Jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr. earned his 3,000th Thoroughbred win at Albuquerque Downs on Saturday, as the veteran rider piloted Vangilder to victory in the $70,000 Charles Taylor Derby for 3-year-olds.
Trained by Steve Asmussen for owner Chuck Hovitz, Vangilder covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.34, and his winning margin was three-quarters of a length from Walker Stalker. The Florida-bred Paynter colt earned $42,000 from his third win in eight starts and first stakes victory.
“Steve is a savant; he picked this race out for him,” said Hovitz. “Alfredo had to rouse him to get him going, but once he did he galloped out strong.”
Vangilder was making his first career start in New Mexico. The colt was bred by Best A Luck Farm LLC. Raced in five states, including Kentucky and California, the colt has banked $97,262.
Irish Polo finished third and was followed by Iron Britches, Chest Candy, Gold Buyer, Pasamonte Man, and Prince Pierce.
Juarez, 43, began his riding career at the Hipodromo de las Americas in his native Mexico City in 1992. He earned his 2,000th win aboard Chuchuluco in an allowance-optional claiming race at Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico, on September 22,2013.
Juarez's best season came in 2014, when he rode the winners of 218 races from 958 mounts, and his mounts earned $4,030,793 in purses. He was named the Jockeys' Guild Jockey of the Week on October 26 of that year, after he rode the winners of four races during the New Mexico Cup program at Zia Park.
Notable horses ridden by Juarez include War Emblem, who he rode to victory in the colt's career debut at Arlington Park near Chicago on October 4, 2001. War Emblem went on to win the 2002 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs and Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Racecourse.
Juarez also teamed with Asmussen to win the 2017 Sunland Derby (G3) and 2018 Downs at Albuquerque Handicap aboard Hence. In addition, he won the 2000 Hawthorne Derby (G3) in Illinois with Rumsontheriver, the '01 National Jockey Club Handicap (G3) at Hawthorne with Chicago Six, and the 2006 Dallas Turf Cup (G3) at Lone Star Park with Trial By Jury.
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