Prado, 52, currently sits with 7,047 career victories, second-most among active riders behind Perry Wayne Ouzts (7,065) and ninth all-time. More important to the native of Lima, Peru, Prado is just 10 wins away from matching fellow Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr.’s lifetime total.
From the time he became only the eighth jockey in history to reach 7,000 wins May 15, 2018 at Parx – Ouzts would get there four months later – Prado set his mind to passing Cordero on the career list.
“Angel is an icon and a lot of people respect him. He was a very aggressive rider, a great rider, and a good mentor for a lot of new riders coming here,” Prado said. “I think passing a jockey of his caliber would be a nice touch on my resume. It would be nice to be considered to be on the same level as Angel.”
Prado has enjoyed a productive winter thus far at the Championship Meet, where he once reigned as leading rider in 2002 and 2005. Through Thursday’s program, Prado had won 14 races and finished third or better 28 times (36 percent) from 77 mounts, for purse earnings of more than $376,000.
Already, Prado is more than halfway to his win total from all of 2019 when he went 22-for-176 and failed to reach the $1 million mark in seasonal earnings for the first time since 1987, his first full year of riding. All told, he has banked $269.5 million in purses, good for seventh overall and fifth among active jockeys behind John Velazquez, Javier Castellano, Mike Smith and Kent Desormeaux.
Represented by Cliff Hopmans, who took over his book last fall, Prado has won races for 12 different trainers at Gulfstream – Jorge Abreu, Larry Bates, Laura Cazares (two), Keith Chudzik, Henry Collazo, Gustavo Delgado (two), Bobby DiBona, Bob Hess, Monica McGoey, Graham Motion, Ed Plesa Jr. and Joel Santiago.
“I’m very thankful to all the trainers and owners that still give me the opportunities,” Prado said. “That keeps me going and trying to achieve another milestone.”
On opening weekend, Prado captured the $75,000 Smooth Air Stakes aboard OGMA Investments LLC’s Soros for Delgado.
Ten of Prado’s wins have returned double digits, led by Fritzi ($41.20) Dec. 6 and Tale of Success ($40.20) Nov. 29. His average win payoff at the meet is $19.11.
“I’ve been riding horse that aren’t 3-5 favorites or 5-2 favorites. I try to prepare myself and try to be ready for when the opportunity comes so when the horse runs and if he doesn’t run any good, I don’t want anybody to think that it was because of me,” Prado said. “I want them to know I’m prepared, working in the morning, working in the afternoon, doing my homework so that if a horse has a little bit of a chance, I will be able to make a difference. I’m trying to do my best and ride the best I can and trying to win every race.”
Prado remains active in the mornings, working horses at both Gulfstream Park and its satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, Palm Meadows. He is named on one horse Friday and four horses Saturday at Gulfstream.
“Anytime a trainer calls me and says I need you at a certain place at a certain hour, I don’t hesitate to go there and work. That’s my policy and it’s taken me this far,” Prado said. “Once I commit myself and say I’ll be there, I’ll be there.”
Best known as the regular rider for Barbaro, who he guided to wins in the 2006 Tropical Park Derby (G3), Holy Bull (G2), Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby before being injured in the Preakness Stakes, Prado chronicled his experience with the talented but ill-fated colt in the book, My Guy Barbaro: A Jockey’s Journey Through Love, Triumph and Heartbreak.
Prado also had notable victories in the 2002 and 2004 Belmont, spoiling the respective Triple Crown bids of War Emblem and Smarty Jones with Sarava and Birdstone. Prado owns five career Breeders’ Cup wins, the most recent in the 2015 Sprint (G1) aboard Runhappy.
Between 1990 and 1999, Prado won 300 or more races in a single season six times including a high of 535 in 1997.
“I’ve been so blessed in my career and I have the support of my family and my friends especially; they don’t give up on me. They give me an opportunity to show what I can do when I’m on top of the horse. God gave me a great gift and I’ve tried to put it in practice over the years. I don’t have any complaints.”