away win in April of 2016, at which point his record stood at 12 wins, nine seconds and seven thirds from 37 career starts, with earnings of $1,101,647.

Valid was later sold to Tom W. Thurman in the 2017 Keeneland January mixed sale for $15,000. In April, his first start in about a year, Valid ran ninth in a listed stake at Nebraska's Fonner Park. The gelding ran twice more at Arapahoe, his best finish a second in an allowance race, to earn a grand total of $3,000 for those three starts.

Today, Valid belongs to Juarez, and the gelding can “finally rest,” said the jockey. Currently the leading rider at Monmouth Park by a big margin, Juarez is preparing to move his tack to Belmont Park this fall. Still, he plans to come home to Maryland to spend time with Valid whenever possible.

  • thisismyonlypostonthesubject

    Thank you very much for finding and retiring Valid, Mr. Juarez. I cast absolutely no aspersions upon the gentleman who purchased him this past January–I know nothing about him, and he may indeed be a very fine person and horseman. However, I saw that this talented, hard-working, once-very-expensive horse had sold for a relatively insignificant sum, and I saw that he was beginning to add some age to his resume. I was worried about him, and I am so glad my worries were for naught.

  • Greg J.

    Bravo!!! Thank you.

  • Chaz Domingoson

    Nik Juarez is a good man

  • KYFan2

    You are a good man, Nik Juarez. Valid will repay you with love. Thank you!!! I know you didn’t do this for publicity at all, but I hope the story spreads so that others might emulate this immense act of kindness and appreciation for what these horses give.

  • Bo Mitchell

    God Bless you young man!! Just wish there were a lot more like you!! This made my day..

  • Ida Lee

    I don’t know who the lucky one is….either way, they’re both loved & happy….can’t ask for more…. …..

    • Olebobbowers

      Feels soo good to come across such a morale boost, eh Ida Lee…<3

      • Ida Lee

        Yep…I’m still basking in the glow of this wonderful story of love and caring….

  • RuthG

    Wonderful young man. Bless him for being there for Valid. How easily they can fall through the cracks . Valid is one of the lucky ones.

  • greg

    This is the 2nd horse last raced by Cross Sabers to be found in not the best shape without the best prospects going forward. Seems the owner of Cross Sabres has no regard for his horses when done racing, I’ll find the name of the other

    • FagerPhD

      Lochte, perhaps? That’s the only other noteworthy runner they had that I know of.

      • greg

        Yes sir, that’s correct..thank you

      • Blue Larkspur

        Lochte last ran about a year ago

    • Wasn’t Marcus Vitali associated with Gill in some way, shape, or form?

      • greg


        • Actually, Vitali trained for Gill.

          • greg

            Thank you, I stand corrected

  • Louie Dula

    What a hero to do this for Valid. Thank you for caring about such a special horse who is adored by many. Happy Retirement Champ..!!

  • warrenb

    Great story…….when you reach where you are going, never forget who helped you get there!!

  • KErams

    Thank you, Mr. Juarez.

  • I.P Daily

    He sure has come a long way from dodging piss tests, cough I mean not finding the person conducting it.

    • john

      No class.

  • Olebobbowers

    Jock, you just brought tears of joy to this lifelong horseman. Over 60 years doing everything from lopin’ horses, training, delivering foals, weaning them, breaking them as yearlings, so know where my heart has traveled in our sport, but, you’re actions involving this very deserving horse, brought tears of joy to me as I see nothing in there except selfishness anymore. Rest assured, God will send Blessing’s. You, young man, are a ~ WINNER ~

  • Marilyn Shively

    Heart warming story

  • john

    LOVE this! More jockeys should have this big a heart! Jaurez will get many more of my 2 dollar bets.

  • Darlene Allison Anders Sanner

    Thanks,Nik Juarez Was a great thing to do And thanks,also to the trainer,Tom Thurman,for thinking of the horse and making that call

  • Gotchagold

    Love Nik Juarez. Not only a great rider, a really cool guy. Always smiling. What he did is something that is just natural for a nice guy that he is.

  • gus stewart

    For many negatives pointed at this sport, another wonderful exhibition of whats good about many people involved in racing. For the clowns that continue to run the sport and not address the changes needed to be made to have people outside of sport understand,, hey we aint all bad and selfish, just the fools that cannot see how to market and rebrand it in 2017. Here’s an example to build on. Congrats nik on your kindness

  • Blue Larkspur

    Thank you, Nik, for stepping up. So nice to see him be there for this horse!

  • MaiyaDay

    Crossed Sabres owns this horse for over 3 years, he wins 7 stakes races and over $850,000 for them, and they run him through the sale for $15,000.


    • Larry sterne

      amen, they take no responsibility for the whole horse. this one of the things why racing has SUCH a bad image with the people we want as fans. thank you Nick for being the adult

    • OopsyDaisy3

      These are the tragic steps many many hundreds of horses travel heading down to the low ranks and disappear forever out the back of the sale barns headed north to Canada or south to Mexico. What horseman, NOT, Crossed Sabres and Mr. Tom W. Thurman. A pox on your houses.

