Edgar Prado takes riding title with 44 wins at the Spa.

Edgar Prado takes riding title with 44 wins at the Spa.

Associated Press

Prado Reflects On Saratoga Riding Title

By Claire Novak
When Edgar Prado completed a successful meet at Belmont Park this July, he didn't take much time to reflect on the 85-win season. Less than six weeks after shifting his tack to Saratoga Race Course, he scored his final victory for the Saratoga season to take the riding title with 44 wins out of 231 starts.

The title win came gradually to 38-year-old Prado, who lacked the advantage that defending champ John Velazquez gained by riding for leading trainer Todd Pletcher. As his fellow rider gunned mounts from Pletcher's red-hot stable to a seven-race lead in six days, Prado's prospects didn't seem favorable.

"I thought for sure it was going to be a replay of last year," he said, referring to the 65-win record that 33-year-old Velazquez set in 2004. "Just look at the numbers – Johnny's a great rider. But in this business, with all the ups and downs along the way, you just do your best and keep on trying. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to ride some great horses."

Prado topped the charts with maidens, claimers, layoffs, and first-time starters, registering a win percentage of 19.05 and finishing in the money 51.52%.

"Edgar is a very strong rider," said trainer Nick Zito, who partnered with the jockey to win last year's Travers (gr. I). "His timing is right on, and he's certainly one of the best I've seen. His mount may break bad or run a little green, but he's dead set on giving that horse every chance he's got."

A mid-meet four-bagger gave Prado an edge over Velazquez, who has won three Saratoga titles (2004, 2003, 1998).

Although he finished second in rider standings, Velazquez enjoyed several dynamic stakes wins during the meet, including the first Travers win of his career on the Pletcher trainee Flower Alley.

"Flower Alley is one of those mounts you always wish to have," Velazquez said. "Winning the Travers will definitely go down as one of the best moments in my career. Galloping back, it touched me real deep emotionally. That feeling is what the game is all about. I'm just glad to be competitive enough to enjoy some excellent horses."

Prado agreed. "I'm very thankful for the opportunities I've been given," he said. "It's a blessing for me to do something I love and enjoy working for some really wonderful people."