Mario Pino became the 15th jockey in North America to earn 6,000 wins Nov. 7 when he piloted Pass Play to victory in the seventh race at Laurel Park.
Pino’s milestone was made even more extraordinary because Pass Play, a 6-year-old gelding by Fast Play, is trained by his brother ,Michael, who reached a milestone of his own Nov. 3 when he sent out his 1,000th career winner at Delaware Park.
“I want to thank Maryland racing, the trainers that I rode for, the owners and my family,” Mario Pino said. “Everything just came perfect. How can you write a better script than that? I think God made this perfect. Winning for my brother in a nice quality race and everybody was here; I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
The all-time leader in wins at Maryland tracks, Pino's horses have earned more than $105 million and among active riders he trails only Russell Baze and Earlie Fires for number of races won. His tack has been based in Maryland throughout his 29-year career.
Nationally, Pino, 46, has experienced a breakout year in 2007 as the regular rider for grade I winner Hard Spun. He rode the Larry Jones-trained colt to four stakes victories, including the Sept. 29 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) and was aboard for runner-up efforts in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I). Pino's mounts have earned more than $7.5 million this year alone, a personal best for him.
A Pennsylvania native, Pino made his first trip to the winner's circle Jan. 16, 1978 aboard Ed’s Desire at Bowie Race Course in Maryland. He earned his first grade I victory last year in the Prioress Breeders' Cup Stakes aboard Wildcat Bettie B, also a Larry Jones trainee.
Pino was two wins short of the mark entering the Nov. 7 card. He guided juvenile filly Golden Shades to victory in the first race of the day to get within one.
“It was more pressure than riding Hard Spun,” said Pino, who lives in nearby Ellicott City. “I told my wife I felt pressure with these last two winners. I felt butterflies in the Derby but nothing like this. The pressure was mounting. Once I hit that wire all that emotion just busted out in me.”