Hot-Handed Mojica Bags 1,000th Winner

Jockey Orlando Mojica, one of the top riders at the recent winter/spring meet at Turfway Park, booted home his 1,000th career winner April 26 at Indiana Downs.

The 26-year-old rider’s milestone victory came aboard Randy Haffner’s Rego Raider, a chestnut Announce colt that won the evening’s fourth race by 10½ lengths. Mojica collected another win in the eighth race with filly Irish Date.

“I’m very excited,” Mojica said. “I’ve seen a lot of other riders that have been racing much longer and haven’t won 1,000 races. I’d like to thank my agent and the trainers and owners I’ve ridden for over the last seven years.”

On April 28, Mojica won five races at Indiana Downs and currently leads the standings with nine wins from 23 mounts in the first three days of the meet.

Mojica was born into a racing family in Puerto Rico. His father, Rafael Sr., is a retired jockey, while his older brother, Rafael Jr., also rides on the Indiana and Kentucky circuits.

He began his riding career in 2000 after arriving in the United States. His first victory came in May of the same year when he guided Simply Fine to victory at Garden State Park in New Jersey. Mojica credits his brother, 12 years his elder, with teaching him how to ride.

“When I came to the United States, he taught me how to ride,” Mojica said of his brother, who has been riding for 17 years. “He’s my teacher. He’s really helped me out a lot.”

Mojica has proven himself to be a good student. He finished second in the standings at the Turfway fall meet in 2001 while still an apprentice. His first riding title came at Indiana Downs’ inaugural Thoroughbred meet in 2003 when he shared the honors with veteran Sidney LeJeune.

Mojica would go on to win another title that fall at Hoosier Park, accumulating 100 wins during the meet. He added a second Hoosier Park title last season with 91 trips to the winner’s circle.

“I like competing in Indiana,” he said. “It’s a nice place to ride.”

But Mojica has also found success on the Kentucky circuit. Last summer, he added a riding title at Ellis Park to his credentials on the strength of 53 winners. Earlier this year, Mojica made history at Turfway, guiding Absolutely Cindy to victory in the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes. It marked the first time a filly had won the contest.

The rider hopes to build upon his accomplishments, and he dreams of racing at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

“I’m still young,” Mojica said. “I’d like to stay here in Indiana for a while, but I want to ride in the Kentucky Derby.”

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