Jockey Manny Franco piloted his 1,000th career winner in Race 8 Friday at Belmont Park, riding New York-bred Courageous Bet ($14.60) to a 1 ¼-length victory in a six-furlong starter allowance on the inner turf for trainer Gary Contessa.
It was Franco's second win on the nine-race card, having won Race 6 aboard Illudere ($8.30), and marked 979 wins in the U.S. for the 24-year-old in addition to 21 victories in his native Puerto Rico.
Complementing the milestone, Franco's two wins on Friday also put him atop the jockeys' standings for the Belmont Fall Championship Meet with 20 wins, two more than Hall of Famer Javier Castellano in second.
Franco attended jockey school in Puerto Rico and rode his first winner, Skylight Citizen, on January 2, 2013 at Camerero Racetrack.
“I was pumped,” said Franco. “After I crossed the wire, I was excited. Thanks to all the owners and trainers for letting me ride their horses and [for] making this possible. I wasn't expecting to be where I am right now, but the sky's the limit. I think big. I wanted to do well and that's what I train to do.
“It's the best feeling, to have my family here. My dad, my girlfriend, my daughter, they're all here. My mother is in Puerto Rico, but I know she's watching me and she's proud, too.”
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