Jockey Jose Santos guided 6-1 Melodeeman to a 5 ½-length victory in Saturday's fifth race at Aqueduct Racetrack, giving the Chilean his 4,000th career Thoroughbred racing victory in North America.Santos' milestone was reached on a day when he and his agent, former New York City policeman Mike Sellitto, announced a split. Starting Sunday, Santos' book will be handled by his former agent, Drew Mollica. Santos, who will turn 45 on April 26, put Melodeeman on the lead in the six-furlong sprint, and doled out fractions of :23; :46; and :58 before drawing away from heavy favorite Precise Motion and rolling on to victory in 1:10 1/5. Melodeeman, a 6-year-old Wheaton gelding owned and trained by Jaime Gutierrez, paid $14.60 to win."I'd be happy with another thousand, believe me," Santos said. "It's been a long road. Not too many of us reach 4,000 or 5,000. It was a lot of hard work, and there were a lot of ups and downs. "After making it this far, hopefully, I continue to be healthy and the trainers and owners keep having confidence in me to give me better horses in the future. I'm going to continue to do the best I can to get to the winner's circle. It's definitely more special to do this in New York."In a career that includes victories in the 2003 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) aboard Funny Cide and the 2002 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) with 43-1 Volponi, Santos has always done well in New York and at Aqueduct. On Feb. 10 and 11, 1988, Santos rode five winners on back-to-back days at the Big A. Santos said that he and Sellitto reached an understanding.
"Mike and I had a mutual agreement, and it's going to be the best for the both of us," Santos said. "We're still friends, and there are no hard feelings. We decided to go different ways, but we're still friends."