Trevor McCarthy named Jockey of the Week

Even though Trevor McCarthy was riding the longest shot on the board, he was quietly confident going into the gate aboard Highland Chief (IRE) in the Grade I Man o’ War.  Earning his first career Grade I race, McCarthy was voted Jockey of the Week for May 9 through May 15 by a panel of racing experts. The award honors jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 1050 active, retired and permanently disabled jockeys in the United States.

Billed as Man o’ War Day at Belmont Park, the 11-race card featured five graded stakes highlighted by the prestigious Grade I Man o’ War. Trainer Graham Motion called on McCarthy to ride Highland Chief for his second start in the United States.

Out of the gate, McCarthy settled Highland Chief in second in the compact field of five before overtaking the pacesetting Abaan turning for home. McCarthy held off multiple graded stakes winner Gufo and race favorite and reigning Eclipse Award Male Turf horse Yibir to win by a length in a final time of 2:17.04 for the one mile and three-eighths race on the inner turf course.

“I learned a lot from riding him the first time, and he broke well that day but got crushed by other horses,” said McCarthy. “I thought if he breaks like the day I rode him or better, he would be in a pretty forward spot and I wouldn’t have to use him that much. “That’s what he did.  He carried me the whole way nicely and when I asked for more, he kicked on nicely and kept giving it to me.”

Motion called it “really special” to put McCarthy on his first Grade I winner.

“He gave this horse a great ride, he’s got tremendous work ethic, he rides every horse so enthusiastically,” Motion said. “I give him a lot of credit.  I’m thrilled to be able to ride him in a Grade I on a horse that had a chance.”

“To win it for Graham, who has given me so much support in my career, it’s really special,” said McCarthy. “I started at 15 and worked for Graham. As soon as I started to ride, I stayed at Fair Hill for three years. I learned so much from him and his employees there at the time. To win it with so much history with him is great.”

McCarthy who turned 28 on Monday said winning a Grade I felt like an early birthday gift.

“My mom asked, ‘What do you want for your birthday,’” McCarthy said. “I told her I don’t want anything. I already got my present.”

McCarthy outpolled Tyler Gaffalione who won 11 races for the week, Flavien Prat with two graded stakes wins, Tim Thornton who won nine races and Ken Tohill who recorded his 4,000th career win riding at Prairie Meadows.

Highland Chief won the Man O’ War. Photo Susie Raisher