Barn Notes

Paco Lopez Leads In Monmouth Stakes Wins

Posted Friday, Sep 7, 2012

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With six stakes races remaining in the 2012 Monmouth Park schedule, Paco Lopez is the leading stakes-winning rider with 10 victories, and three of them came in Grade 3 races. Morever, Lopez’s double-digit stakes wins were on horses saddled by eight different trainers.

“We’re very happy with the meet, that’s for sure,” said Lopez, who has worked with jockey agent Corey Moran since coming to the United States from his native Mexico just five years ago when he was 21. “Business is good.”

Lopez, who rode quarter horses at Mexican bush tracks, started his Thoroughbred career like a house afire. He won the Eclipse Award as the Outstanding Apprentice rider in 2008, but unlike so many other young riders, his business did not tail off when he lost the bug.

He was the leading rider at Monmouth’s Elite Summer Meet in 2010, and has also captured top honors at The Meadowlands and Gulfstream Park. He is currently ranked second in the Monmouth standings behind defending leading rider Elvis Trujillo, and on August 17 he reached the 1,000 win milestone even though he’s only been in irons for a relatively short time.

Trainers across the country have taken notice. For the first time this season he rode at Del Mar and had a mount in the $1 million Pacific Classic and later won a race on the card that day for John Sadler. At Monmouth, he has ridden stakes winners for Todd Pletcher, Eddie Plesa, Jr. (two), Bruce Alexander (two), Bret Calhoun, Chad Brown, Kelly John Breen, George Weaver, and Tim Hills.

After the Monmouth meet ends on October 7, Lopez and Moran will head to Kentucky to try the fall meets at Keeneland Race Course and Churchill Downs for the first time.

The venture comes after a false start last year. Moran explained that the two of them had planned to test the Keeneland spring meet, but Lopez was sidelined by a broken collar bone suffered in a spill at Gulfstream Park.

Now with more graded stakes wins on his resume, business is brisk.

“We’re going to try something new,” said Lopez. “It’s always exciting when it’s the first time. I hope to do really good and maybe we can get lucky.”

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