For Prado, no slack with reins After 536-win year, unheralded Md. rider again continent's No. 1

August 18, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

He is not Mike Smith, rider of the flashy Coronado's Quest, who recently won the $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap. And he is not Pat Day, who jetted from Saratoga to southern California last weekend to ride Touch Gold in the $1 million Pacific Classic.

No, he is low-key Edgar Prado, the consistent Maryland jockey who for the second year in a row leads North American riders in wins. Through Sunday, Prado had won 284 races. His closest competitor, Russell Baze of northern California, had won 241.

Prado said he doesn't expect to match last year's 536 victories, which placed him in exclusive company -- one of only four jockeys to win more than 500 races in a year.

But he said he would like to lead all jockeys again in wins.

"It's something I want to do," Prado said. "I try the best I can every time I ride. I always try to get there first."

The unflappable but hard-working Prado rides nearly every day. His 1,212 mounts lead all jockeys -- as do his 222 seconds and 190 thirds. Horses he has ridden have earned $5.6 million, placing him ninth on the jockeys' earnings list.

A 31-year-old native of Peru, Prado continues to dominate the state's jockey standings and ride the best horses.

He won both stakes at Laurel last weekend with odds-on favorites. But he lags behind last year's win total because of suspensions for careless riding and a vacation at the beginning of the year.

"We'd like to win 500 again," said Steve Rushing, Prado's agent, who arranges his mounts.

"Five hundred back-to-back has never been done before. But things would really have to pick up. We'd have to win 50 a month.

"So the goal is to win more than 400 and lead the nation in wins again. If Edgar did that, he'd have more than 900 wins the last two years, which is pretty incredible."

Prado has ridden in Maryland since 1989 and said he still has no plans of moving to New York or California. He lives in Woodstock with his wife and three children.

He rides at Laurel Park and Delaware Park and plans on riding at Colonial Downs when its five-week meet opens Sept. 7. He also has ridden twice this summer at Saratoga.

On Aug. 7, he rode the H. Graham Motion-trained Secret Firm to a dead-heat victory in the Grade III $75,000 Amsterdam Stakes. Yesterday, he finished second aboard the 10-1 Extended Applause in the $150,000 Adirondack Stakes.

Prado is to return to Saratoga once more, on Aug. 29, Travers day, to ride Secret Firm again in the Grade II, $200,000 King's Bishop Stakes.

Jockeying for wins

North American jockeys by wins (through Sunday):

Jockey .......... Mts. ..... 1st ... 2nd ... 3rd ... Earnings

Edgar Prado ..... 1,212 .... 284 ... 222 ... 190 ... $5,632,542*

Russell Baze .... 899 ...... 241 ... 186 ... 139 ... $4,477,368

Jose Flores ..... 1,036 .... 228 ... 198 ... 124 ... $1,411,616

Terry Houghton .. 1,119 .... 224 ... 183 ... 144 ... $1,905,900

Rudy Baez ....... 950 ...... 195 ... 133 ... 154 ... $1,495,501

* -- Ninth on jockeys' earnings list

Pub Date: 8/18/98

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