Contreras to Live out Dream Thursday at Gulfstream
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - When he was a 16-year-old bug rider in his native Mexico, Luis Contreras would “dream about riding at Gulfstream.”
“I’d watch the races and I’d say to myself, ‘One day I’m going to be there.’ It was one of my favorite tracks.”
Nearly 10 years after beginning his career, Contreras has arrived at Gulfstream and in a big way. The 25-year-old jockey comes to Gulfstream just days after setting a single-season earnings record at Woodbine with more than $11.2 million in earnings, breaking the previous mark set in 2003 by Todd Kabel. Contreras makes his debut Thursday at Gulfstream in the last race for trainer Mark Casse.
Contreras, the regular rider for Inglorious, winner of the $1 million Queen’s Plate Stakes, also became only the second rider in Woodbine history to win 200 or more races in one meet.
“It’s been an amazing year,” said Contreras, who moved to North America in 2007. “But I can’t wait to spend my first winter at Gulfstream. I have my ticket and my family and I are ready to come down.
“I want to take a chance and try it at Gulfstream. I think people know about how hard I work and it’s a great opportunity for me.”
Contreras enjoyed four consecutive campaigns of 100-plus win seasons in Mexico before moving to Northern California in 2007. He rode his first U.S. winner Feb. 1 of ’07 at Golden Gate Fields. In 2008, Contreras moved to Sunland Park in New Mexico, where he won the riding title in 2009-2010. His real success started in 2009, however, when trainer Steve Asmussen decided to send a second string to Woodbine and named Contreras as his first-call rider. Contreras won 67 races that year and $2.8 million in earnings, finishing ninth in the overall standings.