Pedroza Jr. earns 500th career win

Jockey Marcelino Pedroza Jr. has had a great year at Indiana Grand. His year just got a little better Saturday, Aug. 20. In addition to winning two races on the card, the Panamanian-born jockey recorded his 500th career trip to the winner’s circle, an impressive feat for the 23-year-old.

It was a race to the wire but worth the extra encouragement for Marcelino Pedroza Jr. who earned his 500th career win aboard Kutuzov. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

It was a race to the wire but worth the extra encouragement for Marcelino Pedroza Jr. who earned his 500th career win aboard Kutuzov. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Pedroza Jr. has racing in his blood. Several family members are jockeys, including his father, who rode in Panama, and his uncle, Martin, who has been a force on the Southern California circuit for more than a decade.

“My dad (Marcelino Pedroza Sr.) is a retired jockey and he never wanted me to become a jockey because of the dangers,” said Pedroza Jr. “But, I begged my dad to go to jockey school and that’s when my career started.”

Pedroza Jr. attended jockey school at the Laffit Pincay Jr. Jockey Training Academy outside of Panama City at Presidente Remon Racetrack. There, he learned the expertise of riding Thoroughbreds.

“The first horse I got on ran off with me and I ended up falling off and it really scared me,” said Pedroza Jr. of his first experience prior to attending jockey school. “I stayed off the horses for three months, going straight to the jockey school rather than first going to get on the horses in the morning. I only got back on because the school said that to continue there, I had to get back on the horses in the morning.”

In addition to riding, the jockey school also prepared prospective jockeys by requiring they work with the horses from the ground. Pedroza learned all aspects of riding before advancing on.

Marcelino Pedroza celebrates win 500 during his career Saturday, Aug. 20. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Marcelino Pedroza celebrates win 500 during his career Saturday, Aug. 20. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

“We actually had to take care of two horses, groom them, walk them, saddle them and brush them,” said Pedroza Jr. “Trainers would give you horses to take care of and that was required for us to do, to learn how to take care of the horses as well as ride them.”

Pedroza Jr. passed all of his tests in jockey school with flying colors. He came to the United States in 2010, riding mainly on the Kentucky circuit. The past three seasons, Pedroza’s business would carry him up to Indiana Grand occasionally, and this year, he made the move to Indiana full time while still riding the Kentucky circuit on dark days.

More than halfway through the 2016 meet, Pedroza is working to crack the track’s top five jockeys. He has 48 wins and more than $1.4 million in purse earnings accumulated through the first 80 racing programs.

His latest accomplishment of securing win 500 was recorded as the back half of back-to-back winners in races six and seven. The milestone was notched aboard Kutuzov trained by Bernie Flint in the $15,000 claiming event. Pedroza was greeted in the winner’s circle by family and friends, including his wife, Rocio, and their two children, Rosie and Jeremy.

“I am so happy,” said Pedroza Jr. “It was great. I even celebrated after work. It was a goal of mine and now my next goal is 1,000 wins. To get 500 wins was super rewarding and it’s something I am never going to forget.”