Jockey Edgar Morales will lose the five-pound weight allowance that is granted to apprentice riders on Saturday, but the 20-year-old Puerto Rico native has made the most of his final week with the “bug” by winning three races Wednesday to vault to the top of the Churchill Downs jockey standings with 11 victories.
“I just hope we keep the momentum going,” said Morales, who is represented by retired jockey Julio Espinoza. “We've had a great meet at Keeneland and things are really going well (at Churchill).”
Morales grew up in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, which is located almost two hours from the closest racetrack. Once Morales finished school he came to Louisiana and worked as a hot walker and groom prior to becoming an exercise rider. Edgar's brother,Roberto, also is an accomplished jockey on the Louisiana circuit.
Morales got his start as a jockey in 2017 when he finished 12th on his first mount, Basheba, at Keeneland. He recorded his first win one week later on the late Jack Van Berg-trained Star Dog.
Morales began Thursday's card with 98 wins and hopes the successful apprenticeship can lead to an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey.
“It would be an honor to even be considered,” Morales said. “That was one of the goals and I think this run we've been on is going to get us close.”
Morales won with his first mount on Wednesday's card, No Funny Biz, in Race 3 for trainer Wes Hawley. He returned to the winner's circle in Race 8 on the Tom Van Berg-trained Summer Storm and in Race 9 on Richard Castillo's Zambian Dream.
“He's a really smart rider and I love to use him when I get the opportunity,” Hawley said. “He put on a great ride on (No Funny Biz). He's going to keep getting better as time goes on.”
Morales is attempting to become the first apprentice rider to win a meet title at Churchill Downs since Julien Leparoux won the Spring Meet in 2006.
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