Victor Carrasco: “All about the right horse”
“That’s the reason why this is called horse racing,” jockey Victor Carrasco was saying Thursday afternoon. “It’s all about being on the right horse.”
Thus far in 2022, Carrasco has been on the right horse more often than not. In fact, he’ll enter Saturday’s six-stake card at Laurel Park as the hottest rider on the grounds.
Carrasco, who has won more than 1,100 races in his career, ended Thursday with nine wins in his prior 18 starts, a streak that kicked off Jan. 20, a day on which he won two of four races.
What’s more, since the beginning of the year, Carrasco has won six allowance or maiden special weight races at Laurel Park – the highest class overnight races at the track. No other rider has won more than two in that same span.
All of which has moved Carrasco into second at the track by wins and first in earnings. In the first category, he’s just one behind Jevian Toledo, who’s made 20 more starts; in the latter category, he’s just ahead of Toledo.
Carrasco gives credit for finding those right horses to agent Scott Silver, and it’s not hard to see why. While four of his six higher-end wins have come for local trainers Mike Trombetta and Katy Voss, two others have come on shippers, with his Thursday allowance win aboard the Bill Mott-trained Frost Point, who won by almost eight as the 4-5 favorite.
“She’s a nice filly, you know,” Carrasco said of Frost Point, a Godolphin-owned daughter of Frosted out of the Grade 1 winner Balletto. “Thanks to Mr. Billy Mott, the owners, everyone involved. She was very nice.”
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He’ll have more shippers in his future. On Saturday he’ll ride Maryland-bred Jaxon Traveler in the $100,000 Fire Plug Stakes for trainer Steve Asmussen. The Munnings colt, based in New York, is two-for-two at Laurel and won the 2020 Maryland Juvenile Championship. He’s 4-1 on the morning line here, with the Brittany Russell-trained Wondrwherecraigis the 4-5 favorite.
Carrasco will also pilot Time Limit (5-1) in the $100,000 What A Summer for fillies and mares. She’s trained by Mike Maker. The Asmussen-trained Regal Retort is the 7-2 morning line favorite.
“He’s getting me some live mounts,” Carrasco said of Silver, his agent. “And he’s helping me to stay confident.”
Carrasco will also be aboard the favorite in both Maryland-bred stakes on the card. In the Geisha for fillies and mares going a mile, he and Trombetta will team up with Kiss the Girl (8-5). She was a good third last out in the $100,000 Ladies Stakes at Aqueduct.
And in the $75,000 Jennings for older runners, also at a mile, he and old friend Cordmaker (7-5) will team up for trainer Rodney Jenkins. Carrasco has ridden the seven-year-old Curlin gelding in 23 of 34 career starts, including nine straight.
Not unlike Carrasco, Cordmaker might well be in the best form of his career. He won four stakes in 2021, including back-to-back scores in the Richard W. Small and Robert T. Manfuso to close the year, and he’s pushed his earnings to the brink of $800,000.
“He ended the year strong, and he’s doing well,” trainer Rodney Jenkins said of his charge. “I’m happy with him.”
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So is Carrasco.
“I breezed him last Sunday, and he’s doing good,” the rider said. “It seems like we got a nice post position [the four-hole], small field, so we should be in a good spot.”
He added with a grin, “Best horse at Laurel Park. I can tell you that.”
All in all, it makes for a promising start to the season for the 29-year-old Carrasco, a native of Puerto Rico who won the 2013 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice jockey.
“Hopefully, I can have a good year,” he said. “Stay healthy: that’s the main thing.”
Jan. 29 stakes schedule
- Race 3: $75,000 Jennings S., Maryland-bred/sired, 4yo and up, 1 mile
- Race 4: $75,000 Geisha S., Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares, 4yo and up, 1 mile
- Race 6: $100,000 Spectacular Bid S., 3yo, 7 furlongs
- Race 7: $100,000 Xtra Heat S., 3yo fillies, 6 furlongs
- Race 8: $100,000 What A Summer S., fillies and mares, 4yo and up, 6 furlongs
- Race 9: $100,000 Fire Plugs S., 4yo and up, 6 furlongs