Jockey Albin Jimenez, 25, hit the 1,000 career-win mark Sat., Feb. 25, when Zarman led gate to wire in the fourth race at Turfway Park, drawing off to break his maiden by a decisive 5 1/4 lengths.
“It's very exciting,” Jimenez said. “I want to thank God first, and (trainer) Wesley (Ward) for the opportunity. I know when I ride Wesley's horses they have a shot, so I thought it was possible in this race with this horse. At first I was real nervous, but when they opened the gate and I saw I had tons of horse, I thought, 'I got it.'”
A native of Chiriquí, Panama, Jimenez grew up in farm country and had been around horses all his life, but he had never seen Thoroughbreds race until at age 15 he spent a few days in Panama City with his uncle, a weekend horseplayer. Fascinated by the sport, Jimenez entered the Laffit Pincay Jr. Jockey Training Academy at Presidente Remón Racetrack near Pamana City at age 16. He graduated from the two-year program third in his class academically and with top honors as the best rider in his class.
Jimenez rode about four months in Panama before emigrating to the United States as an apprentice in the spring of 2010. He rode first in Florida at what was then Calder Race Course, where he scored his first U.S. win. After a couple of months at Calder, he rode briefly in New York and then moved his tack to Kentucky to ride the fall meet at Churchill Downs. He has continued to ride primarily in Kentucky and Indiana.
Jimenez earned the first of six Turfway meet titles in the 2013 holiday meet. He was also the top rider for the 2015 Indiana Grand meet. Among his stakes wins are four at Turfway: the 2013 Battaglia Memorial with General Election; the 2014 Wintergreen with La Malaguena; the 2015 95ROCK (now WEBN) with The Great War; and the 2015 Holiday Inaugural with Spanish Pipedream. He became a graded stakes winner in November 2016 when Lady Fog Horn won the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs. Among his other top horses are multiple stakes winners Rivers Run Deep and Son of a Nut.
Born May 5, 1991, Jimenez is the eldest of six brothers; the next three in line, ages 18, 20 and 23, also are graduates of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Training Academy and seek to follow their brother to the U.S. to ride.
Jimenez and his wife, Marybeth, make their home in Alexandria, Ky. The couple has a two-year-old daughter, Josaleen.
Albin Jimenez's milestone 1,000th win came with his 6,245th mount. He also has 891 seconds and 830 thirds and earnings of more than $15.5 million (and he just won the 7th race to get win 1,001.)
Zarman was making just his second start and his first since October for Dave Reid's Ice Wine Stable and trainer Ward. The 3-year-old gelding is by Tapizar out of the Posse mare Ocean Magic and was bred in Kentucky by Elm Tree Farm LLC. The 3-2 second choice, Zarman paid $5, $2.40 and $2.10 for the milestone win.
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