Apprentice rider Omar Moreno had a leg up on the competition heading into the 2010 racing season: He’d already been honored with a Sovereign Award as top apprentice in Canada for 2009.
Carrying his five-pound bug to November 2010, Moreno won 146 races at Woodbine and Fort Erie last year and his mounts earned more than $5.4 million—figures that towered over his opposition as North America’s top apprentice rider. His fellow finalists for the Eclipse were Forest Boyce, who won 129 races with earnings of just over $2 million while racing on the Midlantic circuit, and Angel Serpa, winner of 105 races with earnings of more than $3.4 million while plying his trade mainlyin New York and New Jersey.
Based in Canada year-round, the 25-year-old Moreno finished fifth in the standings at Woodbine, no small feat for a young rider. He also scored in three stakes events at Woodbine, winning the Sept. 6 Simcoe Stakes with Invitation Only, the Nov. 3 Frost King Stakes aboard Citius, and the Nov. 21 Bessarabian Stakes with Ariana D.
A native of El Salvador, Moreno saw more than his fair share of horror as a child growing up through a civil war. When he was 7, his mother was killed, and Moreno’s family went into hiding in Honduras. After immigrating to Edmonton, Canada, he grew up being shuffled through a series of foster homes.
As a teen, Moreno found success as a boxer and was a three-time junior national champion. With his small frame and light weight, it was inevitable that someone would point him to the local racetrack. With the help of a bloodstock agent, he was accepted to and graduated from the jockeys’ school at Olds College in Calgary. After starting his racing career at Northlands Park near Edmonton, Moreno made the big leap to Woodbine in Toronto in October 2009. Twenty-two of his 48 wins in 2009 came at Woodbine during his Sovereign Award-winning campaign.
Voting for apprentice jockey:
Omar Moreno, 197; Forest Boyce, 6; Freddy Lenclud, 4; Angel Serpa, 4; Luis Saez, 3; Tyler Kaplan 1; Marcelino Pedroza, Jr., 1; Voter Abstentions, 20; No Vote, 2.