Roberto Gonzalez Reaches 4,000-Win Plateau

Northern California jockey Roberto Gonzalez earned his 4,000th victory Monday when he drove 31-1 shot Peak a Bootrando to victory in the seventh race at Golden Gate Fields.

Riding for trainer Jeff Bonde, Gonzalez brought Peak a Bootrando, a 5-year-old Bertrando horse, three wide in the stretch to register a three-length victory in the $50,000 optional claiming event, paying $64.80. The winning time for the six furlongs was 1:08 4/5.

Gonzalez, a 51-year-old native of Micheacon, Mexico, ranks third at the current Golden Gate meeting. He rode back-to-back winners Monday to reach the milestone, booting home favored Barbecue Bob in the sixth race, a $4,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles.

"I never thought I'd get this far," said Gonzalez, the dean of the Northern California jockey colony. "To get through all the injuries, the broken bones, the pain and the tears ... this means so much to me. My heart is pumping."
 
Gonzalez was happy he achieved the milestone victory with a horse trained by Bonde, a longtime friend.
 
"It's like winning for family," said the jockey.  "I'm the godfather of his kids."
 
Asked how long he planned to keep riding, Gonzalez responded, "If my body stays healthy, I hope to stay around another couple of years."

Riding full time against Hall of Famer Russell Baze on the Northern California circuit, Gonzalez owns two riding championships – at Bay Meadows in the 1979-80 season and at Golden Gate in 1980.

He scored one of the biggest upsets in Northern California racing history when he hustled Avenging Force to a win over 1-10 favorite King Glorious in the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in 1989. He also piloted the New Zealand-bred Leonotis to a shocking win over the great John Henry in the 1979 Bay Meadows Handicap.

Gonzalez has won a number of major stakes in the Bay Area, including the grade II San Francisco Mile (Don Alberto, 1980) and the California Derby twice (with Mr. Technique in 2003 and Stalwart Charger in 1990). He captured five stakes in less than a month during the spring of 2003, including a pair of $100,000 events (the Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields with I'madrifter and the California Derby at Bay Meadows with Mr. Technique).

Gonzalez came to the U.S. at age 16 to work on a Thoroughbred ranch in San Clemente, Calif. He began galloping horses for trainer Jerry Dutton at Hollywood Park in 1972 and took out his jockey's license in 1974. He earned his first victory at Hollywood Park May 2, 1975, aboard Sawtooth and was the leading apprentice rider in Southern California in 1976. He moved his tack to the Bay Area in 1978.

(Chart, Equibase)

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