Apprentice jockey Carlos Carrasco began his professional riding career in spectacular fashion, winning with each of his first two career mounts Saturday Laurel Park.
They were the only mounts of the nine-race program for Carrasco, 18, the younger brother of 2013 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice Victor Carrasco, a three-time meet champion at Laurel and Pimlico Race Course.
“I feel great,” the younger Carrasco said. “I have to thank God and the owners and trainers for giving me the opportunity. It feels amazing.”
Carrasco guided Jose Corrales-owned and trained Wilko's Last Dance to a front-running 15-1 upset of Laurel's third race, an $18,000 six-furlong sprint for 3-year-old maidens. Despite lugging in a bit in the final eighth of a mile, the gelded son of Wilko finished in 1:12.53 over a fast main track to win by four lengths.
Carrasco came back to take the fourth race, as well, on Three M's Racing's 6-year-old gelding Speightshill ($3.20), the 4-5 favorite in a field of six trained by Jonathan Maldonado. Rating behind pacesetting Party Regent for a quarter-mile, they took the lead after a half and coasted to a five-length triumph in 1:11.12 in the $27,000 sprint for older maidens.
“I was a little nervous in the jockey's room. He told me, ‘I know it's your first race, but just relax.'” Carlos Carrasco said. “It's great.”
Victor Carrasco rode against his brother in both races, finishing seventh in the third aboard Chatter Pattern and third in the fourth with Stalk.
“It's been a long journey, me working with him, making sure he's taking his time,” Victor Carrasco said. “He's been listening to me real well. We were just trying to get him ready and he did a good job. He sure did a good job.
“I didn't want to put any pressure on him,” he added. “I said, ‘Have fun, get out of the gate, look inside if you're in front, drop in and think like you're working in the morning. It's all the same. The first one surprised me. I thought he'll be in front and people will see him and he'll learn from this one. He went to the lead and he kept going and going and at the eighth pole I started crying and everything because I looked at the screen and said, ‘They're not going to catch him.' Tears were coming down. It was emotional.”
Carlos Carrasco came to Maryland from his native Puerto Rico last year without having ridden or attended the country's famed Escuela Vocacional Hipica jockey school that has produced many notable riders, including his brother. With his sibling as his mentor, he soon began getting on horses in the mornings.
“My brother has been here for four years and I came to learn from him. I galloped horses and breezed horses,” he said. “My first race was the first time riding races.”
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