Robby Albarado has experienced the highs and lows of horse racing multiple times; the 26-year veteran jockey has won several Breeders’ Cup races in addition to the 2007 Preakness Stakes, and has placed numerous times in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. But he’s also suffered a bevy of serious injuries, including one that forced doctors to install a titanium mesh and polymer plate to repair his damaged skull. A different fall, just before the 2011 Kentucky Derby, cost him the mount on eventual winner Animal Kingdom.
But the 43-year-old Louisiana native keeps on ticking, and is closing in on joining the prestigious 5,000 win club while riding at the top of his game at Ellis Park in Kentucky.
“I think right now he’s working extremely hard and he’s riding extremely smart,” trainer Chris Richard told the Evansville Courier & Press. “I think he’s enjoying just as much success now as he did earlier in his career. He’s doing a really good job.”
Fellow trainer Kellyn Gorder agreed when interviewed by the Louisville Courier-Journal.
“He’s riding really, really well right now,” he said. “I’ve always been a big fan of Robby’s. He hardly ever makes a mistake and he rides hard and wins for me a lot.”
Albarado has come a long way from his days at the ‘bush tracks’ in Louisiana, where he rode for five years before getting his jockey’s license. Making his name primarily in the Kentucky and Louisiana regions, Albarado ranks third all-time in wins at Churchill Downs and is second in stakes wins there, per the Courier-Journal. He’s also won a record seven riding titles at the Fair Grounds, and is a member of the course’s Racing Hall of Fame.
Appropriately, Albarado notched his 3,000th win at the Fair Grounds in 2004, and his 4,000th win at Churchill Downs in 2009.
“I never thought I’d get to 4,000 so it’s an honor,” Albarado told reporters after reaching the milestone. “I’ve got to congratulate all of the owners and trainers who have supported me continuously throughout the years. They stuck by me.”
Albarado, who’s ridden such champions as Mineshaft and Curlin, is pleased that he’s been able to sustain his success.
“Actually, I feel so much better riding now than I have in a long time,” he told the Courier-Journal. “I’m just riding some good horses, riding smart races, giving them a chance…to win.”
In a separate interview with the Courier & Press Albarado remarked, “I still enjoy what I do and not many people can say that after 26 years of being a professional.”
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