Hall-of-Fame jockey Edgar Prado is still riding at the pinnacle of the game at age 49. Though his home base is now the less-lucrative Maryland circuit, he still invades some of the nation’s top horse racing venues looking to take down graded stakes. He has six such victories this year at six different tracks, his most recent coming in the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile aboard Breeders’ Cup-bound Miss Temple City. And the Peruvian pilot believes he hasn’t lost a step.
“I’m still fearless, still aggressive,” Prado told Pressboxonline.com, “If you’re not fearless in this business, you should get out.”
Prado got his start in Florida in 1986 at age 18 but really hit his stride in the Maryland area in the 1990s. His first 300-win year came in 1990, and from 1997 to 1999 Prado led the country in victories, including an astonishing 535-win campaign in 1997.
In 1999, Prado moved to the NYRA circuit seeking greater recognition and purse money, and he was highly successful. Prado was top-ten in the nation by earnings per year from 1999 to 2008. In that span, Prado won the Belmont Stakes twice (Sarava in 2002 and Birdstone in 2004) to go with four Breeders’ Cup triumphs (and he would tack on two more in 2010 and 2015).
He also won the Kentucky Derby in 2006 with Barbaro, whose career was tragically cut short due to injuries sustained during the 2006 Preakness. Barbaro left an indelible mark on the sport as well as Prado.
“I think it’s something that’s going to stay with me forever,” he said in an interview with FOX Sports. “[Barbaro] was a very special horse who had a big impact on my life. Even 10 years later people are thinking about him, and they remember him as the great champion that he was.”
The 2006 Eclipse Award winner is also well-respected by his peers. His sportsmanship was recognized on two occasions, as he won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2003 and the Mike Venezia Memorial Award in 2006.
“I have three words to describe Edgar: class, class and class,” Maryland-area jockey Feargal Lynch told Pressboxonline.com. “He’s a great guy to work with. And he’s always willing to share his thoughts on racing with you.”
The ever-humble Prado, who’s eighth all-time in wins with over 6,900 successful mounts, summed his life up in an interview with Pressboxonline.com: “I try to define myself by whether I’m working and whether I’m giving it my all. I love horse racing so much. I don’t have that much left to prove, but this is what I love to do, and I’ll keep doing it for as long as I can.”
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