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Jockey De La Cruz Registers 1,000th Victory

The 27-year-old native of Peru reaches milestone at Tampa Bay Downs Dec. 4.

Jockey Fernando De La Cruz earned the 1,000th win of his career as picked up a pair of victories at Tampa Bay Downs Dec. 4.

The 27-year-old native of Peru rode both winners for trainer Jamie Ness, and got his milestone in the fifth race aboard 5-year-old mare Jungle Princess. De La Cruz, who finished second in the 2012-13 Tampa Bay Downs standings with 75 victories, is in the top 20 of all jockeys in North America in 2013 with 182.

"Getting my 1,000th win at Tampa Bay Downs is something I will remember all my life," said De La Cruz. "Jamie gave me the right instructions and the horse kept going and kept going. He is a good trainer and I appreciate the chance to ride for him.

"I feel really happy, but I don’t want to stop here. I want to keep going."

De La Cruz returned to the winner’s circle after the seventh race with 4-year-old gelding Young Dude, again for Ness and owner Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc.

Younger brother Walter De La Cruz won the sixth race on the turf on 5-year-old gelding Crimson Knight, the 2011 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) runner-up. It gave the De La Cruz siblings three consecutive victories. Crimson Knight is owned by Ray Rech and trained by Gerald Bennett.

Following his milestone triumph, Fernando De La Cruz was joined in the winner’s circle by his wife, Rosa, their 3-year-old son, Brian, and baby daughter, Norma. Also present were Ness and his family, wife Mandy and 1-year-old daughter Hannah Annmarie. Jungle Princess paid $9.40 as the second betting choice in the field of 12.

"Fernando is a good, up-and-coming rider who works hard and is just an all-American kid, and I’m really happy for him," said Ness, who recorded his 2,000th lifetime win on Thanksgiving Day at Laurel Park. "He comes with a good attitude all the time. When you see him in the mornings, he is always upbeat, and even when he loses a race he has a positive attitude."