      • nikoniko

        They still feature him on their landing page as one of their top runners . They are obsessed with stats. Not one bit of concern about their runner’s welfare . This story proves that. Glad this wonderful fellow found a soft landing and a wonderful friend with Ethics .

    • Steve

      They employed Marcus Vitali as their trainer, enough said

    • greatform4

      Can’t wait for when the karma that they so richly deserves comes back around and takes a big bite right out of their coldhearted and undeserving a**es! In the meantime, I hope that everywhere they go, and everywhere they race, people look at them and see them for who they really are! Oh the shame!!!

  • rpres43

    Thanks Nik! best wish’s for a long happy life for Valid, and the same for you. Good luck in your future racing career.

  • Now here’s a story worthy of printing!! Way to go Nik Juarez, you’re a hero among men! You did a good thing here, and more jocks could take a lesson here. It’d be so great if we could place more retired racers to some similar end! Thank you for what you did for Valid!!

  • Erin Casseday

    Nik Juarez, thank you. You are a hero!

    As to Carolyn Vogel and Crossed Sabres Farm, the words that I have for you and your kind, I cannot print here. My post would be deleted!

    • nikoniko

      They really put a bad spin on racing . It’s all about money and stats. They need to learn respect for these noble animals. Horrible example they’re setting . No moral compass.

      • OopsyDaisy3

        Sad thing is, there are many more who have done the same thing.
        We just don’t hear about it because it is a terribly unpleasant thing
        to know and read about. This story has a happy ending. If only
        every horse could be blessed the same. Linda

        • nikoniko

          Yes the back story too often isn’t pretty. I’ve been lucky enough to save a few ex racing TBs and they were all wonderful horses.

  • Guest

    I’m totally totally sick that someone ran this horse through an auction in January. Hats off to Nik.

  • Stu S

    Nik …. you have a fan for life…..

  • Kathy Young

    Yay!! and Hooray!!! What a WONDERFUL story! Nik Juarez is a prince!!

  • Sinking Ship

    This is a great story! Thank you Nik Juarez!

  • Genellen

    It’s hard to read this story and these comments through my tears.

    God bless you, Nik Juarez. May you and Valid have a happy future together.

    If only all Thoroughbreds could be assured of that….

  • D Graves

    For the first time, I had to reply to this heart moving story. As an owner, I wish I had the resources to accomplish what you did Nik. I do however, keep up with all my horses as they leave the barn. To say that I applaud you, is putting it mildly. Thank you so much for doing the right thing by Valid. He gave to you…and now your giving him the very best back!! A place to call home…to be a horse..safe and sound. You are Valid’s hero and I personally want to say thank you!!!!

  • Maurice B. Quirin

    Congratulations on a terrific and heartfelt decision. Enjoy!

  • Don Martello

    Pay attention New York trainers use this kid when he moves his tack to Belmont Park. A talent with a big heart, Nik Juarex. We will be rooting for you Nik.

  • Sunshine Bonnie

    Not just a great jockey, but a true lover of horses. Valid will be your silent partner and give you so much happiness. Thank you!

  • OopsyDaisy3

    A Nik Juarez, tiene usted un corazon d’oro. Muchas gracias y recordar
    que Valid es su bueno amigo para todo el tiempo. Y Nik, Viaje usted seguro
    tiempo. De Linda en Tejas.

  • Manefan

    Beautiful horse, beautiful setting, smiling dog, beautiful human being. Emblematic story of grace. Horse racing needs this story.

  • Diana Baker

    Thank you Nik Juarez! You have made so many people happy. It has been heartbreaking to watch Valid’s descent after he had earned and accomplished so much for Vogel. I knew Valid as foal at Spring Hill Farm, until he was sold in the disperal after Mr. Evans’ death. I’m
    thrilled and relieved that Nik was able to ensure Valid will have the post racing life he deserves. Many many thanks Nik! I’ll see if I can find some baby pics of him for you.

  • mongo98

    Nik Juarez is living proof that a kindhearted life will bring peace.

  • Richard C

    This fantastic story seems ripe for an ESPN E:60 feature.

  • ForLoveOfTheGame

    Awwwwwwwwwwwww, this gives me the warm fuzzies : ) Nice to hear good news about race horses always : )

  • Kristine

    WOW, I’m almost speechless, simply beautiful, and inspiring!!! Makes me want to take a trip to Maryland for some “Valid” kisses!! All horses should be so lucky!!

  • nancybb

    This makes you Nik Juarez, the best Barn Buddy of them all

  • More Wildman Bill

    Well done Nik.

  • Charles Smith

    Nik Juarez is not only a talented rIder, he’s a horseman-bringing home a veteran gelding who helped his career tells you that.

  • cj johnson

    Wow, just wow!!! What a great man this jockey is. As an OTTB owner,, I am so thankful a war horse made it out to green pastures. I wonder though, why a stable that makes almost a million dollars on a horse can’t have the heart to give the horse to a valid thoroughbred re-home org when its career is over…..

    • greatform4

      That’s a great question- I hope that they have to answer it publicly :(

  • Olebobbowers

    Nik, you will have a built in fan club for the remainder of your entire career. You brought joy to an area where unfortunately, it’s lacking. TY…TY…TY!

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