Victor Carrasco

Victor Carrasco

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Little Separates Apprentice Jockey Contenders

Victor Carrasco, Manny Franco, and Edgard Zayas vie for honors; readers can vote.

Statistically speaking, there's little separating jockeys Victor Carrasco, Manuel Franco, and Edgard Zayas, the three finalists for the 2013 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice rider. The one thing that is obvious is that the winner will be a native of Puerto Rico, where all three got their early training in riding schools.

Winners in the 17 horse and human categories will be announced at the 43rd annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The ceremony will air live on HRTV.

Carrasco, 21, from San Juan, led all North American apprentice riders with 215 wins and $4,357,715 in total purse earnings. Those figures rank him 14th in victories and 47th in earnings among all jockeys in 2013. Riding in the Mid-Atlantic region, he won the fall title at Laurel Park and was second at meets at Delaware Park and Pimlico Race Course. Carrasco is seeking to become the 10th Maryland-based rider to win the Eclipse Award for top apprentice going back to Chris McCarron in 1974.

With 1,066 total mounts for the year, Carrasco posted a 20% win rate. At Laurel, he had one span of 11 multiple win days over the course of 15 programs. He rode She's All In to a runner-up finish in the Delaware Handicap (gr. I).

Right behind Carrasco in the earnings column is Franco, with purses totaling $4,298,526, good for 49th on the overall jockey list. Riding in New York and New Jersey since last spring, the 19-year-old from Puerto Rico drew notice at Monmouth Park during the summer stand where he was leading apprentice and sixth overall in the standings with 43 wins from 272 mounts.

He returned to Belmont Park for the fall meet and was 10th in the riding standings, and was also doing well at Aqueduct Racetrack as the year came to a close. He picked up his first stakes victory at Aqueduct aboard Laguna Girl in the Are We Dreamin Stakes Dec. 27. For the year, Franco had 130 wins from 1,089 mounts, a 12% strike rate.

Zayas, 20, was second only to Carrasco in 2013 with wins among apprentices with 203, although 20 of those came after he lost his bug Dec. 13. The Florida-based rider ranked 62nd overall in earnings for the year with $3,785,453.

The career highlight for the native of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, came in the grade I Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) July 6, when he drove Starship Truffles to a 3 3/4-length upset win at odds of 8-1 at Calder Casino & Race Course. For the year, he won with 20% of his 1,005 total mounts.