Chris Emigh secured career win number 4,000 on Thursday at Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, Ill., aboard Mr. Haney in the first race of the day.
Emigh, who had been sitting on 3,999 wins since June 29, was scheduled to ride six of the eight races on Thursday's Fourth of July holiday card, but wasted no time getting the job done.
A career that began in the late 1980s with his first win, to win number 4,000, Chris Emigh remains humble,
“There's probably six thousand people and over thousands of horses that I have to thank,” Emigh explained in the winner's circle after his milestone win. “It's not just me, it's everyone involved. I'm just lucky enough to get on the horses' back and ride them for two minutes.”
Emigh has always been a proponent for hard work and dedicating himself to being the best he can be. With over 29,000 starts under his belt, finally getting to this milestone victory was emotional for the veteran jockey.
“It's pretty great to get this done,” Emigh said on the walk back to the jockeys room. “When you're a kid you come up with a number. That number for me was 4,000 and I knew if I kept working hard every year I would someday get there and we're finally here.”
Emigh was able to sit off the pace of Sea of Makebelieve and Buck Snort in the early stages of the 7 ½-furlong Polytrack race aboard Mr. Haney. Sea of Makebelieve opened up a one-length advantage under Jose Valdivia Jr. at the furlong pole, but Emigh snuck through an opening along the rail and wore the leader down in the final sixteenth, hitting the front in the final strides to win by a half-length.
“He's so tall and he has one giant stride,” Emigh said of the 4-year-old Haynesfield gelding trained by Eduardo Rodriguez. “I knew if those top two just got a little tired we could catch them. My horse got a little tired there at the end, too, but I knew with his big stride we could outlast the others and we got the job done.”
Emigh, the third all-time winningest rider at Arlington and fifth behind Valdivia in the current standings there, was asked if people would see win number 5,000 there at Arlington as well. Emigh replied with a grin,”Yep, that's the plan, the drive for five starts now.”
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