Since 1940, New York jockeys have won 300 or more races in one year only five other times. Steve Cauthen topped the charts with 433 victories in 1977, Angel Cordero Jr. took home 340 winners in 1982 and 309 winners in 1983, and Mike Smith’s best years came in 1991 (330 wins) and 1993 (313).
"When I first started in the beginning of the year I never had this in mind, I just wanted to do the best I could," Coa said. "Just last month I learned I was getting close to 300, so it became a big deal… it gets you excited to be up there with those top riders, it’s something anybody would appreciate."
A native of Venezuela, 35-year-old Coa started riding in his native country in 1992, then immigrated to the United States in 1993. After returning to Venezuela from 1994-1996, he made a permanent move to the U.S. to ride full time in Florida. He earned multiple riding titles at Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park before moving his tack to the East Coast and becoming a leading rider at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Since beginning his career in America in 1993, Coa has won 3,194 races and his mounts have earned over $86 million.
Coa’s career reached a new level in 2005 when he hired Matt Muzikar, a New York agent who formerly handled business for Mike Luzzi, Aaron Gryder and Shaun Bridgmohan.
"The combination between Matt and me as a team is the key to my great success in 2005 and 2006," Coa said. "He’s definitely one of the main reasons I’ve done so well in New York."
The duo teamed up to win back-to-back riding titles at Aqueduct for the 2005-’06 winter and spring meets, then finished a narrow second (65-64) to Edgar Prado in the ’06 spring standings at Belmont Park. After a successful season at Saratoga, Coa tied Prado for Belmont’s fall 2006 riding title with 38 wins. He currently is second in the standings at Aqueduct's inner track meet with 28 victories.
"First and foremost, we wouldn’t reach the winners’ circle at all if we didn’t have the support of trainers and owners, so we want to thank them," Muzikar said. "We’ve had a lot of support from a lot of people; it’s been a really good year. The three riders who already accomplished this feat are great riders as we already know, so it definitely speaks to Eibar’s ability to be counted among them."
Coa had a career-best $12,564,325 in purse earnings through Dec. 28. He ranks fifth in the national standings with 317 wins overall, topping his personal record of 305 wins in a year set in 1996. Coa said he will ride at Aqueduct through the rest of the winter.