Seven winners for Jaime Rodriguez

Paul Fowler Jr.’s 4-year-old gelding Shaft’s Bullett rolled to a popular victory in Friday’s Race 8 feature at Laurel Park to complete a record-tying seven-win day for jockey Jaime Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 32, tied Horacio Karamanos and Chuck Baltazar for the most wins on a single card at Laurel. Baltazar rode seven straight winners Dec. 15, 1969, and Horacio Karamanos equaled the mark Oct. 26, 2002.

“I was pretty happy when I won the first one,” Rodriguez said. “I thought that everything that I rode had a shot today. I give everything to anyone that I ride. I am so happy. It’s a huge day. Seven wins in one day? It’s impressive.”

A native of Puerto Rico, Rodriguez won each of the first five races Friday aboard Center Mid Maddie ($8.60), Albertano ($4.80), Six the Hard Way ($12.40), Big Cheeks ($6.20) and Pelota ($3.60) before streak was snapped when he ran fifth in Race 6 on Peach Be With Q.

Rodriguez came back to win Race 7 on Semper Fi ($3.80) and capped his performance on Shaft’s Bullet. Tracking the duel of Local Motive and Momos while racing in the clear three wide in third, Shaft’s Bullet rolled up to the leaders on the turn and took over once straightened for home.

After taking one peek behind him in mid-stretch to monitor any late runners, Rodriguez pumped his fist as he cruised to the wire unchallenged 5 ¼ lengths ahead of belated runner-up Be Better. The winning time in the second-level optional claiming allowance for 4-year-olds and up was 1:37.89 for one mile over a fast main track.

“I was pretty confident he had a shot and I said, ‘I think this is going to be the seventh today,’” Rodriguez said. “Thank God, everything worked out the good way and he won the race.”

Big day for Jaime Rodriguez. Photo by Jim McCue.

Center Mid Maddie, Big Cheeks, Pelota and Semper Fi are all trained by Jamie Ness, who leads Laurel’s winter stand with 31 wins. Ness and Rodriguez are a combined 26-for-86 at the meet (30 percent).

“We have a pretty good relationship. I trust him, and he trusts me, too. Everything that we do, we do as a team and we go from there. That’s how we work,” Rodriguez said. “I ride a lot for him but the same effort I give to him I’m going to give to everyone. I’m not picky. Whatever I’ve got, I’m going to give 100 percent.”

Rodriguez’s other wins Friday came for trainers Rudy Sanchez-Salomon and Gary Capuano. Rodriguez, who did not have a mount in Laurel’s Race 9 finale, entered the day trailing apprentice Jeiron Barbosa by one win for the winter meet riding title, and now holds a 47-41 lead.

Between Sept. 16 and 22, 2022, Rodriguez won eight straight races for eight different trainers at Delaware Park, one shy of the recognized U.S. record shared by Albert Adams (1930), Anthony Black (1993) and Travis Dunkelberger (2009).

Rodriguez had his best season ever in 2022, with career highs in wins (243) and purse earnings ($7.5 million) from 982 mounts, ranking seventh among North American riders in victories. He won his second straight Delaware Park riding title with 134 wins, 75 more than runner-up Mychel Sanchez, also going 24-for-89 at Parx (27 percent).

Last year, Rodriguez finished third at Laurel’s winter (26 wins) and spring meets (16) and was fifth at the calendar year-ending fall stand (25). He ended 2022 ranked sixth overall with 79 wins in Maryland.

[From 2021: Jockey Jaime Rodriguez making mark at Delaware]

Rodriguez attended Puerto Rico’s famous Escuela Vocacional Hipica jockey school and according to Equibase statistics earned his first domestic victory May 5, 2010 on East to Eden at Belmont Park. He rode primarily at Aqueduct and Belmont before relocating to Finger Lakes in 2012, dominating the standings. Rodriguez also spent time at Mahoning Valley before moving his tack to the Mid-Atlantic in 2020.

Equibase shows Rodriguez with career totals of 1,955 wins and more than $36.4 million in purse earnings. He is named in six of 10 races Saturday at Laurel, including multiple stakes winner Coffeewithchris in the $100,000 Private Terms for 3-year-olds, Ournationonparade in the $100,000 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial for 4-year-olds and up and Mavilus in the $75,000 Conniver for older Maryland-bred/sired female sprinters.