Paul Nicol Jr. enjoyed Tuesday's wet weather at Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack when he passed the 3,000 mark in career wins. The 45-year-old from Annapolis, Md., joins Leslie Hulet and Kevin Whitley as the only Finger Lakes jockeys to reach the milestone.Passing Ships, trained by Edward Perdue, came rolling late under Nicol to pass the tiring Dancinontheceiling and drew away to take the fourth race by 2 3/4 lengths. It was the 124th time Nicol crossed the wire first with a horse saddled by Perdue. He has won three stakes for Perdue, including the $150,000 New York Breeders' Futurity in 1993 with Background Artist.The victory was the second of three on the card for Nicol, Jr. who was eager to get back to work. "I'm going to go upstairs and try for 3001", he said after the race.
Nicol has 64 stakes victories in his career. The 25-year veteran has earned 22 of those stakes wins at Finger Lakes, including the grade III Finger Lakes Breeders' Cup in 1997 aboard Double Screen. He owns the 1993 riding title at "the thumb," where he has racked up 1,785 of his 3,001 total wins.The milestone victory may have come earlier for the leading active Finger Lakes rider who missed most of the 2005 season with broken vertebrae.Nicol has also had success at Pimlico Race Course, where he won seven races on a nine-race card during the 1983 season. He won the riding title at the Maryland track that same year.