Junior Alvarado

Junior Alvarado

Coglianese Photos

Jockey Alvarado Notches Milestone Victory

Earned fifth career grade I victory earlier this year on Moreno in Whitney.

Jockey Junior Alvarado won his 1,000th race in North America on Monday at Saratoga Race Course, guiding Skerkis to an easy victory in the fourth race.

Backed at 9-2 in the $50,000 maiden claiming race for 2-year-olds, Skerkis settled behind a three-way scramble for the early lead in fourth, came four wide to offer his bid nearing the quarter pole, and took over in midstretch en route to an easy score. His final time for six furlongs was 1:11.52.

"He was pretty sharp," said Alvarado. "Then I kind of sat down on him. When I started asking, he didn't respond very well, but as I started going with the whip, he kind of turned into another horse. He was responding pretty well."

"As soon as I turned for him and hit him a couple times, he responded right away, and I said, 'We're going to get it now!'" the rider added. "I've got to keep riding and winning; that's how I'm celebrating."

Skerkis is trained by Ken McPeek for Sylly Horses Stable.

Earlier in the meet, Alvarado, 28, picked up the fifth grade I win of his career when he guided Moreno to a front-running score in the $1.5 million Whitney Stakes Aug. 2. He currently is eighth in the Saratoga jockey standings with 15 victories and he has finished among the top ten riders by North American earnings in 2013 and 2012.

"It always comes when I least expect it. I've been [on 999] since Friday with a lot of good mounts, good horses, expecting this one will be the one," said Alvarado. "It seems like it was forever. I couldn't get it done Saturday. Yesterday, I got a good chance and I couldn't either. I wasn't expecting it at all with this one, but that's how it worked out."

Alvarado began his career in his native Venezuela in 2005 and rode his first U.S. winner in February 2007. After riding successfully in Chicago, he moved his tack to New York full time late in 2010.