FIRST TRAINING WIN FOR ELVIS TRUJILLO
Ejetero LLC’s Voodoo Valley tracked pacesetting Chuck’s Dream into mid-stretch, surged to the lead inside the eighth pole and drew off by 2 ¼ lengths to give ex-jockey Elvis Trujillo his first career victory as a trainer in Saturday’s second race at Laurel Park.
A 5-year-old gelding racing first time for Trujillo, Voodoo Valley ($15.60) ran one mile in 1:39.36 over a fast main track to earn his second career triumph from 22 starts in the claiming event for 3-year-olds and up.
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It was the fourth career starter for the 36-year-old Trujillo, who ran sixth with Mystic Times in Friday’s fifth race at Laurel. The Panama native was second with Confusion Baby Boy and fourth with Eje Gama in his training debut Aug. 9 at Monmouth Park.
Trujillo was not in the winner’s circle for Voodoo Valley’s photo, choosing to stay back at the barn with Ejetero’s Lady Rozina, who ran fifth in Saturday’s fourth race. Trujillo has eight horses stabled on the Laurel backstretch.
“It feels so good, brother. It’s amazing. Everybody is watching and everybody is jumping. I am so happy,” Trujillo said. “It’s so good. It’s good for me, it’s good for my family. It’s good for everybody.”
Breaking from the far outside, Chuck’s Dream was sent to the lead and held it through fractions of 24.10 seconds for a quarter-mile and 47.08 for the half, opening up by as many as six lengths while jockey Luis Garcia kept Voodoo Valley in the clear in second. Voodoo Valley began to gain ground midway around the turn and straightened for home with sights set on the leader, steadily grinding away through the lane to gain the advantage on Chuck’s Dream, who held second over Just Chill Out.
Voodoo Valley had not run since running fourth in a 1 1/16-mile claimer Aug. 1 over a muddy Laurel track for previous trainer Jonathaniel Badillo.
“He surprised me today,” Trujillo said. “He was training good an everything, but the last time when he finished fourth he had an issue that we had to figure out and take care of. Thank God he got it done today. He ran great and Luis gave him a great ride.”
A 2000 graduate of Panama’s Laffit Pincay Jr. jockey school, Trujillo first came to the U.S. in November 2001, landing in southern California after riding 90 winners in his home country and Mexico City. He spent time on circuits in Chicago, Florida and New Jersey, winning meet titles in 2007 at the former Calder Race Course and 2009, 2011 and 2012 and Monmouth Park.
Trujillo won 2,102 races and more than $70 in purses between 2001 and 2018. He came to Maryland to ride full-time in the fall of 2017 at the behest of his uncle, Laurel-based trainer Jose Corrales, after spending that summer riding in China. Trujillo won 28 races over the next four months, including the General George (G3) aboard Corrales-trained Something Awesome, before injuring his ribs and sternum in a three-horse spill March 10, 2018. Once healed, he considered a comeback to riding before ultimately transitioning into a new career.
In all, Trujillo won 45 career graded stakes, five of them Grade 1, including his breakthrough victory in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint aboard Maryfield, on whom he also won the Ballerina (G1). His best horse was Presious Passion, teaming up to win six graded stakes and nearly $1.9 million in purse earnings from 2007-10.
Trujillo said he had a lot of help making the career change, including his uncle, his wife Raquel, Badillo and Abel Castellano, the brother of Hall of Famer Javier Castellano who also transitioned from jockey to trainer.
“I feel so good, man,” Trujillo said. “Everybody helped me a lot and supported me so much in making the big change.”